William Jellett, a music fan who was known for attending music festivals naked during the ‘70s and ‘80s, has died.
He was 72 years of age and is said to have been in poor health in recent years, according to his brother Eric.
“William Jellett was born on 6th June 1948 [in] Poole, Dorset, the youngest of four children. I am his brother and the eldest. I have not seen him for quite a while but one of my sisters has remained in contact with him,” he said when confirming the news, Loudersound reports.
“He has always remained in the London area but over the last few years he has not enjoyed the best of health, recently the decline was rapid. Last Friday my sister phoned to tell me that at 1 o’clock that morning the 8th January 2021 William died peacefully in his sleep in a London hospital.”
Jellett will be cremated and his family want his ashes to be scattered at what they say was his favourite place, Speaker’s Corner at London’s Hyde Park.
Jellett, who was also known by the nickname Jesus, attended hundreds of festivals and shows, and appeared in a number of concert footage over the years. He can be seen in The Rolling Stones’ Rock And Roll Circus and was filmed at Cream’s farewell show at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968. Many years later, he would go on to be the inspiration for the artwork for the Chemical Brothers’ single ‘Surrender’, which was based on a 1976 photo of him.
Speaking to NME about being inspired to dance by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, he said: “This guy was up there dancing about […] and suddenly, I just got up out of my seat and started dancing like I’d never danced before. And there are people looking at me as if to say I’m crazy.”
The music fan was also known for his speeches at Speaker’s Corner, where he would talk about the importance of music while highlighting the dangers of drugs. He also set up a Jesus tent at Glastonbury in 1973 and claimed to be the reincarnation of the biblical figure.
Stars and music fans have paid tribute to Jellett online, with Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp writing: “He was at every gig I ever went to in the 70s, doing his groovy dancing and blessing us all with his happy presence. We’d call his name from the bleachers. He was validation that the artist was worth seeing.”
Just heard that ‘Jesus’ William Jellett died today. He was at every gig I ever went to in the 70s, doing his groovy dancing and blessing us all with his happy presence. We’d call his name from the bleachers. He was validation that the artist was worth seeing. #Jesus 🙏 pic.twitter.com/bxvyM83NlW
— Gary Kemp (@garyjkemp) January 10, 2021
“Many memories of ‘Jesus’ William Jellett who died this week, but a late 70s Zappa concert at Hamm Odeon comes to mind,” wrote @StuartPenney1. “Frank invited people onstage to dance and of course Jesus was first up and the last to leave. Frank knew him by name and eventually had to tell him to go.”
Many memories of ‘Jesus’ William Jellett who died this week, but a late 70s Zappa concert at Hamm Odeon comes to mind. Frank invited people onstage to dance and of course Jesus was first up and the last to leave. Frank knew him by name and eventually had to tell him to go. . pic.twitter.com/Wx6IW9zC7p
— Stuart Penney (@StuartPenney1) January 10, 2021
See more tributes below.
Jesus is dead.
He was a familiar figure to any London gig-goer in the last fifty-odd years, and was a fixture at The Roundhouse and The Marquee, and a legendary character who must have seen more gigs (and danced on more stages) than anybody else
William Jellett 1949-2021#Jesus pic.twitter.com/4w780jpcEe
— eddie duggan (@eddieduggan) January 11, 2021
Sad to hear that William Jellett, better known as 'Jesus' to those od us who went to gigs in mid 70s London, has departed this mortal coil. A stalwart on the 60s and 70s festival scene, he seemed to be at every gig I went to. Here he is, finger on the pulse at a early Pistols gig pic.twitter.com/Ubs7O7pOIc
— Dress up to Mess Up… (@e17hero) January 10, 2021
Saddend to hear that William Jellett, or “Jesus” as he was known to a myriad of outdoor gig and festival goers of the late 60’s/early 70’s knew him as, sadly passed away at 1.00am on Friday after many months of bad health,he was A huge part of Britains gig circuit.R.I.P. “Jesus” pic.twitter.com/yalKjSHYik
— Progrokcer (@G1Gordon) January 10, 2021