Sam Fender

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Sam Fender
Fender performing in January 2019
Fender performing in January 2019
Background information
Birth nameSamuel Thomas Fender
Born (1994-04-25) 25 April 1994 (age 26)
North Shields, Tyne and Wear, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • actor
Musical career
GenresIndie rock[1]
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass
  • piano
  • synthesizer
Years active2013–present

Samuel Thomas Fender (born 25 April 1994) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. After commencing a career as an actor, he was signed as a singer and released several singles independently, being named one of the BBC's Sound of 2018.[3] He signed to Polydor Records and released his debut EP, Dead Boys, in November 2018.[4] He won the Critics' Choice Award at the 2019 Brit Awards and released his debut album, Hypersonic Missiles, in September 2019.[5] The album entered the UK Albums Chart at No. 1.[6]

Early life[edit]

Samuel Thomas Fender was born on 25 April 1994[7] in North Shields, Tyne and Wear[8] to Alan and Shirley Fender. He has a brother, Liam, who is ten years older than him.[9] Fender had a tumultuous childhood - his mother left when he was eight years old, but he later moved back in with her after he was kicked out of his father’s house by his stepmother as a teenager.[10] He attended John Spence Community High School and the sixth form college of Whitley Bay High School, attending the latter alongside bandmate Joe Atkinson.[11] During and after college he had a number of jobs; working in a call centre, a restaurant and a local pub where he was subsequently discovered by his manager.[12][13]

At the age of 20, Fender was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness, shortly after which his father moved to France.[10] His father, Alan, and brother, Liam, are also both singer-songwriters; Liam also plays drums and piano.[14][15] Fender started playing the guitar when he was 10 and began to write songs at 14.[16]


2013-2015: Early beginnings[edit]

Fender began writing songs at the age of 14, being influenced by Bruce Springsteen and Jeff Buckley, after being introduced to the albums ‘Born To Run’, ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’, and ‘Grace’ by his brother.[17] He started to play at his brother’s open mic nights and formed his first band when he was 15.[18] In 2010, the band entered a Teenage Cancer Trust competition, where Matty Healy was a judge, and won.[19] Fender acted in the 2011 pilot episode of the ITV drama series Vera and a 2012 episode of the CBBC fantasy series Wolfblood.[20] When he was about 18 he began performing paid gigs at restaurants.[18]

In 2013, Fender was spotted performing in the pub where he worked by Ben Howard's manager Owain Davies, who took him on as a client.[21] Throughout 2013, Fender played a series of gigs aross the country supporting a number of artists including Ben Howard and Willy Mason. Fender then took two years out for health reasons.[22]

Fender has said that prior to this time he tried to write songs that he thought would be popular as he was ‘desperate to do well’ to get himself and his mother out of their financial and living situation.[23] However, Fender said that having a major health scare and facing the possibility of death, changed his outlook on life. His recovery refocused his songwriting efforts and he began to write songs for himself. It was out of this period that Fender wrote a number of the songs he went on to release.[24]

2017-2018: Singles and Dead Boys EP[edit]

On 30 March 2017, Fender independently released his first single "Play God" which was featured in the video game FIFA 19.[25] The track has since been BRIT Certified Silver.[26] Fender played the first shows with his full band in June 2017. The band consists of Dean Thompson and Joe Atkinson - who are both childhood friends of Fender - Tom Ungerer, Drew Micheal and later Johnny "Blue Hat" Davis. Throughout this period Fender toured with support slots for acts such as Bear’s Den, Declan Mckenna, and Micheal Kiwanuka.[27] He also played a BBC Music Introducing session at Maida Vale.[28] At the end of the year, Fender announced his first headline tour for the beginning of 2018.

In 2018, Fender was placed on BBC's Sound of 2018 shortlist alongside Billie Eilish, Khalid, Lewis Capaldi and winner Sigrid.[29] He continued to put out singles, releasing the tracks ‘Friday Fighting’ and ‘Leave Fast’, before signing to Polydor Records in June.[30] The single ‘Dead Boys’ was premiered as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in the World on 14 August. The track could be considered to be Fender’s breakthrough song as it was the first to bring him mainstream attention and was subsequently nominated for an Ivor Novello. The song deals with the subject of male suicide, and was written by Fender as a reaction to losing a close friend to suicide.[31] He later performed the track, alongside ‘Leave Fast’, on BBC’s Later With Jools Holland.[32]

Fender released the Dead Boys EP on 20 November 2018, which also featured the tracks ‘Spice’, ‘Poundshop Kardashians’ and ‘That Sound’.[33] Alongside the EP’s release, he embarked on a headline tour which included three sold out nights at the ‘Omeara’ in London.[34] Fender received widespread recognition winning the Critics' Choice Award at the 2019 Brit Awards.[35]

2019-present: Hypersonic Missiles[edit]

