Murray Head

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Murray Head
Head in concert at Quimper, France, (2013)
Head in concert at Quimper, France, (2013)
Background information
Birth nameMurray Seafield St George Head
Born (1946-03-05) 5 March 1946 (age 77)
London, England
GenresRock, new wave, pop
Occupation(s)Actor, singer
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar
Years active1966–present
LabelsIsland, A&M, Virgin, Mercury, Voiceprint

Murray Seafield St George Head (born 5 March 1946)[1] is an English actor and singer. Head has appeared in a number of films, including a starring role as the character Bob Elkin in the BAFTA award winning and Oscar-nominated 1971 film Sunday Bloody Sunday.[1] As a musician, he is most recognised for his international hit songs "Superstar" (from the 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar) and "One Night in Bangkok" (the 1984 single from the musical Chess, which topped the charts in various countries). He has been involved in several projects since the 1960s and continues to record music, perform concerts, and make appearances on television either as himself or as a character actor.

Early life and education[edit]

Head was born in London[2] to Seafield Laurence Stewart Murray Head (20 August 1919 – 22 March 2009) and Helen Shingler (29 August 1919 − 8 October 2019).[3][2] Head's father was a documentary filmmaker for Verity Films. Head's mother played Mme Maigret alongside Rupert Davies in the BBC 1960s television adaptation of the Maigret novels written by Georges Simenon. Head's younger brother Anthony Head is also an actor,[2] best known for playing Rupert Giles in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Head was educated at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington, London and Hampton School[4] in Hampton, Middlesex. He attended Chiswick Polytechnic (A level college) in the early 1960s.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Head began writing songs as a child, and by the mid-1960s he had a London-based recording contract. He briefly appeared as one of the hosts of the Bristol-based television pop show Now! alongside Michael Palin. He had limited success, until asked by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber to play Judas Iscariot on the original concept album version of Jesus Christ Superstar; at the time, he had been appearing in the West End production of the musical Hair. With the Trinidad Singers, the song "Superstar" peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1971.

He made his film debut in The Family Way (1966), which featured Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett and John Mills in the leading roles.[1] Head won a leading role in the Oscar-nominated film Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), alongside Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson.[1] Despite these successes, he received little public attention in the next ten years (except for his single release, "Say It Ain't So, Joe" in 1975, which has been covered by The Who's lead vocalist, Roger Daltrey, among others, including The Hollies).[1] "Never Even Thought" has been covered by both Colin Blunstone and Cliff Richard.

Head in 1972

In 1973, he appeared in a radio drama, The Fourth Tower of Inverness. In 1979, Head appeared in the miniseries Prince Regent and the final episode of the ITV program Return of the Saint.

Head reappeared in the spotlight in 1984 as the American on the concept album for the musical Chess. The song "One Night in Bangkok" featured Head[2] on lead vocals, affecting a New York accent. It became the last significant Broadway/West End number to be a hit single on American and German radio until "No Matter What" by Boyzone in 1996. "One Night in Bangkok" was a success in both Europe and North America.[1] Head performed the role of world chess champion Frederick "Freddie" Trumper in the London West End stage production of Chess that premiered on 14 May 1986. The show ran in London until 8 April 1989; during its run, Head departed with vocal strain.

After that, Head had little recording success in the UK or the United States. This fact would later be underscored in a radio segment featured on The Kevin and Bean Show on KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, in which the hosts would phone Head in the morning to find out "What's Up with Murray Head?" Fluent in French, he has released a number of albums in that language. A duet with Marie Carmen, "Une femme un homme", was released in 1993 and was a hit in French-speaking Canada.

In 1999, Head co-wrote the screenplay to Les Enfants du Siècle.[3]

He has appeared on television in the UK on The Bill, Casualty, North Square and Judge John Deed. He also played an artist, and love interest of Gina Ward, called Jack Hollins on ITV's Heartbeat from 2005 to 2006. On 15 March 2010 he appeared in the BBC drama Doctors playing a pop singer, Pete Perry, trying to make a comeback, in which Head sang Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain". He appeared in Doctors again on 18 April 2019 as a different character, a drummer named Brian 'Sticky' Burns. In Canada, he was part of the cast of the 2002 television mini-series Music-Hall, which played on the Radio-Canada network. In 2011 he appeared in the first episode of the series Vera (episode "Hidden Depths") as Peter Calvert.

