John Bindon

John Bindon

Infobox actor
name = John Bindon
birthname = John Arthur Bindon
birthdate = Birth date|1943|10|04|df=yes
birthplace = Fulham, England
deathdate = Death date and age|1993|10|10|1943|10|04|df=yes
deathplace = South Kensington, England
restingplace = London, England
height = height|m=1.88
othername = Biffo, The Guv'nor, Big John
occupation = Actor & bodyguard
yearsactive = 1966 - 1979
parents = Dennis Bindon & Cicely Bindon (née Monaghan)

John Arthur "Biffo" Bindon (October 4, 1943October 10, 1993) was a flamboyant British actor and bodyguard, noted for his film roles as a London underworld figure and tough police detective, and his involvement with the underworld in real life.

Early career

Bindon was born in Fulham, London, and was the son of a merchant seaman and engineer, Dennis Bindon. The second eldest in a working class family of three children, John Bindon went to St Mark's Church School in Fulham where he became a noted rugby union junior, but left at the age of 15. He was given the nickname "Biffo" for invariably starting up or getting into fights. As a teenager, he spent some weeks at Borstal on a charge of possessing live ammunition. After various jobs working laying asphalt and dealing in antiques, Bindon decided to pursue acting. Director Ken Loach considered him perfect for the role of a rough husband in the film, "Poor Cow", released in 1967, after spotting him at a London pub in 1966. His next big break came with a role in "Performance" alongside Mick Jagger, where he played the role of a violent mobster. His portrayal earned him critical praise and typecast him for future roles.

In 1968 he met Vicki Hodge, a baronet's daughter turned model and actress, who introduced him to British aristocracy. She invited him to the Caribbean island resort of Mustique, where Bindon claimed to have charmed HRH Princess Margaret with his working class humour and Cockney rhyming slang. The Princess later denied meeting Bindon and was reportedly unimpressed to hear stories of their sexual encounters [ [ Daily Mail, Mustique story, 26 May 2007] ] . Bindon's name was also linked with a succession of models, including Christine Keeler, the former Playboy "Bunny Girl" Serena Williams (not the US tennis player), and also Angela Barnett, the then girlfriend and future wife of pop star David Bowie [ [ Daily Telegraph, 15 October 1993] ] .

Bindon was awarded the Queen's Award for Bravery, a police bravery medal, for diving off Putney Bridge into the River Thames to rescue a drowning man, in 1968. He had bragged that he had thrown this man into the river himself and the police witness did not spot this. While Bindon had a violent temper and a natural intimidating personality, he was also accused of running a protection racket in west London, targeting pubs, restaurants, and cafés. There were also suggestions of connections to the Richardsons and the Kray twins, who supported his control of west London, as well as rivalries with gangs from south London. The south London rivalries were suggested to have contributed to his bankruptcy, when he accrued drug debts. The extent of his involvement in the English underworld has never been reliably established.

Ironically, Bindon's best known film role was his appearance in The Who's film "Quadrophenia" where he played a drug dealer. He also appeared in the television series "Softly Softly" playing out his usual tough guy role, and once again in the cult classic "Get Carter" in 1971. Despite a productive film and television career, Bindon felt he needed a break from acting, and went into organising security. It was to be a move which would have disastrous personal and financial consequences.

The Oakland incident

In 1977, Bindon was hired by tour manager Richard Cole to act as security co-ordinator for English rock group Led Zeppelin during their concert tour of the United States. He had previously provided personal security for actors Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. Bindon took his job to the extreme and developing an addiction to cocaine and heroin, during the tour, much violence occurred behind the scenes directed mostly at journalists, bouncers, and concert staff. The band did not realise the extent of what was happening until their concert at the Oakland Coliseum on July 23, 1977, near the end of their US tour. Upon arrival at the stadium, it is alleged that Bindon pushed a member of promoter Bill Graham's stage crew out of the way as the band entered via a backstage ramp. Tension had been simmering between Graham's staff and Led Zeppelin's security team during the day, and as Peter Grant and Bindon were walking down the ramp near the end of the concert, words were exchanged with stage crew chief Jim Downey, which resulted in Bindon knocking out Downey cold [cite book|last=Welch|first=Chris|year=2002|title=Peter Grant: The man Who Led Zeppelin|page=201|id=ISBN 0-7119-9195-2] .

