Bristol legend ‘Big Jeff’ love of gigs changed his life


Bristol legend ‘Big Jeff’ is more than a music-loving local celeb – his love of gigs changed his life

If a band plays in Bristol and the man they call Big Jeff isn’t down the front, punching the air and shaking his thatch of blond curls, did the band really play at all?

Tim Burgess, lead singer of The Charlatans, thinks not.

“A gig in Bristol without Big Jeff doesn’t count!” Burgess tweeted earlier this year after his band performed in the city and (more importantly) in the presence of Big Jeff.

His real name is Jeffrey Johns, a gentle giant who stands six foot four in his size 13 shoes. For the past decade this painfully shy music obsessive has been going to as many as ten gigs a week – and become a minor celebrity in the process.

Big Jeff is celebrated as an arbiter of taste, a walking encyclopedia of music and the unofficial ambassador of Bristol’s live scene.

His conversation is peppered with the names of terrifyingly obscure bands and he delights in everything from Congolese choral music to psychedelic post punk. If he’s not at a show, people begin to wonder if there’s a better gig taking place on the other side of town.

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2 comments on “Bristol legend ‘Big Jeff’ love of gigs changed his life
  1. Paul D says:

    What a great article and what a guy! Really challenging his issues head on there – but he’s found a technique that works and that takes some doing – but he’s benefiting from it. Nice to hear something positive!

  2. Linda Buchan says:

    I agree Paul

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