Creative Corner – John Leith
Meet John Leith:
He’s been a diver, a rock star, a world-class photographer, and a London DJ. To say his life has been interesting is indeed an understatement. John Leith was born in southeast England on the Isle of Sheppy to a Navy Captain father and a mother with a love of antiques. He first got into a dive suit at the age of 11, having developed an interest in underwater exploration at age 4 or 5. Pictures of undersea life and divers kept him enthralled, and once he could read, Jules Verne reinforced this love.
Music is also a big love of his, and he’s indulged that passion by performing in a rock band and currently as a DJ. His accomplishments also include stunning photography, development of an underwater lens, magazine articles, books, and underwater salvage operations. John considers himself very luck, having been able to live out his fantasies in his professional life.
- Welcome, John. Thanks for joining me here on Creative Corner. What should my readers know about you?
I became an adventurer early on in life, inspired by books like Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and The Lost World. Those 3 books, in particular, became a guide for my life. I’m proficient in underwater salvage, photography and I’m a jungle expert. Basically, you can just drop me into the jungle, and I’ll find a way out. I put on my first wet suit at age 11 and taught myself underwater photography. I’m also heavily involved in music, and work as a DJ in London. Years ago, I was in a rock band called Warlock.
- What are the 3 words that best describe you?
Reliable, caring and thoughtful.
- Tell us about your work.
I’m an avid diver, and love underwater photography. Along with a friend, I developed a lens called the Leith Morgan Wide Eye. Underwater photography is extremely complicated because of the variance in color tones, differences in light, etc. Currently, I have 4 photographic books published, with another 6 volumes to come.
- Which piece of work are you most proud of?
There are a couple of photographs I’ve taken that I really love. For one photograph, I climbed the Krakatoa volcano to take photographs on the crater rim.
- What other creative endeavors do you enjoy?
Music, of course.
- Are you a publicity-lover, or publicity shy?
I don’t care about fame, really. What I do care about is recognition for having done something well. And while I don’t suffer from stage fright, there’s always a little apprehension. Even working as a DJ, I work on a stage, not in a booth, so I’m more open to the audience. To deal with the apprehension, I just clear my mind completely. When I’m working as a DJ, I decide at that time what the set will be.
- I love music, and I’m always interested in the musical tastes of my friends. Tell me your 3 favorite songs.
Oh, that’s like the worst thing you could ask me, to try and narrow it down to 3. Though Diamonds by Josef Salvat would be one.
- What song best describes your life?
I’ve been told by several people that the song Nature Boy reminds them of me. And I quite like that. I think it’s nice. Several artists have covered the song, including George Benson and Ella Fitzgerald.
John Leith in the band Warlock (2nd from right)
The Glamorous, Dangerous Romance Section:
- You are offered, free for one year, the use of either a customized, fully staffed jet (say a Bombardier Learjet 40XR), or a fully-staffed luxury yacht (perhaps a 150-foot vessel built by Palmer Johnson). Which do you choose?
It would have to be the yacht.
- Fabulous! Where are we going?
Corsica, which is a beautiful place that I know quite well, and the Isle of Capri, which is a place I haven’t been to.
- Who are we bringing with us?
A selection of my friends from Facebook, such as Savannah Morgan and Audrina Lane. And my friend Carole. A yacht is like a magnet, and if we’re cruising, I think we’ll bump into lots of people that we may spend part of our journey with.
- I love to shop! And guess what? An eccentric billionaire has offered us his charge card for a day of shopping; with one caveat…we can only go to one store. Where are we going?
Harrod’s department store. They have a reputation of being able to get anything that you want.
- What do we buy there?
First we’ll hit the luxury goods department, and also stop by the food department, and make sure our boat is equipped with delicacies fitting our trip.
- Which of the following soap operas most resembles your life: All My Children, Grey’s Anatomy, Dynasty or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?
When I lived in Cannes 7-8 years ago, I would get invites to the big villas on the hills, and it was a little bit like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Once I went to the home of the man who owns Guess, and his girlfriend was upset because he was having a party that night. And she told me, “John, I don’t think I want to go.” So I asked her why not, and she said, “Because I think it’s going to be an orgy.” I told her, “You know, you can always say no.”
- Which celebrity would you most like to star with in a romantic movie?
I think it would be Sienna Miller.
- The setting for this movie is a private island. Where is it located?
- What do we find there?
We go diving and find gold and silver dubloons and strings of pearls wound on golden wire.
- Now comes the danger…This lover’s paradise has an unforeseen danger. What is it?
