John Tams

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John Tams
John Tams 2008.JPG
Background information
Born (1949-02-16) 16 February 1949 (age 65)
Holbrook, Derbyshire
Genres Folk
Occupation(s) Actor/singer
Instruments Guitar, Melodeon
Years active 1970s–present
Associated acts Muckram Wakes, Albion Band, Home Service, Barry Coope
Website www.johntams.co.uk

John Tams (born 16 February 1949) is an English actor, singer, songwriter, composer and musician.[1]

Early life[edit]

Tams was born in Holbrook, Derbyshire, the son of a publican. He left school at 15 without any qualifications and worked in fairgrounds before training as a journalist. He first worked as a reporter for the Ripley and Heanor News, and then as an editor on the Belper News and the Alfreton Observer. He also worked for BBC Radio Derby and Nottingham, and as a freelance reporter for the Melody Maker and the New Musical Express.[2]

There was a strong musical background in his family and by the age of 11 he was playing the B flat horn in Riddings Brass Band, and began playing the guitar in his teens.[2]

Folk musician[edit]

Tams was a member of Derbyshire folk group Muckram Wakes in the 1970s, then worked with Ashley Hutchings as singer and melodeon-player on albums including Son of Morris On, and as a member of the electric folk group Albion Band. Splitting with Hutchings in the 1980s, he formed Home Service. He is now a solo performer, either fronting a folk-rock band or in a duo with Barry Coope (of Coope Boyes and Simpson).

In December 2009, Tams released a single of "Love Farewell" with the Band and Bugles of the Rifles. The recording of this song, dating from the Peninsular War, was for the benefit of Help for Heroes, a charity dedicated to supporting injured British service personnel and their families.

Collector and stage actor[edit]

In 1974, Tams and Neil Wayne went to County Clare to make field recordings of highly regarded traditional players of the concertina. The recordings were issued on the "Free Reed" label in the '70s. These recordings then became very scarce until 2007 when all the tracks were issued as a 6-CD set called The Clare Set.

Tams was a musical director and actor at the National Theatre from 1976 to 1985 and then again from 1999 to 2001, working on such shows as The Mysteries, Lark Rise to Candleford, Glengarry Glenross, The Crucible, Golden Boy, The Good Hope and The Mysteries Revival in 1999. He was a member of the creative team headed by Bill Bryden.

He also worked as a music consultant at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on Holding Fire (opened July 2007), and on War Horse (opened October 2007) at the National Theatre. War Horse has been described as the most successful show ever staged by the National and has resulted in several awards. It received six nominations for the Olivier Awards, including one for the Best Sound, for Tams and fellow team members Chris Shutt and Adrian Sutton.

Television actor[edit]

John Tams may be best known to the general public through having played one of the supporting roles in the ITV drama series Sharpe as one of the "Chosen Men": rifleman and former poacher Daniel Hagman, a whimsical, sober, steady hand in the 95th Rifles; always ready with a deadly eye behind a Baker rifle, a folk remedy for an ailment or a song for a weary heart. He also co-wrote the music for each film (18, as of Nov. 2008) alongside Dominic Muldowney.

In 1996, Tams and Muldowney released the best-selling album Over the Hills & Far Away: The Music of Sharpe to accompany the series. This album has sold over 120,000 copies.

Solo singer[edit]

Tams has released three solo albums to date, Unity (2001), Home (2002) and The Reckoning (2005); all of which have met with critical acclaim. At the 2006 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Tams won Best Album for The Reckoning, Best Traditional Track (for Bitter Withy) and Folk Singer of the Year.[3] Tams is the only artist to have won the Album of the Year award twice, the first time was with his first solo album Unity in 2001.[3] At the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2008 he and singing partner Barry Coope were presented with the prestigious Best Duo award from actor Sean Bean, alongside whom he acted in the Sharpe TV series.[4] Tams has now received ten nominations, resulting in six BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Radio producer[edit]

In 2006, Tams became musical director of the BBC Radio 2 2006 Radio Ballads, an updating of Ewan MacColl's Radio Ballads. The series was short-listed for two Sony Radio Awards in 2007. In the event it won a Sony Gold Radio Academy Award for Song of Steel and a Bronze award for Thirty Years of Conflict. It has been nominated for a Clarion Award. The song Steelos, written by Tams for the Song of Steel episode of the 2006 Ballads, was nominated Best Original Song at the 2006 Radio 2 Folk Awards. Currently, Tams is also working on a stage version of Steelos to be performed at the Magna Centre in the Rother Valley in 2009. He worked on John McCusker's commission 'Under One Sky' alongside Graham Coxon, Roddy Woomble, Julie Fowlis and others.

In November 2007, Tams was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University,[5] then in January 2009 another Honorary Doctorate from Derby University.[6]

Personal life[edit]

John is married to Sally Tams,[7] who also works as his manager. The couple have a daughter named Rosie, who married Mike Griffin in June 2014.

Discography[edit]

with Muckram Wakes
  • A Map of Derbyshire (1973)
with The Albion Band
  • The Prospect Before Us (1977)
  • Rise Up Like the Sun (1978)
  • Lark Rise to Candleford (1980)
  • 1990 (1990) (guest appearance; vocals on "The Party's Over")
  • Live in Concert (1993, recorded 1977 & 1982)
  • The BBC Sessions (1998, recorded 1973 – 1978)
with Home Service
  • Home Service (1984) (reissued as Early Transmissions, 1996)
  • Mysteries (1985)
  • Alright Jack (1986)
  • Live 1986 (2011)
Solo albums
  • Unity (2000)
  • Home (2002)
  • The Reckoning (2005)
Soundtracks
Compilations
  • The Definitive Collection (2007)

References[edit]

External links[edit]