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|Birth name||Rosemary Hardman|
|Born||26 February 1945|
Manchester, United Kingdom
|Genres||Folk, soft rock|
Rosemary "Rosie" Hardman (born 26 February 1945 ) is a British folk singer-songwriter, musician and performer, best known for such recordings as Lady For Today, Pride of the River, Song to the Evening Sky, and Tongue Tied. Hardman was one of the mainstays of the Manchester folk scene of the sixties, and performed extensively in both the UK and internationally until 1991.
Rosemary Hardman was educated at the Urmston Grammar School for Girls near Manchester, and before turning professional as a singer in 1968, spent the early part of her career in roles varying from horse riding instructor, assistant in a bookstore, hairdresser, and finally secretary for the MSG artiste booking agency. She began writing songs at the age of 13 and made her first folk club appearance in 1965, at the Manchester Sports Guild. She established herself as resident singer and organiser of a number of folk clubs over the next three years.
1960s: Early years
After three years of playing amateur and semi-professional gigs on the folk scene, she turned professional in December 1968, which coincided with the release of her first album Queen of Hearts released on the Folk Heritage label, a mixture of traditional and contemporary material. The album was recorded live on 29 December 1968 at the Bate Hall Hotel, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK. Six months later she teamed up with south London guitarist Bob Axford, performing mainly original material.
Rosie Hardman and Bob Axford released a joint album, Second Season Came on the Trailer Records label in 1970. This album included her most popular and covered song Lady for Today. This was followed by a third album Firebird in 1971, also on the Trailer Records label.
In 1971 Rob Ixer and Hardman were married on 17 April; the wedding was attended by many friends from the music scene and Toni Arthur (who at the time was singing with her husband Dave on the folk scene – but later became well known on children's TV) was her Matron of Honour. For their informal reception in the evening they had wanted to use the Manchester Sports Guild where Rosie had been a compere and guest artist. However the hall had already booked the guest artist for that night and so decided to combine the two occasions – which is how Barbara Dickson found herself singing at Bob and Rosie's wedding reception.
In the early/mid 70s Rosie toured with singer/songwriter Andy Caven as her road manager/sounds engineer – they recorded a version of her song Fiddler Man together before Andy went his own way to a very successful career on the folk scene. In 1974, Rosie played the Cambridge Folk Festival and in 1975 she released her next album, Jerseyburger and also a cassette of a live recording – For My Part. In 1978, Rosie signed to the Plant Life label, with whom she made three albums (see Discography). The backing musicians on these recordings included Dave Cousins, Maddy Prior, Nigel Pegrum, Rick Kemp, Brian Willoughby, Jon Gillaspie, Mike Silver and B. J. Cole.
In 1977 she performed a series of gigs with Bristol-based guitarist Steve Payne and then from 1979, she toured briefly with a band which comprised Nigel Pegrum (drums), Jon Gillaspie (Keyboards), Pat Tate (guitar/vocals) and Rick Kemp (bass). This tour was notable for the fact that, in a unique finale, one of two trained, live eagles (called Wally and Pegasus) was flown over the heads of the audience to land on Rosie's arm. Unfortunately, Wally had a penchant for beer and was known to detour on occasions to land on the table of an unsuspecting member of the audience. Jon Gillaspie and Rosie went on to perform together regularly as a duo over the next few years and Jon's empathy with her own views on how her music should sound led to happy collaborations on her albums as well as gigs.
1980s: More Success and Awards
In 1981 Rosie recorded The Man From Brooklyn and Just One Time, two songs about Barry Manilow, for whom she ran the Birmingham branch of the British Fan Club. Rosie's support for Manilow's music caused a lot of controversy in folk clubs but she was, and remain to this day, unshakable – both in support of the man and his music and in her assertion that he was a major influence on her music. To add more fuel to the fire Rosie took over running the Whitesnake Fan Club for the heavy rock band of that name in 1984 – a fact which surprised both the folk community and the Manilow fans! (This connection eventually led her to team up with the lead guitarist of the band, Mel Galley, for a series of gigs in 1985–86).
In 1985, Rosie co-wrote the theme music for the children's television programme Talk, Write and Read. The programme went on to win the Royal Television Society award for the best primary school television programme of 1986/87. Around that time she also joined up with Isaac Guillory for a number of concerts in which they each performed solo sets and then a set together – occasions which will always remain a highlight of her musical career.
