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Jon Cleary (born August 11, 1962)[1] is a funk and R&B musician based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was originally from Cranbrook in Kent, England, and for the past 20 years has studied the "musical culture and life of New Orleans," according to his website.[2] Cleary is an accomplished pianist as well as being a multi-instrumentalist, a vocalist and a songwriter.

Jon Cleary
Cleary in 2008
Background information
Born (1962-08-11) August 11, 1962 (age 56)
Kent, England
GenresFunk, R&B, soul
Years active1980–present
LabelsFHQ, Basin Street, Virgin/Point Blank, Ace
Associated actsBonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Snooks Eaglin

Jon Cleary performs with a number of music luminaries including Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Ryan Adams, and Eric Burdon. Compositions by Cleary have been recorded by notable musicians including Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt and most recently John Scofield on his album Piety Street.

Cleary's current band is Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, who have released two albums. The album, Go Go Juice, won the Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Music Album in 2016.[3]


Early lifeEdit

Cleary grew up in the South East of England attending Colliers Green Primary School, Angley Secondary and then Cranbrook School. His father played guitar but it was his uncle, returning from trips to America bringing recordings of Professor Longhair and others, who inspired his love for R&B. Cleary's focus was always more on art and music and everything that goes with it, than academic pursuits and soon left schooling behind to develop a life in music.

Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster GentlemenEdit

Jon Cleary, Cornell Williams (b) & A.J. Hall (dr) at INNtöne Jazzfestival, Austria 2016

Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen consist of Cleary on keyboard and vocals; Derwin "Big D" Perkins (born 1974) on guitar; Cornell C. Williams (born 1962) on bass and backup vocals; and A.J. Hall on drums. All of the band members, except for Cleary, were born in New Orleans.

The band is generally well received, drawing large crowds of locals at classic New Orleans venues like Tipitina's and the Maple Leaf Bar. They are also a mainstay at the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival and have played at Bonnaroo as well as other music festivals. Rolling Stone's David Fricke wrote of the Pin Your Spin album: "Cleary can be an absolute monster on his own, but Cleary’s full combo R&B is as broad, deep and roiling as the Mississippi river, the combined swinging product of local keyboard tradition, Cleary’s vocal-songwriting flair for moody Seventies soul and the spunky-meters roll of his Gentlemen".[4]


  • Alligator Lips & Dirty Rice (Ace, 1994)
  • Moonburn (Virgin/Poinblank, 1999)
  • Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen (Basin Street, 2002)
  • Pin Your Spin (Basin Street, 2004)
  • Do Not Disturb (EP) (FHQ, 2007)
  • Mo Hippa (FHQ, 2008)
  • Occapella (FHQ, 2012)
  • Go Go Juice (FHQ, 2015)
  • Dyna-Mite (FHQ, 2018)


  1. ^ [1] Archived May 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ [2] Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Grammy winner Jon Cleary: 'Music isn't a choice for me – it's a bodily function'". The Guardian. 23 February 2016.
  4. ^ Fricke, David (2004-04-21). "Jon Cleary: Pin Your Spin". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-12-03.

External linksEdit