Fame playing with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings in 2009. Photo: Jacco Barth
|Birth name||Clive Powell|
26 June 1943 |
Leigh, Lancashire England, UK
|Occupations||Musician, musical director|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, keyboards|
Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Hammond organ, piano
Georgie Fame (born Clive Powell, 26 June 1943) is an English rhythm and blues and jazz singer, and keyboard player. The one-time rock and roll tour musician, who had a string of 1960s hits, is still a popular performer, often working with contemporaries such as Van Morrison and Bill Wyman.
Fame was born in Leigh, Lancashire. He took piano lessons from the age of seven and on leaving Leigh Central County Secondary School at 15 he worked for a brief period in a cotton weaving mill and played piano for a band called the Dominoes in the evenings. 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.
At sixteen years of age, Fame 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. Fame later recalled that Parnes had given him an ultimatum over his forced change of name:
|“||It was very much against my will but he said, "If you don't use my name, I won't use you in the show".||”|
Over the following year Fame 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" and went on to enjoy great success with a repertoire largely of rhythm and blues numbers.
The Blue Flames
Fame was influenced from early on by jazz and such blues musicians as Willie Mabon and Mose Allison, and was one of the first white artists to be influenced by the ska music he heard in Jamaican cafes in and around Ladbroke Grove. Black American soldiers who visited the Flamingo Club, where the band had a three-year residency, would play him the latest jazz and blues releases from America, "Midnight Special" by Jimmy Smith, "Grooving With Jug" by Gene Ammons and Richard "Groove" Holmes, and "Green Onions" by Booker T. & the M.G.'s. Fame later recalled:
|“||... it was a great place to play, a midnight to 6am thing on Fridays and Saturdays, and it was full of American GIs who came in from their bases for the weekend. They brought records with them and one of them gave me "Green Onions" by Booker T & the MG's. I had been playing piano up to that point but I bought a Hammond organ the next day."||”|
In August 1963 the band took a weekly Friday-night spot at "The Scene" on Great Windmill Street. In September 1963 the band recorded its debut album, Rhythm And Blues At the Flamingo, live at the Flamingo Club. Produced by Ian Samwell, who had previously played with Cliff Richard, and engineered by Glyn Johns, the album was released, in place of a planned single, on the EMI Columbia label. It failed to reach the 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 that he would start his own radio station in order to promote the record. The station became the offshore pirate radio station Radio Caroline.
Fame subsequently enjoyed regular chart success with singles, having three Top 10 hits, which all made number one in the UK Singles Chart. His version of "Yeh Yeh", released on 14 January 1965, spent two weeks at No. 1 on the UK singles chart and a total of 12 weeks on the chart. The following-up single, in 1965, was "In The Meantime", which also charted in both UK and US. Fame made his US television debut that same year on the NBC Hullabaloo series. His single "Get Away", released on 21 July 1966, spent one week at No. 1 on the UK chart and 11 weeks on the chart in total. The song, originally recorded with a view to using it as a television jingle for a petrol advertisement, was later used as the theme tune for a quiz show on Australian television. At this point Fame disbanded his band and went solo.
Fame's version of the Bobby Hebb song "Sunny" made No. 13 in the UK charts in September 1966. The follow-up, "Sitting In The Park", a Billy Stewart cover, made No. 12. His greatest chart success was "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967, which was a number one hit in the United Kingdom, and No.7 in the United States. "Yeh Yeh" and "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs.
Price of Fame
Fame continued playing into the 1970s, having a hit, "Rosetta", with his close friend Alan Price, ex-keyboard player of the Animals, in 1971, and they worked together extensively for a time. In 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. During the 1970s, he also wrote jingles for several UK radio and TV commercials, and composed the music for the feature films Entertaining Mr Sloane and The Alf Garnett Saga (1972).
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, while still recording and touring as an artist in his own right. Fame played organ on all of the Van Morrison albums between 1989 and 1997, and starred at Terry Dillon's 60th-birthday party on 10 May 2008. Morrison refers to Fame in the line "I don't run into Mr. Clive" in his song "Don't Go to Nightclubs Anymore" featured on the 2008 Keep It Simple album. Fame appeared as a special guest on Morrison's television concert show presented by BBC Four series on 25 April and 27 April 2008.
