Vale John Blades
John Blades was a performance artist, broadcaster, structural engineer and dear friend. He passed away on 25 Nov 2011. Despite suffering a debilitating case of MS, that left him with no movement below the neck, John refused to be defined by his illness. With a fierce determination he lived life to the full, performing and recording with his experimental group, The Loop Orchestra, pursuing his eclectic and rather eccentric interests in true crime, experimental sound, Outsider Art and what he termed “extreme human expression”, and making his fortnightly radio show Background Noise for 2MBS FM. Back in 1990 I interviewed John and colleague Peter Doyle about The Loop Orchestra. In 2010, John received one of his highest accolades, winning the Walkley Award for Social Equity Journalism for the radio documentary The too hard basket, a candid and insightful exploration of sex and disability. The documentary also won the The Human Rights Award and Best Documentary from the Asian Broadcasting Union. One of his interviewees was sex worker Rachel Wotton the subject of a video documentary Scarlet Road: A Sex Worker’s Journey. John features briefly in the program. He died two weeks shy of his 52nd birthday, with so much more to do.