Owing to the smoking in many of the venues Rosie played, and the lack of sound systems, Rosie suffered a lot of throat problems during the mid-80's which resulted in a long course of hospital treatment. A number of clubs were prepared to make their nights non-smoking for her visits but unfortunately those that did not left her ill and unable to sing for several days. This was the main cause for Rosie's retirement in 1991, though she did play two one-off farewell gigs in Germany and Jersey the following year.
1990s: New Directions
Rosie learned to swim in 1986 and, finding she had a knack for teaching nervous adult beginners, took the Preliminary and Full Teachers' Examinations with the Amateur Swimming Association in 1988. She taught part-time from that date but following her retirement from the music scene in 1992, this became her full-time occupation (her proudest teaching achievements in that field include teaching a blind lady to swim and having a 29-year-old stroke victim win a prestigious award from the A.S.A.).
In 1997 Rosie's career took another sudden turn when a friend of her introduced her to computers which she got into computers in a BIG way. The main loves of her life now are her husband Rob, dogs, computer and Kenya..... but it is still not a good idea to talk to her about censorship, religion, procrastination, politics or prudes.
2000s: The Comeback Concerts
The release of the Rosie's Lost Leader album in 2000 and her official website (RosieHardman.com) rekindled interest in her music from her long-term fan base and the media, as well as a whole new generation of younger fans. Over the next few years (2006, 2007, 2009) Rosie ably supported by Graham Cooper staged three one-off comeback concerts, which thrilled fans old and new alike.
1970: The Folk Trailer (Sampler album – including Strangely Moved from Second Season Came'). Trailer Records. LER 2019.
1971: Firebird. Trailer Records. LER 2075.
1974: The First Folk Review Record. (Sampler album – including 'Latin Lady' and 'Spare Rib Rag'). Folksound Records. FS 100.
1975: For My Part. (Cassette only) Mount Recordings. MRS 3 WH.
1975: Jerseyburger. Alida Star Records. ASC 7754.
1978: Eagle Over Blue Mountain. Plant Life Records. PLR 014. Re-released as VAMP2 by Rosie
1980: Stopped in My Tracks. Plant Life Records. PLR 023. Re-released as VAMP3 by Rosie
1983: The Weakness of Eve. Plant Life Records. PLR 053. Re-released as VAMP4 by Rosie
2000: The Lost Leader. VAMP1. Details.
2006: Rosie Bytes! (Compilation CD of Live MP3 tracks – mainly previously unrecorded material)
2007: The Lady For Today Concert. Limited Edition CD of the Live Concert with Graham Cooper in October 2006.
A number of Rosie's songs have been covered by other artists. These include:
Andrew covered by Geoff Smedley (Album: Love is Mine (1972)) and Tranby Croft (Album: Timeline (1996))
Child of Merseyside covered by Jacqui and Bridie (Album: Next Time Round (1972))
Will Taylor covered by Paul and Glen (Album: Paul and Glen (1972))and Jacqui and Bridie (Album: Next Time Round (1972))
Dark Side of the Moon covered by Miriam Backhouse (Album: Gypsy Without a Road (1977))
England covered by Triple H (Album: Christchurch Acoustic (1998))
Fiddler Man covered by Andy Caven (Album: Early Days (1980))
Gypsy Without a Road covered by Miriam Backhouse (Album: Gypsy Without a Road (1977))
Lady For Today covered by: The Fabulous Mid Life Crisis Band (1995); Doreen Lewis (1988)); Contraband (1974); Harewood Magna (1974); Jacqui and Bridie (1972); Geoff Smedley (1972); Mae McKenna (1976) and Graham Cooper (1977).
Pride of The River covered by Graham Cooper (Album: Graham Cooper(1997).
Song to the Evening Sky covered by The Lonesome Travellers (Album: The Lonesome Travellers (1970))
Tongue Tied covered by Pat Tate (1973)
Will Taylor covered by Paul and Glen (Album: Paul and Glen (1972))
Notes and references
- Official Website (rosiehardman.com)
- Classics on Plastic by Mike Harding, Radio 2 15:38 UK time, Friday, 5 December 2008
- Guinness Who's Who of Folk Music (1993) by Colin Larkin
- A Gathering of Folk (2003) by Mark Leightley