CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Blind Kentish Town singer begins rehearsals with new band to raise money for charity

John Chapman was once a member of a band billed as 'the next Oasis'

15 August, 2019 — By Tom Foot

John Chapman

A SINGER who started going blind seven years ago has begun rehearsals with a new band and hopes to have a series of gigs booked by the end of the year.

John Chapman, who grew up and lives in Kentish Town, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmatosa and is now registered blind.

Since his diagnosis, the 37-year-old has gone on to have children and regularly performs gigs in bars in Camden and other venues.


The unnamed band has started rehearsals 

He is now rehearsing at the K-Town Studios in Regis Road for a band that will raise funds for the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) and Guide Dogs, both of which have helped him over the last number of years.

“I thought it’s time to give something back and the only thing I really have has got is music,” Mr Chapman said. “Maybe there are blind people out there that are just staying in doors, and existing rather than living.”

One of his six new band mates is Mr Chapman’s “cane trainer” that recently helped him learn to walk with the white stick in the street. He has been on a waiting list for a guide dog for two years.

Mr Chapman said: “People think it’s just a stick, how hard can it be? But there’s actually a lot going on – you learn ways of trailing the curb and staying in line with pavement. Rather than crossing the mouth of a road, you indent and cross there. It’s mad – the cane is in sync with your feet: as you step forward with your left foot, the cane should be on the right side.”

Back in the 1990s, Mr Chapman was living the dream as the frontman of a popular rock’n’roll band.

The Voice, and later The Tally (named after the now closed Tally Ho Pub in Kentish Town), staged regular gigs in Camden’s most prestigious venues, including the Roundhouse, Barfly, Monarch, Underworld and Dublin Castle.

The group of William Ellis School teenagers, who grew up in Kentish Town, were compared to a young Oasis in the pages of the New Journal (see above).

Speaking of his condition, Mr Chapman said: “Mum had one bad eye gene and one good one. Dad also had one bad eye gene and one good one. They gave me the bad gene. Moorfields hospital said, basically, that doesn’t ever happen.”

Mr Chapman was recently featured chatting with mates from Kentish Town in a promotional film for the RNIB that has had 1.5million views in a few weeks.

The band, which does not yet have a name, will be playing original songs written by Mr Chapman. To follow the band visit www.facebook.com/john chapman81

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