Midge Ure

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Midge Ure
Midge Ure 2004-10-26.jpg
Ure in 2004
Background information
Birth name James Ure
Born (1953-10-10) 10 October 1953 (age 60)
Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Genres New Romantic,[1] soft rock, punk rock, synthpop, post-punk, new wave, art rock, glam rock, hard rock
Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician, producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer
Years active 1972–present
Associated acts Slik, Rich Kids, Misfits, Visage, Thin Lizzy, Ultravox, Band Aid
Website Official website
Notable instruments
Fender Stratocaster
Yamaha SG 2000
Ibanez Roadstar RS125

James "Midge" Ure, OBE (born 10 October 1953) is a Scottish musician and singer-songwriter. His stage name, Midge, is a phonetic reversal of Jim, the diminutive form of his real name.

Ure enjoyed particular success in the 1970s and 1980s in bands including Slik, Thin Lizzy, Rich Kids, and Visage, and most notably as frontman of Ultravox. In 1984, Ure co-wrote and produced the charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" which has sold 3.7 million copies in the UK. The song is the second highest selling single in UK chart history.[2] Ure co-organised Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 with Bob Geldof. Ure acts as trustee for the charity, and serves as ambassador for Save the Children.

In 1985, Ure had a UK number one solo single with the song "If I Was".

Career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Born to a working-class family in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland, he attended Cambuslang Primary School and Rutherglen Academy in Glasgow until he was 15 years old. For the first 10 years of his life he lived in a one-bedroom tenement flat on the outskirts of Glasgow with his brother, sister and his parents.[3]

After leaving school Ure attended Technical College and then began to work as an engineer, training at the National Engineering Laboratory, (NEL), in nearby East Kilbride.[4] He started playing music in a Glasgow band called Stumble (c. 1969 – c. 1971), that included a girl-singing duet, Christine and Agnes. The band's line-up included lead guitar John McMenemy, Alan Wright on harmonica, Fraser Spiers on bass, Kenny Ireland on drums and Alec Baird on vocals.

Salvation, Slik and PVC2[edit]

Ure joined Salvation as a guitarist in 1972. The band had been formed in Glasgow in June 1970 by the brothers Kevin (vocals) and Jim McGinlay (bass guitar). Jim McGinlay decided to turn Ure's name backwards to "Mij" (Midge) to avoid any confusion caused by two members of the band having the same first name.[4] Ure has since presented himself in the music scene as Midge Ure.[5] The band performed covers as house band in the Glasgow discothèque Clouds, the venue for major bands playing on tour in the city. The band also comprised Billy McIsaac on keyboards and Kenny Hyslop on drums.

In April 1974, Kevin McGinlay left to pursue a solo career,[5] so Ure assumed vocals in addition to his guitar duties. In November 1974 the band changed their name to Slik, with Bay City Rollers writers Bill Martin and Phil Coulter providing songs. In 1975, Ure turned down an offer to be the lead singer of the Sex Pistols, stating that he felt at the time that Malcolm McLaren had "his priorities completely wrong!", a position he later reversed.[6]

Slik achieved a UK number one single in February 1976 with "Forever and Ever". In early 1977, Jim McGinlay decided to quit the band, being replaced by Russell Webb. Slik terminated their contract with Martin and Coulter, believing that their boy-band image was hindering their chances of success during the rising punk rock scene. They changed their name to PVC2 and adopted a more punkish style. Ure's only release with the band under this name was the "Put You In The Picture" single.

Rich Kids[edit]

By October 1977, Ure had left PVC2 to join former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock in Rich Kids. Ure moved to London and soon found himself immersed in a scene he had previously only read about in the pages of the NME.[7] Musical tensions within the band led to Ure's departure. Having acquired a synthesiser, Ure, alongside band-mate Rusty Egan, wanted to integrate the new instrument into the band's sound. With Glen Matlock and Steve New preferring to remain with the traditional guitars and drums approach, the band split.

In January 2010, Rich Kids reformed for one night only, for a benefit concert for Steve New who was fighting terminal cancer (and died on 24 May 2010). Although it had been over 30 years since they played together, the press reports praised the gig, with energetic performances of "Ghosts of Princes In Towers" and "Hung on You". Rich Kids were joined on stage by Mick Jones (The Clash) and Gary Kemp. Ure also played an acoustic set of Ultravox and Visage songs.

