Grammy nominated English musician, John Parr was born 18 November 1952 in Worksop, England. He first entered the music scene when he was 12 years old and formed a band with two fellow schoolmates, which they named The Silence. The band had achieved some success. They eventually became professional and started to tour Europe. He then joined a band named Bitter Suite who were a huge success in the working men’s clubs in Yorkshire, he then formed a “Super Band” with musicians from other working men’s club bands, and named the band Ponders End after a Railway Station in North London. Parr secured a publishing deal with Carlin America in 1983, and in the same year Meat Loaf asked him to write some songs for his new album. That led to the fateful meeting with John Wolff, who was tour manager for The Who. Foreseeing the initial demise of The Who, Wolff was looking for a new venture and considered Parr to be a suitable partner. Parr first visited America in 1984 and worked with Meat Loaf on Bad Attitude. Meanwhile, Wolff secured Parr’s solo Atlantic recording deal in New York.
Naughty Naughty was Parr’s first U.S. Top 40 hit record,In 1985 Parr toured with his band “The Business” supporting Toto, his first show with Toto at Carowinds Paladium (Charlotte NC). Parr was then asked by David Foster to record a song for the film “St. Elmo’s Fire”. Parr and Foster wrote a song in honour of wheelchair athlete and activist Rick Hansen., “St. Elmo’s Fire” also became the theme for the film St. Elmo’s Fire (a “Brat Pack” film unrelated to Hansen’s life or achievements) and became a number one hit for Parr around the world and garnered many awards, including a Grammy nomination. Parr went on to tour with Tina Turner on “The Private Dancer” tour and also with Heart and The Beach Boys. In his charity work with The David Foster foundation, Parr has shared the stage and the sports field with stars including John Travolta, Michael J. Fox, Celine Dion, Paul Anka and Rob Lowe.
Parr later wrote “Under a Raging Moon” with Julia Downes for Roger Daltrey, a song that paid tribute to Keith Moon and told the story of The Who. The album became Daltrey’s biggest solo success in America. Parr’s last concert in the U.S. was a duet of the song with Daltrey at Madison Square Garden, joining them on stage were Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon, John Entwistle and Zak Starkey. Parr also sang with Marilyn Martin on the song “Through the Night”, from the Quicksilver soundtrack (1986) and wrote and produced further tracks for Martin’s debut album, including the hit “Night Moves”. Parr also wrote and sang the title songs “The Minute I Saw You”, from Three Men and a Baby soundtrack, and the power ballad “Restless Heart” (a.k.a. “Running Away with You (Restless Heart)”), from The Running Man soundtrack (this song was re-released on “Man With a Vision” album). Following the success of Meat Loaf’s album, Parr contributed to the next album with the hit duet “Rock & Roll Mercenaries and also began work with Albert Magnoli (director of Purple Rain) on the film American Anthem for which he wrote and performed the main theme “Two Hearts”. Parr’s other film credits include “Naughty Naughty” from the cult horror film Near Dark and “Love Grammar” from the Karen Black movie Flight of the Spruce Goose. He has also written songs for Tom Jones, The Monkees, Tygers of Pan Tang, Romeo’s Daughter and Bucks Fizz. The Pepsi Company and Jack Calmes Satellite TV Corporation hosted a gig from London beamed live across America, Japan & Australia. Parr was the featured act, having done two similar shows (one from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where the flame was lit for a special performance of “St. Elmo’s Fire”, and was beamed live for Japan, and the New Year Christmas Show from London).
Parr was signed by US clothing designer “Chams De Baron” to promote their sports leisure range, and he featured in fashion magazines and poster campaigns. Parr also co-presented the UK leg of the “American Music Awards” with Phil Collins. In 1988 Parr was offered the opportunity to collaborate with “Mutt” Lange; (co)producing an album for Romeo’s Daughter. In 1989, Parr played the lead role in the soundtrack album for Paris, an epic rock opera written by Jon English and David Mackay. Paris is an epic love story of Paris and Helen of Troy set against the Trojan War. Parr performed with the London Symphony Orchestra alongside Harry Nilsson, Demis Roussos, Francis Rossi and Barry Humphries. Parr is also known for co-authoring “The Best (A Man Can Get)”, the theme used in a series of highly successful Gillette razor commercials from the 1980s onwards, also spawning the company’s chief slogan. A solo acoustic version appears on the album “Letter to America”. In 2006 St Elmo’s Fire was sampled for a dance remix of “St. Elmo’s Fire”, entitled “New Horizon” and In 2007, Parr joined Canadian pop-rock artist Bryan Adams on his tour” Parr released “Walking Out of the Darkness”, a tribute to Doncaster Rovers F.C. In 2007 ahead of the club’s appearance in the Football League Trophy final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Parr also returned to Canada to perform at the Man in Motion 20th anniversary. Parr’s song “St Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” was wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen’s anthem, helping him wheel 25,000 miles around the globe and raising awareness and money for spinal research. To date the Rick Hansen foundation has raised $200 million and helped build a research centre, ICORD, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
In 2007 Parr wrote and recorded the main title for The Brothers Solomon and Also opened for Bryan Adams at the Keepmoat Stadium in Parr’s home town Doncaster. In 2008, Parr was a special guest for the U.S. rock band Journey on their UK Tour and in 2011 Parr performed an acoustic set as Special Guest of Richard Marx on his UK Tour and also released a double album titled “Letter to America” before touring America. Parr was a guest on ESPN show SportsNation where he sang a special rendition of “St. Elmo’s Fire” replacing the words with Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. A reworking of the song’s lyrics, sung by Parr and titled “Tim Tebow’s Fire”. Throughout 2012 Parr toured America as ambassador for the USO playing concerts and benefits for American servicemen and women. In 2012 Parr wrote and produced a new studio album The Mission. The funds went to The USO, USA Cares and Military Families charities. In 2014, Parr reunited with The Who, Jeff Beck, Mick Hucknall and other rock musicians for Kenney Jones’ Rock & Horsepower concert to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer. Parr joined forces with Guns and Roses producer Mike Clink, Slash and Nikki Sixx, to collaborate on the forthcoming Pete Way album. At the O2 Parr joined producer Tony Visconti, Woody Woodmansey (Spiders From Mars), Glen Gregory (Heaven 17) and many members of the original Bowie band to perform in the “Man Who Sold the World” concert. Parr continued his work with the military playing concerts and fund raisers for “Help For Heroes”.
Christmas 2014 saw the release of “Ring Out The Bells”, a charity single produced by David Mackay, which featured Charlie Norman and the children of St Catherine’s School along with guest performances by Parr and Meatloaf duetist Lorraine Crosby (I Would Do Anything For Love). The proceeds went to The Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. Parr toured during 2015 alongside Bonnie Tyler, Kenney Jones, Cockney Rebel and also wrote and recorded “Man of Steel” for the late International rugby hero Steve Prescott. The 88th Academy Awards (Oscars) included the launch of Google’s Android campaign featuring John and St Elmo’s Fire as the theme tune. It’s Ironic as the song was tipped as the favourite for the “Best Original Song” Oscar in 1985 but had to be withdrawn as John had told the media that although the song was written for the film he was inspired by Rick Hansen’s attempt to circumnavigate the globe in his wheelchair. 31 years later the song is back at the Oscars as the theme song for “Rock Paper Scissors” Androids’s new campaign.