(1958 – 2001) Rock musician. Although born in Manchester on 11th April 1958, Adamson grew up in Crossgates (near Dunfermline in Fife), he was introduced to folk and country music by his parents. When he first saw “The Damned” play in Edinburgh in 1976, it spurred him to abandon plans to become an environmental health inspector and form his first band, “Tattoo”. This soon evolved into punk-pop outfit “The Skids”, which included extrovert vocalist, Richard Jobson, The Skids enjoyed a string of successes, including the hit singles Into The Valley and Masquerade . But even at this early stage, Adamson was struggling to cope with the pressures of success, and disappeared temporarily halfway through recording sessions for The Skids’ debut album, Scared To Dance . Adamson went on to form “Big Country” ( www.bigcountry.co.uk) in 1981, the band with whom he is best identified, as is the distinctive style of his guitar playing. The group had originally included Bruce Watson, Alan Wishart, Pete Wishart and Clive Parker, but the abiding nucleus of the band was to comprise Adamson (guitar and vocals), as well as Mark Brzezicki (drums and backing vocals), Tony Butler (bass and vocals) and Bruce Watson (guitar). Their albums included The Crossing (1983), Steeltown (1984), The Seer (1986), Peace In Our Time (1988), No Place like Home (1991), The Buffalo Skinners (1993), Why the Long Face (1995) and Driving to Damascus (1999). In 1983, the band achieved world-wide notoriety and their debut album The Crossing , sold three million copies and earned two Grammy nominations and a Rolling Stone Award, among many other accolades. They followed this with a stream of successful singles, many as Top Ten chart successes. Having suffered from alcohol-related depression, Adamson disappeared from his home in Nashville (USA), to be found dead some weeks later in a hotel in Hawaii on 16 December 2001. Although the band achieved major international success during the 1980s, for a time rivalling fellow Celtic big-anthem acts “U2” and “Simple Minds”, Adamson remained doggedly committed to his working class Scottish roots. At the time of his death, he still owned a public house in Dunfermline.
We are indebted to Les Raisbeck for suggesting this entry and providing much of the biographical information contained here.
(Birthdate unknown) Born Dennis Leigh in Chorley, Lancashire, in 1974 John Foxx migrated to London, initially to study at the Royal College of Art. There he became interested in electronic music and began rehearsing with a band called “Tigerlily”, and became a major figure in establishing so-called “electro-pop” or “synth” (synthetic) music. After releasing just one record ( “Aint Misbehavin’ )” the group changed its name to “Ultravox”, ( www.ultravox.org.uk ). Ultravox went on to become a major mid-80s group, and it is probably as a founder member of this group that Foxx is best known. With Ultravox he wrote, sang and experimented in synthetic sounds, before leaving for a solo career in 1979, and the group was taken over by Midge Ure, with whom it was to achieve great artistic and commercial success and generate a world-wide cult following. Gary Numan cited Foxx as one of his main influences. As a solo performer, Foxx created his own record label “MetalBeat”, distributed by Virgin Records. His first single, “”Underpass “, was followed by a string of minor Top 40 UK hits that included “No-One Driving”, “Burning Ca r” and “Europe After The Rain “. Foxx’s appearances on the singles and album charts ended in the mid-80s. Other John Foxx music includes Metamic , The Garden and The Golden Section . Meantime, working under his real name of Dennis Leigh, Foxx has established himself as a talented graphic designer, and often designed his own cover art. He was also commissioned to undertake various other projects, such as the cover of Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Moor’s Last Sigh “. Eventually, Foxx seems to have become disillusioned with the music business and his distributors, Virgin, grew ever more frustrated at the lack of his financial success. This probably contributed to the underlying mood of “In Mysterious Ways “, which despite its beautiful tunes, did not sell well and marked what was effectively the end of John Foxx’s commercial music career. In the late 1980s he returned to America and lived for a time in Detroit where he became involved in acid/house culture/music/beats, etc, and released music around 1990 under the name “Nation 12” . During the mid-90s he released many new songs including “Shifting City” with Manchester’s Louis Gordon (see https://www.ultravox.org.uk/evnewsjcdnew/) as well as a solo album entitled “Cathedral Oceans” . The lasty we heard was that Foxx has returned to art & design work under his own name of Dennis Leigh and examples of his work can be found at https://www.sva.edu/salon/ninth/leigh/. John Foxx also has an official website at www.metamatic.com which has up-to-date info on his progress. Leah Holmes has recently emailed us with information that Foxx is currently lecturing at Thames Valley University, Ealing. Apparently, he lectures mainly in graphic design and also in Cybercultures.
