John played drums with Gentle Giant for most of its lifetime, beginning with Octopus. His hard-bashing style was well liked by fans, as it complemented (and perhaps controlled) the delicious excesses of the group's composers.
John's father was from Liverpool and his mother from Wales. The family settled in Carmarthen and then moved to the Swansea area. He had dabbled with drums as a young teenager but didn't practice regularly. At 15 he ran away to live with his aunt in Liverpool because he was not getting on with his parents. The Mersey beat era was in swing, this being 1961. He suddenly found there was a need for drummers and sent for his kit, playing by night an working as a baker's boy by day. On returning to Wales 2 years later he was in demand having been part of the Mersey scene and later joined Eyes of Blue. EoB won a local music award and John's mum still has the cup in her attic. (Thanks to Antony Bowles.)
John's nickname is "Pugwash," inspired by a well-loved children's TV character, Captain Pugwash, from the 1950s or 1960s. However, the nickname was bestowed so long ago that nobody remembers the reason why. (Confirmed by John and his brother, Tim.)
John is a keen ornithologist.
After Gentle Giant
John lives in Wales. Until 1996 or thereabouts, he played drums for the rock band Man. He tours in Wales with a Welsh pantomime theater act. He is also working as a drummer for soundtracks of certain Welsh TV shows, and appears on several Welsh recordings with different bands.
John played drums on one single, "Flying Hero Sandwich / My Last Band," released by Pete Brown & Piblokoto. (Thanks to Sergio E. Risios Bath.)
John also appears on an LP called Black Hole Star by the Neutrons, a band composed of members of Man and Help Yourself. Diana Green reports it's "OK stuff, about like your little-below-average Man album (I really like about half of Man's stuff, the rest I find tolerable, so this is not an insult), and Pugwash appears on about half the cuts."
John also plays drums on Big Sleep's Bluebell Wood, described as "folky a la Mellow Candle, a bit of blues a la Cressida, and classical a la early Renaissance." (Thanks to Tatsurou Ueda.)
In late 2001, John reportedly gave up the drums due to arthritis in his foot. However, that seems not to have stopped him: in 2006 he has been playing drums with the newly reformed Wild Turkey, a band that supported Gentle Giant on tour occasionally. John also appears on their new album, "You & Me In The Jungle."