Crispian St. Peters
|Crispian St. Peters|
|Birth name||Robin Peter Smith|
5 April 1939|
Swanley, Kent, England
|Died||8 June 2010(aged 71)|
|Labels||Decca (UK), Square (UK), Jamie (US), London (Canada)|
He was born Robin Peter Smith in Swanley, Kent and attended Swanley Secondary Modern School. He learned guitar and left school in 1954 to become an assistant cinema projectionist. As a young man, he performed in several relatively unknown bands in England. In 1956, he gave his first live performance, as a member of The Hard Travellers. Through the late 1950s and early 1960s, as well as undertaking National Service, he was a member of The Country Gentlemen, Beat Formula Three, and Peter & The Wolves.
While a member of Beat Formula Three in 1963, he was heard by David Nicholson, an EMI publicist who became his manager. Nicholson suggested he use a stage name, initially "Crispin Blacke" and subsequently Crispian St. Peters, and deducted five years from his client's age for publicity purposes. In 1964, as a member of Peter & The Wolves, St. Peters made his first commercial recording. He was persuaded to turn solo by Nicholson, and was signed to Decca Records in 1965. His first two singles on this record label, "No No No" and "At This Moment", proved unsuccessful on the charts. He made two television UK appearances in February of that year, featuring in the shows Scene At 6.30 and Ready Steady Go!
In 1966, St. Peters' career finally yielded a Top 10 hit in the UK Singles Chart, with "You Were on My Mind," a song written and first recorded in 1964 by the Canadian folk duo, Ian & Sylvia, and a hit in the United States for We Five in 1965. St. Peters's single eventually hit #2 in the UK and was then released in the US on the Philadelphia-based Jamie Records label. It did not chart in the US until after his fourth release, "The Pied Piper," became known--irreversibly, as it proved--as his signature song and a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
Under manager David Nicholson's tutelage the shy star was momentarily transformed into arrogance incarnate, and he astonished the conservative music press of the period by his suggestion that he had written 80 songs of better quality than those of The Beatles. Other stars were also waved aside as St. Peters announced that he was better than Elvis Presley: "I'm going to make Presley look like the Statue of Liberty . . . I am sexier than Dave Berry and more exciting than Tom Jones . . . and the Beatles are past it." Outraged readers denounced him in letters and columns. However, St. Peters' comments were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, as he explained in an interview with Douglas Antreassian titled "Then and Now - Britain's Pied Piper Sets The Record Straight." "The Pied Piper" had been recorded in 1965 by its writers, Steve Duboff and Artie Kornfeld, as The Changin' Times, but it was St. Peters's version in 1966 that was the hit, reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #5 in the UK. No subsequent release would ever match the success of "The Pied Piper," although its success helped boost "You Were on My Mind" into the US Top 40. Thereafter St. Peters was remembered more for his idle boasts than his music.
Although his next single, a version of Phil Ochs' song "Changes," also reached the charts in both the UK and US, it was much less successful. In 1967, St. Peters released his first LP, Follow Me, which included several of his own songs. One of them, "I'll Give You Love," was recorded by Marty Kristian in a version produced by St. Peters, and became a big hit in Australia. St. Peters' album was followed by his first EP, Almost Persuaded, yet by 1970, he was dropped by Decca.
Later in 1970, he was signed to Square Records. Under this new record deal, St. Peters released a second LP, Simply, that year, predominantly of country and western songs. Later still they released his first cassette, The Gospel Tape, in 1986, and a second cassette, New Tracks on Old Lines in 1990. His third cassette, Night Sessions, Vol. 1 was released in 1993.
Several CDs also came from this record deal, including Follow Me in 1991, The Anthology in 1996, Night Sessions, Vol. 1 in 1998, The Gospel Tape in 1999, and, finally, Songs From The Attic in 2000. He also performed on various Sixties nostalgia tours, and continued to write and arrange for others until his later ill health.
From 1969 to 1974, St. Peters was married to Collette. The marriage produced a daughter, Samantha, and a son, Lee.
On 1 January 1995, at the age of 55, he suffered a stroke. His music career was severely weakened by this, and in 2001, he announced his retirement from the music industry. He was hospitalized several times with pneumonia after 2003.
St. Peters died on 8 June 2010, after a long illness, at the age of 71.
|1966||"You Were on My Mind"||36[note 1]||2|
|1966||"The Pied Piper"||4||5|
- Did not chart until it was re-released in 1967, after "The Pied Piper" was a hit.
- List of performers on Top of the Pops
- RPM number-one hits of 1966
- List of artists under the Decca Records label
- "Biography by Bruce Eder". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
- Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Independent, 10 June 2010
- Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 674. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 479. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Oldies.com biography
- Allmusic.com - Charts & Awards (singles)
- The official Crispian St. Peters website
- History of "The Pied Piper" @ Originals.be
- Crispian St. Peters, Singer of the Hit ‘Pied Piper,’ Dies at 71 (New York Times obituary)
- Crispian St. Peters discography at Discogs