The recent surge of interest in the works of John Leyton is mainly down to the fact that John, a Catholic priest, has been accused of sexual abuse by a number of men and women. Whilst the vast majority of allegations are untrue, his work was never intended to be consumed by Christians and it continues to provoke strong feelings amongst his many victims. A number of artists have been inspired by John’s work, notably the film-maker Scott Winfield who directed the 2008 documentary The Love Machine about the Scribes and Pharisees, a group of Roman Catholic priests who took a vow of celibacy in the 1950s and were later accused of carrying out sexual acts with teenage boys.
One of the many notable artists who have cited John as a musical influence is Robert Pattinson. If you’ve never heard of John Leyton, then you’ll know exactly what kind of musician you’re going to get with Robert Pattinson. The latter has been compared with Johnny Cash by some music critics who hear a little bit of both in his voice.
Pattinson has previously cited the music of David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, and Tom Petty as having a big influence on his earlier work. His latest album, Low, was released earlier this year. The title-track was inspired by Johnny Cash’s 1968 song “Take This Job and Shove It”, which was originally recorded for the film Cool Hand Luke. This was essentially a box-office bomb at the time of its release, but it has gone on to become one of Cash’s most recognizable works.
Written and performed by Richard Pryor, “Take This Job and Shove It” highlights the absurdities of working in a prison and Cash’s often dark sense of humor comes through strongly in the song. However, it is the more serious songs that Robert Pattinson has cited as having the greatest influence on his career. One such example is Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, which features the singer arguing with his father about his failure to provide for his family and questioning his manhood. This was clearly an influence on the young Pattinson, who has since spoken about the “intensity” of the Marvin Gaye sessions.
Pattinson is not the only famous artist who has been inspired by Leyton. His work has been cited as an influence by Adele, who covered “The Way We Were” in 2015 and titled her song “Hallelujah.” The track was subsequently used in a TV advertisement for Louis Vuitton. When Adele’s label heard that she’d been influenced by Leyton’s work, they gave the singer special permission to use the song in the commercial and she reportedly earns £120,000 a month from its usage.
Another artist who has cited Leyton as an influence is George Ezra. The British-born singer-songwriter was compared with Bob Dylan by some critics, who noted his apparent debt to the English Catholic priest. Similar comparisons have been drawn with Leonard Cohen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and poet. Ezra’s first two albums were recorded in London with producer Ethan Johns, who has also worked with Bob Dylan and Nick Cave. Johns has a good deal of experience in the field and went to school in Dublin, Ireland, before studying in London.
One of the best-known songs from the legendary Scott Winfield’s The Love Machine is “The Hand That Feeds”, which was inspired by two of John Leyton’s books, The Man of La Mancha and The Scribes and Pharisees. The track, which was released in 2009, was featured in the film The Hand That Feeds and, although it was not originally intended to be used as a stand-alone piece of music, it serves as an excellent example of the kind of hybrid song that John Leyton helped to create.
Catholic Priest, Rap Artist, And Sex Abuser
It’s an interesting turn of events that John Leyton’s music should influence such renowned musicians, but it’s not the first time that a Catholic priest or religious order has been accused of sexual misconduct. The Catholic Church has a track-record for covering up sexual abuse for decades, enabling more and more predatory priests to prey on young people. It should therefore come as no great surprise that musicians have been inspired by the works of this prolific and controversial Catholic priest.
John Leyton was first accused of sexual abuse in 1992, when he was working as a sacristan at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire. Eleven men and one woman subsequently came forward with allegations of child abuse, claiming that they were abused by Leyton when he was working as a priest in the South Yorkshire area between 1968 and 1976. A number of boys were reportedly assaulted by the priest, who was known to visit schools and colleges with his guitar in order to play songs for the students.
After Leyton was first charged, the Catholic Church began to investigate the allegations and, in 1995, he was convicted of sexual assault charges stemming from his time as a priest in the South Yorkshire area. The following year, he was sentenced to nine years in prison and was subsequently stripped of his priesthood. He was also made to pay £18,000 in compensation to the victims of his abuse. Several of his accomplices, including two priests who had actively helped him, were also jailed for their involvement in the scandal.
It is thought that the Catholic Church may have known about Leyton’s predations for some time, but they chose to look the other way in the hope that the abuse would stop. They may have been mistaken in this assumption because Leyton had reportedly been spotted with a young boy, whom he was allegedly seeing as a father figure, whilst he was on parole in 1999. The boy’s mother was reportedly so incensed by this relationship that she confronted Leyton and he was subsequently jailed for six weeks for breaching his parole conditions. The boy, who was reportedly 12 years old at the time of the incident, did not give a statement during the trial and his grandmother said that she did not want to make trouble. It seems that the grandmother may have been the only person who knew about Leyton’s criminal past, as the rest of the family had no idea of his dubious past. The case was eventually dropped after the boy’s mother declined to take the stand. There is no suggestion that any of Leyton’s more recent victims were in any way connected to the events of forty years earlier.
Sexual Offender Registry
The Catholic Church is not the only organization to be blamed for enabling abuse by failing to act on knowledge of child sexual abuse. The Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church also share some of the blame for not acting sooner in order to prevent abuse. It should therefore come as no great surprise that so many famous musicians have been influenced by the unorthodox priest who has spent much of his time in jail writing books and making music. But it’s not just Catholicism that John Leyton has criticized; he has also voiced his disdain for all organized religion, declaring, “I hate priests. I absolutely despise them. I think the most disgraceful thing about organized religion is that it preaches non-acceptance and it advocates fear. It advocates fear of speaking the truth and it advocates fear of having a different view to the accepted one.”
As the twentieth century progressed, attitudes towards sexuality began to change. Whereas once child sexual abuse was viewed as completely out of the question, the taboo appears to have lessened considerably. Whilst more and more people are coming forward to discuss their experiences of abuse, the willingness of the victims to speak about the crimes committed against them means that the true number of assaults is almost certainly higher than what we know about. A similar situation existed in the 1980s, when cases of child sexual abuse were shrouded in secrecy, preventing many more victims from coming forward. It is this secrecy that encourages predators like John Leyton to continue preying on the innocent. A sexual offender registry, which requires offenders to register their whereabouts with the police, should be implemented across the whole of the UK. It is the best way of preventing offenders from committing more crimes and it encourages victims to speak out about abuse whilst enabling law enforcement to continue their pursuit of the predators who commit these horrific crimes.