Jon was a postman in Manchester in the 1970s and was one of the attendees at the first Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall. He has been described as “a committed and omnipresent figure on the punk and post-punk scene in Manchester”, and became known for his eccentric behaviour at many local rock gigs during the late 1970s, including those of acts such as Joy Division and The Fall; He initially became known for waiting until headline bands had finished their set before mounting the stage in a drunken state, grabbing the microphone, and performing his own versions of rock ‘n’ roll classics such as “Louie Louie”.
After a handful of solo performances, he was joined by local musicians, forming a band and becoming a regular support act, and when a special concert was held to mark the last night of Manchester’s Electric Circus venue, with a bill that included Joy Division, The Fall, Steel Pulse, and John Cooper Clarke, he closed proceedings by performing “Louie Louie” backed by Buzzcocks, with an introduction from Pete Shelley: “That’s it from us, but the favourite of all Manchester, the one guy who never appears on the bill but is always there – Jon the Postman”.
A further recording session known as Jon the Postman’s Legendary Lost Session was never released other than on a bootleg, although two songs turned up on a long-unavailable compilation LP entitled The Disparate Cognoscenti released on the Fall’s now-defunct Cog Sinister label, which Jon helped to run, while studying for a degree in Politics & History at Salford University.
After he lost his job with the GPO, Jon travelled around Europe and spent five years living in San Francisco, before returning to Manchester.
Jon’s antics in taking the stage and his incompetent performances have been taken as a reference point for both other musicians and a politician.
Music writer Steven Wells compared Sarah Palin to Jon the Postman in 2008, comparing Palin’s public speaking to Jon’s onstage performances.
Jon’s body was discovered at his home on 26 July 2015 – he had apparently been dead for 3 days – from a burst mitral valve caused by an infection.