Former Horden coal miner who has worked with the Beatles, Bowie and Queen tells his amazing story in new stage show

You probably would not recognise musician Johnny Thirkell from his face - but the former coal miner from Horden has helped to create some of the most popular music of the last four decades.

Wednesday, 31st October 2018, 5:00 am
Johnny Thirkell

He has worked with some of the biggest names in pop including David Bowie, George Michael and three out of the four Beatles including Paul McCartney.

Johnny auditioned the Spice Girls in his front room and is the trumpeter on the hit Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars record Uptown Funk.

David Bowie. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

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He is even the trumpet that Countdown viewers hear every time they do the conundrum.

In just a few weeks, Johnny is returning to his native North East as he brings his show Blown It all about his incredible life to Hart Village Hall.

Hosted by Johnny’s good friend ‘Big’ Ian Donaghy, the evening is described as like eavesdropping on two blokes having a laugh together in the pub – but with much taller tales.

Ian said: “John has been so busy doing what he does he doesn’t realise how ridiculous his life has been.

Paul McCartney

“He was all about the work and making sure it was the best it could be.

“He arranged brass arrangements for some of the biggest records there’s ever been.

“Nobody knows who he is yet they sing along to him in the car or the kitchen.”
The names that Johhny has worked for reads like a who’s who of pop and rock.

Artists also include Tom Jones, Tina Turner, The Who, Barry White, Rod Stewart, Sting, Bon Jovi, Queen, Eric Clapton, and Jamiroquai.

The Spice Girls. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

John has been all over the world, most recently on a tour across America with singer Lisa Stansfield.

Blown It is billed as an informal interactive evening of hilarious story telling, stunning live performance and embarrassing footage of 80s hair and moustaches.

Ian added: “It shines a light on the magic and lets you peep behind the curtain.

“And it inspires people to follow what they really believe in as opposed to what you think will get you paid and who knows what will happen.”

The show comes to Hart Village Hall on Saturday, November 10.

Tickets priced £8 available from