Visage[edit]

In 1978, Egan and Ure formed Visage with lead vocalist Steve Strange, and utilised their new synthesiser when they recorded a cover of the Zager & Evans classic "In The Year 2525" for promotional purposes. The line-up was expanded in 1979 with the addition of Magazine members Dave Formula, John McGeoch and Barry Adamson, and Ultravox keyboardist Billy Currie, and the band signed briefly to Radar Records for the release of their first single "Tar". Egan and Ure also formed the short-lived band The Misfits, whose career was curtailed by an approach from Thin Lizzy. Though Visage's first single was unsuccessful, they signed with Polydor Records in 1980, and their second single, "Fade to Grey", became a hit.

Thin Lizzy[edit]

Ure already knew Thin Lizzy singer Phil Lynott. In early 1979, Ure received co-writing credit for "Get Out Of Here" on the album Black Rose. In July 1979, Ure stepped in to help Thin Lizzy complete a US tour following guitarist Gary Moore's abrupt departure. Ure contributed guitar parts to "Things Ain’t Working Out" and "Dublin" for the 1979 Thin Lizzy remix compilation The Continuing Saga of the Ageing Orphans. Thin Lizzy then toured America and Japan. In 1980, during the second part of this tour, Ure switched to keyboards, replaced by Dave Flett, and then Snowy White as guitarist. At the end of the tour Ure decided to leave Thin Lizzy. Ure felt his energies were better committed to another group: Ultravox. Ure continued to collaborate with Lynott, co-writing Lynott's biggest solo hit, "Yellow Pearl".

Ultravox[edit]

In 1979, Ure and Billy Currie formed a close bond playing together in Visage. The pair decided to resurrect Currie's former group, the synthpop band Ultravox. The group had been presumed defunct since guitarist Robin Simon quit and lead singer John Foxx had left to pursue a solo career. In April 1979, Ure regrouped the band and assumed duties as bandleader, singer, songwriter, guitarist and second keyboardist. This now was the second incarnation of that band, and it would prove to become the "classic" line-up, with Currie (keyboards, violin), Chris Cross (bass) and Warren Cann (electronic drums). Although Ure had spent the latter half of 1979 on tour with Thin Lizzy, Ultravox found time late in the year to tour in the USA. During this time the band wrote a number of songs which were included on their first album with Ure.

The album, Vienna, was recorded in 1980. Although it was the band's fourth album, it was the first of the "new" phase with Ure, and the first one to chart, although it was only a minor success upon immediate release. However, when the title track "Vienna" was released as a single in early 1981, it became a huge hit and spent four weeks at No. 2 in the UK singles chart and was the 5th highest selling single in the UK that year. The album itself re-entered the album chart and peaked at No. 3, proving itself one of New Wave's, and New Romantic's, best known examples.

Inspired by the 1949 film The Third Man, the promo video for "Vienna" was directed by Russell Mulcahy[8] utilising cinematic techniques, and became quite influential. In an interview, Ure recalled the way that "music video changed after that. All these things that became video clichés – cropping the top and bottom off the screen, shooting on film as opposed to videotape, making it look like a movie ... we were quite a groundbreaking act for a while."[7] The same year that Ultravox released the Vienna album, Visage also released their debut album which made the UK Top 20 and featured the hit single "Fade to Grey" (co-written by Ure and Currie with Chris Payne), also influential in the direction of the New Romantic electropop music scene.[9] For a while between 1979 and 1980, then, Ure was deeply committed to three different bands, all of them quite successful: Ultravox, Visage, and Thin Lizzy.

Ultravox (Midge Ure) in concert, April 1984

In 1981, Ultravox recorded their second album with Ure as frontman, Rage in Eden, which was also a Top 5 hit in the UK. After its release, Ure and Currie reconvened with Visage to record the band's second album, The Anvil. Released in early 1982, it was a Top 10 hit, but Ure left the band soon after its release, citing creative differences with frontman Steve Strange. The same year saw Ultravox record and release their third album with Ure, Quartet, with production by Beatles' producer George Martin. The album became their third Top 10 hit and featured four Top 20 singles. This period also saw Ure work as a producer for other artists, amongst them Steve Harley, Skids and Strasse, and in 1982 he also released his first solo single, a cover of the 1968 Tom Rush song "No Regrets" (based on the 1975 hit cover version by The Walker Brothers), which made the UK Top 10.

