John Howard "Johnny" Chester (born 26 December 1941) is an Australian singer-songwriter, who started his career in October 1959 singing rock'n'roll and in 1969 changed to country music.
John Howard Chester was born on 26 December 1941 and grew up in Melbourne's suburb of Preston. Chester attended Bell Primary and followed with Preston Technical School. At the age of 14-years-old he left school and worked as a brake specialist for his father. He had learned to play the drums, from the age of six, and guitar. In October 1959 Chester formed a band, The Jaywoods, and organised dances at a West Preston church hall.
The Jaywoods' rehearsals were attracting a crowd to St. Cecilia's Hall in West Preston, which turned into regular Saturday night dance". By 1960 The Jaywoods became Johnny Chester and The Chessmen with Chester on lead vocals. Chester was also backed by The Thunderbirds, which were an instrumental group formed in 1957. Both backing bands maintained independent careers, released their own material and backed other artists. In April 1961 Chester's first stadium performance was supporting Connie Francis and Johnny Burnette.
One of Chester’s early fans was radio DJ, Stan Rofe, who introduced him to the A&R manager of Melbourne’s W&G records. Chester signed with the label and issued his debut single, "Hokey Pokey", in May 1961 with backing by The Thunderbirds.
The track became a top 10 hit in Melbourne and a series of 9 more hit singles followed, establishing him as a teen idol, in Melbourne. He had also issued his debut album, Wild and Warm in 1963 and two extended plays, Johnny Chester's Hit Parade and My Blues and I, with W&G. In February that year he started hosting his own TV show, Teen Time on Ten, on a regional Gippsland channel.
He recorded further material for W&G on their sub-label, In Records but none charted and by mid-1966 he parted with the W&G and The Chessmen. He then formed the Johnny Chester Trio. As well as maintaining his musical career, for eight years, Chester was a DJ on Melbourne's radio station, 3UZ. In May 1968 Chester formed a new backing band, Jigsaw who also had an independent career. His last pop single, "Heaven Help the Man", appeared in 1968 on Astor Records. In 1969 his first two country music singles, "Green Green" and "Highway 31", were issued on Phillips Records. Johnny Chester and Jigsaw signed to Fable Records, owned by Tudor (ex-W&G Records).
In August 1970 Jigsaw, without Chester, had a number-one hit with a cover version of United Kingdom group, Christie's "Yellow River", it was co-credited with Sydney-based band Autumn which also covered the track. With Chester, they had five hit singles on the Go-Set National Top 40: "Gwen (Congratulations)" (No. 26, October 1971), "Shame and Scandal" (No. 13, February 1972), "Midnight Bus" (No. 25, December), "The World's Greatest Mum" (No. 9, August 1973) and "She's My Kind of Woman" (No. 19, June 1974).
Chester has won Golden Guitars at the Country Music Awards of Australia for best selling track in 1975 In 1977 Chester toured nationally, backed by the Blue Denim Country Band, and also compared Country Road for ABC-TV. In 1979 he formed Hotspur and continued to issue country music singles and albums into the 1980s.
From 1981 to 1983, at three successive Tamworth Country Music Festivals, he won Male Vocalist of the Year. In 1994 he was awarded the Songmaker of the Year Award from the Tamworth Songwriters Association.
In October 1964 Johnny Chester married Larraine "Liz" Isbister, a stenographer. Liz had attended the same primary school and their grandparents were neighbours. The couple had begun dating in September 1959 – to the Royal Melbourne Show. As from October 2012 they have three daughters, eight grandchildren and live in Rosebud. (Info edited from Wikipedia)