Schoolboy busker wins The Salford Foundation Trust Johnny Marr Award

John Denton, 12, has previously covered The Smiths and met Marr at an album signing

A young busker has won The Salford Foundation Trust’s Johnny Marr Award.

Twelve-year-old schoolboy John Denton started out playing on Market Street in Manchester, where he entertained passing shoppers by putting his own spin on classic songs by the likes of The Smiths.

Videos of Denton’s performances have since gained thousands of views on social media. Now, he’s become the first-ever recipient of Marr’s new funding award for young musicians.


Denton was selected for funding by the charity The Salford Foundation Trust, which operates the Johnny Marr Award to support talented youngsters in the city, per a press release.

The schoolboy has been awarded £1,000 funding to pay for extra singing and guitar lessons to progress to the next level in his performances.

“It’s a pleasure and privilege to give some assistance to a young musician especially when they’re as dedicated as John. Well done brother,” Marr said in a statement.

Johnny Marr
Johnny Marr. CREDIT: Andy Cotterill

Phil Denton, John’s father, added: “John’s ambition is to have a career in music. He will be using the funding to have music lessons to help both his guitar playing and his singing. In these tough times it’s a massive help and means that he can progress in his passion.

“Music is not a hobby for John but just who he is and a creative outlet he hopes to enjoy for the rest of his life. He is incredibly grateful to Johnny and the Salford Foundation Trust who have provided this opportunity.”


He continued: “It is a real privilege to get this award and he is determined to make the very most of the opportunity he has been given.”

The Salford Foundation Trust’s Peter Collins CBE commented: “There couldn’t be a more worthy recipient of the Johnny Marr Award. Even though John is only 12 he’s already proven he’s committed to making a future in music and we’re delighted the Trust can give him a helping hand on this journey.”

Denton started playing the guitar aged eight when he received his first instrument as a Christmas present. He’s also played shows around his hometown, including at Salford Lads Club – where The Smiths posed for the inner sleeve art of their 1986 album ‘The Queen Is Dead’.

The youngster has met Marr once previously during a signing event for the latter’s latest solo album, last year’s ‘Fever Dreams Pts 1-4’. At the time, Denton asked the former Smiths guitarist for advice on starting a band.

The 12-year-old went on to form his own group, The Height – named after an area in Salford near to where he lives. The indie/punk trio released their first single, ‘Nowhere’, just before Christmas (listen above).

Denton was chosen for the Johnny Marr prize by a panel at the Salford Foundation Trust, a local charity supporting talented young people in the city. The Johnny Marr Award will run for three years, selecting another young musician from Salford each year for financial assistance.

Late last year, meanwhile, Marr revealed that he had written a new song for Blondie. He previously penned the track ‘My Monster’ on Debbie Harry and co’s 2017 studio album ‘Pollinator’.

Johnny Marr also recently teamed up with Noel Gallagher on the former Oasis musician’s single ‘Pretty Boy’.

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