Andy Partridge

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Andy Partridge
Andy Partridge.jpg
Partridge with XTC playing Toronto's Music Hall, February 1980
Background information
Birth nameAndrew John Partridge
Also known asSir John Johns
Born (1953-11-11) 11 November 1953 (age 65)
Mtarfa, Malta
OriginSwindon, Wiltshire, England
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, record producer, visual artist, game designer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, keyboards
Years active1970–present
LabelsVirgin, Idea, APE House
Associated actsXTC, the Dukes of Stratosphear, Monstrance, Peter Blegvad
Websiteape.uk.net

Andrew John Partridge (born 11 November 1953) is an English singer, songwriter, and record producer who co-founded the rock band XTC. He and Colin Moulding each acted as a songwriter and frontman for XTC, with Partridge writing and singing about two-thirds of the group's material. While the band were a formative punk group, Partridge's music drew heavily from British Invasion songwriters, and his style gradually shifted to more traditional pop, often with pastoral themes. The band's only British top 10 hit, "Senses Working Overtime" (1982), was written by Partridge. He is sometimes regarded as the "godfather" of Britpop.[1]

Childhood[edit]

Andrew John Partridge was born 11 November 1953 in Mtarfa, Malta[2] and grew up on Penhill council estate in Swindon.[3] An only child, his father John was a navy signalman, and his mother Vera a drugstore clerk. As he entered adolescence, it was discovered that his father was having an extramarital affair, and his mother consequently suffered a nervous breakdown, leading to her being institutionalised. She "verbally disowned" her son once he started growing his hair long.[2][4]

As a teenager, Partridge was a fan of contemporary pop groups like the Beatles, but was intimidated by the process of learning guitar. When the Monkees grew popular. he became interested in joining a music group. He recalled watching local guitarist Dave Gregory performing Jimi Hendrix-style songs at churches and youth clubs: "Sort of acid-skiffle. I thought, 'Ah, one day I'll play guitar!' But I didn't think I would be in the same band as this kid on the stage."[5] He was particularly fond of psychedelic records such as Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play" (1967), Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle" (1967), and the Moles' "We Are the Moles" (1968).[6]

Partridge eventually obtained a guitar, taught himself how to play it with no formal training, and immediately took to writing songs.[5] At the age of 15, he wrote his first song, titled "Please Help Me", and attracted the nickname "Rocky" for his early guitar mastery of the Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon" (1968).[7] By the early 1970s, his music tastes had transitioned "from the Monkees to having a big binge on this Euro-avant-garde stuff. I got really in deep."[5] When he was 16, he dropped out of school and formed the first of several "loud and horrid" rock bands with the purpose of meeting girls.[8] One of his first bands was called "Stiff Beach", formed in August 1970.[9] In early 1972, Partridge's constantly evolving group settled into a four-piece called "Star Park".[2] By then, he had found a job at a record shop[4] and was engrossed with rock bands such as the Stooges, the New York Dolls, Alice Cooper, and Pink Fairies.[5]

XTC[edit]

XTC performing live (from left: guitarist Dave Gregory and Partridge)

In late 1972, Partridge's Star Park was joined by bassist Colin Moulding and drummer Terry Chambers. They renamed themselves to XTC in 1975 and signed to Virgin Records in 1977. Partridge wrote the majority of XTC's songs, was the band's frontman and de facto leader, and in Moulding's view, typically acted as an "executive producer" for their albums.[10] His early XTC songs were marked by his distinct singing style, something he jokingly described as a "walrus" or "seal bark", but otherwise an amalgamation of Buddy Holly's "hiccup", Elvis Presley's vibrato, and "the howled mannerisms of Steve Harley."[11] He later dismissed most of his initial output as premature songs "built around this electric wordplay stuff".[12]

While XTC were a formative punk group, Partridge's music drew heavily from British Invasion songwriters, and his style gradually shifted to more traditional pop, often with pastoral themes.[13] Music critic John Harris said that Partridge exemplified "a very English genre: rock music uprooted from the glamour and dazzle of the city, and recast as the soundtrack to life in suburbs, small towns, and the kind of places – like Swindon – that may be more sizeable, but are still held up as bywords for broken hopes and limited horizons."[14] He cited Partridge's 1981 song "Respectable Street" as one of the "most evocative items" in his catalog.[14]

