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Celebrity Drawings by John Moss

Popular & Rock Music of Manchester
& the North-West


Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy)

Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy

(1949-1986)
Philip Lynott, guitarist and singer of the famed pop group “Thin
Lizzy” , though actually born in Birmingham, England
on 20th August 1949, of an Irish mother and a black Brazilian
father, moved with his mother to live in Manchester while he
was still a baby. They then went to live in the Crumlin district
of Dublin when he was four years old, and he always regarded
himself as Irish. Lynott was raised by his grandmother in Crumlin
after his mother moved back to Manchester to work (and earn
enough to support her son’s upbringing). She opened a hotel
(known as ‘ The Showbiz’ ). Lynott
later celebrated his mother, daughter and grandmother in his
songs – ‘Sarah’ (his daughter) and ‘Philomena’ (his
mother) . He attended Princess Road Junior School, where
he gradually became interested in music.
His
first band was named “The Black Eagles” and
included school friend Brian Downey on drums. Later Lynott joined
Gary Moore’s band “Skid Row” , then later in
“Sugar Shack” and “Orphanage” .
In
1969 Lynott, Downey and guitarist Eric Bell formed “Thin
Lizzy”, with whom he is most popularly associated,
and in 1971 they had released their first album, which was met
with a very cool reception, selling just 2,000 copies. However,
on release of their EP record, “New Day” , they
moved to London.
Their second album, “Shades Of A Blue Orphanage”
was also received indifferently. However, the 1973 hit single,
“Whiskey In The Jar” found favour and would
become a rock classic. There followed several records, including
“Randolph’s Tango”, ‘Vagabonds Of The Western
World” and the single “The Rocker” .
Financially, the band struggled top pay its debts and the line-up
changed several times. Bell left, Gary Moore joined and then
left, and eventually even Downey quit, leaving Lynott on his
own. Albums and singles followed, including “Nightlife” ,
(1973) and “Fighting” , which included the singles
“Wild One” and “Rosalie” .
Eventually, Downey returned to rejoin the band.
Gradually
success began to happen – in 1976 “Jailbreak”
reached number 10 in the UK charts, which included the famous
hit, “The Boys Are Back In Town” . As much as
any other song, this thrust them into the forefront of international
rock. Even the American music market responded favourably, despite
Lynott’s broken US Tour due to an attack of hepatitis. His illness
continued to worsen. Doctors warned him about his drugs, sex
and alcohol lifestyle and recommended a radical turnaround –
this he refused to do. In 1977 the band supported Freddy Mercury
and “Queen” in the USA, which was followed
by the album “Bad Reputation” and the single,
“Dancing In The Moonlight” .
Thin
Lizzy continued to tour and the subsequent number two chart-topping
album “Live And Dangerous” was a massive success
in the United Kingdom in 1978. Brian
Downey and Gary Moore were to be largely responsible for the
“Black Rose” Album of 1979 – Thin Lizzy’s biggest
hit album to date. However, all was not happy in the band line-up
and Gary Moore left the band for good. Lynott, however, not
to be beaten continued with a series of successful songs – “Yellow
Pearl” , was actually used for the theme tune to the
cult BBC TV show “Top Of The Pops” . Lynott
was to collaborate with Gary Moore once again in 1985, on the
single “Out In The Fields” , which was a huge
hit, reaching Number 5 in the UK charts. However, Thin Lizzy
was on the rocks, and after the break-up Lynott took to even
heavier drug usage. Tragically,
he died in Salisbury General Infirmary of heart, liver and kidney
failure and blood poisoning – all resulting from a drug overdose
on 4th January 1986.

