10 Mar 2016

Australian singer Jon English dies at 66

2:03 pm on 10 March 2016

Australian singer Jon English, who starred in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, has died after complications from surgery.

Jon English performing in the 1970s.

Jon English performing in the 1970s. Photo: YouTube

English won fame for his performance as Judas Iscariot in the 1972 Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar, which also toured New Zealand. He was also a stand out performer as Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance.

He was well known for his work in music, television and on the stage, but also won is roles as Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar in the 1970s and later as

Late last month he was hospitalised due to "unexpected ill health". His management postponed a number of shows in Tamworth and Dubbo that conflicted with his scheduled surgery.

English died of complications following the surgery on a blocked aorta.

Robert Rigby, the manager of English's record label, said the sudden death had shocked everyone.

"Jon was truly an Aussie rock legend," he said. "This news has come as a very big shock to family and friends and of course the industry as a whole.

"Jon was not expecting anything more than a routine operation but due to complications unfortunately he passed away at almost midnight."

In the Australian version of Jesus Christ Superstar, English starred alongside pop royalty including John Paul Young, Marcia Hines, Doug Parkinson and Stevie Wright.

Sir Tim Rice, who co-wrote Jesus Christ Superstar with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, praised the "superb Aussie Judas" on Twitter.

Born in Hampstead, London in 1949, English came to Australia with his parents and siblings at the age of 12.

He was well known for his lead role of Bobby Rivers in 1991 in the television sitcom All Together Now.

English was cast as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at the age of 22 and toured with the show all over Australia and New Zealand for the next five years.

During this time he also recorded four albums with songs including Handbags and Gladrags, Hollywood Seven and Turn the Page - his first number one hit.

English was planning to again tour Australia from May.