Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26: British rhythm and blues and jazz singer Georgie Fame - "Bonnie and Clyde" - is 70-years-old today.

Georgie Fame was born Clive Powell in Leigh, Lancashire. He took piano lessons from the age of seven and after leaving Leigh Central County Secondary School at 15, worked for a brief period in a cotton weaving mill and played piano for a band called The Dominoes. After taking part in a singing contest at the Butlins Holiday Camp in Pwllheli, North Wales he was offered a job there by the band leader, early British rock'n'roll star Rory Blackwell.

When he was 16, Clive went to London and, on the recommendation of Lionel Bart, entered into a management agreement with Larry Parnes, who had given new stage names to such artists as Marty Wilde and Billy Fury. Clive became "Georgie." Over the following year he toured the UK playing beside Wilde, Joe Brown, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and others.

Fame played piano for Billy Fury in his backing band The Blue Flames. When the backing band got the sack at the end of 1961, the band were re-billed as "Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames." In August 1963 the band recorded its debut album Rhythm And Blues At the Flamingo live at the Flamingo Club. It failed to chart, but the October 1964 follow-up Fame At Last achieved No. 15 on the UK album chart.

In 1964 Fame and the band appeared on five episodes of ITV's Ready Steady Go! When Ronan O'Rahilly, who then managed him, could not get Fame's first record played by the BBC and was also turned down by Radio Luxembourg, he announced he would start his own radio station in order to promote the record. The station became the offshore pirate radio station, Radio Caroline.

Fames' version of the Bobby Hebb song "Sunny" made No. 13 in the UK charts in September 1966. His greatest chart success was "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967, which sold over one million copies. Fame continued playing into the 1970s, having a hit, "Rosetta," with his close friend Alan Price, ex-keyboard player of The Animals, in 1971.

1974, Fame reformed the Blue Flames and also began to sing with Europe's finest orchestras and big bands, a musical tradition he still currently pursues. Fame has collaborated with some of the most successful performers in the world of popular music. He has been a core member of Van Morrison's band, as well as his musical producer.

Fame also played keyboards and sang harmony vocals on such tracks as "In the Days before Rock 'n' Roll" from the album Enlightenment. Fame appeared as a special guest on Morrison's television concert show presented by BBC Four series in April 2008.

Fame was also founding member of friend Bill Wyman's early band Rhythm Kings, touring with the band. He has also worked with Count Basie, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Joan Armatrading and The Verve.

Fame has made several albums on his own Three Line Whip label since the late 1990s, mostly new original compositions with a jazz/R&B framework.


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