‘A kind-hearted man who had so much left to give’ - tributes follow death of Cambridge journalist, PR specialist and Bomb Factory front man John Clare
Family and friends have spoken of the devastating loss of John Clare - journalist, PR specialist and front man of post-punk band Bomb Factory - who died unexpectedly at the age of 49.
John was a talented communicator both in his professional writing and on stage with his lyrics. A graduate of the University of Exeter, John completed a postgraduate diploma in newspaper journalism and worked as a reporter at the Surrey Advertiser and the Stockport Express where he met Karen, a sub-editor he would marry at Newnham College, Cambridge in 2001.
Both started at the Cambridge Evening News in 2000 and John also wrote record reviews and about the local music scene. He appeared in open mic events as a punk poet and was a co-founder in 2002 of Bomb Factory - July 7 this year will mark the 20th anniversary of their debut gig at The Portland Arms. Their first release, on Repeat Records, was on white vinyl and was a split single with Attila the Stockbroker. The group toured Germany and France and supported The Fall at The Junction.
John covered the Soham murders trial at the Old Bailey before joining Masons news agency, during which time he also worked as a reporter for Anglia TV. He moved into public relations in 2006, first with the RSPB and then Anglian Water for seven years.
In June 2018, John joined Cambridge University Press & Assessment. Mandy Hill, managing director of academic publishing, with whom John worked closely as PR and research communications manager, said: “Everyone who worked with John is going to miss him terribly.
“He was brilliant at his job and a joy to work with. His ability to distil our thoughts and ambitions into a clear story or announcement never failed to impress me. I have worked with John on some extremely challenging issues and will always be grateful for the thoughtful approach he took to all our discussions.
“But it will be the loss of him as a person, his humour, candour, empathy and integrity, that will leave the biggest hole.”
Ciaran Nelson, Anglian Water’s director of brand and communications, said: “John was an exceptional writer and talent yet there was much, much more to the man beyond his work. It was this rich tapestry behind his understated exterior that had us all enthralled – as he often did while regaling us with stories from Bomb Factory and as a reporter.
“The communications and writing community has lost a fantastic talent, and we all have lost a hugely intelligent, decent and funny man who will be sorely missed.”
John’s current band, Paint Nothing, supported Idles at The Portland Arms in 2017 and released an album, Influencer, last March. They were due to be in the studio in February to record more material.
David Williams, drummer in both bands with John, said: “First and foremost, John was a great friend. We made music together over the last 20 years and we are all devastated by his loss.”
Karen said: “John was a master wordsmith and a creative soul, and he really spoke to people with his lyrics. He was a lovely, kind-hearted, funny man who made lifelong friends wherever he went.
“We all are devastated. He was a brilliant dad, husband, son, son-in-law, uncle and friend, and still had so much to give.”
John died at his home in Cambridge on January 3. He is survived by Karen, their son William and his mother Julia.