Just minutes later a separate off-stage incident occurred. Bill Graham's security man Jim Matzorkis was accused of slapping Peter Grant's 11 year-old son Warren for taking a dressing room sign, and the ensuing argument escalated into an all-out brawl. Led Zeppelin's second Oakland show took place only after Bill Graham signed a letter of indemnification, absolving Led Zeppelin from responsibility for the previous night's incident. However, assault charges were laid against Grant, Cole, Bindon, and John Bonham when the band arrived back at their hotel. All four pleaded "nolo contendere" and received suspended sentences. Bindon was dismissed by the band and returned to England. Grant later stated that allowing Bindon to be hired was the biggest mistake he ever made as manager. [cite book|last=Williamson|first=Nigel|year=2007|title=The Rough Guide to Led Zeppelin|page=248|id=ISBN 1-84353-841-7]

Murder trial

In 1978, Bindon became involved in a fight with John Darke, at the Ranelagh Yacht Club, in Fulham, London. Darke was stabbed nine times and Bindon managed to flee to Dublin with his own knife wounds covered up. He gave himself up to police and in the subsequent trial at the Old Bailey in November, 1979 was acquitted of Darke's murder, thanks mainly to Bob Hoskins who testified as a character witness. The prosecution claimed that this was a contract killing over drugs, with the fight as a cover for the assassination. However, the defense argued that Darke's death was in self defence, saying Bindon was in fear of his life as he was being blackmailed about losing drug money and cocaine worth thousands of pounds (though his defence might have been hindered amid allegations of bragging to a cellmate that he was a hitman while on remand awaiting trial).

The John Darke murder trial resulted in the Galbraith Test being applied to criminal law ie. In a borderline prosecution where the defence submit that the case is too weak and should be withdrawn from the jury. It was named after one of the witnesses in the trial.

The trial along with the Oakland incident seriously damaged Bindon's reputation (there were many other various allegations of a similar violent nature against Bindon) and he never worked in the entertainment industry again. This was largely because of his reputation for being difficult to work with on set, as much as his connections to organised crime.

Later years and death

During the 1980s, Bindon became a virtual recluse and heroin addict, and spent most of his time at his Belgravia flat. He died in London at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, from complications as a result of an AIDS related illness on October 10, 1993. His funeral was attended by life-long friend Matthew Freud [ [ The Independent, July 4 2005] ] .

References in popular media

In 2005, Wensley Clarkson published a biography of Bindon entitled "Bindon: Fighter, Gangster, Actor, Lover - the True Story of John Bindon, a Modern Legend" (London: John Blake. ISBN 1-84454-116-9).

Also in 2005, a Granada Television documentary of John Bindon's life entitled "Starring John Bindon" was screened in the UK. It featured archival footage of Bindon behind the scenes and interviews with Angela Bowie, Vicki Hodge, Billy Murray, George Sewell, Diana Weston, and James Whitaker.

On the inside sleeve of the LP "Maladjusted" the singer Morrissey has had printed "John Bindon 1943–1993".

Bindon was reportedly the inspiration behind Vinnie Jones's character in Guy Ritchie's film "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" [ [ Daily Mail, ibid.] ] .


* "Poor Cow" (1967)
* "Inspector Clouseau" (1968)
* "Performance" (1970)
* "Man in the Wilderness" (1971)
* "Get Carter" (1971)
* "No Sex Please, We're British" (1973)
* "The Mackintosh Man" (1973)
* "Juggernaut" (1974) (US title: "Terror On the Britannic")
* "Dead Cert" (1974)
* "Barry Lyndon" (1975)
* "Trial by Combat" (1976)
* "A Choice of Arms" (1976) (US title: "Dirty Knight's Work")
* "Quadrophenia" (1979)

Television appearances

* "Department S" (1969)
* "The Gold Robbers" (1969)
* "Z-Cars" (1969)
* "Love Thy Neighbour" (1973)
* "11 Harrowhouse" (1974) (US title: "Anything for Love")
* "Softly, Softly" (1976)
* "Hazell" (1978)
* "The Racing Game" (1979) (mini) TV Series


*Clarkson, Wensley (2005). "Bindon: Fighter, Gangster, Actor, Lover - the True Story of John Bindon, a Modern Legend". London: John Blake. ISBN 1-84454-116-9


External links

* [ John Bindon - Daily Telegraph obituary]
*MySpace|thelondoncrew|John Bindon tribute
*imdb name|id=0082843

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