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Paper Lace in 1974
|Members||Philip Wright - Original Lead Vocalist and Drummer, Cliff Fish - Original Bass Player and Vocalist, Phil Hendriks - Guitarist and vocalist, Dave Major - Keyboards and vocalist|
|Past members||Roy White
Paper Lace are a Nottingham-based pop group who rose to sudden (but brief) success in 1974. They are known to Americans as a one-hit wonder; however, in the UK they were a "classic two-and-a-half-hit wonder". Their best known songs are "Billy Don't Be a Hero" and "The Night Chicago Died".
The core of the band originally formed in 1967 as Music Box, but changed their name to Paper Lace in 1969 Paper Lace was one of hundreds of pop bands in England looking for the big time while slogging their way through small club gigs and brief television appearances. A season at Tiffany's, a Rochdale club, and also at The Birdcage in Ashton-Under-Lyne in 1971, led to more television appearances, but a passport to the charts did not arrive until a 1973 victory on Opportunity Knocks, the ITV talent contest series. According to drummer and lead singer Phil Wright:
Opportunity Knocks was pretty much the 1970s version of The X-Factor. There was a huge audition week in 1970 at the Bridgford Hotel, which is now the Rushcliffe Borough Council building near the City Ground. And there were thousands of people queuing up. We turned up in our best suits, did a few numbers, and were told that they liked us but not to expect to go on straight away. When they finally got back to us in 1973, we thought; do we really need this now? But they were getting viewing figures of 7 million, so we went for it. And we won five weeks on the trot! There were two songwriters (Mitch Murray and Peter Callender) who got in touch with our management and offered us "Billy Don't Be a Hero", with the possibility of more songs if it took off. We went down, recorded it, and they said "Hey, this is a great song, it's going to be a hit". And the song proved to be stronger than the band, because everyone knows it, they just can't remember who recorded it. Except in Nottingham, of course…
Thanks to that show, songwriters/producers, Mitch Murray and Peter Callender quickly signed them. The smash hit "Billy Don't Be a Hero" spent three weeks at Number 1 on the UK Singles Chart in March 1974. It was followed by the story song "The Night Chicago Died" which reached Number 3. Another release, "The Black-Eyed Boys", took Paper Lace to number 11 in late 1974 and number 37 in Canada.
With their subject matter assumed in America to be about the American Civil War, it was logical that "Billy Don't Be a Hero" should become a hit in the United States; however, Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods were the first to release "Billy" in the United States, and Paper Lace had to be content with a #96 placing. However, the follow-up song "The Night Chicago Died", set in the Prohibition era with reference to Al Capone, was untroubled by any such competition and topped the Billboard Hot 100. It sold over three million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in August 1974.
According to Phil Wright:
Well, that [Chicago song] was even more successful. Number 1 in America. I got a platinum disc for that... and I certainly didn't give that away! I remember us being on Top Of The Pops and Elton John shaking my hand backstage and congratulating us on a US No.1, which he hadn't achieved at the time! The really strange thing was we couldn't even perform the song in America, due to some contractual hassles. And the label told us that they could make it a hit without us having to be there. We did a few radio stations, but that's all.
The group released two albums, First Edition (1972) and Paper Lace and Other Bits of Material (1974) however, they quickly faded from the public eye as the band's popularity waned. Philip Wright and Cliff Fish carried on as Paper Lace, with other musicians filling in for the missing band members. In 1978, they surfaced briefly with a sing-along version of "We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands" with their local football team, Nottingham Forest F.C. (Sendra, 2006). The 7" single, with "The Nottingham Forest March" as the B-side, reached Number 24 in the UK chart but went Top 10 in the Netherlands.
In 1997, Wright joined Sons and Lovers, but he has occasional gigs billed as Philip Wright's Paper Lace.
Original band members
- Dave Manders (born 4 August 1947, Nottingham, England) — Guitar / Lead Vocals
- Philip Wright (born 9 April 1948, St. Ann's, Nottingham, England) — Drums / Lead Vocals
- Mick Vaughan (born Michael Vaughan, 27 July 1950, Sheffield, Yorkshire) - Lead/Rhythm Guitar/Arranger
- Cliff Fish (born Clifford Fish, 13 August 1949, Ripley) - Bass Guitar
- Roy White (born Ripley) - Lead Guitar/Arranger
- Mike Harper (born Barrow in Furness) - Lead Vocals
Later band members
- Chris Morris (born Christoper Morris, 1 November 1954, Nottingham, England) - Guitar - Vocals
- Jamie Moses
- First Edition (March 1972) PHILIPS 6382 101 / reissued on CONTOUR 6870 637
- And Other Bits of Material (June 1974) BUS STOP BUSLP 8001
- Paper Lace (1974, USA) Mercury SRM-1-1008
- "You Can't Touch Me" / "I've Got You That's Enough for Me" (1971) Concord CON 020
- "In the Morning (Morning of My Life)" / "Elsie" (1971) Concord CON 021
- "Raggamuffin Man" / "Martha (Whatever Happened)" (1973) Concord CON 027
- "Billy Don't Be A Hero" / "Celia" (February 1974) Bus Stop Bus 1014
- "The Night Chicago Died" / "Can You Get It When You Want It" (15 June 1974) Bus Stop Bus 1016
- "The Black Eyed Boys" / "Jean" (12 October 1974) Bus Stop Bus 1019
- "Hitchin' a Ride '75" / "Love You're a Long Time Coming" (January 1975) Bus Stop Bus 1024
- "So What If I Am" / "Himalayan Lullaby" (June 1975) Bus Stop Bus 1026
- Paper Lace and Other Material / First Edition (Double CD) - Cherry Red / 7t's Label Cat No. Glam Cdd 109; both albums, plus B-sides to all singles released until 1975
- Sendra, T. (2006). Paper Lace Biography, Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 6 September 2006.
- Needham, Al. Paper Lace interview. LeftLion.co.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2006.
- "Paper Lace". Sons and Lovers website, 2003. Retrieved 9 September 2006.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 83. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 416. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.