Murray Head in concert at Quimper, France, (2013).
|Birth name||Murray Seafield Saint-George Head|
5 March 1946 |
|Genres||Rock, new wave|
|Labels||Island, A&M, Virgin, Mercury, Voiceprint|
Murray Seafield Saint-George Head (born 5 March 1946) is an English actor and singer, most recognised for his international hit songs "Superstar" (from the 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar) and "One Night in Bangkok" (the 1985 hit from the musical Chess, which topped the charts in various countries), and for his 1975 album Say It Ain't So. He has been involved in several projects since the 1960s and continues to record music, perform concerts and make appearances on television either as himself or as a character actor.
Life and career
Murray Head was born in London to Seafield Laurence Stewart Murray Head (1919 – 22 March 2009), a documentary filmmaker and a founder of Variety Films, and Helen Shingler, an actress. (Helen played Mme Maigret alongside Rupert Davies in the BBC's 1960s television adaptation of the Maigret novels written by Georges Simenon). His younger brother is Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Anthony Head. Head was educated at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington, London and Hampton School in Hampton, London.
Head began writing songs as a child, and by the mid-1960s he had a London-based recording contract. He had limited success, until asked by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber to play Judas Iscariot on the original concept album version of Jesus Christ Superstar, which, with the Trinidad Singers, yielded the song "Superstar" which peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1971.
He made his film debut in The Family Way (1966), which featured Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett and John Mills in the leading roles. Head won a leading role in the Oscar-nominated film Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), alongside Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson. Despite these successes, he received little public attention in the next ten years (except for his single release, "Say It Ain't So, Joe" in 1975, which has been covered by The Who's lead vocalist, Roger Daltrey, among others, including The Hollies).
Head reappeared in the spotlight in 1984 as the American on the concept album for the musical Chess. The song "One Night in Bangkok" featured Head on lead vocal. It became the last significant Broadway/West End number to be a hit on American and German radio up until "No Matter What" by Boyzone in 1996. "One Night in Bangkok" was a successful in both Europe and North America. Head performed the role of world chess champion Frederick "Freddie" Trumper in the London West End stage production of Chess that premiered on 14 May 1986. The show ran in London until 8 April 1989; during its run, Head departed with vocal strain.
After that, Head had little recording success in the UK or the United States. This fact would later be underscored in a radio segment featured on The Kevin and Bean Show on Los Angeles's KROQ FM, in which the hosts would phone Head in the morning to find out "What's Up with Murray Head?" Fluent in French, he has released a number of albums in that language. The song "Une femme un homme", a duet with Marie Carmen, released in 1993 became a radio hit in French-speaking Canada.
He has appeared on television in the UK on The Bill, Casualty, North Square and Judge John Deed. He also played an artist called Jack Hollins on ITV's Heartbeat from 2005–06. On 15 March 2010 he appeared in the BBC drama Doctors playing a pop singer, Pete Perry, trying to make a comeback, in which Head sang Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain". In Canada, he was part of the cast of the 2002 television mini-series Music-Hall, which played on the Radio-Canada network.
Head married Susan Ellis Jones in 1972; they divorced in 1992. He has two daughters: Katherine and Sophie.
- 1972 – Nigel Lived
- 1975 – Say It Ain't So
- 1979 – Between Us
- 1981 – Voices
- 1981 – Find the Crowd
- 1983 – Shade
- 1984 – Restless
- 1987 – Sooner or Later
- 1990 – Watching Ourselves Go By
- 1992 – Wave
- 1993 – Innocence
- 1995 – When You're in Love
- 1995 – Pipe Dreams
- 2000 – Innocence (revised edition of Wave)
- 2002 – Passion
- 2005 – Emotions, My Favourite Songs
- 2007 – Tête à Tête
- 2008 – Rien n'est écrit
- 2012 – My Back Pages
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1967||"She was Perfection"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Singles only|
|1975||"Say It Ain't So, Joe"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Say It Ain't So|
|1976||"Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1977||"Never Even Thought"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"Sorry, I Love You"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1980||"Cocktail Molotov"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Cocktail Molotov (soundtrack)|
|1984||"One Night in Bangkok"||12||1||1||3||2||1||1||2||3||3||1||3||Chess|
|"When You're in Love"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Restless|
|1985||"Picking Up the Pieces"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Sooner or Later|
|2013||"Say It Ain't So, Joe" (re-release)||—||—||—||—||18||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
- The Family Way (1966)
- Two Weeks in September (1967)
- Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
- Gawain and the Green Knight (1973)
- The French Woman (1977)
- White Mischief (1987)
- Beaumarchais (1996)
- List of artists who reached number one on the Australian singles chart
- List of New Wave bands and artists
- List of sibling pairs
- List of show business families