Gary Barlow

Gary Barlow, Take That

(b. 1971)
Gary Barlow was born on the 20th January 1971 in Frodsham in
Cheshire and attended Weaver Vale Junior School and then Frodsham
High School. From a very early age he worked every Saturday
night as a musician in Connah’s Quay Labour Club. At the age
of fifteen he entered the BBC’s “Pebble Mill” Took
part in the Competition, ‘A Song For Christmas’, and was runner
up. Part of the prize included an invitation to 10cc’s Strawberry
Recording Studios in Stockport. It was here that he was to meet
Mark Owen. After six years as the creative leader of the group
Take That, despite a somewhat fallow
period, Barlow enjoyed some success as a solo artist. His 1996
debut single, ‘Forever Love’ , went straight to number
one position in the UK charts and firmly established him as
a serious singer/songwriter.
In 1997 he followed up with ‘Love Won’t Wait’ and later
that year the number one UK chart-topping album ‘Open Road’
album was released. Later, singles like ‘So Help Me Girl’
followed. 1998 saw Barlow on a world tour to promote his album
with many fine live performances before returning home to record
his second album. Continuing friction between Barlow and ex-Take
That singer Robbie Williams continued to hit the media and Barlow’s
image and fortunes suffered as a result, while Williams’ career
was in the ascendancy. Barlow’s 1999 single ‘Stronger’ flopped,
as did the next, ‘For All That You Want’.
Continued poor media image saw the ‘Twelve Months, Eleven
Days’ album also fail to sell, only reaching the UK’s number
35 position in the music charts. Barlow’s fortunes had reached
an all-time low. Live shows had to be cancelled and recording
commitments were aborted. In March 2000, BMG/RCA released Gary
Barlow from his recording contract. That year he also married
his dancer girlfriend, Dawn and they became parents to two children,
Daniel and Emily. In 2001, he and his family moved to live Santa
Monica, California, and he has been working with Gloria Estefan,
and commuting regularly between Manchester and Los Angeles.
He has recently worked on albums with Elton John, Blue, Donny
Osmond, Hear’say, Monica Naranjo, Vanessa Amorosi and Atomic
Kitten. In recent times, Take That have reformed, reached number
1 position more than once in the music charts again and seem
to have regained their fan base – Barlow’s fortunes have re-emerged
with the band.
In June 2012 he was instrumental in the organisation of the
music festival in celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond
Jubilee celebrations in London. See
also: “Take That”.

David Gray

David Gray

(b. 1968)
David Gray was born in Sale, Manchester in 1968, where his family
ran a chain of bakery shops. As a result of a serious family
dispute in 1995, he and his parents moved to live in Wales.
Later, he returned to the Northwest region to attend Liverpool
University, where his interest in music grew. His major influenced
were The Smiths, The Waterboys, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan.
While at university, he formed a series of college bands, including
“Waiting For Deffo”. A demo tape of this band was
sent to the Manchester Evening News, and thence on to Rob Holden,
head of A&R at Polydor, who invited David to London, (without
the rest of the band), to record a further demo tape under better
conditions. The demo was, however, unsuccessful, and Holden
failed to convince Polydor of Gray’s potential.
Subsequently, Gray moved to live in London and recorded his
first EP “Birds Without Wings” , which was to
be later included on his 1993 debut album ‘A Century Ends’.
Gray’s music somehow failed to fire popular support despite
the release of a second single, ‘ Shine’ , which also failed
in the UK. A third single, “Wisdom”, was released
in 1993. Gray’s band at this stage included guitarist, Neill
MacColl, (the son of Salford folk singer,
Ewan
MacColl
). Virgin Records took over Gray’s recording contract
in 1994. Craig ‘Clunne’ McClune joined the duo as a drummer,
and their subsequent album, “Sell, Sell, Sell” ,
met with rave reviews.
Virgin, inexplicably, decided not to promote it. Virgin were
to eventually release Gray when the next album, “Flesh” ,
failed to achieve chart success. However, Gray’s music had,
meantime, been widely liked in Ireland, and providentially,
RTE presenter Donal Dineen invited him over to Ireland, where
the newly released ‘Shine’ single, saw Irish audiences
raving over Gray’s music and sell out shows in Dublin, Galway
and Belfast. While in Ireland, Gray wrote tracks for local singers,
including, ‘Almost Gone, ‘Trespass Shoes’ and ‘What
Does It Matter’. On the strength of the Irish successes,
EMI offered him a new contract and he accompanied Radiohead
on their 1995 US tour and 1996 European tours. Unfortunately,
Gray’s EMI experience was not good, and within a year he had
to buy himself out of the contract. His career had hit a low
point – he turned to alcohol and cocaine. Fortunately, work
and money arrived in the form of the UK film “This Year’s
Love” starring Kathy Burke. Other film work followed,
including the theme tune, ‘Sail Away’, ‘Crazy’, and ‘Shine’
(for the movie of the same name). He appeared at almost every
UK music festival in 1998 and 1999, and toured Ireland where
he still had a loyal fan base.
In November 1998 he released ‘White Ladder’ in Ireland on his
own IHT label though the album was also released in the UK with
little success.
Gradually, his fortunes turned and the single “This
Years Love” gained a great deal of air time on radio;
meantime, Irish radio was playing the track “Babylon”
which ensured its release as a single. The album, which
followed, went on to reach the Irish Top Five. In January 2000,
over a year after its release, ‘White Ladder’ topped
the Irish charts where it remained for 5 weeks. David Gray was
filling massive venues in Ireland, although back home in Britain
he was still playing small stand-up gigs. Dave Matthews, an
influential USA fan, went on to distribute ‘White Ladder’ in
the USA on his own ATO label. By May 2000 the album had gone
three times platinum in Ireland, whilst in the UK East West
had re-released ‘White Ladder’ sold over 30,000 copies a week,
lifting it to Number 13 in the charts. EMI soon regained an
interest in Gray and they re-released the abortive “Sell,
Sell, Sell” album in 2000. ‘White Ladder’ remained
in the UK Top 10 until November 2000, 2 years after its original
release, selling over 600,000 copies in the process. The
song ‘Sail Away’ was to be included in Robert De Niro’s
film “15 Minutes”.

