|Birth name||Donald Eric Partridge|
27 October 1941|
21 September 2010
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, busker, one-man band, multi-instrumentalist|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, harmonica, kazoo, drums|
|Years active||Early 1960s–2010|
|Labels||Columbia, Capitol, Regal Zonophone, LongMan|
Donald Eric Partridge (27 October 1941 – 21 September 2010) was an English singer and songwriter, known as the "king of the buskers". He performed from the early 1960s as a busker and one-man band, and achieved unexpected commercial success in the UK in the late 1960s with the songs "Rosie" and "Blue Eyes".
Life and musical career
Don Partridge was born in Bournemouth, England. By his own account, he left home at age 15 and became a burglar, before working at some 45 different jobs. By the early 1960s, inspired by American singer Jesse Fuller, he travelled around Europe as a solo entertainer on street corners, initially simply singing songs with a guitar. However, he found that he gained more attention by performing as a one-man band, playing guitar, kazoo or harmonica (both held on a harness), bass drum (on his back) and cymbal at the same time.
Playing by that time mainly in London, Partridge performed traditional English and American folk songs as well as his own compositions. In 1964 he and his friend, guitarist Alan Young, were described in the Evening Standard as the first young street musicians to be seen in London since the second world war. He was frequently arrested and fined, but gained a local following and made a TV appearance on the Eamonn Andrews Show.
Record company executive Don Paul, previously of rock and roll group The Viscounts, then won him a recording contract with Columbia Records. His debut recording of his own song, "Rosie", reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart in March 1968. Following its success, Partridge quit busking for a more orthodox professional singing career. On 5 April 1968 Partridge appeared alongside Amen Corner, Gene Pitney, Status Quo and Simon Dupree and the Big Sound at The Odeon Theatre, Lewisham, London, on the first night as part of a twice nightly UK tour. His second hit quickly followed when "Blue Eyes" reached No. 3 in June 1968, and he was featured on the front cover of the pop weekly Disc. He also released a self-titled LP, which included folk and blues songs by Lead Belly, Bill Broonzy and Oscar Brand along with versions of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" and Robin Williamson's "First Girl I Loved", and several of his own compositions. His third single "Top Man", however, failed to make the UK chart.
Intending a farewell to his street musician friends, he hired the Royal Albert Hall in February 1969 and put on a "Buskers Happening" show before an audience of 3,700, featuring buskers (including Dave Brock, later of Hawkwind), who would all share the profits equally. A concert album, The Buskers, was released in 1969, and Partridge's single "Breakfast on Pluto" reached No. 26 on the UK chart. He also travelled to the US to promote the Tom Courtenay movie Otley, which featured his song "Homeless Bones".
Later in 1969, with fellow guitarist Gordon Giltrap, he helped form the group Accolade. This was an acoustic band, who developed a style of folk/jazz fusion. They recorded two albums (the second after Giltrap had left), and one single, before splitting up in 1971. Partridge returned to busking, and moved to Sweden in the early 1970s where he recorded at least one album, Don Partridge and Friends in 1974. In 1976 he travelled as a busker through Canada, and played at the Montreal Olympic Games. He then returned to England, settling in Seaford, Sussex, in 1990.