In 1982, as XTC were about to headline a series of US performances in support of the album English Settlement, they permanently withdrew from concert touring due to Partridge's personal issues, and remained a studio-only band from then on.[7] For a period afterward, it was rumoured among fans and industry insiders that the group stopped performing because Partridge had died, and some American bands put on XTC tribute shows in his remembrance.[15] The group ran into more problems once it was discovered that poor management led to them incurring hundreds of thousands in unpaid value-added taxes. Partridge said that he was eventually left with "about £300 in the bank, which is really heavy when you've got a family and everyone thinks you're 'Mr Rich and Famous'."[16]

In 1984, Partridge formed the Dukes of Stratosphear, an XTC offshoot he envisioned as a simulacrum of "your favourite bands from 1967".[17] They recorded only two albums: 25 O'Clock (1985) and Psonic Psunspot (1987), both of which outsold XTC's newest albums in the UK: The Big Express (1984) and Skylarking (1986).[16] Around this time, Partridge established himself as a producer of other artists. However, Virgin Records refused to allow XTC to act as their own producers, which sometimes caused tensions between Partridge and whoever was assigned to produce the band.[18] According to Partridge, he generally got along with the band's producers, except for Todd Rundgren on Skylarking and Gus Dudgeon on 1992's Nonsuch.[19]

In the 1990s, Partridge became regarded as "godfather" to the nascent Britpop movement due to his earlier work with XTC.[1] They released several more albums on Virgin and two more on their own label, Idea Records, before breaking up in the 2000s. In July 2008, Partridge wrote in the Swindon Advertiser that he believed his "musical partnership with Colin Moulding has come to an end. For reasons too personal and varied to go into here, but we had a good run as they say and produced some real good work."[20]

Since XTC's breakup, Partridge has acted as curator to the band's legacy, overseeing reissues and remasters, and maintaining a web presence.[21] The official XTC Twitter account @xtcfans was originally managed by writer Todd Bernhardt. According to Partridge, after some time, "I sort of took it over, because I thought it was weird that there was another person in the way."[22] In 2016, Partridge and Bernhardt released a book, Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC, that contains discussions between the two about 29 XTC songs, one Partridge solo track, and an overview of his approach to songwriting. It was published by Jawbone Press.[22]

Solo work and collaborations[edit]

Partridge in the studio, circa 1988

Since the 1980s, Partridge has worked, written with, or produced several other musicians and bands, including Peter Blegvad, the Lilac Time, the Nines, Miles Kane, David Yazbek, Voice of the Beehive, the Woodentops, the Wallflowers, Perennial Divide, the Raiders, and Charlotte Hatherley.[23] He stated in a 2007 interview: "I got asked regularly to produce people, but I said no to everybody; after a while, people just stopped asking. I got sick of the social-worker aspect of it. I found it had very little to do with music ... I also think it’s kind of odd that everyone wants to sound like 1979 again."[24]

In 1980, Partridge, in collaboration with producer John Leckie, released a collection of XTC dub recordings on Virgin Records called Take Away / The Lure of Salvage. It was credited to "Mr. Partridge". Even though no other XTC member was involved with the album's making, he does not personally consider it a solo effort.[25][26] Virgin Records rejected his request to issue it under the XTC banner as it would have counted toward their record contract.[27] In Japan, the record was hailed as a work of "electronic genius" and outsold all other XTC albums.[28]

In 1993, Partridge recorded and produced an album with Martin Newell, The Greatest Living Englishman. When released in Japan, it was credited as a duo album. The album was well-received by critics and ultimately became the most acclaimed of Newell's career.[29] Also in 1993, Partridge was producer for the English band Blur during the recording of Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993). He was replaced by Stephen Street at the insistence of their record label, Food. According to Partridge he was unpaid for the expenses and received his session payment only.[30][31] Partridge also wrote four songs for Disney's version of James and the Giant Peach (1996), but was replaced by Randy Newman due to creative differences between director Henry Selick and Disney regarding the soundtrack.[32]