Fame was also founding member of his 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 frequently played residences at jazz clubs, such as Ronnie Scott's. He has also played organ on Starclub's album. He was the headline act on the Sunday night at the Jazz World stage at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival, this following a headline gig the night before at the "Midsummer Music @ Spencers" festival in Essex.
On 18 April 2010, Fame, together with his two sons Tristan Powell (guitar) and James Powell (drums), performed at the Live Room at Twickenham Stadium, as part of the 10th-birthday celebrations of "The Eel Pie Club". Part of the proceeds from the concert will benefit The Otakar Kraus Trust, which provides music and voice therapy for children and young people with physical and mental difficulties. The trio performed later that same year at the opening night at Towersey Festival.
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.
In 1972, Fame married Nicolette (née Harrison), Marchioness of Londonderry, the former wife of the 9th Marquess. Lady Londonderry already had given birth to one of Fame's children during marriage to the marquess; the child, Tristan, bore the courtesy title Viscount Castlereagh and was believed to be heir to the marquessate. When tests determined that the child was actually Fame's, the Londonderrys divorced.  The couple had another son, James, during their marriage.
Nicolette Powell died on 13 August 1993, after jumping off the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Fame said that they had stayed happily married because of her "charm, beauty, forbearance and understanding".
Views and advocacy
Fame's 1966 "Music Talk" has been sampled by:
- The Beatnuts – "World's Famous Intro" (Intoxicated Demons EP, Relativity, 1993)
- The Herbaliser – "Amores Bongo" (Amores Bongo / Bongo Boom, Skyline, 2007)
- Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – "Wig Out" (Mecca and the Soul Brother, Elektra, 1992)
- The Chemical Brothers – "Playground for a Wedgeless Firm" (Exit Planet Dust, Freestyle Dust, 1995)
|Year||Single||Chart positions||Catalogue No.|
|1964||"Do The Dog"||-||–||–||Columbia DB 7193|
|"Do Re Mi"||-||–||–||Columbia DB 7255|
|"Bend a Little"||-||–||–||Columbia DB 7328|
|"Yeh Yeh"||14||1||21||Columbia DB 7428|
|1965||"In The Meantime"||66||22||97||Columbia DB 7494|
|"Like We Used To Be"||-||33||–||Columbia DB 7633|
|"Something"||-||23||–||Columbia DB 7727|
|1966||"Getaway" (US title "Get Away")||40||1||70||Columbia DB 7946|
|"Sunny"||-||13||-||Columbia DB 8015|
|"Sitting In The Park"||92||12||-||Columbia DB 8096|
|1967||"Because I Love You"||-||15||-||Columbia DB 7946|
|"Try My World"||-||37||-||CBS 2945|
|"The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde"||4||1||7||CBS 3124|
|1968||"La Ballata Di Bonnie E Clyde"||-||-||-||CBS 3254|
|"Seventh Son"||-||25||-||CBS 4659|
|1970||"Somebody Stole My Thunder"||-||-||-||CBS 5035|
|1971||"Rosetta" (with Alan Price)||91||11||-||CBS 7108|
|1974||"Ali Shuffle"||-||-||-||Island WIP 6218|
|1976||"Yes Honestly"||-||-||-||Island WIP 6279|
|"Sweet Perfection"||-||-||-||Island WIP 6311|
|1986||"Samba (Toda Menina Baiana)"||-||-||-||Chrysalis/Ensign ENY 605|
|1996||"That's Life" (with Van Morrison)||-||-||-||Verve 576 205-2|
- Rhythm & Blue-Beat (1964), Columbia SEG 8334
- Fame At Last (1964), Columbia SEG 8393
- Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo (1964), Columbia 33SX 1599
- Fame at Last! (1965), Columbia 33SX 1638
- Sweet Things (1966), Columbia SX 6043
- Sound Venture (1966), Columbia SX 6076
- Get Away (1966), Imperial Records LP 9331 (US, mono, not issued in the UK); Imperial LP 12331 (US, stereo, not issued in the UK)
- The Two Faces of Fame (1967), CBS BPG 63018 (mono) SBPG 63018 (stereo)
