Desmond Jones


Desmond Jones was the most unlikely of pop stars.

Jones grew up in Everton, Merseyside.  In 1960, he took over the family’s fruit stall at the local market, and for nine years, life was pretty good.  That is, until his marriage fell apart.

A single father of two, Jones was having a hard time emotionally.  A counselor suggested that he express his feelings in writing, or music, or whatever suited him.  Jones was not an artistic kind of guy (that had been his wife’s thing).  But taking the advice, he started writing poetry (virtually all with the same theme) and then added some melody by doing what he could on the dusty upright piano in the corner of the flat.  A passerby heard his plaintive wailing one evening and knocked on the door; the visitor turned out to be a local record producer (well, mostly record store manager with family connections).  Long story short, within six weeks, Jones was in a recording studio, and within three months, his debut LP was rising up the charts.  The title track ultimately hit No. 2 in the UK and No. 11 in the U.S.

Jones put out several follow-up LPs in quick succession, but eventually the theme began to wear on listeners.  (It was not uncommon for concertgoers to hold up signs saying, “We Get It, Already!” and “Get Over It, Man!”)  Receiving the message, Jones changed directions and started penning songs involving muskrats, various birds and wild horses.  Although never a critics’ favorite, Jones’ albums received extensive airplay and significant sales; one (1978’s disco-tinged Marmot Wonderland) even went Gold.  Jones was finally happy again, especially when his son Barnaby took over the fruit stand at the market and continued the family tradition.

(Post-script:  Jones’ wife, a once enthusiastic (if pitchy) singer, took up competitive juggling instead.  She has six children with her second husband, percussionist Juan Bonhomie.)