This week David Albert Cook, aka David Essex is 70.
David recalled, “Lots of people think I came into music from the theater, but I started in a blues band playing drums when I was 14. They were called The Everons, meaning ‘never off’, shocking names they used then it was very flukey, because all I ever wanted to be was a jazz drummer and I used to get all these records by and Art Blakey and Joe Morello. Then all of a sudden the lead guitarist decided he couldn’t play blues solos and sing at the same time, it was hurting his concentration. I used to smoke 50 a day when I was a kid and I had a bad throat, so they decided I sounded bad enough to sing.”
The art critic for the Daily Express, Derek Bowman, saw the Everons at a pub in Leytonstone and was impressed by their drummer. He pursuaded him to go solo which he did and advised him to change his surname to Essex because he felt was more suited to both music and the theatre and he became his manager.
David notched up 25 UK hits beginning with a song he wrote for the film soundtrack, That’ll Be the Day which was not used in the end. He also had two number ones, Gonna Make you A Star and Hold Me Close. In 1978 he turned his hand to acting as Che Guevara in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita.
He tours relentlessly and in 1999 was awarded an OBE in 1999 for his patronship of Voluntary Service Overseas.
Let’s enjoy his last hit of the 70s, Imperial Wizard which reached number 32 in 1979.
The legendary Queen guitarist Brian May is 70 this week.
The great man, whom I’ve met on a few occasions, has many strings to his bow, but he is certainly an underrated songwriter, probably just over shadowed by his phenomenal guitar playing.
He wrote or co-wrote almost 50% of Queen’s 46 UK hit singles, the first, and a sole writer, was Now I’m Here, a number 11 hit in 1975. It was primarily written about the good times and the bad times of the hard, extensive touring, which the band did during their first few years.
In 1974, they famously supported Mott the Hoople on their American tour, and it that tour which also provided some inspiration, highlighted by the line ‘Down in the city, just Hoople and me.’
Of all the queen songs, this one holds the record for the longest stay in their live sets, Freddie recalled in a Record Mirror interview in 1976, “We released it after Killer Queen, and it’s a total contrast, just a total contrast. It was just to show people we can still do rock ‘n’ roll – we haven’t forgotten our rock ‘n’ roll roots. It’s nice to do on stage. I enjoyed doing that on stage.”
Let’s enjoy this live version in Budapest from 1986.
I’m not generally a fan of cover versions, but this one isn’t bad. Many will prefer the David Bowie original, but Bauhaus made a good job of this and their lead singer, Pete Murphy is 60 this week.
Bauhaus were formed in 1978 and originate from Northampton. They were led by singer Peter Murphy and backed up by brothers David on bass and Kevin Haskins on drums and completed by Daniel Ash on guitar. They were originally called Bauhaus 1919 which was a reference to the year that Bauhaus – the German Art School – was opened, but decided to drop the year almost immediately.
Their debut single in 1979 was called Bela Lugosi’s Dead which was championed by John Peel, but was also over nine minutes long thus restricting daytime airplay and in-turn, failed to make the chart. John Peel became a big fan and played all their tracks regularly and their first hit was called Kick in the Eye which stalled at number 59. The follow-up, THE Passion of Lovers made number 56 and then Spirit, the following year made number 42. Later in 1982 they covered Ziggy Stardust which shot to number 15 in the chart. That led to them appearing in the film The Hunger which starred the song’s originator, David Bowie
In 1983, they released two further singles, Lagartija Nick which peaked at 44 and was followed by She’s In Parties which reached number 26. Then at the end of a convert they announced their split. All members went on to various projects and Peter Murphy teamed up with Japan’s Mick Karn to form the short-lived band Dali’s Car who managed one number 66 hit in 1984 with The Judgement Is The Mirror. The pair reunited in 2010 to record the long-awaited second album, but by this time Karn had been diagnosed with cancer and died in January 2011. They did record five songs which were all featured on the InGladAloneness EP which came out in 2012.
Murphy married a Turkish lady and since 1992 has been living in Istanbul.
The great soul singer Gene Chandler is 80 this week.
He was born Eugene Drake Dixon in Chicago, Illinois and is probably best remembered for this 1962 American chart topper Duke of Earl. In the UK it was never a hit until covered by Darts in 1979. His debut UK hit came in 1968 with the song Nothing Can Stop Me Which you may not remember as it missed the top 40 by one place.
Then, after an 11 year absence, he moved with the times from doo-wop to disco and made a welcome return to the singles chart with my second favourite disco/club record, it was called Get Down. It was also his biggest UK hit peaking at number 11.
He still performs in the US, mainly in his home State and in Las Vegas and once in a while ventures into Europe. He has a song called Defrantz Forrest who has followed in his father’s footsteps and is currently the lead singer with a Motown group called The Originals.
Last year he was honoured when he had a street named after him in his home town.
Let’s enjoy his 1979 comeback single with a live appearance on the American show Soul Train.