Green Gartside

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Green Gartside
Green Gartside 2006.jpg
Green Gartside, 2006
Background information
Birth namePaul Julian Strohmeyer
Born (1955-06-22) 22 June 1955 (age 64)
OriginCardiff, Wales
Years active1977–1991; 1999-present
Associated actsScritti Politti

Green Gartside (born Paul Julian Strohmeyer; 22 June 1955)[3] is a Welsh songwriter, singer and musician. He is the frontman of the band Scritti Politti.

Early life[edit]

Gartside was born in Cardiff, Wales, to a "Cup-a-soup salesman dad and a hairdresser/secretary/whatever mum".[4] His childhood was not always happy, with the family (which included a sister)[4] having to move every 12 months or so because of his father's job. He ended up "living all over, from Bridgend to Newport to Ystrad Mynach".[5] His father died while he was a child, after which his widowed mother married her boss, a solicitor[4] from Newport named Gordon Gartside, from whom he adopted his new surname. Gartside recalls, "The 'Green' bit came about because I didn’t like the fact there were two other Pauls in my class and I wanted something different. So I just chose something random after listening to a Captain Beefheart album where all the musicians were named odd things like Zoot Horn Rollo. I thought having a made-up name was well cool”.[4]

Gartside attended Croesyceiliog Grammar School in Cwmbran (now known as Croesyceiliog School). At 14 he formed a branch of the Young Communist League.[4] He later studied foundation art at Newport Art College (now known as the Faculty of Creative Industries at University of South Wales)[4] and formed a band called Heads of the Valleys.[4]

In the mid-1970s, Gartside moved to Leeds to study art at Leeds School of Art.[6]


During art school in Leeds in 1977, Gartside formed the post-punk band Scritti Politti[7] with schoolmate and friend Nial Jinks and university friend Tom Morley. After Gartside and Morley had left college, they moved to London, later securing a recording deal with Rough Trade Records who released the first Scritti Politti album Songs to Remember in 1982. However, subsequent Scritti Politti albums featured Gartside with different personnel, with Gartside being the only constant member of the group.

As Scritti Politti, Gartside and New York keyboardist David Gamson and American drummer Fred Maher released the album Cupid & Psyche '85 in June 1985. The album included hits "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" (the video in which Michael Clark lent his contemporary dance); "Absolute" (the video being based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream);[8] "The Word Girl"; "Perfect Way"; and "Hypnotize". Released on Virgin Records it reached number 5 in the UK and was certified Gold by the BPI for 100,000 copies sold. It was produced by Scritti Politti and Turkish-born Arif Mardin who coincidentally also produced Aretha Franklin.

In 1988 Scritti Politti's album Provision was a UK Top 10 success, though it only produced one UK Top 20 hit single, "Oh Patti". After releasing a couple of non-album singles in 1991, as well as a collaboration with B.E.F., Gartside became disillusioned with the music industry and retired to south Wales for more than seven years.[9] Gartside suffered a complete mental breakdown:

We’d been doing months of chat show-type things all around the world and I’d really started hating myself deeply, and everybody around me, for talking so much b*******. Unless you’re some sort of weird egomaniac it’s not healthy to spend that amount of time talking about yourself, and I’d become totally burned out and insane. So to go straight from that into making our next record was a mistake ... I just remember hailing a cab one day and coming to in bed surrounded by doctors.[5]

Gartside lived alone in a secluded cottage in Usk, Monmouthshire, spending his time listening to hip hop, playing darts and drinking beer at his local pub.[5][4] He returned to music-making in the late 1990s, releasing a new album, Anomie & Bonhomie, in 1999 (which included various rap and hip hop influences). In 2006, another new album was released, the stripped-down White Bread, Black Beer which returned to the more experimental era of the band's history.

In 2012, Gartside, who has suffered from recurring stage fright that prevented Scritti Politti from touring for many years, performed several songs by Sandy Denny as part of a tribute called The Lady in several UK cities. He has also returned to touring with Scritti Politti in 2006.[10]

In 2015, Gartside was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Goldsmiths, University of London.[7]

He has been a regular stand-in presenter on BBC 6 Music.[11][12]

Gartside has also worked with Miles Davis,[13] Chaka Khan,[14] Eurythmics, Elvis Costello,[15] Shabba Ranks, Mos Def,[16] Meshell Ndegeocello,[17] Kylie Minogue,[18] Robyn Hitchcock,[19] Manic Street Preachers,[20] Tracey Thorn,[21] and Robert Wyatt (on Songs To Remember).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "One week, one band". Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  2. ^ Horton 2011, Matthew. "Scritti Politti Absolute Review Compilation. Released 2011". Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  3. ^ Dalton, Stephen (4 August 2006). "It's getting easier being Green". The Times. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Owens, David (28 June 2012). "Scritti Politti's Green Gartside returns to Newport for the Busk on the Usk Festival". Wales Online. Media Wales Ltd. Retrieved 30 November 2016 – via
  5. ^ a b c Bevan, Nathan (13 March 2011). "Scritti Politti's Green Gartside on cracking under the pressures of fame". Wales Online. Media Wales Ltd. Retrieved 1 February 2015 – via
  6. ^ "Scritti Politti". iTunes. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Film producer Lord Puttnam and designer Margaret Howell to be honoured by Goldsmiths". Goldsmiths, University of London. Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  8. ^ "Happy Birthday, Green!". Oh By The Way. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  9. ^ Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 378. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
  10. ^ "Pop legend plays first gig for 26 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Green Gartside sits in". Guy Garvey's Finest Hour. BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2019 – via
  12. ^ "Green Gartside sits in". The Tom Robinson Show. BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2019 – via
  13. ^ "Interview: Green Gartside". The Last Miles. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Pop legend plays first gig for 26 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Pop music: My dinner with Derrida". The Independent. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  16. ^ "Do Remember: Scritti Politti, Mos Def & Lee Majors – Tinseltown To Boogie Down". Ambrosia For Heads. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  17. ^ Derrik, Mathis. "Behind Blue Eyes". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Album: Kylie Minogue". The Independent. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Scritti Politti's Green Gartside plays Nick Drake tribute dates". Rough Trade Records. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Behind the Manic Street Preachers' new Welsh assembly: The collaborators who made Futurology possible". Wales Online. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Album: Tracey Thorn, Tinsel and Lights (Strange Feeling)". The Independent. Retrieved 7 October 2019.

External links[edit]