Head's picture, from a still of The Family Way, appeared on the 1987 cover of the British band The Smiths single "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" and the album cover of the band's 1988 compilation album Stop Me.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Head married Susan Ellis Jones in 1972; they divorced in 1992. He has two daughters: Katherine and Sophie. Sophie sometimes sings with her father, for example on songs such as "Seras-tu là?" on the album Tête à tête and "Make It Easy" from the Emotions album.[3][2] Head married Lindy Ross (née Newton) on 14 February 2019.

Discography[edit]

  • Nigel Lived (1972)
  • Say It Ain't So (1976)
  • Between Us (1979)
  • Voices (1981)
  • Shade (1982)
  • Restless (1984)
  • Sooner or Later (1986)
  • Wave (1992)
  • Pipe Dreams (1995)
  • Tête à tête (2007)
  • Rien n'est écrit (2008) - Also distributed as a double album, with new versions of classics such as Say It Ain't So, Never Even Thought, You Are, etc.
  • My Back Pages (2012) - Performs songs by other artists, Bob Dylan, Kansas, Spencer Davis Group, The Who, Roxy Music, Dido, etc.

Selected filmography[edit]

Film
Film Credits
Year Title Role Notes
1966 The Family Way Geoffrey Fitton Sings "Someday Soon"
1967 Two Weeks in September Dickinson's assistant.
1971 Aphrousa Nicholas
Sunday Bloody Sunday Bob Elkin
La Mandarine Tony the Englishman
1973 Gawain and the Green Knight Gawain
1975 El poder del deseo Javier
1977 The Frenchwoman David Evans
1987 White Mischief Lizzie
1989 Un été d'orages Jack Also wrote the music
La Barbare Michael
1996 Beaumarchais William, Lord Rochford
1999 Le Grand Serpent du Monde Tom
2002 The Lovers of the Nile The Colonel
2003 I, Cesar Charley Fitzpatrick
2009 No pasaran Peter Konchelski
2015 Fever Jim
Television
Television Credits
Year Title Role Notes
1967 St Ives Saladin Two episodes
1971 Shirley's World Ray King
1974 The Fortunes of Nigel Lord Dalgarno
Seven Faces of a Woman Tom
Intent for Murder Larry
Play for Today Singer Episode "Taking Leave"
1979 Return of the Saint Pierre de la Garde Episode 24 "The Diplomat's Daughter"
Prince Regent George Canning Three episodes
1989 Boon Rupert Cole Series 4 Episode 3 "The Relief of Matty King"
1998 The New Adventures of Robin Hood Ripley
1999 The Knock Mike Hewson Two episodes
2000 Casualty Billy Cooper Series 15 Episode 6 "Choked: Part Two"
North Square Judge Martin Bould Eight episodes
The Vice Tommy Roker Two episodes
2002 Asbestos Peter Bedford
Music-Hall Clife Maisie
2003 Rosemary & Thyme Nev Connolly
2004 The Bill Charles Mawdsley
2005-2007 Heartbeat Jack Rollins Three episodes
2007 Judge John Deed Judge Prévin
Holby City Doug Finn Three episodes
2009 Relive Steven Winterley
2010 Doctors Pete Perry Episode "Birth of the Blues"
2011 Vera's Mysteries Peter Calvert
2012 Holby City Steve Rurner
2013 Doctors Leo Treadwell Episode "Difficulty"
2014 Holby City Billy Tressler Three episodes
Horsehead Jim
2017 Doctors Ralphy Aspden Two episodes
2019 War of the Worlds Mikel

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Ankeny, Jason. "Artist Biography". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Murray Head". NNDB.com. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Murray Head: Biography". Internet Movie Database.
  4. ^ "Murray Head Official Site". Retrieved 14 June 2023.
  5. ^ Brown, Len (7 April 2010). Meetings with Morrissey. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-240-7.

External links[edit]