After the live album Monument in 1983, Ultravox released their fourth studio album with Ure, Lament, in 1984. The album was another Top 10 success and contained the Top 3 hit "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes". The band released their first "greatest hits" album at the end of the year, featuring all the singles from 1980 onwards. The album peaked at no.2 in the UK and was later certified triple platinum.[citation needed]

After Ure's successful debut solo album in 1985, the fifth and final Ultravox album with Ure, U-Vox, was released in 1986. Although another Top 10 hit, the album (and singles) fared less well than their earlier releases.[citation needed]

In 2004, he collabored with the electro-trance band "Jam & Spoon" on the title "Something To Remind Me", song featured on their "Tripomatic Fairytales 3003" LP

In 2009 Ure and the other members reformed Ultravox for the Return to Eden tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Vienna album, followed up the next year with a second round of the tour. In late 2010 Ultravox started working on their sixth album fronted by Ure. This album, entitled Brilliant was released in May 2012.[10] Following this release the band embarked on the 'Brilliant Tour' performing shows in the UK and Europe in late 2012. It has been confirmed that in November 2013, Ultravox will be special guests on a four date arena tour with Simple Minds.

Band Aid[edit]

In 1984, Ure co-wrote the Band Aid hit, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" with Bob Geldof. Ure was rehearsing with Ultravox for an episode of the Channel 4 music show The Tube when host Paula Yates handed him the phone. It was her then husband, Geldof, who proceeded, recalls Ure, "to rant on about the Michael Buerk BBC news report on the Ethiopian famine." Geldof provided the initial lyrics, with Ure working the musical theme on a small keyboard in his kitchen. The second half was composed by Ure, with the bridging chorus only assembled in the studio when the artists had gathered. Ure has described the song as one of the worst he has ever written, commenting that "the momentum the artists gave it in the recording studio is what made it".[11]

At the studio recording, Ure also took on the production duties for the song. Although Trevor Horn had been approached to fulfil this role, he needed more time to fulfil other obligations than was available.[12] Ure stepped into the breach, with Horn providing his studio, remixing the track and producing the 12" version. Ure and Geldof jointly set up the Band Aid Trust, and he remains active as a Band Aid Trustee to this day. He also co-organised the Live Aid concert of 1985 along with Geldof and Harvey Goldsmith. Geldof and Ure have been honoured with two Ivor Novello awards for writing the song.[13]

Solo career[edit]

Midge Ure during Here and Now Tour 2011

After working on the Band Aid project and during a hiatus from Ultravox, Ure pursued a solo career in 1985. The single, "If I Was", was a UK number one single, and his debut album, The Gift, reached No. 2. After returning to Ultravox for what would be their final album together, the band effectively disbanded in 1987 and Ure concentrated solely on his solo career but with less success. The albums Answers to Nothing (1988) and Pure (1991) failed to make the UK top 20. If I Was, a career retrospective, was released in 1993, while in 1998 the single "Breathe" was a hit in Europe, boosted by its use in a Swatch TV ad campaign. The video was directed by Dani Jacobs.[14]

In 2005, Ure organised Live 8 concerts with Bob Geldof with the aim of pressing G8 leaders into taking action to end world poverty. Later that year he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to music and charity. He has also received five honorary degrees in recent years. He was made an Honorary Doctor of Arts in 2005 by the University of Abertay Dundee for his artistic and charity work over the past 30 years.[15] He was made a Doctor of Music by University of Edinburgh in 2006.[16] In 2007, he received from the University of Paisley his third honorary doctorate, for his contribution to Scottish culture and charity work.[17] In 2008, Glasgow Caledonian University awarded him his fourth honorary doctorate, for his musical and humanitarian achievements.[18] He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Bath in December 2010.[19] Ure is an ambassador for Save the Children[20] and in recent years he has gone back to Ethiopia and visited Sierra Leone in that capacity.