- The Third Face of Fame (1968), CBS BPG 63293 (mono) SBPG 63293 (stereo)
- Seventh Son (1969), CBS 63786
- Shorty featuring Georgie Fame (1969 – US live album not issued in the UK), Epic BN 26563
- Georgie Does His Thing with Strings (1970), CBS 63650
- Going Home (1971), CBS 64350
- Fame and Price, Price and Fame: Together! (1972), CBS 64392
- All Me Own Work (1972), Reprise K 44183
- Georgie Fame (1973), Island ILPS 9293
- Right Now (1979), Pye NSPL 18600
- Closing the Gap (1980), Piccadilly N 137
- In Hoagland (1981), featuring the songs of Hoagy Carmichael (with Annie Ross), Baldeagle BELP 181
- In Goodmansland (1983), featuring the songs of Benny Goodman (with Sylvia Vrethammar), Sonet SNTF 908
- Samba (1986), Ensign Records ENYX 605
- No Worries (1988), CBS 4668682 (Australia)
- Cool Cat Blues (1991), Blue Moon/Go Jazz R2 79352 (US)
- Three Line Whip (1994), Three Line Whip TLWCD 001
- The Blues and Me (1996), Go Jazz Records
- Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison (1996), Verve Records
- Name Droppin': Live at Ronnie Scott's, Vol. 1 (1997), Go Jazz Records
- Walkin' Wounded: Live at Ronnie Scott's, Vol. 2 (1998), Go Jazz Records
- Endangered Species (with The Danish Radio Big Band) (recorded 1993, released 1999), Music Mecc
- Poet in New York (2000), Go Jazz Records
- Relationships (2001), Three Line Whip
- The Birthday Big Band (1998 55th-birthday concert) (2007), Three Line Whip
- Charleston (2007), Three Line Whip
- Tone-Wheels 'A' Turnin' (2009), Three Line Whip
- Hall of Fame (1967), Columbia SX 6120
- Fame Again (1979)
- On the Right Track: Beat, Ballad and Blues (1992)
- The In-Crowd (1998)
- The Very Best of Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames (1998)
- Funny How Time Slips Away (2001)
- Somebody Stole My Thunder: 1967–1971 (2007)
- Georgie Fame: Mod Classics 1964–1966 (2010), Ace Records (CDBGPD 206)
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 194. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Pop star's wife died in fall from bridge" at independent.co.uk
- Rudland, D. (2010), CD booklet notes to Georgie Fame: Mod Classics 1964–1966, Ace Records, CDBGPD 206
- Rik Gunnell, Club owner and impresario: obituary by Spencer Leigh at independent.co.uk
- Johnny Gunnell, cover liner notes on Rhythm And Blues At the Flamingo, Polydor RSO, SPELP80.
- THE BALLAD OF BONNIE AND CLYDE – GEORGIE FAME & THE BLUE FLAMES at epinions.com
- Radio Caroline Story – the 60s OFFSHORE ECHOS
- Don't Get Mad, Get Even History of Radio Caroline
- The Offshore Radio Revolution in Britain 1964–2004 Created: 31 August 2004 – Published by the H2G2.
- Georgie Fame at 45-rpm.org.uk
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 174 & 220. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Georgie Fame – information on music collaborations including Motown Review http://www.thepoint-online.co.uk/thepoint-702 Retrieved 1 September 2007.
- Georgie Fame plays MM@S 09.
- Yeh Yeh Georgie Fame at the Live Room at Richmond and Twickenham Times.co.uk
- Georgie Fame in concert at towerseyfestival.com
- "Annabel Goldsmith prepares joyful celebration for the late Marquess of Londonderry" The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
- "Sale of the century as aristocrats auction heirlooms". Daily Telegraph.
- Hoggard, Liz (24 September 2006). "High Society: Whatever happened to the last of the debs?". The Independent. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
- "Bryan Ferry to play Countryside Alliance Benefit Concert".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Georgie Fame.|
- Georgie Fame biography, Steve Huey, AllMusic
- "The Entertainers: Georgie Fame", on Grampian Television, broadcast 28 May 1979, at youtube.com