So who the hell is Blind John anyway?

So who is Blind John? #blindjohnsguitars

“Usually, people who ask ‘do you know who I am?’ don't have a clue themselves”

Christina Engela


Blind John is a character, an actor, a person to become on stage or in public. He’s a figment of my imagination but he’s also very very real…

Let me tell you the story of how I came to earn the moniker #BlindJohn

A long time ago I worked in an industry called Industrial Rope Access, these were back in the days when people hadn’t heard of industrial climbing or thought much about using professional abseilers (affectionately known then as ‘Dopes on ropes’) to provide work on hard to reach places. So… there I was, hanging off buildings or oil rigs doing all manner of tasks, from demolition to inspection…

So one Monday I wasn’t meant to be working I got a call to join a crew starting that day, however I wasn’t to join the crew until the Tuesday.

So there I was parking my car in a car park of a Tower Block in East Ham (thats in East London, England for any of my readers outside the UK!) about to embark on a visual inspection of the concrete on the outside of a 14 story tower block.

Im locking up the car when the supervisor comes up to me and gives me a bizarro order.

“John, I need you to get as much gear on as you can asap! I need to see more gear than you can possibly need hanging off your harness and add a couple of rescue kits as well for good measure”

I laugh and ask “whats going on?”

“just get the gear on” he says handing me a manky looking Oxfam bag “ then put this on,

“the client office is round there… this is gonna be fucking hysterical” he adds before rushing off.

I look in the bag while decorating myself with more rope access kit than the stores of my previous employer probably owned. In the bag was a fold up white stick and a pair of the oversize National Health issue dark glasses blind people wear. Well it didn’t take an idiot to guess what he wanted but who in their right mind is going to believe a Blind man can abseil off a 14 story building while VISUALLY inspecting concrete for flaws!

Well little did I know that the crew had spent the previous day prepping the client for the arrival of this amazing blind abseiler that not only could navigate open roofs with 12 inch parapets unaided but could also identify visual signs of concrete cancer by sound alone.

So off I jangled to the client office with the tap tap of the white stick, I walked not his office with a clatter and while giving a couple of the crew loud cracks in the shin with my white stick I grasped his hand and doing my best Stevie Woodier head wobble I introduced my self and sat down.

Well for the next 2 weeks solid this guy beloved a blind man was hanging 10 stories up on the outside of a tower block waiving a white stick around shouting “that bits not so good but here’s ok!”

“That guys amazing…” I would hear… “hows he doing that.. he seems to know exactly where he is!” much to the inaudible laughs of the rest of the crew.

Well anyone who has worked on a building site or been in the forces or hell even from school will know how easily a nickname sticks. Well on this particular job (and yes the names have been changed to protect the guilty) being the fact there was two Johns, one Tom and a Liam we had to differentiate somehow…. so it became Big John and Blind John….. and Blind John stuck.

It followed me throughout a 20 year career as an abseiler working all over the world, it even stuck as a manager of high profile projects in Australia and Dubai! In hindsight I think the nickname became the person, everyone knew ‘Blind John’ so ‘Blind John’ became the person.

Ultimately I left the rat race, I had to, lets just say I kinda pushed into it, and it became one of the best decisions ever made for me, so, in my quest for happiness I started my little company and needed a name and Blind Johns Guitars just…well… fit!

Now, 10 years later the name doesn’t even feel like a nickname anymore, nobody has called me Blind John to my face in years and as we all get older when the world turns, things change and he feels more like a different person…a person i used to be, almost separate and like I said to begin with, he’s become a character to be played, he’s not really me anymore, he often comes out if I pick a guitar up, he sometimes comes out when I design a guitar or a cab, and he sometimes appears in those quiet moments of reflective insomnia. But it's not really me, it's a name I put on my guitars these days.

Blind John is a name, a name for maker of Guitars, a name for a player of Guitars, he’s a reference to a character. A character Im glad is no longer permanent.

But Ive got to be honest... sometimes I do miss him, sometimes i wish he was here more and sometimes I wish he would just fuck right off!

So there you have it… in brief but the truth and as the great Tommy Lee once said...

“There are three sides to every story… your side, my side and the truth”

Working under the Heli Deck on the Brent Charlie 2006

‘Blind’ John

Jan 20

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