18 April 2017
John Ellis (born 6 July 1972) is a South African singer, songwriter and guitarist and former lead singer of the band Tree63. He was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. He began playing the guitar at ten years of age. He created Saint Legend in high school, which signed with David Gresham Records in 1993. He created an album with producer Brian O’ Shea, called Nothing Rhymes With Orange, which remains unreleased to this day. His next band, Tree63, after releasing an independently recorded debut album (“Overflow”), signed a record deal with UK label Survivor Records and then later with US-based indie label InPop Records.
Ellis moved back to Durban in December 2007 after breaking up Tree63 to take a sabbatical and began his solo career in 2010 with the release of his debut solo album, Come Out Fighting. His solo album is a step away from his former musical direction, which had strong spiritual themes. The record, aside from being a singer-songwriter rock album, focused on South African politics and social justice issues. The self-produced album was recorded in Johannesburg and Durban for Broken Records, and was released in June 2010. In 2011 John recorded his next record, Rural, on a farm in Knysna, in the South African province of the Western Cape. The album was recorded in three days in an effort to record simply and capture real performances. John performed the songs live in the studio alongside the highly esteemed South African drummer and percussionist Barry van Zyl. The album was released independently in June 2012. John signed a licensing deal with Sony’s South African division in 2012, and that year Sony released John’s online-only single “You”. In August 2013 Sony released John’s five-track digital EP, Bush Telegraph, available on the newly launched South African iTunes Store.