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Ed Harcourt

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Ed Harcourt
Harcourt in 2005
Harcourt in 2005
Background information
Birth nameEdward Henry Richard Harcourt-Smith
Born (1977-08-14) 14 August 1977 (age 46)
OriginWimbledon, London, England
GenresChamber pop, indie pop
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, writer, record producer
Instrument(s)Vocals, piano, guitar, bass guitar, drums
Years active2000–present

Edward Henry Richard Harcourt-Smith (born 14 August 1977) is an English singer-songwriter. To date, he has released ten studio albums, two EPs, and thirteen singles. His debut album, Here Be Monsters, was nominated for the 2001 Mercury Prize.[1] Since 2007 he has been writing for other artists, including Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Paloma Faith, and has performed with Marianne Faithfull and the Libertines.[2] His music is influenced by Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Jeff Buckley, among others.[3][4]


Harcourt was born Edward Henry Richard Harcourt-Smith on 14 August 1977, in Wimbledon, London, England.[1] The youngest of three, Harcourt is the son of Maj. Charles Harcourt-Smith of the Life Guards and also a former diplomat,[2][5] and his wife Sabrina, an art historian. Ed began to study piano at the age of nine and achieved grade 8 when he was 17.[6] He declined the offer to study music, citing "the idea of having to analyze, dissect and everything [of one piece of music] would completely destroy any enjoyment".[6]

Before going solo, Harcourt played the bass and keyboards for Snug, a band formed at school in the mid-1990s by Harcourt, James Deane, Ed Groves and Johnny Lewsley.[7] The band recorded two albums and a handful of singles together before dissolving.

In 2000, Harcourt recorded his debut mini-album Maplewood EP straight to a 4-track recorder at Wootton Manor.[8] After signing with Heavenly Records and releasing Maplewood in November 2000, Harcourt recorded his debut studio album Here Be Monsters with producers Gil Norton and Tim Holmes.[8] The album was released in June 2001, and charted on the UK Albums Chart at No. 84.[9] One month after its release, the album was nominated for the 2001 Mercury Prize.[1] He later described the period as "very strange for me, I was naive, I knew nothing. I was used to making music in my room, so it felt very odd being on stage".[2] In the US he signed with Capitol Records.[10]

Following the non-album single release of the Brian Wilson cover "Still I Dream of It" in October 2002, Harcourt recorded and released his second album From Every Sphere in February 2003. The album became his highest-charting release in the UK, peaking at No. 39.[9][11] The album also performed moderately well across Europe, peaking at No. 6 in Sweden,[12] No. 25 in Norway,[13] and No. 103 in France.[14] From Every Sphere also yielded his highest-charting single to date, "All of Your Days Will Be Blessed", at No. 35.[9] A second single, "Watching the Sun Come Up", was less successful, peaking at No. 79.[9] After a steady schedule of tour dates in the UK, Harcourt's third album, Strangers, was released in September 2004. The album peaked at No. 57 in the UK and at No. 7 in Sweden, and produced the singles "This One's for You", "Born in the '70s", and "Loneliness."[9][12]

Through 2005 Harcourt played some live dates with a side-project he called Wild Boar.[15] In August 2005, the B-sides and rarities compilation Elephant's Graveyard was released as a digital download. In the same year he performed at the annual Meltdown Festival in London, supporting the Brian Jonestown Massacre and joining the curator Patti Smith for a rendition of "Pissing in a River".[16] He was also part of the ensemble that performed the William Blake inspired Songs of Innocence.[17][6]

Harcourt's fourth album The Beautiful Lie was released in June 2006 to generally favourable reviews,[18] with Allmusic describing the album as "an invigorating and frequently gorgeous affair, essential for old fans and a good place to start for newcomers."[19] The album was not as successful on the UK charts, peaking at No. 97. The Beautiful Lie was co-produced with Jari Haapalainen, and features contributions from The Magic Numbers, who sing backing vocals on "Revolution in the Heart"; Graham Coxon, who plays guitar on first single "Visit from the Dead Dog"; and Ed's wife Gita, who plays violin throughout and sings duet vocals on the track "Braille". He later described the release as "the bête noire of the albums".[6]

Harcourt recorded several tracks with the French jazz trumpeter Erik Truffaz for the album Arkhangelsk, released in early 2007. He also performed live with Truffaz's group to promote the album, and they filmed a Take-Away Show video session shot by Vincent Moon. In October 2007, Harcourt released the compilation album Until Tomorrow Then: The Best of Ed Harcourt, collecting material from the first seven years of his recording career.[2] With the release he completed his obligations with Heavenly/EMI and the contract was not renewed.[6] As a consequence he stepped away from his solo career as he was "really bored and sick of myself and my music. I had tried for seven years to make it and break into the mainstream and it didn't happen".[6]