Barclay James Harvest
Barclay James Harvest
John Lees (born 13 Jan 1947) Les Holroyd (born 12 March 1948) Mel Pritchard (born 20 January 1948) Stuart Wolstenholme (born 15 April 1947) Barclay James Harvest began as a group in the early 1960s in Oldham when John Lees and Stuart “Wooley” Wolstenholme met at Oldham School of Art and formed a band which they called “The Sorcerers”, later renamed “The Keepers”. At the same time Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard were playing in another local band called “Heart And Soul And The Wickeds”. These two entities were playing semi-professionally and gradually became known to each other and formed a quartet comprising Holroyd, Pritchard, Lees and Wolstenholme, and in 1967 they called themselves Barclay James Harvest. With the backing of local businessman, John Crowther, they occupied an 18th Century farmhouse to write and rehearse their music; they lived a fairly meagre existence, but, one of their first efforts, “Early Morning” in 1968 attracted good reviews and a chance to record radio sessions for radio DJ, John Peel. This in turn led to a contract with EMI as the band became one of the first signings to the Harvest label. Their music was marked by a great deal of experimentation with new musical forms – not just traditional electric guitars, bass and drums – but included woodwind, strings and brass. Celebrated albums followed, including “Once Again”, “Barclay James Harvest And Other Short Stories”, “Everyone is Everybody Else”, “Time Honoured Ghosts”, “Gone to Earth” and “Octoberon” . Their record success was accompanied by live performances and tours in West Germany and the USA, where they built a steady regular following. In 1979 Wolstenholme left the band to pursue a solo career. They have continued to produce music, including “Caught In The Light” in 1993, “River Of Dreams” in 1997 and “Nexus” in 1999. They have been plagued with controversy, financial problems, band members coming and going, yet they still continue as a band and as solo performers. Though they still have a large cult following, particularly in Europe, they have never quite managed to recapture the popularity and success which they enjoyed in the 1970s.
(b.1957) Martin (or Maartin) Allcock is known chiefly as a bass player and guitarist. He was born in Manchester in 1957 and attended Cardinal Langley RC High School in Middleton, Rochdale. After studying music at Huddersfield and Leeds he supported several major artists like Mike Harding and Robin Williamson, before training to be a chef and working in the Shetlands. In 1981 he returned to music with the short-lived Bully Wee Band, a celtic folk group. Later he toured the UK, Ireland and Europe with Kieran Halpin. In 1985 he was invited to join the reformed Fairport Convention as lead guitarist and toured with the band in UK, USA, Europe, Australia, Turkey, Hong Kong & Bermuda. In 1988 he joined Jethro Tull with whom he worked and toured for four years. He went on to play keyboard with The Mission – by 1991 he was actually in three groups at the same time! During this time he also did extensive studio work, playing on over 120 albums. His recorded work includes:
Beverley Craven’s Top 3 hit “Promise Me”
Robert Plant’s album “The Fate Of Nations” , which featured his co-written “Colours Of A Shade”
In 1990 he released a solo album, “MAART” .
He produced Ralph McTell’s album, “Sand In Your Shoes”.
