Composer of Starry Eyes and Other Gems Succumbs to Cancer
The pop music world lost one of its brightest lights when John Wicks passed away on Sunday. He was 65. Wicks was born and raised in Reading, UK, and was best known as co-leader of The Records, the seminal UK power pop band whose song “Starry Eyes,” with its irresistible chorus (“I don’t want to argue”) and cheeky wordplay (“the writ has hit the fan”), has become a classic of the powerpop genre.
The Records recorded three albums, featuring tunes mostly composed by Wicks and drummer Will Birch. Among their best known songs are the aforementioned “Starry Eyes.” “Teenerama,” “All Messed Up And Ready To Go,” “Girls That Don’t Exist,” “I Don’t Remember Your Name” and “Hearts In Her Eyes” (covered by The Searchers), all written or co-written by Wicks.
In 1994 Wicks emigrated to the U.S. and made Los Angeles his home. He reformed The Records, under the moniker John Wicks & The Records and in 1998 they released the album ‘Rock ‘ola’, and nine years later, ‘Rotate,’ both of which marched along the power pop trail that the original band had blazed. John Wicks & The Records also played several shows and music festivals, including Poptopia and International Pop Overthrow, in Los Angeles. In recent years the band had toured overseas, including in Japan, and Wicks had done an acoustic tour with fellow power pop luminary, Paul Collins, and most recently, Wicks had worked with and done shows with Bangles drummer, Debbi Peterson.
On a personal note, both my wife Rina and I were deeply saddened to hear the news of John Wicks’ passing. I’ll never forget walking into a Manhattan Record shop at the end of 1978 and hearing an amazing pop song, which I bought on the spot: it was “Starry Eyes.” I became a quick fan of The Records, and of its lead singer, and as we all know now The Records have become part of the pantheon of UK power pop. I am honored to have gotten to know John and to be able to call him a friend, and Rina and I were proud to have him and his lady Valerie Bliss at our wedding last year. Despite the fact that John had a rare and pernicious form of pancreatic cancer, he battled it as long as anyone could, playing music along the way and living his life as well as possible. He will be missed by many.