David Balfe

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David Balfe
Birth name David Balfe
Also known as Dave Balfe, The Chameleons (along Bill Drummond)
Born (1958-10-02) 2 October 1958 (age 56)
Origin Carlisle, Cumberland, England
Genres Punk rock, new wave, post-punk, synthpop
Occupation(s) Musician, record producer
Instruments Bass guitar, keyboards
Years active Mid 1970s–present
Labels Zoo Records
Associated acts Mr. McKenzie, Radio Blank, Dalek I Love You, Big in Japan, Lori and the Chameleons, The Teardrop Explodes

David Balfe (born 2 October 1958, Carlisle, Cumberland[1]) is most notable for playing keyboards with The Teardrop Explodes, founding the Zoo and Food independent record labels, signing Blur and for being the subject of their first number one hit, "Country House".

Biography[edit]

David Balfe grew up in Merseyside, where he played with several Liverpool bands in the late 1970s that emerged from the city's legendary Eric's club scene including Radio Blank, Big in Japan, Dalek I Love You and The Teardrop Explodes. He also played keyboards on and co-produced the first Echo & the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes albums, as well as managing both bands with Bill Drummond for their early years.

Zoo records[edit]

Balfe and Drummond, having met while playing together in Big In Japan, founded the Zoo record label in 1978 in order to release Big in Japan's posthumous EP From Y to Z and Never Again. The label went on to sign and release the early work of The Teardrop Explodes and Echo & the Bunnymen.

Balfe and Drummond did their production work under the name of The Chameleons, and also released the singles "Touch" and "The Lonely Spy" - credited to Lori and The Chameleons - on the Zoo label, later licensing them to Sire/Korova.

Although they released a few other artists, The Teardrop Explodes and Echo & the Bunnymen grew to take up most of their time. Eventually, due to lack of finance, they signed both bands to major London Record Companies and continued to manage them, while letting the label fade into inactivity.

Balfe and Drummond's publishing company, Zoo Music, signed many of the above and below artists, as well as multi-million selling acts The Proclaimers in 1987 and Drummond's band The KLF.

The Teardrop Explodes[edit]

Balfe began as The Teardrop Explodes' label head, manager and producer, but on the departure of their original keyboard player, Paul Simpson, Balfe stepped in for what turned into four years in and out of the band, having a famously tempestuous relationship with their singer, Julian Cope. He played keyboards on their Top 10 single, 'Reward', and their two gold albums, 'Kilimanjaro' (1980) & 'Wilder' (1981).

After The Teardrop Explodes disbanded in 1983, Balfe moved to London where, after managing Strawberry Switchblade (Top 5 Hit, 'Since Yesterday') and Brilliant (the post-Killing Joke band of subsequently famous producer, Youth), he then founded the Food record label in 1984.

Food records[edit]

Food, initially funded by Balfe alone, signed Voice of the Beehive, Zodiac Mindwarp (both of whom moved on to major labels, while Balfe continued to manage them for many years), Crazyhead, and Diesel Park West, before signing a deal with EMI to fund and distribute the label worldwide while retaining creative independence.

They then signed Jesus Jones who went on to have a number one album in the UK and multi-million sales internationally with their second album, 'Doubt', and a number one single in the USA with 'Right Here Right Now'. A year after signing Jesus Jones they signed Blur.

Balfe, along with later label partner Andy Ross, convinced the band to change their name from 'Seymour' to Blur on signing in 1989.

Balfe also directed Blur's first two music videos, "She's So High" and "There's No Other Way".

Disenchanted with the alternative scene in the years of "Grunge", Balfe decided to sell the Food label to EMI in 1994, and semi-retire with his young family to the country - inspiring Damon Albarn to pen Blur's first No.1 hit, "Country House".[citation needed], about a "professional cynic" tired of "living life to the limit" escaping to a "very big house in the country".

Thereafter[edit]

After two years of living in the countryside, Balfe returned to the music business to take up a position at Sony Music from 1996 to 1999 as general manager and head of A&R of the Columbia label. His most notable success of that period in A&R was the million-selling Kula Shaker.

Since then Balfe has received a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Bedfordshire in 2003 and, in 2006, an MA in screenwriting from the University of Westminster.

In 2009, he formed a new independent music company, Pointless Excitement, and released material by The Agitator.

In June 2010, Balfe received the Mojo Magazine 'Inspiration Award' on behalf of The Teardrop Explodes. It was presented by Alex James from Blur.

Balfe is still involved in occasional music projects, while having commercial interests in both film and a number of tech-start-ups.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "David Balfe interview". Mersey Beat. Retrieved 30 March 2009. 

External links[edit]