Black (singer)

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Colin- Vearncombe.jpg
Colin Vearncombe in Birkenhead on 22 March 2007
Background information
Birth name Colin Vearncombe
Born (1962-05-26) 26 May 1962 (age 53)
Origin Liverpool, England
Genres Pop rock, new wave
Years active 1981–present
Labels WEA Records
A&M Records Ugly Man
Nero Schwarz Records

Colin Vearncombe, better known as Black, (born, 26 May 1962, Liverpool, England) is an English singer-songwriter, who enjoyed mainstream success in the late 1980s. William Ruhlmann of Allmusic described Vearncombe as a "smoky-voiced singer/songwriter, whose sophisticated jazz-pop songs and dramatic vocal delivery place him somewhere between Bryan Ferry and Morrissey."[1]


Black in the 1990s

Black's first release was "Human Features" on Rox Records in 1981. At this time Black consisted of Vearncombe and David Dickie, formerly of The Last Chant. The single was followed by another independent release in 1982 "More than the Sun", after which Black later signed for WEA Records.

In 1982, Black played with the Thompson Twins on their "Quick Step and Side Kick" tour and supported Wah! on a UK tour. The live sound of synth/percussion/guitar and the use of reel-to-reel tapes got them noticed.

By the time Black signed for WEA in 1984, Dickie had left leaving Vearncombe as a solo act. The next single was "Hey Presto" (1984), which got him noticed outside the UK: the video for this song featured on the satellite music channel Music Box, and the single was released in Australia. The second WEA single was a re-recording of "More than the Sun". After this, Black was dropped from the record label.

1985 was a gloomy year for Vearncombe, causing him to write the ironically entitled minor key song "Wonderful Life". Released independently through Ugly Man Records at first, this track got Black noticed by A&M Records who signed Vearncombe and launched his international career. At first, the single "Everything's Coming Up Roses" flopped, but the follow-up, "Sweetest Smile" became a UK top 10 hit. The third single, a re-release of "Wonderful Life", was a massive hit worldwide. The album of the same name, released in 1987, had similar success, reaping commercial and critical acclaim.

Black then went on to sell over two million records worldwide with Comedy (1988) and Black (1991). In the meantime, Vearncombe married Swedish singer Camilla Griehsel, formerly from the band One 2 Many. Disillusioned with having to deal with a big record company, Vearncombe founded the independent label Nero Schwarz (which is the word "black" in Italian and in German, respectively), and released one album Are We Having Fun Yet? (1993).

After a prolonged hiatus, Vearncombe returned in 1999 to release a string of recordings under his own name.

Vearncombe returned to the name "Black" to release a new recording entitled Between Two Churches in November 2005. On this album he included a song mocking the success of his hit "Wonderful life", where he poignantly re-asked the question, "Are you having a wonderful life?".

2009 saw two album releases. The Given was issued on 4 July, initially available as a free download under Vearncombe's name; and Water On Stone on 17 November, the first Black studio album in four years.

In September 2011, the album Any Colour You Like was released through Black's website.[2]

In April 2014, he started a pledge fund (via the dedicated music crowd-funding site PledgeMusic) for a new album. This was the first time Vearncombe participated in a crowd-funded project. The project significantly exceeded its funding goals and he regularly expressed his surprise and gratefulness through video updates on the PledgeMusic site.[3] His experience with the process also contributed to the name of the album: Blind Faith. The album was released on April 13, 2015.

In November 2015 he recorded a Catalan version of Wonderful Life as a fundraiser for the Catalan telethon La Marató de TV3. Vearncombe himself sings a Catalan translation of the original lyrics.



Year Album Name Credited as Label UK Albums Chart[4] WW sales mil.
1987 Wonderful Life Black A&M Records No. 3 1.5
1988 Comedy Black A&M Records No. 32 0.5
1991 Black Black A&M Records No. 42 0.2
1993 Are We Having Fun Yet? Black Nero Schwarz Records & Various
1999 The Accused Colin Vearncombe Nero Schwarz Records & East Central One
1999 Abbey Road Live Colin Vearncombe Nero Schwarz Records
2000 Water On Snow Colin Vearncombe Nero Schwarz Records
2001 Live At The Bassline Colin Vearncombe Nero Schwarz Records
2002 Smoke Up Close Colin Vearncombe Nero Schwarz Records
2005 Between Two Churches Black Nero Schwarz Records
2009 The Given Colin Vearncombe Nero Schwarz Records
2009 Water On Stone Black Nero Schwarz Records
2013 Wonderful Life (Expanded & Remastered) Black A&M Records
2015 Blind Faith Black Nero Schwarz Records

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Name Label UK Top WW sales mil.
1996 Master Series A. & M. Records
2000 Millennium Edition A. & M. Records
2000 The Collection[5] Spectrum Music
2007 Black: C.V. Nero Schwarz Records
2011 Any Colour You Like Nero Schwarz Records


Year Single Peak positions Album
1981 "Human Features" singles only
1982 "More Than The Sun"
1984 "Hey Presto"
"More Than The Sun" (WEA)
1986 "Wonderful Life" 72 Wonderful Life
1987 "Everything's Coming Up Roses" 76
"Sweetest Smile" 8 8 40 87 41
"Wonderful Life" (re-recording) 8 7 2 9 10 6 2 1 2
"I'm Not Afraid" 78
1988 "Paradise" 38
"Everything's Coming Up Roses" (GER only) 11 8
"Sweetest Smile" (FRA only) 38
"Wonderful Life" (AUS only) 7
"The Big One" 54 23 43 Comedy
"You're A Big Girl Now" 86
1989 "Now You're Gone" 66
"I Can Laugh About It Now" (SPA only)
1991 "Feel Like Change" 56 72 Black
"Here It Comes Again" 70
"Fly Up To The Moon" (feat. Sam Brown)
1993 "Don't Take The Silence Too Hard" Are We Having Fun Yet?
"Wishing You Were Here"
"Just Like Love"
1994 "Wonderful Life" (re-issue) 42 30 single only
2005 Two Churches EP Between Two Churches
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


  1. ^ Wonderful Life review at Allmusic.
  2. ^ colin vearncombe aka black. Retrieved on 2012-04-09.
  3. ^ [1] Black page on PledgeMusic site. Retrieved on 2015-05-03
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 59. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Official Charts Company: Black". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-04-26. 

External links[edit]