He has also made 6 albums with Dan Ar Braz, recorded the music for the BBC2 TV series “40 Minutes” , writes regularly for BBC Radio 4 drama and a McTell/Allcock composition, “The Islands” , was used throughout the series “Billy Connolly’s World Tour Of Scotland” . After too long on the road, he left Fairport Convention at the end of 1996. In 1997 he formed acoustic power trio WAZ! in which he played bass, bouzouki and guitar and sang. In 1998 he played lead guitar with Midge Ure and recorded music for the TV series, “Births, Marriages And Deaths” with Danny Thompson. These two also recorded together for the Jimmy McGovern Channel 4 drama, “Dockers” . He has also written music for “The Book Of Watermarks” ,a Sony Playstation game which came out in Japan in July 1999, and painstakingly transcribed two songbooks for Fairport Convention, and one each for singer-songwriters Allan Taylor and Kieran Halpin. He appeared at the SwarbAid benefit concert in Birmingham Symphony Hall in 1999, performing with Beverley Craven, Ralph McTell, Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention and Beryl Marriott. He also appeared with Midge Ure in Vienna, performing the song “Vienna”. In October 1999 he recorded his second solo album, “OX15” , with pieces by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Najma Akhtar and others. He has been recently recording with Ralph McTell and Mike Harding as well as recording with The London Chamber Orchestra for Lenny Henry’s BBCTV series, “Hope And Glory” . In March 2000 he was once more touring with Kieran Halpin.
(b. 1979) Born Simon Solomon Webbe on the 30th March 1979 in Manchester, Simon was all set for a career as a professional footballer and was actually signed up by Port Vale and later by Stoke City – many other professional football teams were keen to sign him, including Derby County, Birmingham City, Liverpool and Shrewsbury Town. His career could have gone either way, as he also had a serious interest in popular music and had played and sung rap music with Birmingham-based hip hop group ‘Criminal Damage’, before he eventually decided to give up football completely and concentrate on his music. He subsequently moved to London and joined the group “Blue”. In late 2002 Blue set out on their first UK tour covering Sheffield, Cardiff, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester and London’s Wembley Arena. Simon is also set to act as manager to a five-piece band called “VS” who are signed to Blue’s label, Innocent Records. They released their first single 2004. His relationship with partner Nichola Jones, the mother of his young daughter, ended recently and he is presently unattached.
(1915-1989) Born Jimmie Miller in Salford in 1915, Ewan MacColl was the son of an iron-moulder. His father was also a militant trade-unionist and communist and both parents were of Scottish descent. Thus politics and the folk songs of Scotland were common fare at home and it was little wonder that Ewan grew grew into a world-renowned singer-songwriter and political activist. MacColl left school in 1930 and worked at a variety of temporary dead-end jobs. Also in that year he joined the Workers’ Theatre and went on to form his own street-performing group, known as the ‘Red Megaphones’. To supplement his paltry income, during this time he wrote, and later edited, various small newspapers as well as composing satirical songs and tunes for local restaurants who hired him to make advertising jingles. In 1934 he worked with Joan Littlewood. They married and set up an experimental theatre in Manchester, the ‘Theatre of Action’. MacColl was also cast in the leading role in “Draw the Fires” . By 1936 where they formed the Theatre Union, with many notable productions to their credit, including Lope de Vega’s “Fuente Ovejuña”, “The Good Soldier Schweik” and MacColl’s own “Last Edition” which was so controversial that it was banned by police in 1939. In 1945, after the war, the Theatre Workshop was relaunched, Littlewood directing and producing while MacColl wrote plays – during this time he wrote eleven plays in all which were performed on tour and translated into several languages including German, French, Polish and Russian. His plays achieved some praise, especially from the likes of George Bernard Shaw. His marriage to Littlewood ended and in 1950 he married the dancer Jean Newlove, by whom he had two children. MacColl’s interests gradually turned more to traditional music and he was soon an instrumental part of the so-called folksong revival in Britain. He went on to co-found the ‘Ballads and Blues Club’ in London in 1953. In 1956 he formed a relationship with Peggy Seegar and they were to become a well known singing partnership. They extensively toured together, appeared on television shows and made an extensive record collection of their own topical songs as well as accumulating a large archive of traditional folk songs. MacColl also did a great deal of work in education and documentation, writing scripts and music for BBC films, for commercial television and for the stage. MacColl is probably best known to the wider public as the writer of the popular love song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” (made popular by Roberta Flack), and the classic song “Dirty Old Town” , (of his native Salford), as well as the lesser known songs “The Shoals of Herring,” “Freeborn Man” and “The Manchester Rambler” . In all he wrote and published over 300 songs. Ewan MacColl died on 22nd October 1989 as a result of complications following a heart operation. In 1991 he was awarded a posthumous honorary degree by the University of Salford.