He was born in Texas and began recording in 1956. Four years later he moved to Nashville, Tennessee. From 1970, he was often in financial trouble first due to bad investments in various tours that did make good returns. In 1990, many of his assets were seized because of unpaid taxes to the tune of $32m. The sum was soon cleared following the sale of the aforementioned assets at auction.
He is still recording and usual involves his family who record with him. He has been releasing albums since 1962 and his latest, I Don’t Know a Thing About Love is released this year.
Let’s enjoy the title track from his 61st studio album in 2013.
Last month Tom Lehrer was requested at my Sunday night quiz as a featured artist and I fulfilled the lish of the team who requested it. Tom is a graduate of Harvard University and obtain a B.A. in mathematics before going on to teach political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He eventually retired in 2001, but this week he celebrates his 95th birthday.
He made his name as a comedy writer and satirist often parodying popular songs of the day. When I was growing up my father had one Lehrer album called Songs by Tom Lehrer which I still have to this day and it contained a song called the Irish Ballad which my sister couldn’t bear to listen to. Basically, it was telling the story of lady who hated her entire immediate family and decided to do away with them one by one.
He paid for his own studio time when he recorded the album in 1953, but few radio stations would play any of his songs because they were deemed controversial, so, instead, he sold them at Harvard for $3 each.
Tom’s most well-known song is called The Elements which used to get an occasional airing on Junior Choice as well as on its predecessor, Uncle Mac. He wrote it himself and performs it to the tune of Major-General’s Song by Gilbert and Sullivan.
Never heard it? Strap in an enjoy
oh go on then, I know you want to heard The Irish Ballad, but it’s a bit sick!
It was 40 years ago this week that Marc Bolan died in a car crash in Barnes. The car was driven by his girlfriend, the singer Gloria Jones who recorded the original version of Tainted Love and also write the 1979 disco hit Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet for Gonzalez.
T.Rex first hit the UK chart in 1968, under the name Tyrannosaurus Rex, with Debora. After three hits they shortened the name to T.Rex and chart 20 hit singles including the four chart toopers; Hot Love, Get It On, Telegram Sam and Metal Guru.
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.