In 2009, Harcourt signed with Dovecote Records in the United States to release The Beautiful Lie stateside, as well as his new EP Russian Roulette which appeared in May of that year.[20] Also in 2009, Harcourt composed the original music for the soundtrack to the Donnie Darko sequel S. Darko.[21] In early 2010, he wrote a song called "Isabel" for the SOS Children's Villages Emergency Relief Fund in Haiti.[22]

Harcourt's fifth studio album Lustre was released on 14 June 2010, the first on his record label Piano Wolf Recordings.[6] The album was produced by Ryan Hadlock at Bear Creek Studios.[23]

In February 2013, Harcourt released the album Back into The Woods through CCCLX, the new label set-up by his manager Sean Adams.[24] It was recorded during a one-day session helmed by Pete Hutchings at the Abbey Road Studios and featured his wife Gita on violin and Arnulf Lindner (cello).[25][26] The release was supported by a headlining tour around England.[27]

In January 2014, Harcourt released Time of Dust, a six-track mini-album on CCCLX. It includes the duet "Come Into My Dreamland" with Kathryn Williams.[28] In 2015 he performed the 17-minute piece "Restoration" for the Belgian charity MusicFund.[29] It was inspired by the BBC documentary Our World: Saving Gaza's grand piano broadcast that featured the work of the charity.[30]

In August 2016, Harcourt released his seventh solo album Furnaces, produced by Flood.[31][32] It was described as "gently apocalyptic pop with billowy choruses".[33]


Ed Harcourt with Wild Boar at The Barfly Club, Camden, August 2005. In shot – Dimitri Tikovoi on drums, Andre Shapps on bass. Out of shot, Emett Elvin, guitar

Harcourt performed with Patti Smith and her band as well as Marianne Faithfull during the 2005 Meltdown Festival and her 2014 tour.[34]

Harcourt opened for The Gutter Twins on their European tour in 2008, as well as joining the group on stage to play guitar on some songs, most notably on their appearance on Later... with Jools Holland, performing the single "Idle Hands.".[35] In December 2013 Harcourt made a guest appearance with Laura Jansen at Bush Hall, London to sing "A Call to Arms".

On 26 June 2015, The Libertines were the surprise special guests on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury Festival 2015, with Harcourt joining them on stage to play piano.[36] He also joined the band on stage during the Reading and Leeds Festivals Headline slots in August 2015.

In the summer of 2017, while on tour supporting The Afghan Whigs, Harcourt played rhythm guitar on stage with the band at their concert at NorthSide Festival (Denmark) as well as performing an exclusive, solo mini-concert, at a nearby allotment garden.[37]

On 22 October 2017, Harcourt played (as band leader) the whole Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album live at the Philharmonie de Paris for Arte TV show with a little help from Carl Barât and Pete Doherty (The Libertines), Barrie Cadogan (Primal Scream), Danny Goffey and Gaz Coombes (Supergrass), Steve Mason and others.[38]


After the release of the Best Of collection Until Tomorrow Then in 2007, Harcourt changed career and became a songwriter for other acts.[2] In 2008, he co-wrote the title track for the Paloma Faith album Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?, which reached #64 in the UK singles chart.[39] In 2013 Harcourt worked with Sophie Ellis-Bextor on her fifth studio album Wanderlust, which Harcourt co-wrote and produced.[2] He has written for and performed with Marianne Faithful on her Give My Love to London project in 2014.[2] Other artists include Jamie Cullum,[40] James Bay[41] and Lisa Marie Presley.[2] In 2015, Harcourt provided vocals for the track "Villain" from the album 8:58, a project by Paul Hartnoll.[42]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to the singer and musician Gita Harcourt-Smith, née Langley, singer and songwriter in The Langley Sisters.[2] Together, the couple have two children – a daughter, Roxy,[43] and a son, Franklyn.[44]

References in popular culture[edit]

In the video game Silent Hill: Downpour, his song "Here Be Monsters" is played in the "Surprise" ending and "From Every Sphere" plays on WLMN FM radio.[45] The song "Watching The Sun Come Up" also plays in the end credits of the video game Alan Wake's American Nightmare. The song "Born In The 70s" was also featured in the soundtrack for the show The Inbetweeners. In 2014, he wrote and performed the song "The Way That I Live" for the Burberry Christmas film From London with Love.[2][46]



