Johnny Hates Jazz consists of singer-songwriter Clark Datchler (vocals, keyboards) and producer-engineer Mike Nocito (bass guitar). The band is best known for a cycle of hits in the late 1980’s, the most successful being “Shattered Dreams”.
Their musical roots go back to childhood. Clark’s father Fred was a member of two chart topping bands from the 1950’s, the Stargazers and the Polkadots. The Stargazers had the distinction of being the first British band ever to reach number 1 on the UK singles chart. As a member of the Polkadots, Fred sang backing vocals for the likes of the Beatles (“I Am The Walrus”), Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Petula Clarke. Mike hails from an American family based in Europe with the US armed forces. His mother was a singer in close-harmony group The Cactus Kids, performing for troops in Northern Europe.
This heritage paved the way for their future careers. Having been a singer, guitarist and keyboard player in numerous bands as a teenager, Clark released his first single on London indie soul label Bluebird Records at the age of 17, backed by members of reggae band Aswad. He went on to work with Rusty Egan of Visage, fusing electronic music with soul, and often performed on the London club scene. He was subsequently signed to Warner Brothers Music as a songwriter.
Mike also had a long history as a guitarist in school bands, having grown up alongside longtime friend and fellow-producer Phil Thornalley, as well as members of Katrina And The Waves. He became a highly-regarded recording engineer and worked with artists such as Pink Floyd, The Police, The Cure, Duran Duran and the Thompson Twins.
The two met in the early 1980’s while working at RAK Studios in London, when Clark became lead singer in the band Hot Club alongside another original JHJ member, Calvin Hayes. The line-up also included bass player Glenn Matlock (Sex Pistols) and guitarist James Stevens (Generation X). In 1983 Hot Club released a single on RAK Records and performed at London’s Marquee Club, after which RAK boss Mickie Most signed Clark to the label as a solo artist. It was he who suggested that Clark work with a young producer / engineer at RAK Studios, Mike Nocito. Over the coming years, the two of them recorded together extensively, creating a musical direction that would later become integral to JHJ’s sound.
In late 1985, Johnny Hates Jazz recorded their first single “Me And My Foolish Heart” which was released on RAK in April 1986, and although not a commercial success, it gained substantial airplay and was Sounds magazine’s record of the week.
Clark began to write new songs for the band, the first of which was “Shattered Dreams”. His father Fred listened to the song as it was being written, and predicted it would be a hit. JHJ then performed a showcase at London’s legendary jazz venue, Ronnie Scott’s, and were subsequently signed to Virgin Records. “Shattered Dreams” was released in March 1987 and became a top 5 hit in the UK, throughout mainland Europe and Asia, and reached number 2 in Japan. It was followed by four other worldwide hits, being the anti-war anthem “I Don’t Want To Be A Hero”, “Turn Back The Clock” (featuring Kim Wilde on backing vocals) and “Heart Of Gold”.
Towards the end of 1987, JHJ made two music videos with a young director named David Fincher, later to become the A-list director of blockbuster films such as ‘Seven’ and ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’. The videos were for the US release of “Shattered Dreams”, as well as “Heart Of Gold”.
In 1988, “Shattered Dreams” reached number 2 on the US Billboard chart, number 1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, and climbed to number 4 in Canada. That same year, their album “Turn Back The Clock” entered the UK charts at number 1, going double-platinum and selling 4 million copies in the process. It is arguably one of the definitive albums of the 1980’s, and is one of only two debut albums released by Virgin Records that immediately went to the top of the charts upon its release — the other being ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ by The Sex Pistols.
Despite JHJ’s great success, Clark decided to leave the band at the end of 1988. It was a traumatic and painful separation, and it would be another 21 years before Clark and Mike spoke again. As it turned out, Johnny Hates Jazz were to be the last electronic band to emerge in the 1980’s.
Clark went on to focus on his solo recordings, completing three albums in the process: “Raindance”, “Fishing For Souls” and “Tomorrow”. After moving to Amsterdam at the end of the 80’s, he returned to the UK and based himself at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios near Bath throughout the 90’s, where he recorded with many well-known musicians from the realms of rock, R & B, world and folk music. In 2000, he moved to California, and later to the high mountain desert of Arizona. There, he created an elaborate solar-powered studio where he recorded much of “Tomorrow”. Throughout this time, he studied Native American philosophy, became environmentally active and in 2008, he received the first GreenTec Music Award in Berlin (formerly the Clean Tech Media Awards).
Mike recorded a further album with Calvin under the JHJ banner, titled “Tall Stories”. He then went on to achieve behind-the-scenes success when he produced the Katrina and The Waves single “Love Shine A Light”, winner of the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest and a top 10 hit throughout Europe. He also produced and wrote for Hepburn, Gina G, and Orson, and continued to work extensively with Katrina and The Waves.
Then in 2009, Clark and Mike made contact with one and other once more, leading to their decision to work on a new Johnny Hates Jazz album for the modern era. Clark moved back to the UK and immediately set about writing new songs for the project. The following year, he received a BMI award for “Shattered Dreams” receiving over 3 million broadcast performances in the US alone. JHJ also began to perform live in both Europe and South East Asia during this time.
The album, entitled “Magnetized”, was completed and released in 2013, with the title track becoming a huge radio hit in both the UK and Germany. Unfortunately, Clark was diagnosed with a serious illness soon after, and all promotion came to a halt. He eventually made a full recovery but by that time, momentum had been lost. The band decided to focus on live work and other projects instead, and throughout 2016 and 2017, they performed extensively in the UK and internationally . At the same time, Clark co-wrote the most recent Mike And The Mechanics album, “Let Me Fly”, with Genesis legend Mike Rutherford. It was released in 2017, and reached number 9 on the UK chart.
Now, in 2018, the band are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original release of the “Turn Back The Clock” album, by releasing a remastered version together with brand new acoustic recordings of the same songs. This will be supported by special “Turn Back The Clock” anniversary shows, where they will perform the whole of the album from start to finish, for the very first time. The first dates to be announced are April 14th at MES Theatre in Singapore, and April 27th at the Indigo at the O2 in London. More shows will follow.
Clark and Mike have also started writing and recording a new JHJ album, slated for release in September 2018.