From 2002 to 2006, Partridge released demos of his songs under his own name in The Official Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album and the Fuzzy Warbles album series on his APE House record label. Eight volumes of Fuzzy Warbles were made available, as well as the Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album, which includes a bonus ninth disc Hinges. Partridge said that the impetus for the project was the proliferation of bootleggers who were selling low-quality copies of the material[18] and said that the Fuzzy Warbles set earned him more money than XTC's back catalog on Virgin.[33]

In 2007, Partridge released music as part of a trio known as Monstrance, made up of Partridge on guitar, Barry Andrews (an early member of XTC) on keyboards, and Martyn Barker on drums. The group has released an album of the same name, as well as a download-only EP known as Fine Wires Humming a New Song. That same year, he collaborated once again with Andrews on the Shriekback album Glory Bumps.[citation needed]

In 2010, Partridge released a limited edition CD of music inspired by science fiction illustrator Richard M. Powers' art titled Powers.[34] In 2012, Partridge contributed eight co-written songs to Mike Keneally's album Wing Beat Fantastic.[35] In 2016, he wrote a song "You Bring the Summer" for the Monkees' reunion album Good Times.[citation needed]

Radio and film[edit]

Partridge was a regular performer on BBC Radio 1 in the mid-1980s. He has had acting roles, including a character named "Agony Andy", a spoof aunt on the Janice Long show, and he was a regular panelist on both Roundtable.[36][better source needed] In 1987, he filmed a pilot for an ITV children's quiz show, Matchmakers.[11] He contributed the theme song to the television series Wonderfalls (2004).[4]

Personal life[edit]

Relationships and children[edit]

Partridge was married to a woman named Marianne from 1979 to the mid-1990s. Together, they had two children: Holly and Harry. Harry is an animator who created the comedic short Saturday Morning Watchmen (2009).[37] After his divorce, Partridge entered into a long-term relationship with American singer Erica Wexler. Some songs written by Partridge, including "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her" (1984) and "Another Satellite" (1986), have been attributed by Partridge to aspects of their ongoing relationship. Partridge met Wexler in the early 1980s; they began dating shortly after she split from artist Roy Lichtenstein in 1994.[38][39] They married in 2013 and separated in 2019.

Health[edit]

Partridge experiences auditory synesthesia, which he uses in his songwriting process.[40] In later interviews, he speculated that he was possibly on the autistic spectrum.[41][42] At the age of 12, he was professionally diagnosed as "hyperactive" and given a prescription of Valium. He later formed a dependency on the drug that was exacerbated by the pressures of his music career. After disposing of the drug in 1981, he experienced severe withdrawal effects that led to XTC's withdrawal from touring.[18] In the 1990s, he suffered from an ear infection that left him temporarily deaf,[7] and in 2006, during one of the sessions for Monstrance, some of his hearing was destroyed following a studio mishap, which caused him to develop severe and permanent tinnitus.[43]

Beliefs and other activities[edit]

Beyond music, he is an avid collector and builder of toy soldiers, an "obsession" he credits to his mother throwing away his toys as a child.[24] In 1990, he estimated owning thousands of figures since he started collecting them in 1979.[5] Before then, he owned a large American comic book collection that he had to sell off due to a mice infestation in the home he was living in.[5] He has also designed board games, such as one called "Damn and Blast",[44] and at one point considered a career as a graphic illustrator.[11] Many of the XTC record sleeves were designed by him.[4] According to Partridge in a 1990 interview, he contributed World War I-era designs to an unspecified "firm that makes these war game figures in North England".[5]

The subject matter of his songs frequently touch upon politics, religion, his hometown of Swindon, financial shortage, factory work, insects, comic book characters, seafaring, war, and ancient rituals.[11] He said he did not become interested in politics until circa 1979, when he voted for Margaret Thatcher "purely because she was a woman. I was that naive. Now I'm very left."[45] He also identifies as an atheist.[46] On the back of the Apple Venus Volume 1 (1999) record sleeve is the Wiccan Rede, "Do what you will but harm none." He stated that he only had "a smattering of knowledge" on Wiccan topics and added that he was "interested in the pre-Christian appreciation of the land and the spirit of things, spirits in animate things and inanimate things."[47]