Ure continues to perform his own songs, along with popular Ultravox songs, in concerts both solo, acoustic and with a band. Ultravox briefly reformed in 2009 and undertook a successful tour (as well as appearing at the Isle of Wight 2009 Festival) to celebrate, in their own words, the "anniversary of their classic line-up". Ure stated in a BBC interview in April 2009, "we are not trying to get our youth back, nor the hair that's fallen off already".[21][22] Further concerts in the UK and Europe were scheduled in 2010. Ure visited the U.S. in 2013 for a tour and did a number of concerts. [23]

Personal life[edit]

Ure resides near Bath. He has been married twice: to actress and writer Annabel Giles (with whom he has one daughter, Molly) and to Sheridan Forbes (with whom he has three daughters, Kitty, Ruby and Flossie).[4]

Ure's two main passions are music and cooking. He was able to indulge the second of these in the 2007 Celebrity MasterChef series, winning his heat and progressing to the final on 15 June, alongside Nadia Sawalha and Craig Revel Horwood. Although all three competitors greatly impressed the judges, the trophy was won by Sawalha.[24]

Ure is a recovering alcoholic, something he openly admits and discusses in his autobiography If I Was.[25] In an interview with The Guardian in 2012, Ure said: "If my family hadn't supported me through my alcoholism, I don't know if I'd be here today." He said that the turning point came when he was on a holiday and he went back to his car to get a bottle of alcohol. Ure said: "As I turned round there was my then 11-year-old daughter looking at me and it was utterly heartbreaking and devastating to see the look on her face."[3]

Solo discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album UK[26] US Label Catalogue Notes
1985 The Gift 2 Chrysalis 0946 CCD 1508
1988 Answers to Nothing 30 88 Chrysalis CCD 1649
1991 Pure 36 BMG 261 922
1996 Breathe BMG 74321346292
1996 The Gift Chrysalis CDGOLD 1045 Expanded reissue with four bonus tracks.
1998 Answers to Nothing Chrysalis 496 8242 Expanded reissue with four bonus tracks.
2000 Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God... Be Back by Five EvenMore Entertainment Instrumental soundtrack.
2001 Move Me Curb Records CURCD 100
2006 Move Me + Hypertension Expanded 2CD digipack reissue with bonus tracks.
2008 10 Hypertension HYP 8264 Cover versions album.
2009 Pure + Breathe Edsel Records EDSD 2034 Expanded 2CD reissue of both albums with bonus tracks.

Compilations and live albums[edit]

  • Live in Concert – (1999, Strange Fruit, SFRSCD086) – Live album recorded at the Manchester Apollo, 12/11/1991.
  • If I Was: The Very Best of Midge Ure & Ultravox – (1993, Chrysalis Records Ltd) (No. 10 UK Albums Chart) – Compilation album.
  • If I Was: The Very Best of Midge Ure & Ultravox – (1993, Chrysalis Records Ltd, f2 21995) – US version with three bonus tracks.
  • No Regrets: The Very Best of Midge Ure – (2000, EMI Records Ltd, 528 5622) – Compilation album comprising studio and live sets.
  • A Glorious Noise – 'Breathe' Live – (2001, Environment Records, ENVCD 001) – Live album. Released exclusively via the web site.
  • The Very Best of Midge Ure & Ultravox – (2001, EMI Records Ltd, 535 8112) (No. 45 UK Albums Chart) – Compilation album.
  • Little Orphans – (2001, Environment Records, ENVCD 002) – Unreleased tracks. Released exclusively via the web site.
  • Intimate Moments: 12–22 April 2002 – (2002, Environment Records, ENV03) – Live album. Released exclusively via the web site.
  • One Night in Scotland: 21 Nov 1988 – (2002, Environment Records, ENV04) – Live album. Released exclusively via the web site.
  • Once Upon a Time in America – (2003, Environment Records, ENV05) – Live album (CD & VCD). Released exclusively via the web site.
  • Septemberfest – (2004, Environment Records, ENV06) – Live album (CD & VCD) recorded in Germany 1996. Released exclusively via the web site.
  • If I Was: Sampled Looped And Trigger Happy On Tour – (2005, Environment Records, ENVDVD07) – Live album recorded during the Sampled Looped and Trigger Happy Tour UK 2003. Released exclusively via the web site.
  • Re*Live – (2005, Hypertension, HYP 5235) – Live album recorded in 2003 from the UK 'Sampled, Looped and Trigger Happy' tour.
  • Duet – (2006, Environment Records, ENVCD 009) – Live album with Troy Donockley. Released exclusively via the web site.
  • A Live Christmas – (2007, Environment Records, ENVCD 010) – Live album recorded at Wembley Arena 23 December 1985. Released exclusively via the web site.
  • Intimate Moments 2 – (2008, Environment Records, ENV10) – Live album (CD & DVD-R) recorded in Germany 2006 / 2007. Released exclusively via the web site.[26]

