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Green Gartside, 2006
|Birth name||Paul Julian Strohmeyer|
|Born||22 June 1955|
|Associated acts||Scritti Politti|
Life and career
Gartside was born in Cardiff, Wales, to a "Cup-a-soup salesman dad and a hairdresser/secretary/whatever mum". His childhood was not always happy, with the family 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". His father died while he was a child, after which his widowed mother married a solicitor 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”.
Gartside attended Croesyceiliog Grammar School in Cwmbran (now known as Croesyceiliog School). At 14 he formed a branch of the Young Communist League. He later studied foundation art at Newport Art College (now known as the Faculty of Creative Industries at University of South Wales). It was here that he formed a band called Heads of the Valleys.
In the mid-1970s, Gartside moved to Leeds to study art at Leeds Polytechnic. It was there that he formed the post-punk band Scritti Politti in 1977, with school 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.
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. 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 ego maniac 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.
Gartside lived alone in a secluded cottage in Usk, spending his time listening to hip hop, playing darts and having a few pints down the local pub. 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', which took place in several UK cities. He has also returned to touring with Scritti Politti.
He is now a regular stand-in presenter on BBC 6 Music.
- Dalton, Stephen (4 August 2006). "It's getting easier being Green". The Times. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
- Nathan Bevan (13 March 2011). "Scritti Politti's Green Gartside on cracking under the pressures of fame". Wales Online. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- "Scritti Politti's Green Gartside returns to Newport for the Busk on the Usk Festival". Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 378. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
- "News, Goldsmiths, University of London". gold.ac.uk. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
- Green Gartside/Scritti Politti biography at Allmusic
- Green Gartside at the Internet Movie Database
- Reynolds, Simon (26 May 2006). "Hearts and flowers". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 13 March 2009.