Back in April 1980, I was working as a photographer at the Marlboro International Festival of Country Music staged at Wembley Arena and had the good fortune to visit one of my all time heroes, the legendary singer Don Everly in his dressing room. Engaged in conversation with Don was supremo guitarist Albert Lee and his friend and former band member from their Country Fever days, Jon Derek. I had been a fan of Jon since the first time I saw him and Albert perform in 1968 at the Nashville Room in London and, therefore, felt really privileged to be in such hallowed company. As the three of them exchanged stories and went through a number of tunes, sharing Don’s guitar, I was able to capture some informal photographs of this historic occasion.


Jon was a photographer’s dream - you could not fail to get good pictures of this handsome guy whose on stage presence was totally captivating and whose music was second to none. As Albert Lee has said, “Jon was the real deal”; and Albert should know as he has worked with the best in the business. 


People were drawn to Jon by his warmth of personality and enthusiasm for country music, so when the big names were in town, Jon would be there with them.


April 1981 heralded the Silk Cut International Festival of Country Music at Wembley Arena and I attended the pre-festival dinner at Kensington’s Royal Garden Hotel. After the meal a number of the festival’s stars drifted into the lounge where Tammy Wynette and her husband George Richey sat down at the piano and started singing. They were soon joined by George Jones, Marty Robbins, Hank Thompson and Vern Gosdin when, in came Jon Derek and his wife Sandy. Jon casually strolled up to the singers and joined in. To my amazement he was not only accepted by these international stars but he also became their centre of attention, with them singing along with him! It takes talent to hold your own when singing with such legends and Jon did that with the ease of the true professional that he was.


I always considered Jon to be Britain’s best Country singer and felt so proud to see him in this situation. Luckily, I was able to put my camera to work and again capture a historic moment, as the photographs show.