If you’re local to Manchester, you may be familiar with John Denton and his Market Street performances that have shoppers stopping in their tracks. At just 12 years old, John has already built a following for himself and recently put together a band who are already releasing music.

Earlier this year, John’s skills were recognised by none other than guitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr, who helped select him for a £1,000 grant that was created in his name.

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with John about the opportunity, how Johnny recently invited him to hang out backstage at one of his shows and most importantly, what’s around the corner for the young musician.

Hey John! You were recently selected for funding by the charity The Salford Foundation Trust, which operates the Johnny Marr Award to support talented youngsters in Manchester. How did you hear about the opportunity?

I saw it online and I applied straight away. Probably too quickly, so I re-did my application and I couldn’t believe it when they got in touch to say that I had an interview for the award.

How does it feel being the inaugural recipient of the award?

It’s a pleasure and a privilege! To be recognised by your hero is something that I couldn’t even dream of. I’m so grateful to Johnny and Salford Foundation Trust for organising the award.

You built up quite the following from playing Smiths tunes while busking on Market Street, so we’re guessing that it’s safe to say that you’re quite the Johnny Marr fan?

I’m a huge fan – probably because of my Mum who always plays The Smiths, so I’ve grown up with them really. I love the way that Johnny plays in his songs and when he plays live.

You’ve since formed your own group called The Height. How are you finding the transition from producing music as solo artist to being part of a group?

It’s so good. I loved playing gigs solo, but when you’re enjoying it with two other people, it’s even more special. Brandon and Ted are just great and we’ve had so many great experiences together – and hopefully many more to come!

As a Salford band, you must have been proud as punch to have your track ‘One to Another’ featured by Salford City FC for their away kit launch…

Yes, they called and asked us and we were really proud. We’re getting a lot of fans in Salford so we just want to get a good local following and build from there. My Dad always says that’s what The Beatles did, so we’re using that as our strategy!

You recently caught up with Johnny before his set with the Charlatans at the Piece Hall. How was it being able to thank him in person for his support?

It was a dream come true. He just opened the door to his dressing room and said “Hey John!”. Just that he knows me and is following what I’m doing means so much. It makes me want to impress him and let him know that his faith in me is well placed.

He’s not only an amazing guitar player but just a really good man. He was so friendly and really interested in how things were going. He remembered all about our conversation when he signed my record at Piccadilly Records too, so that made it even more special.

As a stalwart of the UK music scene, Johnny’s had an illustrious career and he certainly knows what he’s talking about. What advice has he given you?

He taught me how to play ‘The Charming Man’ his way! He said that when he was growing up, he didn’t have anyone like him in his school so I’m a bit like him. He said to just keep going and believing in what I’m doing and what we’re doing as a band. It was so inspirational and I’m more excited than ever to make new music.

It must have been a dream come true to be given the chance to play Johnny’s signature Fender Jaguar. Is there a particular part of your meeting with Johnny that you’ll treasure the most?

I think it was when I sat down and he just handed me his guitar. I started playing and he was just watching me. He talked to me about how he learned to play and we spoke a lot about the 12 string I’ve just bought with the money that he gave me. He said that him and his son often say that not many people play a 12 string, but it makes you a much better player.

You and your band have a special show at the iconic Salford Lads Club on 30th September. What else is around the corner for you?

We’ve got 2 new singles coming out on all platforms later this year. We’re also recording a new track later this year. In terms of gigs, we’ve got a huge gig at the Educate Awards to around 1000 people that work in schools. Next year, we’ve already got a few bookings and we’re hoping to start working with This Feeling, which could be amazing. 

You can follow John on Twitter and Instagram.

You can follow The Height on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

Back to top