[27]

Singles[edit]

Single Year UK[26] US US
Alt
US
Main
Album
"No Regrets" 1982 9
"After a Fashion" (with Mick Karn) 1983 39
"If I Was" 1985 1 The Gift
"That Certain Smile" 28
"Wastelands" 1986 46
"Call of the Wild" 27
"Answers to Nothing" 1989 49 26 Answers to Nothing
"Dear God" 55 95 4 6
"Cold, Cold Heart" 1991 17 12 Pure
"I See Hope (In the Morning Light)"
"Breathe" 1996 70 Breathe
"Guns and Arrows"
"You Move Me" 2001 Move Me
"Beneath a Spielberg Sky"

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Culture: Timeless magic of Midge; John Whishaw meets one of the enduring stars of the New Romantic period of the eighties who is appearing at the Ross Festival this weekend". The Birmingham Post (England). 15 August 2001. 
  2. ^ Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b McGrath, Nick (22 September 2012). "Midge Ure: My family values". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Hanks, Robert (4 June 2005). "Midge Ure: Back in the spotlight". The Independent. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Kevin McGinlay Salvation". 
  6. ^ "Midge Ure interview", Global Friends of Scotland. Archived 14 January 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Midge Ure on Rocking Scots Radio 4 12 May 2007". 
  8. ^ Garcia, Alex S. "Ultravox – Vienna (version 1: concept)". Music Video Database. Retrieved 26 July 2008. 
  9. ^ Rimmer, Dave. New Romantics: The Look (2003), Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9396-3
  10. ^ Eames, Tom (31 May 2012). "Ultravox release first new album with Midge Ure in 26 years". Digital Spy. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Crichton, Torcuil. "Whatever Happened To Midge Ure?" 25 Nov 2007, Sunday Herald
  12. ^ Hunt, Dennis. "Pop Music Ure, The Elf Behind 'Christmas'", 28 Apr 1985, LA Times, p.63.
  13. ^ "Live Aid duo win second Ivor gong", 4 June 2005, Music Week, p.1
  14. ^ "Midge Ure > Music Videos > Breathe". MTV. 11 April 1997. Retrieved 11 April 1997. 
  15. ^ "Midge Ure given honorary degree, 12 October 2005". BBC News. 12 October 2005. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  16. ^ Vallely, Joanna (1 March 2006). "Midge Ure in line for great big honour from university, 1 March 2006". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). 
  17. ^ "Third degree for Scots singer Midge Ure, 26 June 2007". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). 26 June 2007. 
  18. ^ "Midge tots up 4th uni honour". 26 November 2008, Evening Times.
  19. ^ "Singer Midge Ure to receive honorary degree from University of Bath". This is Bath. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Midge’s work with Save the Children". Save the Children. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  21. ^ "Ultravox announce UK dates for Return to Eden tour (2009)" indieLONDON, 2008.
  22. ^ Spencer, Kathryn. " Midge collects another degree", 27 November 2008, The Express.
  23. ^ Midge Ure delivers a memorable night of Ultravox and more at Beachland (review).
  24. ^ Sloan, Billy (5 June 2011). "Rocker Midge Ure reveals his terror as he goes from Popstar to Operastar". Daily Record (Scotland). Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  25. ^ Egan, Sean (16 November 2004). "Midge Ure Feeds His Mind". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  26. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 577. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  27. ^ "midgeure.com - If I Was - DVD". Apple.clickandbuild.com. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 

External links[edit]