This particular island just happens to be the site of a world-domination group’s secret complex, run by a megalomaniac. We find the entrance to the installation quite by accident.
- Naturally, this danger imperils the love of your life. How do you save him/her?
As soon as I’m surrounded, I look at them and say, “My name is Bond. James Bond.”
John Leith – working onstage as a DJ in a London nightclub
Interviewee’s Choice: (please answer 3 of the following questions)
- If you were interviewing me, what’s the first question you’d ask?
Does your father know you’re alone here with me?
- If you were given $1,000,000 to donate to the charity of your choice, which one would you choose?
- If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing; and one thing only, what would it be?
Ready? We’re doing it all again.
- If someone were to base a reality show on your life, what would it be called?
- Everyone’s running for President these days, so why not you? Tell me your campaign slogan.
Vote for me. You know it makes sense.
Photograph by John Leith
The Personal Touch:
- You’ve engaged in a number of creative pursuits, including performing in a rock band, photography and performing as a DJ. Which do you like best? Why?
I think it’s split really between photography and DJ. My time in the band was enjoyable, but it was exhausting. We did all original songs/material and we had a bit of success, but I didn’t really see it as a career. If someone had said to me, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I would not have said still singing in a rock band. Our band was called Warlock and the funny thing is there’s now a German band called Warlock.
- How is performing in a rock band different from performing as a DJ?
It’s much more relaxing being a DJ, and you tend to have time to see what’s going on with the audience.
- In what ways are they similar?
They’re similar because when I’m DJing I’m right up front with the people, up on a stage. The tables are very close, so I can see people.
- You’ve traveled quite a bit in your life. If you were to take me to your favorite place in the world, where would we go?
I think it would be Bali.
- What would we do there?
We would have a magical time, because it’s such a spiritual place, and it’s fun as well. The Indonesian music associated with that area is called Gamelan. You have rows of people with little wooden hammers and they tap on bells and little wooden drums and it makes the most hypnotic sound. It goes so well with the smells that seem to permeate the area. It’s a cross between incense and spice, mixed with a touch of barbeque smoke.
- I love music, but I sing like a dying bullfrog. Is there any cure for this?
So do I these days. When I was in Warlock, I strained my vocal chords, and I’ve never really recovered from this. No cure for it.
- What is your favorite car?
My favorite car that I ever owned is a 1970 Dodge Challenger. There were only 24 of them in England when I bought one. It was white with tan interior and a tan vinyl roof. It sounded like thunder.
- Who are the 5 most interesting people you’ve met?
Dave Gilmore. We were in touch for about 5 years until our careers took us on different paths. He was a very warm and genuine person. Robert Plant. He’s a really top guy. We used to invite each other to parties and got on very well. We were good friends while we were in touch. Now, here’s somebody that very few people will have heard of, but he deserves a mention. Wilfred Thesinger. He’s an old-school aristocrat from England who died a few years ago. He’s the author of The Marsh Arabs. He was an explorer and anthropologist and he spent a lot of time with the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq. We met in England and talking about our adventures and he put a copy of his book in my hands and said, “There aren’t many of us left.” Another interesting man who’s also an explorer. His name is Ben Fogle and he’s TV frequently and he’s known as one of England’s New Age Explorers. Sir Peter de la Billier. He was commander in chief of the Allied Forces in the first Gulf War. He was in conjunction with Norman Schwarkopf. I was involved with Sir Peter during the first Gulf War. He’s commander in chief of the SAS (Special Air Services), which is the equivalent of the American Green Berets. Also, I have to say 6 people really. When I was 12, I was chose to be onstage at the Royal Covent Garden Opera House in the show Tosca, which ran for 6 weeks. Maria Callas was starring in the opera, and every day she would say hello to me. She was a lovely soul, with such a tragic ending.
- I’ve invited you for a visit to Michigan. Would you rather come in the summer and spend lazy days at the pool, or come in the fall for cider mills, hay rides and Halloween?
I’d rather come towards the end of the summer and still be there for the Fall.
Reach Out & Touch Someone:
- Where can my readers get more information on you?
Contact Clara Grace Walker, my agent in Michigan.
- What social media sites do you use? How can my readers follow you?
I just use Facebook.
- Where can my readers purchase your work?
You can look at my photography books online. If someone does want to buy them, they’re available on my website. Johnleithphotoweb.wix.com/index
- Please provide any other links my readers might find useful.
Thank you so much for joining me, John! Best Wishes on all your future endeavors!!