In anticipation of his debut album, Fender re-released ‘Play God’ on 14 January 2019.[36] He performed the track in his first Live Lounge alongside a cover of Ariana Grande's ‘Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored’.[37] On 6 March, Fender released the title track of the album ‘Hypersonic Missiles’, which he described as an ‘unorthodox love song’.[38] The single has since been BRIT certified Gold.[39] Fender performed the song on his US television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live before embarking on playing his first shows in North America.[40] Fender made an appearance on the The Graham Norton Show to promote the album and performed at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Middlesbrough.[41][42]

On 6 July, Fender announced the album alongside the release of the single "Will We Talk?", which has since been BRIT certified Silver.[43][44] After extensive touring, including playing two sold out shows at Shepherds Bush Empire, Fender had to cancel several gigs, including Glastonbury Festival, after experiencing severe bleeding in his vocal cords.[24] After a month of rest, he recovered sufficiently to perform as support act for Bob Dylan and Neil Young in Hyde Park and play the fastest ever selling date at the Mouth of the Tyne Festival.[45][46] In July, Fender announced his biggest UK tour, up until that point, which completely sold out and included two nights at O2 Brixton Academy and a record four nights at O2 Academy Newcastle.[43]

The track ‘The Borders’ was released two weeks prior to the album on 1 September. Fender has said the track is the most personal on the album and that it shows the musical direction that he will be going in, both sonically and thematically.[47] Fender released his debut studio album, Hypersonic Missiles, on 13 September 2019. It topped the UK Albums Chart selling 41,000 copies in the first week; outselling the rest of the Top 5 combined.[48][49] Fender was awarded the number one album trophy by Alan Shearer for BBC’s Match of the Day.[50] The album was certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for selling over 100,000 units in the UK, two months after the album release, on 13 December 2019.[29]

Following the release of his album, Fender announced his biggest sell-out UK tour to date, for the beginning of 2020, with his first ever arena shows, including dates at Newcastle’s Utilita Arena and London’s Alexandra Palace.[51] Fender supported Liam Gallagher at a gig for Radio x at the O2 Ritz Manchester on 21 September.[52] On 10 December 2019, ‘All Is On My Side’ was released being described as one of his oldest songs and a staple of his live set, which didn’t make it on the album.[53]

Fender was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2020 Brit Awards, losing out to Lewis Capaldi.[54] He performed in the Live Lounge playing a cover of ‘Back To Black’ by Amy Winehouse, a previous Brit Award winner, which was later officially released.[55] Elton John personally invited Fender to perform at his annual AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Party after the 2020 Oscars and joined Fender on stage for a rendition of ‘Will We Talk?’.[56] On 13 February, the track ‘Hold Out’ was released which Fender said was to be the last song released of the ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ era.[57]

In March, Fender was forced to reschedule the tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[58] Later that year he was the first act to perform at the Virgin Money Unity Arena, a specially created socially distanced venue.[59] He played three unreleased songs at the gig; 17 Going Under’, ‘Angel In Lothian’, and ‘The Kitchen’.

On 24 November 2020, Fender released the track ‘Winter Song’, a cover of a 1970s track by Lindisfarne, which was premiered as Annie Mac's Hottest Record in the World. The track was released to raise money for Big Issue in collaboration with homelessness charity People Of The Streets.[60] Fender has said that the issue is ‘close to home’ for him as he has ‘family members and friends’ who have been homeless.[61] He performed the song with the Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage Gateshead Christmas Cracker event on 18 December.[62]

Personal life[edit]

Fender is a Newcastle United F.C. fan.[63] He was asked to be in the Ariana Grande video for ‘Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored’, however he turned it down as he was shooting a video for his own single ‘Play God’ on the same day.[64] He later covered the song in the Live Lounge. Fender had his Brit Award "made into a beer pump" at the Low Lights Tavern in North Shields.[65]


Studio albums[edit]

Extended plays[edit]

Backing band members[edit]

  • Dean Thompson – lead guitar
  • Tom Ungerer – bass guitar
  • Joe Atkinson – keyboards, synthesizers, guitar
  • Drew Michael – drums
  • Johnny "Blue Hat" Davis – saxophone

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organization Award Work Result
2017 BBC Sound of 2018 Himself Nominated[66]
Ticketweb Ones to Watch 2018 Included
2018 Vevo DSCVR 2019 Artists to Watch
BRIT Awards Critics' Choice Award Won[69]
Radio X Best Songs of 2018 "That Sound" Included
Metro Ones to Watch 2019 Himself
Radio X Great X-Pectations 2019
2019 MTV Ones to Watch 2019 Nominated[73]
Radio X Best of British 2019 "Hypersonic Missiles" #64[74]
"That Sound" #81[74]
"Play God" #90[74]
2020 BRIT Awards Best New Artist Himself Nominated[75]
Radio X Best of British 2020 "Hypersonic Missiles" #10[76]
"Play God" #68[76]
"Dead Boys" #72[76]
"That Sound" #82[76]


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External links[edit]