Harrogate poet's role in centennial celebration of legendary Jack Kerouac the Beat writer famous for On The Road

A Harrogate beatnik poet-musician is to star in an exciting new stage production in tribute to one of the 20th century’s greatest literary legends.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 5:11 pm
Updated Friday, 19th November 2021, 5:12 pm
Harrogate's Heath Common, a former Melody Maker and Guardian journalist, will be handling dialogue with esteemed cultural writer Simon Warner in a new show called Kerouac Lives!

Heath Common, a former Melody Maker and Guardian journalist, will be handling dialogue with esteemed cultural writer Simon Warner in Kerouac Lives! - and co-writing the songs with John Hardie - in this centennial celebration of the late, great Jack Kerouac.

The team are currently deep in preparation for this new tribute in words and music to Beat writer Jack Kerouac, who would have been 100 next year.

Heath, who recently participated in the Louder Than Words Festival in Manchester, said: “The idea came from the events on Kerouac I’ve done with Simon Warner in recent years.

“They were always sold out. That’s when we realised interest in the man who wrote On The Road, among many great books, was still increasing more than 50 years after his death in 1968.

“Bands like The Libertines still cite him as a major influence.”

For Heath’s co-songwriter, John Hardie, who is in charge of the music, Keroauc Lives! is another first for a man who thrives on challenges.

John said: “The songs will follow Kerouac’s life story but it will be an eclectic mix of styles.

"The biggest challenge has been writing the sort of George Shearing jazz song Jack liked.”

The word is there is already international interest in Kerouac Lives! which premieres at Wadsworth Community Centre near Hebden Bridge on Friday, February 4, 2022.

Tickets are available from wegottickets website

Who was Jack Kerouac?

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1922, Jack Kerouac was a post-war American novelist and poet who pioneered the Beat Generation along with fellow writers William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

Best known for the book On The Road, which revolutionised the idea of how to write a novel and was a massive hit when it was first published in 1957.

Based on several cross-country road trips he made across the USA with New York friend Neal Cassidy to Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and Mexico City in the later 1940s, its freewheeling, stream of consciousness style and free-spirited, wild living spirit of rebellion virtually invented the 1960s.

Later work was also well received but his life and work went into decline in the mid-1960s with marital problems and alcoholism.

He died from an abdominal hemorrhage on October 21, 1969, at the age of 47, in St. Petersburg, Florida.