John Vickers… An Englishman in Cyprus

In life, when you come across someone who brings virtue and kindness into a relationship, you know you’ve made a friend. When that friend re-emerges decades later with a new project, you know they’re a restless spirit like yourself and yes, “like knows like”. So let me introduce you to this “bird of a feather” who really doesn’t need any introduction being active for more than four decades in everything from music and journalism to television and translation. And all this not in his hometown Retford, England, but in Cyprus and Greece. 

This month in “Touched by Greece” I welcome John Vickers, a friend, a colleague, a restless soul whom I had the chance to work with during his stint as editor of the Odyssey, an international magazine printed in Athens and distributed to 46 countries.

What’s his connection with “Touched by Greece”, you ask? Well for me Cyprus and Greece are one and the same, preserving Hellenism and the Hellenic ideals. And if there is one person who’s made the Hellenic ideal a way of life, then that definitely is John, an active philhellene who speaks Greek, translates books from Greek to English, has composed music for a documentary about the Cyprus tragedy after the invasion by Turkey in 1974, and lives in Cyprus for more than 40 years.

I could, of course, add that it’s not every day you meet someone who was lucky enough to interview my teen idol, the great (and late) George Michael (of Cypriot descent) in 1984. 

Back to Yesterday

John Vickers… An Englishman in Cyprus

So yes, as a ‘work in progress’ as we all are, John is back as a reinvented musician … or should I say a musician who has returned to his passion. And that’s exactly what his new album is all about: going back in time, rediscovering the things that make us happy, and bringing to those things the wisdom of experience.

Aptly titled “Back to Yesterday”, the 20-track album released in January this year features songs penned way before John even set foot on Cyprus or Greece.

A cross between the Beatles and the Monkees with a traces of French chanson and a sound that takes you back to the warmth of a now vintage era, the album is a soothing break in the midst of modern-day madness. 

Despite being a “xenos” (foreigner), at least in the beginning, John today is a Larnaca native, known in Cyprus for his work as a radio/TV presenter and singer-songwriter. He’s also made a living working as journalist, editor and translator.

His passion for music and languages started way back. He studied French and Italian at the University of Leicester but somehow he found himself in Nice, France in 1971, where he met legendary singer-songwriter Charles Trenet (1913-2001). That chance meeting led to a recording contract with CBS France and to concerts with Trenet across France and Belgium. Despite the record deal however, John decided to continue with his studies instead. 

John Vickers... An Englishman in Cyprus
John Vickers interviewing George Michael on his 21st birthday in June 1984 during the legendary pop star’s visit to Cyprus. Photo credit @ Kyriakos Andreou.

A year later, he moved to Cyprus where he made his first professional radio appearance on the nightly international program of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC). In the next 17 years, “Request Time” would become the most popular radio show in the country and in the Eastern Mediterranean region thanks to the sincere discussions with listeners on the air.

From there, John left to join the team that would set up the island-nation’s first independent radio station. He then transitioned to journalism and television. Fluent in French, Italian, German, and Latin, John decided it was time to delve into the wonderful world of the Greek language and all this for a role in the CyBC TV adaptation of Brendan Behan’s The Hostage. It was only a matter of time before he started presenting radio and TV shows in Greek and entering a new realm: translation.

A Renaissance Man

John Vickers… An Englishman in Cyprus

A modern-day Renaissance Man, John has in his life so far translated more than 30 books by Cypriot and Greek authors, film and documentary scripts, poetry and song lyrics, worked for the Cyprus Mail, The Cyprus Weekly, The Cyprus Review, Time Out Cyprus; released a handful albums; and worked with Cypriot songwriters and singers, including the now famous then 15-year-old Evridiki for the country’s Eurovision participation.

Which brings us to today and “Back To Yesterday”, a new album which contains songs written by John in 1969-1972 but never recorded, including one track with French lyrics by Trenet.

With song titles like “Back to Yesterday” – a soft instrumental and intro that lures you into a romantic state of mind, “Life is What You Make It”, “Don’t Say No” and “Love is Waiting for Us All” provide answers to questions that concern us all. 

Touched by Greece!

Guests and friends tell us how they’ve been ‘Touched by Greece’

John Vickers… An Englishman in Cyprus

1) How were you ‘touched by Greece’ or Cyprus (by this I mean Hellenic culture overall)?

I basically fell in love with everything Greek – the language, literature, music and art, the food, the sunshine, people’s friendliness, the closeness of the extended family and much more.

2) What does Greece or Cyprus mean to you?

Cyprus is my home. People often assume that I’m Cypriot, due to my fluency in Greek, and after 50 years here, I feel like a foreigner whenever I go back to the UK.

3) Your favourite place in Greece and Cyprus?

Limassol and Nicosia both have a more impressive cultural life than Larnaca, where I live but the older I become, the more I enjoy this quiet, low-profile city by the sea.

Grab yourself a Greek craft beer or some wine, sit down with John’s “Back to Yesterday” and get carried away by the vintage feel of a carefree era when music really soothed the soul.

“Back to Yesterday” by John Vickers is available in here. You can also follow John on Spotify

Join our Newsletter - Subscribe Now!

Enjoyed the Read? Share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.