XTC's 1986 song "Dear God", written by Partridge, was controversial for its anti-religious message. Partridge stated that the song failed to represent his true feelings on religion, as human belief is "such a vast subject".[48] Although he is an atheist, he believes that heaven and hell exist metaphorically.[46] Another of his songs, "Season Cycle" (1986), included the couplet "Everybody says, Join our religion, get to heaven / I say, no thanks, why bless my soul, I'm already there!"[49] Explaining the lyric "do what you want to do / just don't hurt nobody" from his 1989 song "Garden of Earthly Delights", he said: "I'm sure .. what heaven is, really ... is not hurting anyone."[46]

Influences[edit]

As stated by Partridge, artists who have influenced him include:

Artists influenced[edit]

Artists who have cited Partridge (as opposed to just XTC) as an influence include:

Discography[edit]

Solo[edit]

The Fuzzy Warbles series of solo demos of XTC material and previously unreleased songs:

  • Powers (2010) (as A.J. Partridge)

Collaborative[edit]

Productions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Morrish, John (20 February 1999). "Arts: The agony and the XTC". The Independent.
  2. ^ a b c Twomey, Chris (1992). XTC: Chalkhills and Children. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780711927582.
  3. ^ "XTC: Ninjas of the Mundane" (PDF). Rolling Stone. 20 April 1989.
  4. ^ a b c d Paphides, Peter (April 2004). "Senses Working Overtime". The Word. No. 14.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Bookasta, Randy; Howard, David (1990). "Season Cyclers". Contrast. No. 7.
  6. ^ Myers, Paul (14 October 2009). "XTC's Psych Side Project Gets an Acid Flashback". Crawdaddy!.
  7. ^ a b c Ingham, Chris (March 1999). "XTC – 'Til Death Do Us Part". Mojo.
  8. ^ Small, Michael (May – June 1992). "On the Road". People.
  9. ^ Gimarc, George (2005). Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982. Backbeat Books. pp. 1, 10. ISBN 978-0-87930-848-3.
  10. ^ Myers, Paul (2010). A Wizard, a True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio. Jawbone Press. p. 255. ISBN 978-1-906002-33-6.
  11. ^ a b c d Farmer, Neville (1998). XTC: Song Stories: The Exclusive Authorized Story Behind the Music. London: Helter Skelter Publishing. ISBN 190092403X.
  12. ^ Friedman, Roger (October 1992). "The Agony of XTC". Guitar.
  13. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Andy Partridge". AllMusic.
  14. ^ a b Harris, John (2 April 2010). "The sound of the suburbs and literary tradition". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Milano, Bret (7 November 1984). "An exclusive and revealing discussion with the band's eloquent frontman". Fairfield County Advocate.
  16. ^ a b Hunt, Chris (1989). "Andy Partridge Interview". Phaze 1.
  17. ^ http://www.10ft.it/dukes/notes.htm
  18. ^ a b c Schabe, Patrick (27 October 2006). "The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul". PopMatters. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  19. ^ Doug (17 February 2008). "Andy Partridge interview". Rundgren Radio (Audio). Event occurs at 57:00–58:50, 1:45:00–1:46:25. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  20. ^ Andy Partridge (30 July 2008). "What's happening with Colin?". The Swindon Advertiser. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  21. ^ Nelson, Sean (13 April 2016). "Artistic Crap: Part One of a Serialized Interview with Andy Partridge of XTC". The Stranger. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  22. ^ a b Zaleski, Annie (20 March 2016). ""Music is so abused these days": XTC's Andy Partridge opens up about songwriting, painting and developing the "cruel parent gene" toward your own art". Salon. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  23. ^ XTC (22 April 2019). "WC- Some of the people I have worked/written with/produced that have been omitted are PETER BLEGVAD, LILAC TIME, THE NINES,MILES KANE, DAVID YAZBEK, VOICE OF THE BEEHIVE,THE WOODENTOPS, THE WALLFLOWERS, PERENNIAL DIVIDE, THE RAIDERS, CHARLOTTE HATHERLY and many others". @xtcfans. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  24. ^ a b duBrowa, Corey (26 May 2007). "ANDY PARTRIDGE: SOLDIER OF MISFORTUNE". Magnet Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  25. ^ Andy Partridge [@xtcfans] (19 March 2014). "THE CORRECTOR-TAKEAWAY/LURE OF SALVAGE was not a solo album,merely a dub record of XTC tracks,the band never attended" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  26. ^ XTC (22 April 2019). "WIKI CORRECTOR "Partridge has released one solo album on Virgin Records in 1980 called Take Away / The Lure of Salvage" It was not a 'solo' album. It was a dub record using previous XTC recordings, and adding poems/extra sounds and inter-editing songs together. Leckie was vital". @xtcfans. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  27. ^ https://twitter.com/xtcfans/status/1090247437124595712
