YouTube clip of the week

Terry Hall

Terry Hall is 60 this week.

He was born in Coventry and got his break as a member of a local punk band called Squad. He then became the lead singer with the Coventry Automatics in 1977 which evolved into The Specials in 1979.

Their first hit, Gangsters, credited as the Special AKA was championed by John Peel and reached number six in July 1979. Following their second number one, Ghost Town, in 1981, Terry left to form the Fun Boy Three with his former bandmates Lynval Golding and Neville Staples. They charted eight hits, including two with Bananarama.

In 1984, he formed another group, The Colourfield and had four hits, the highest being the number 12 peak of Thinking of You.

Various other short-lived projects followed including a solo career. In 2001 he appeared as a guest with the Gorillaz and in 2007 made an appearance at Glastonbury on the Pyramid stage with Lily Allen.

In 2008 he re-joined a reformed original line-up of the Specials with the exception of Jerry Dammers and in 2019 their new album Encore went straight in at number one giving them their highest ever UK hit album beating the number four peak of their debut eponymous album in 1979.

Let’s remember the Fun Boy Three’s number 10 hit from 1983, Tunnel of Love.

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Neil Sedaka

This week Neil Sedaka is 80 years old.

The New York-born singer songwriter has had a career spanning over 60s years. He showed musical interests at school and followed in the footsteps of his cousin Eydie Gorme. His school teacher once sent a note home to Neil’s mother suggesting he take up piano lessons then in 1947 he auditioned successfully for a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music. His mother urged him to learn classical music, but Neil preferred pop.

In 1952, a neighbour heard Neil playing at home and introduced him to her son, Howard Greenfield, who loved to write poetry and lyrics. Neil was a founding member of The Tokens in 1957 but it was short-lived and he and Howard began writing songs together and ended up working as songwriters in the legendary Brill Building where they would write and compose songs all day, some of which were recorded by Sedaka and some by other acts.

Their first UK hit, as songwriters, were for Connie Francis who hit with Stupid Cupid, a song they intended for the Shepherd Sisters, but Connie was in the Brill Building and heard the song. She walked into the room where they were and demanded the song for herself. She got it. They also composed her follow-up, Fallin’.

They have written hits for Jimmy Clanton (Another Sleepless Night), Emile ford (What Am I Gonna Do), Tom Jones (Puppet Man) and Captain and Tennille (Love Will Keep Us Together). Other acts that have covered Neil’s originals are Tony Christie (Is This the Way to Amarillo), Partridge Family (Breaking up Is Hard to Do), Andy Williams and The Carpenters (Solitaire). In 1972 Stig Anderson asked Neil to write an English lyric for a Swedish group he was managing with the intention of entering it for Eurovision. That song was Ring Ring and the group became ABBA. The song was entered for Eurovison and came third.

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983 and in 2002, Peter Kay mimed to a video of Amarillo for his TV show Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights. Three years later he decided to update the video by added a number of celebrities and submitted it for Comic Relief. The result was that it went to number one and stayed there for seven weeks.

Let’s remember Neil’s live version at the Royal Albert Hall with a surprise guest.

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Two Ronnies

Following the comedy sketch I put up a few months ago, there were quite a number of comments from people saying how much they enjoyed it. So I thought it was time for another. This is a classic Two Ronnies sketch from 1974. Anyone, like me who saw it at the time, will remember it, but I’d forgotten how it started. Let’s remember and enjoy.

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Mike Peters

Mike Peters, the lead singer with The Alarm is 60 this week.

The band were formed in Rhyl, north Wales, in 1977 and originally called The Toilets. After a few name changes, including Quiasimodo and Seventeen, they settled on The Alarm, moved to London, got noticed by ZigZag magazine and a journo at Sounds who helped get hem a recording contract and a slot supporting U2.

After supporting The Police they signed to IRS records which was founded by Stewart Copeland’s (of the Police) brother Miles and had their first UK hit in September in 1983 with 68 Guns.

After 15 UK hits albums they split up in 1991. They did reform in 1999 and had a comeback hit called Superchannel in 2006. Let’s remember the follow-up to 68 Guns, This is Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke from January 1984.

 

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Randy Crawford

Randy Crawford, one of the most pure and distinctive voices of the 20th century, is 67 this week.

Veronica Crawford, as she was born, got her break in 1972 when she was a backing singer for George Benson and then opened for him on tour later that year. Her debut single was a cover of Knock on Wood which failed to chart. In 1978 former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett, invited her to add vocals on Hoping Love Will Last, the opening track on his second solo album Please Don’t Touch!.

She made her name commercially in 1979 when Wilton Felder of the Crusaders invited her to sing on their hit Street Life and although she was uncredited, it was a big chart hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

She then launched a successful solo career, a released her fourth album, Now We May Begin which contained the hit single One Day I’ll Fly Away which reached number two in 1980. She followed it with Secret Combination which brought further hits You Might Need Somebody, a cover of Brook Benton’s Rainy night In Georgia and the title track. Another single that failed to chart was the marvellous You Bring the Sun Out. That album featured Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro – guitarist and drummer from Toto respectively.

Success died off in the late eighties, but in mid-nineties she recorded the acclaimed album Naked and True which featured a cover of George Benson’s Give Me the Night that reached number 60 in 1997. Seven months previous R&B singer Shola Ama made her debut with a cover of Crawford’s You Might Need Somebody which peaked seven places higher than the original.

Let’s remember her last UK top 10 hit, the beautiful Almaz, a song which an Eritrean refugee neighbour of Randy’s had asked her to write a song about for his wife. Randy said at the time, “I witnessed this perfect love affair between them and as refugees they were looking for a world where love survives.”

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