  1. ^ a b "MUSIC – Mercury Music Prize: The nominees (2001)". BBC News. 25 July 2001. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Duerden, Nick Tuesday (25 November 2014). "Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Ed Harcourt | Biography, Albums, Streaming Links | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  4. ^ "Ed Harcourt – Maplewood". CD Universe. 20 November 2001. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  5. ^ Cooper, Artemis (16 June 2011). Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David. Faber & Faber. p. 75. ISBN 9780571279777.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Bray, Elisa (24 June 2010). "Ed Harcourt - 'I always make music, I write all the time. I can't do anything else'". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Snug on MySpace". Myspace.com. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  8. ^ a b Hodgkinson, Will (12 June 2002). "Ed Harcourt – The Guardian interview". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Ed Harcourt". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  10. ^ Laurence, Alexander (July 2002). "Ed Harcourt". Freewilliamsburg.com. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Ed Harcourt | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Discography Ed Harcourt". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  13. ^ "Discography Ed Harcourt". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  14. ^ "Discographie Ed Harcourt" (in French). lescharts.com. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  15. ^ "Ed Harcourt Introduces New Band". gigwise.com. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  16. ^ "Patti Smith and Steve Earle - Royal Festival Hall, London, 19/6/2005". Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  17. ^ Heawood, Sophie (22 June 2005). "Songs of Innocence". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  18. ^ The Beautiful Lie by Ed Harcourt, retrieved 7 September 2016
  19. ^ "The Beautiful Lie - Ed Harcourt | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  20. ^ "Russian Roulette EP Music – Dovecote Records Music – Online Store". Districtlines.com. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  21. ^ "S. Darko (2009)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  22. ^ Supernanas.org – Haiti Relief Archived 14 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Last night in Bear Creek Studios – Ed Harcourt's MySpace blog (dated 16 July 2009)". Blogs.myspace.com. Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  24. ^ Adams, Sean. "Management company". CCCLX Music. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  25. ^ "How Ed Harcourt recorded his album in one night at Abbey Road". bowers-wilkins.com. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  26. ^ Parker, Sean (26 August 2013). "Interview: Ed Harcourt". God Is In The TV. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  27. ^ Tuffrey, Laurie (22 February 2013). "Stream Ed Harcourt's New LP". the quietus.net. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  28. ^ Murphy, John (6 January 2014). "Ed Harcourt - Time Of Dust | Album review". musicOMH. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  29. ^ Barrie, Tom. "Ed Harcourt releases 17-minute charity track 'Restoration' | Gigwise". gigwise.com. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  30. ^ Whewell, Tim (26 March 2015). "Saving Gaza's only grand piano". BBC News. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  31. ^ "Latitude 2015: Ed Harcourt". Phoenix FM. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  32. ^ O'Connor, Roisin (29 June 2016). "New music to listen to this week: Ed Harcourt". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  33. ^ Jonze, Tim (18 August 2016). "Ed Harcourt: Furnaces review – gently apocalyptic pop". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  34. ^ "Patti Smith's Meltdown 2005". Andrewfwilson.co.uk. 11 July 2005. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  35. ^ "The Gutter Twins "Idle Hands" live on Jools Holland". YouTube. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  36. ^ Stubbs, Dan (26 June 2015). "The Libertines bring old classics and new material to secret Glastonbury set - watch". nme.com. NME. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  37. ^ "Ed Harcourt will play NorthSide". MyNewsDesk. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  38. ^ ""Sgt. Pepper Live" à la Philharmonie de Paris". Arte.tv. 22 October 2017. Archived from the original on 1 November 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  39. ^ "Paloma Faith - singles". Official Charts company (UK).
  40. ^ Petridis, Alexis (22 September 2005). "Jamie Cullum, Catching Tales". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  41. ^ "James Bay | Songs | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  42. ^ "Home". Eightfiftyeight.com. Archived from the original on 5 October 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  43. ^ "New Material: Ed Harcourt, Russian Roulette". Audioholic Media. Archived from the original on 18 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  44. ^ "What's on / Colston Hall". Colston Hall. Archived from the original on 9 June 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  45. ^ "Silent Hill: Downpour Endings Guide". Rarityguide.com. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  46. ^ McCabe, Maisie (3 November 2014). "Romeo Beckham stars in Burberry's first global Christmas campaign". campaignlive. Retrieved 19 August 2016.

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