The illustrious Pop Group’s original guitarist, John Waddington, has tragically passed away at the age of 63, the band announced on their social media. No specific details surrounding the cause of his death have been revealed. Waddington’s passing comes just two months after that of his former bandmate Mark Stewart.
In its statement, the Pop Group called Waddington “an influential musician, and an integral member of the group.” The statement continued, “His energy and friendship will be sorely missed, and his unforgettable musicianship will always be remembered.”
John Waddington’s journey began early, leading his own band, the Boyfriends, during his teenage years. At the tender age of 17, Waddington migrated to the vibrant music scene of Bristol to join the Pop Group in 1977. The Pop Group quickly became an embodiment of the era’s vibrant and experimental movement with their groundbreaking debut album, Y, released in the same year. Under the vision of frontman Mark Stewart, the band synthesized diverse musical elements from anti-establishment lyricism to innovative compositions, challenging and reshaping the prevalent punk norms. Waddington played a vital role in shaping the band’s distinctive sound, a harmonious cacophony of dub-influenced avant-garde funk.
Y went on to become one of the definitive albums of the post-punk era. Their unique approach to music, infusing frenzied guitar riffs with reggae master Dennis Bovell’s dynamic production techniques, opened up a new avenue for post-punk, integrating elements of dub and funk. The influence of their sound was profound, extending well into the 2000s and inspiring dance-punk revival bands.
The band continued to push boundaries with their 1980 release, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, an album unapologetically critical of the political landscape, under the banner of Rough Trade.
After The Pop Group disbanded in 1981, Waddington went on to collaborate with the New Age Steppers, an acclaimed post-punk supergroup, in addition to other notable acts such as Maximum Joy, Playgroup, African Head Charge, and Judy Nylon.
In the 1990s, Waddington broadened his musical horizons, delving into the guitar-pop genre with the band Perfume. Adding another string to his bow, he played bass on “Take What You Take” from Lily Allen’s breakout 2006 album, Alright, Still.
Although Waddington did not participate in The Pop Group’s subsequent reunions, his career saw him contribute to the 1981 debut of Maximum Joy, Station MXJY, another project enhanced by Sherwood’s production. Waddington continued to make memorable appearances on records by Judy Nylon and by On-U Sound affiliated projects including New Age Steppers and African Head Charge. His energy and friendship will be sorely missed, and his unforgettable musicianship will always be remembered.
JOHN WADDINGTON – 01/01/1960 – 20/06/2023
John Waddington – former guitarist and founding member of The Pop Group – has passed away. An influential musician, and an integral member of the group, John contributed to some of the band’s most iconic recordings. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/W1KT1h5KFQ
— The Pop Group (@ThePopGroup) June 21, 2023
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