British music industry figure John ‘Knocker’ Knowles passes away, aged 73
John ‘Knocker’ Knowles, a respected and beloved figure of the British music industry who has worked with artists including Bob Marley, The Wailers and Chris Rea, passed away last week at the age of 20. 73, in Berkshire, UK.
Described as “a man of character and big heart who will be much missed”, he is survived by siblings Joe and Valerie, his sons Ben and Jack, the mother of surnames Maxine and Jill, and many of his friends in the music industry and beyond.
His funeral will be held at All Saints Church, Marlow, UK, on Wednesday, November 16 at 12:30pm, followed by a reception at The Two Brewers, Marlow. As it was with John, even more fun. Please find more details here.
Born in post-War London in 1949, Knowles grew up in very difficult circumstances, in and out of different care homes, alongside siblings Carol, Fred, Valerie and Joe.
He fell in love with boxing in his youth, from his brother Fred, a successful amateur boxer.
This love of boxing continued throughout his life, including his work with the annual Nordoff Robins Boxing Dinner, raising money for a music therapy charity, and this lifelong passion for contributed to his synonymous “Knocker” nickname.
His unconventional entry into the music business in the 1970s followed as a clerk in a London hotel, and as a milkman.
The turning point in his life came after a chance meeting with Fred Cantrell, CEO of Island Profile while selling life insurance door-to-door in New Zealand. Cantrell offered him a job as a sales representative in London, and thus the music industry’s most unlikely career was born.
Knowles quickly gained a reputation as a brilliant salesperson and an unforgettable presence. Famous for selling reggae records all over the country, he was noticed by the founder of Island Records Chris Blackwelland MD, Tim Clark.
This prompted a move into marketing, and John has worked with Island’s heyday roster – including Bob Marley and the Wailers, Musical Youth and more. Attached photo shows 28-year-old John playing ball with Bob and the Wailers in March 1977.
After leaving Island Records, Knowles established herself as a formidable label and music market manager, with positions at MCA and Eagle Rock. At MCA, a lifelong friendship was forged with Universal Music Group President & CEO, Sir Lucian Grainge.
He later joined the team at Magnet Records under Lord Michael Levy.
It was at Magnet where he first met Chris Rea, with whom he would go on to form a lasting friendship and later become his manager.
From his tumultuous beginnings, John ‘Knocker’ Knowles has become one of the most popular and beloved figures in the UK music industry. His needless sense of humour, and his ability to get along with anyone, meant that there were very few people in the UK record business that he didn’t know or didn’t know about him. And many people were touched by his generosity and kindness.
As Joe Munns, who got his start in the industry with Knocker summed it up: “Knocker is a bigger character in real life, but he’s also one of the kindest, most generous, and caring people I’ve ever had. meet. The only thing bigger than his fame is his big heart.”
“Always be there when you really need a friend and never expect anything in return. I will be forever grateful for his love and support – and I will miss him terribly.”
Munns added: “Always be there when you really need a friend and never expect anything in return. I will be forever grateful for his love and support – and I will miss him terribly.”
“Knocker Knowles is one of the most important people on the Island Records team and is most loved and respected by everyone who meets him.”
Chris Blackwell, Founder of Island Records, said: “Knocker Knowles is one of the most important people on the Island Records team and is most loved and respected by everyone who meets him.
“He was always full of joy and very hard working for many years. He’s also not someone to fight with! He will be sadly missed.”
“The music industry has lost one of its truly great figures, and I have lost one of my dearest friends. Since the day I started working at MCA Records nearly 40 years ago, Knocker and I have formed what will become a lasting friendship. “
Sir Lucian Grainge
Sir Lucian Grainge, said: “The music industry has lost one of its truly great figures, and I have lost one of my dearest friends. Since the day I started working at MCA Records nearly 40 years ago, Knocker and I have formed a lasting friendship.
“While most people know Knocker for his larger-than-life personality, behind that is a man who is thoughtful, careless, caring, generous and kind. His loyalty is absolute, and he got me through some of the toughest times of my life by providing hilarious perspectives and laughs.
“What Knocker means to me, Caroline and our family cannot be put into words. We send our deepest condolences to Jill, Ben and Jack and the entire family.”
“John Knowles is an exceptional man. John has vision, passion and a great personality. When you’re with John, it’s a real experience because he’s a bigger character than in real life. “
Lord Michael Levy
Lord Michael Levy said: “John Knowles was an exceptional man. John has vision, passion and a great personality. When you’re with John, it’s a real experience because he’s a bigger character than in real life.
“Above all, John’s love of music and artists is exceptional and he has added so much to the music industry. It’s been amazing to have John work at Magnet and M&G and he’s made a real difference in the lives of so many.
“Gilda and Michael, along with Daniel and Juliet, consider John a true and loyal friend.”
“Considering where he’s from, he was already a winner in my book by the time I met him.”
Chris Rea said: “Considering where he came from, he was already a winner in my book by the time I met him. He was my first morning phone call in over 25 years. I love him.”
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