Karl Denver

(1931-1998)
Karl Denver is probably best remembered as the yodelling pop
singer of the 1961 recording of the Zulu folk song “Wimoweh” .
Born Angus McKenzie in 1931 in Glasgow he was a familiar figure
on radio and the concert stage in the 1960s. Denver left school
at 15 to join the Norwegian merchant navy and in 1951 he enlisted
in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to fight in the Korean
War. During this conflict he was wounded and practised playing
the guitar during his convalescence. During this time he developed
a taste for country and folk music and had decided on a singing
career. While in the US, he took the stage name Karl Denver,
(a suitably American name), appeared on radio and television,
and at the Grand Ole Opry show. However, Denver had arrived
illegally in America, and it was not long before the immigration
department caught up with him and he was deported in 1959.
In Britain he settled to live in Manchester, and formed the
Karl Denver Trio with Gerry Cottrell and Kevin Neill. For a
time they toured Northern clubs and appeared on Granada Television’s
“Band Stand” show. In 1961 the impresario Jack
Good, featured the trio on his television series “Wham!” ,
followed by national tour in support of Jess Conrad and Billy
Fury. Jack Good also secured a record deal for Denver with Decca
and produced a series of their hit singles over the next few
years. During this time the American yodelling star Slim Whitman
had become a major record success, and Karl Denver decided to
emulate this style of singing. As a testament to his success,
the New Musical Express declared Denver to be ‘an artist with
a totally different and distinctive approach’. Denver’s hits
included “Marcheta”, “A Little Love A Little
Kiss”, “Mexicali Rose” and the classic “Wimoweh”.
Denver
claimed to have actually discovered the song in South Africa
but this is doubtful as other bands had already recorded the
song. In 1962 the Karl Denver Trio appeared in summer season
at Great Yarmouth and the following year were given their own
Light Programme radio show, entitled “Side by Side” .
Among their guests were The Beatles . These were to go
on to dominate the world of popular music for the next two decades,
and in no small measure contributed thus to the decline of Denver’s
popularity. By comparison, their music sounded decidedly old-fashioned.
Although The Karl Denver Trio largely disappeared from public
attention, they did continue to work in cabaret at the UK and
abroad. That
other Manchester group, the
Happy Mondays
also produced their own version of “Wimoweh”
later on the fashionable Factory label. Karl Denver lived for
many of his later years in Reddish, Stockport, and died on the
21st of December 1998.

Ben Gerrard
– Chairmen of the Bored

Ben Gerrard of Chairmen of the Bored

Chairmen of the Bored is a Pop-Punk Band
which was established in June 2002, and is headed by Ben Gerrard
from Littleborough, Rochdale. Ben was born in 1984 and was a
professional model for a time before joining Channel 4 TV’s
soap series “Hollyoaks” in late 2002. He plays the
role of Cameron, who is his first acting role. Ben originally
auditioned for the role of Jake Dean, (which, needless to say,
he failed to get), before being called back to play the part
of Cameron. Ben is a keen musician who plays both guitar and
drums, and is accompanied in Chairmen of the Bored by a current
line-up which includes himself on vocals and guitar, as well
as James Robinson (Bass, Vocals) and Owen Beard (Drums)

 

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Copyright
© John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom – all rights reserved.
This page last updated 20 Jan 12.