Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The late great John Pac

John Pac, or John Paculabo to give him his full name, was the rock who, together with Sue McClellan, held Parchment together through a turbulent and amazing seven years.

He died after a year long struggle with cancer on Tuesday January 22nd 2013, aged 66.

I always felt John was responsible for the more raucous elements of the Parchment sound, the pulsing beat/rock/folk that permeated the Light Up the Fire album and returned on the last album Rehearsal for a Reunion in songs like Jesus on that Mainline.

He was also responsible for the stunning mandolin sound that underlay so much of their music and to this day makes it exceptional and sought after by collectors.

We've never been able to get a proper history of Parchment's precursor, the Liverpool gospel folk band, Trinity Folk here. But John was in it and may have founded it. The Sound Vision recordings show that raucous, irreverent folk sound that was later transformed into pop.

With Parchment, he was clear about his personal vision. The song Hard Road appeared on Hollywood Sunset, the band's second album, and accurately prophesied the journey the band were about to undertake, documented in painful detail in the pages of Buzz magazine. John, giving interviews, was quite clear that he wanted his band to be a Christian pop band operating in the world at large, lighting a fire in a troubled world, but not preaching, simply sharing a different vision of living. That album was spurned by the Christian press and failed to break the mainstream. Their third album was then cancelled by Pye Records ( which probably had a different vision of selling to the Christian community).

Then Parchment teamed up with the Christian label, Myrrh records - which had done much to promote the US Jesus People movement, and produced their one and only album to sell in the USA, Shamblejam, where it retains a cult following.

They then joined Pilgrim records and became producers, setting up the Grapevine label (another 'cult' label) and producing their last album Rehearsal for a Reunion.

The band finally ended its life at Greenbelt 1978 with a rousing anthemic final rendition of Light Up the Fire.
All four of their albums are all-time classics. In the last 40 years their music has blessed many, many people in many ways. The song Light Up the Fire is a favourite in British schools and among many people - in spite of quite challenging lyrics. Parchment songs appear on the wierdest compilation albums.

The band's named lived on a little longer as a small music publishing title, Parchment Music, handling the copyright for Grapevine artists. Then as Grapevine wound to an end, John stayed with Pilgrim records, which was then taken over by Marshall Morgan and Scott.

He ended up at Kingsway Records as chief executive, overseeing the publication of new generations of worship and Christian music and seeing a world emerge in which the most talented Christian musicians were at last able to mingle - and talk about their faith - far more freely. But that is a story for someone else to tell.

When John found this site, he proved a great friend and encourager, contributing information and ultimately sharing the story of that lost, third album. There was a reticence in a couple of areas. As a music publisher, he clearly had strong views on copyright (which we mostly respected and shared). And there was, maybe, a slight embarrassment about the youthful exuberance and irreverence of Parchment. It was notable that one of the band's best remembered songs, Zip Bam Boo, did not appear on the marvellous Simply...Parchment collection that John issued through Kingsway. John had hoped finally to issue some of the songs from the lost album last year but had initially resisted their release, feeling their standards did not match Parchment's other work.

People like me believe that those bestowed with gifts such as John had will be given a special place in heaven - and allowed the blessing of continued creativity, backed by angels.

I have two regrets. The first is that when John first found this site he invited me to call him for more information. I started compiling questions - there were a lot - but was too busy at the time to make the call.

The second is that on this earth there will be no Parchment reunion. There was a rehearsal for one (the album). But elsewhere? Why not!


Further tributes will follow

The Kingsway Publishing Tribute to John


Stephen Carr, Gillingham said...

Oh Dear! another sad loss to the world. Music is the lubricant of life and John's contribution to the Christian music scene will not be lost. God bless Brother.

Amery Calven said...

Stephen Carr, Gillingham ! i totally agreed with you it is a big lost for musical world.I am a big fan of his.every one should listen his music to which are so pleasant to listen. in this way he will always be alive in our memories. Like during my bar harbor bus tours . i just enjoyed his good ones in my whole journey.