John Rostill

John Rostill
Birth nameJohn Henry Rostill
Born(1942-06-16)16 June 1942
Kings Norton, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Died26 November 1973(1973-11-26) (aged 31)
Radlett, Hertfordshire, England
GenresRock and roll, pop
Occupation(s)Bassist, musician, songwriter
InstrumentsBass guitar
Years active1962–1973
Associated actsThe Shadows, the Interns, Tom Jones

John Henry Rostill (16 June 1942 – 26 November 1973) was an English musician, bassist and composer, recruited by the Shadows to replace Brian Locking.[1]


Born in Kings Norton, Birmingham, England, Rostill attended Rutlish School in south London (1953–59). He worked with several artists before joining the Shadows, including Bournemouth band the Interns – nowadays sometimes confused with Welsh band the Interns, who were based in London at this time signed with Tito Burns Agency; in fact, they were two different bands – the Flintstones and a stint as part of Zoot Money's early backing band. He also played in the bands recruited to back such visiting artists as the Everly Brothers and Tommy Roe.

Stylistically, Rostill combined the solidity of Brian Locking and the adventurousness of Jet Harris. Many of his bass lines were heavily syncopated and he developed a range of new sounds on the Burns bass during his time with the group, a longer period than Harris and Locking put together. To many players, Rostill was ahead of his time and included double-stopping in his technique. Unusually for that time, Rostill sometimes played bass finger-style as well as with a plectrum, depending on the sound he wanted.

After the Shadows' break-up at the end of the 1960s, Rostill toured with Tom Jones. Although he was not involved in the Marvin, Welch & Farrar project – he was with Tom Jones at the time (1970–72) – He had no plans to reunite with the Shadows as he wanted to continue working with Tom Jones and focus on composing.

Rostill was a prolific songwriter, contributing to the Shadows' output from the start (both as a solo composer and as part of the mid-sixties "Marvin/Welch/Bennett/Rostill" team). This combination composed the hits "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt" (a UK no. 5, 1964) and “Genie with the Light Brown Lamp" (UK no. 17, 1965)[2] as well as all the tunes on the 1964 Rhythm & Greens EP.

They also wrote the Cliff Richard and the Shadows hits, "I Could Easily Fall (In Love with You)" (UK no. 6, 1964), "Time Drags By" (UK no. 10, 1966) and "In the Country" (UK no. 6, 1967).[3]

He later went on to write for other artists such as Elvis Presley and Olivia Newton-John ("Let Me Be There" (US no. 6, 1973), "If You Love Me, Let Me Know" (US no. 5, 1974) and "Please Mr. Please" (US no. 3, 1975), the last co-written with Bruce Welch).[1]

As a Shadow, Rostill played a prototype Burns "Shadows" bass guitar which differed from the production model that followed. A replica of his bass was produced by Burns London in late 2006. His personal favourite instrument was a Fender Jazz bass, which he played in both the Terry Young Band and in Bournemouth band, the Interns. He also used it with the Shadows towards the end when the Burns instrument began to wear out.

John Rostill died in Radlett, Hertfordshire, England, on 26 November 1973 aged 31. He was found dead from barbiturate poisoning in his recording studio by his wife and Bruce Welch. The coroner recorded a "verdict of suicide while in a depressed state of mind".[4]

He was survived by his wife Margaret and his son Paul, who was a year old when his father died.

Early career

1963 – Zoot Money Quartet
1964 – The Interns





  • Funny Old World by Rob Bradford.


  1. ^ a b Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 256. CN 5585.
  2. ^ Charlie Gillett, Simon Frith (1975). Rock File 3 (1st ed.). St. Albans, Herts.: Panther Books Ltd.
  3. ^ Charlie Gillett, Simon Frith (1976). Rock File 4 (1st ed.). St. Albans, Herts.: Panther Books Ltd. p. 291.
  4. ^ "Pop star took his own life". Liverpool Echo (29, 209). 12 December 1973. p. 1 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ Overview for Swingers' Paradise (1965)", Turner Classic Movies page

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