In 2001 he recorded the album The Highwayman, with accompaniment by Herbie Flowers, Nick Pynn and Richard Durrant. The album contained tracks inspired by Partridge's experiences of life on the road, including the autobiographical song "The Night I Met Elton John" and a treatment of Alfred Noyes' verse "The Highwayman". In 2005, Partridge returned to public attention when his song "Breakfast on Pluto" was included in the soundtrack to the film Breakfast on Pluto. Partridge joined indie pop/trip hop duo Lemon Jelly on tour in the UK the same year. He also made two appearances on the BBC Television comedy music quiz show, Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
- "Rosie" (Don Partridge) b/w "Going Back to London" (Don Partridge) – (1968) – UK No. 4
- "Blue Eyes" (Richard Kerr and Joan Maitland) b/w "I've Got Something For You" (Don Partridge) – (1968) – UK No. 3
- "Top Man" (Richard Kerr and Joan Maitland) b/w "We Have Ways of Making You Laugh" (Don Partridge) – (1968)
- "Breakfast on Pluto" – (Don Partridge/Alan Young) b/w "Stealin'" (Trad. Arr. Don Partridge) – (1969) – UK No. 26
- "Going To Germany" (Trad. Arr. Don Partridge) b/w "Ask Me Why" (Don Partridge) – (1969)
- "Colour My World" (Peel-Kerr) b/w "Homeless Bones" (Myers-Partridge) – (1969)
- "We're All Happy Together" (Don Partridge) b/w "Following Your Fancy" (Don Partridge) – (1970)
- "Grand Slam Boogie" (Don Partridge) b/w "Barb Wire" (Don Partridge) – (1982)
- Don Partridge – (1968) – (Columbia Records)
- "Following Your Fancy" (Don Partridge)
- "Keep Your Hands Off Her" (Lead Belly)
- "7 Days Chokey" (R. Kerr and J. Maitland)
- "The Wayward Boy" (Oscar Brand)
- "St. James Infirmary" (Joe Primrose)
- "I'm A Goin' Away" (Don Partridge)
- "Blue Eyes" (R. Kerr and J. Maitland)
- "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" (S. Cropper and O. Redding)
- "Old Joe Clark" (Trad. arr. Don Partridge)
- "First Girl I Loved" (Robin Williamson)
- "Candy Man" (Arr. and adapt. Donovan)
- "Black, Brown & White Blues" (Bill Broonzy)
- "Mona's Song" (Don Partridge)
- "Rosie" (Don Partridge)
- Don Partridge and Friends – (1974) – (Sonogram Records, Sweden)
- The Highwayman – (2004) – (LongMan Records)
- Uncreased – (2007) – A privately pressed album produced by Bob Evans who also named it. Uncreased contained some of his old hits and also new material. It was recorded over a six-month period and featured some local talent from the Seaford area. It was Partridge's last recording.
Soundtracks and compilations
- Popdown – (1967) – (film soundtrack – Partridge appeared as himself in the movie, alongside Julie Driscoll, Zoot Money, Andy Summers, Brenton Wood and Tony Hicks)
- Otley – (1968) – (film soundtrack includes the song "Homeless Bones" – co-composed and sung by Partridge)
- The Buskers – (1969) – live recording of Royal Albert Hall "Buskers Happening" – (Columbia Records)
- Rosie and Other Hits – (1995) – (compilation of first solo album and single releases) – (Oxford Records)
- Breakfast on Pluto – (2005) – (film soundtrack – includes the song "Breakfast on Pluto")
- "Don Partridge". Dbopm.com. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- GRO December quarter 1941 Bournemouth 2b 1350. Some sources give a birth year of 1944.
- Report of death, Music Week, 23 September 2010.
- Longman Records article dated March 2005, accessed 5 January 2010.
- The Rosie Side of the Street, Time magazine, 7 February 1969, accessed 5 January 2010.
- Obituary, The Guardian, 24 September 2010, accessed 25 September 2010.
- Rice, Tim (1985). Guinness British Hit Singles (5th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 163. ISBN 0-85112-429-1.
- Whatya! information page, accessed 5 January 2010.
- Cover of Disc magazine, accessed 5 January 2010.
- Dave Brock website, accessed 5 January 2010.
- The Buskers album details, accessed 5 January 2010.
- Allmusic biography on Accolade, accessed 5 January 2010.
- Accolade at ProgArchives.com, accessed 5 January 2010.
- Don Partridge and Friends album cover at Pete Atkin website.
- Don Partridge at Longman Records website, accessed 5 January 2010.
- Longman Records shop website, accessed 5 January 2010.
- Whisperin and Hollerin review, accessed 5 January 2010.
- IMDb biography on Don Partridge, accessed 5 January 2010.
- Richard Kerr biography at Allmusic website, accessed 5 January 2010.
- IMDb database, accessed 5 January 2010.