Originally from Dorset, John started to learn trombone at the age of 13, when instrumental tuition was introduced at his school. By the age of 17, he had become principal trombonist of the Dorset County Youth Orchestra, conductor of the Weymouth Silver Band and was playing with the premier championship section band of the area. At the age of 18 he formed the Wessex Youth Band Course, attracting up to 300 students each summer, which he continued to run with his wife Margaret for 34 years.
After studying music and education in Doncaster, he went on to teach music both in the classroom and as an instrumental teacher in Dorset, Bradford and Staffordshire before being appointed as head of brass in Barnsley, where he later became the manager of the instrumental music service. He has conducted bands at all levels from youth to championship section and worked as an adjudicator at brass band contests throughout the country. A highlight of his conducting career was winning the World Music Championships in Kerkrade, Holland in 1985 with the Ratby Band. As part of his job in Barnsley, he took over as conductor of the Barnsley Metropolitan Band in 1985 but at that time it only had a handful of players. Since then the band has flourished and has continued to do so under new leadership after he retired. John has regularly conducted and acted as tutor on various music courses as well as being a professional conductor for several bands, preparing them for contest performances.