  28. ^ George, Harry (October 1983). "The Case of the Missing Andy Boy". Trouser Press. pp. 26–29.
  29. ^ Stone, Aug (3 March 2018). "Martin Newell's The Greatest Living Englishman 25 Years On". The Quietus.
  30. ^ Harris, Will (10 June 2009). "The Popdose Interview: Andy Partridge". Popdose.com.
  31. ^ XTC (22 April 2019). "WIKI COR- Re Blur production. "According to Partridge he was unpaid for the sessions and received his expenses only" Untrue. I WAS paid for the sessions, but my expenses, Travel etc, £500.01, were never paid". @xtcfans. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  32. ^ XTC (22 April 2019). "WIKI COR-Re JAMES +GIANT PEACH. "... but was replaced by Randy Newman when he could not get Disney to offer him "an acceptable deal". More that Disney wanted Newman, filmmaker Sellick wanted me. I feel Disney made things difficult for me, so they would get their choice". @xtcfans. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  33. ^ Dahlen, Chris (19 January 2007). "Andy Partridge – Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  34. ^ "Sample Andy's Powers". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  35. ^ "Mike Keneally "Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs written by Mike Keneally & A - The Mike Keneally Store". The Mike Keneally Store.
  36. ^ Worthington, Tim (2012). Fun at One: The Story of Comedy at BBC Radio 1. Lulu Press.
  37. ^ "Interviews - Interview: Harry Partridge". Kittysneezes.com. 30 December 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  38. ^ Bernhardt, Todd; Partridge, Andy (8 July 2007). "Andy discusses 'Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her'". Chalkhills.
  39. ^ "'Roy didn't want a woman. He liked them young and juicy': Lichtenstein's secret lover on being the muse behind his nudes". 18 February 2013.
  40. ^ Bernhardt, Todd; Partridge, Andy (24 March 2006). "The Lyrical Andy Partridge". Chalkhills. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  41. ^ Tunetribe Podcast (2017). "96: Andy Partridge" (Audio). SoundCloud. Event occurs at 17:37. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  42. ^ Bernhardt, Todd; Partridge, Andy (27 July 2008). "Andy discusses 'Beatown'". Chalkhills. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  43. ^ Gallo, Phil (4 December 2006). "XTC's Partridge discusses boxset, Monstrance". Variety. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  44. ^ Passantino, Rosemary (April 1989). "XTC at Last". Spin. Vol. 5 no. 1. ISSN 0886-3032.
  45. ^ Fortnam, Ian (19 February 2016). "Heavy Load: Andy Partridge". Louder Sound. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  46. ^ a b c Isler, Scott (May 1989). "The Dukes of Swindon". Musician.
  47. ^ Sakamoto, John, ed. (5 March 1999). "The XTC Interview". Jam! Music.
  48. ^ Bernhardt, Todd; Partridge, Andy (26 November 2006). "Andy discusses 'Dear God'". Chalkhills. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  49. ^ Sherwood, Harrison (2002). "Bless My Soul, I'm Already There!". Coat of Many Cupboards (liner). XTC. Virgin.
  50. ^ a b c d Walsh, Ryan (21 April 2000). "Killing Your Influences, Pissing On Your Peers". The Daily Free Press.
  51. ^ "Mission: unlistenable | Music". The Guardian. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  52. ^ "Q&A: Andy Partridge Talks About the Monkees". Rock Cellar Magazine. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  53. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (2 April 2004). "Above average Andy". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  54. ^ "John Frusciante - Total Guitar Magazine August 02 Interview". Rhcprock.free.fr. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  55. ^ Itoi, Shigesato (16 June 2003). "『MOTHER』の音楽は鬼だった。" [Music of "MOTHER" was a demon]. 1101.com. Translation. Archived from the original on 6 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  56. ^ "Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree : Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts.com. 1 February 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.

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