Johnny Silvo

Biography by

b. Frederick John Woods, 2 December 1936, Wimbledon, London, England. Silvo was evacuated to East Sussex during World War II but on his return was sent to a Dr. Barnado’s Home in Kingston-upon-Thames,…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

b. Frederick John Woods, 2 December 1936, Wimbledon, London, England. Silvo was evacuated to East Sussex during World War II but on his return was sent to a Dr. Barnado’s Home in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, as tragically both his parents had been killed in the Blitz. He finished his education at the William Baker Technical College in Hertfordshire. He took part in musicals at school but it was not until he was serving in the army, in Germany and went to hear Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald that his ambition was fired. He bought a guitar for three pound of military tea and started playing and singling skiffle and Delta blues.

After his National Service stint Silvo started visiting the jazz clubs in and around north London and joined Mike Peters’ Florida Jazzband. He was their singer for two years and toured throughout Britain and Germany as well as guesting with other jazz bands. In 1962, he left the jazz scene for the cabaret circuit and spent a couple of summer seasons entertaining holiday makers in the Channel Islands, singing a wide variety of music. After this he started performing in the British folk clubs and joined the Sandy Glennon Agency. He was soon in great demand at clubs, colleges and universities with his pounding rhythmic guitar style and his big voice, working his way through from jazz standards to blues to humorous folk ditties, calypsos and spirituals. The focus was always on entertaining his audiences and getting the place buzzing. In 1967, he made an album with Sandy Denny and in the 70s he teamed up with bass player Dave Moses, a happy and successful partnership which lasted for nine years.

During the 70s Silvo did tours in Kenya, Canada, Belize, Malta, Gibraltar and Cyprus. Silvo also was an occasional compère of BBC Radio 2’s Country Meets Folk which featured most of the leading figures on the folk and country scene at the time. Regular television appearances around this time were with BBC’s Playschool, Tyne Tees Walk Right In, Grampian’s Swing Along with Wally Whyton, and BBC’s Both Sides Now. Silvo has lived in Norway since 1985 and continues to play and sing the music he loves.