Georgie FameGeorgie Fame, nato Clive Powell (Leigh, 26 giugno 1943), è un cantautore, tastierista e chitarrista britannico.
Attivo dalla fine degli anni cinquanta, ha collaborato con molti musicisti fra i quali Van Morrison e Bill Wyman. I suoi tre successi che sono entratati fra i primi dieci in classifica hanno raggiunto il primo posto: Yeh, Yeh nel 1964, Get Away nel 1966 e The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde nel 1967.
BiografiaClive Powell nacque nel Lancashire, non lontano da Manchester. Il padre era un musicista dilettante nella banda della parrocchia, e questo favorì l'educazione musicale del giovane che a sette anni iniziò a prendere lezioni di pianoforte. Ma ben presto il futuro musicista restò magnetizzato dalle trasmissioni radio che presentavano Fats Domino, Little Richard e Jerry Lee Lewis, e volle perciò intensificare il proprio impegno strumentale sulla scorta del rock and roll che stava sempre più prendendo piede, unendosi ai Dominoes, un gruppo locale che suonava in locali pubblici della zona. Contemporaneamente trovò un lavoro come apprendista tessitore presso uno dei tanti cotonifici dell'area industriale.
L'anno seguente Powell si trasferì a Londra con la famiglia, e lì si riunì ai Blackjacks di Rory Blackwell, gruppo con il quale aveva già avuto modo di suonare. Blackwell gli procurò un contatto con l'impresario Larry Parnes, che aveva nella propria scuderia molti altri artisti di buon livello; diversi erano stati rinominati da Parnes con cognomi buffi (Vince Eager, Duffy Power, Dicky Pride, Johnny Gentle). Così l’impresario in trasferta a New York, dopo aver ascoltato Fame and Fortune di Elvis Presley, si precipitò a mandare in patria un telegramma nel quale ribattezzava Powell con il nome d’arte Georgie Fame.
A soli sedici anni Powell si trovò in tour a fianco di Marty Wilde, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Tony Sheridan, Freddie Canon, Jerry Keller, Dickie Pride, Joe Brown, Billy Fury. Fu quest'ultimo che lo volle con sé nel gruppo che lo accompagnava, i Blue Flames, che per qualche tempo accolse fra i suoi membri il batterista Jimmy Nicol. Nel 1962 la formazione divenne di casa al club londinese Flamingo di Soho, e vi rimase per tre anni durante i quali accumulò esperienza e crebbe in popolarità, dovuta anche a una sfilza di successi e al primo album, Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo. Sciolto il complesso, Fame ebbe collaborazioni con diversi musicisti di punta, fra i quali Mitch Mitchell e un giovane John McLaughlin dal brillante futuro. In questo periodo l’artista si avvicinò al jazz, incidendo un LP di grande fattura, Sound Venture, assieme alla Harry South Big Band, e tutto ciò lo portò a essere l’unico invitato al primo Motown Review nella tappa londinese, e nel biennio 67-68 lo lanciò in tournée in Europa dove era il vocalist dell’orchestra di Count Basie. Ma nonostante la qualità del lavoro, Sound Venture non ebbe l’atteso riscontro di vendite.
Nel 1963, Fame aveva conosciuto gli Animals, entrando in sintonia con il tastierista del gruppo Alan Price. Dopo aver seguito percorsi diversi durante gli anni sessanta, i due musicisti si rincontrarono come ospiti di un programma di Lulu, e decisero di formare un gruppo. Il duo si esibì dal 1970 al 1973, ospite fisso della trasmissione The Price and the Fame, sfornando il successo Rosetta e contribuendo alla notorietà di Fame. Nel 1974 il musicista riformò i Blue Flames con l'innesto del chitarrista Colin Green e con il ritorno al rhythm and blues, ma il tentativo non ebbe il successo sperato.
Tornato al jazz, nel 1981 Fame collaborò con la cantante Annie Ross nell'album In Hoagland che riprendeva le musiche di Hoagy Carmichael, e due anni dopo con Sylvia Vrethammar, in un tributo a Benny Goodman, In Goodmanland. Nel 1989 fu la volta di A Portrait of Chet, dedicato a Chet Baker. Nello stesso anno si unì a Van Morrison e con il cantante realizzò l'album Avalon Sunset, la prima opera di una lunga serie che vide insieme i due artisti negli anni novanta Nel 1991 uscì Cool Cat Blues, disco registrato a New York che vedeva insieme a Fame Van Morrison, Jon Hendricks, Boz Scaggs, Will Lee, Robben Ford, Richard Tee e Bob Malach. L'anno dopo fu pubblicato The Blues and Me, con la presenza di Dr. John, Phil Woods, Stanley Turrentine e Grady Tate, lavoro a cui seguirono altri dischi.
Nel 1997 il musicista si aggregò ai Rhythm Kings Bill, una nuova formazione creata da Bill Wyman che effettuò diverse tournée e realizzò cinque CD. Due anni dopo, Fame trasmetteva dai microfoni radiofonici della BBC ospitando vari musicisti che volta a volta si univano ai Blue Flames: fra di essi Madeline Bell, Bill Wyman, Zoot Money, Peter King, Steve Gray e Claire Martin. Nel 2000 l'Academie du Jazz francese decretò il CD di Fame Poet in New York il miglior album jazz vocale.
- Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo (1964)
- Fame at Last! (1965)
- Sweet Things (1966)
- Sound Venture (1966)
- Get Away (1966)
- The Two Faces of Fame (1967)
- The Third Face of Fame (1968)
- Seventh Son (1969)
- Shorty featuring Georgie Fame (1969)
- Georgie Does His Thing with Strings (1970)
- Going Home (1971)
- Fame and Price, Price and Fame: Together! (1972)
- All Me Own Work (1972)
- Georgie Fame (1973)
- Right Now (1979)
- Closing the Gap (1980)
- In Hoagland (1981), contiene le canzoni di Hoagy Carmichael (con Annie Ross)
- In Goodmansland (1983), contiene le canzoni di Benny Goodman (con Sylvia Vrethammar)
- Samba (1986)
- No Worries (1988)
- Cool Cat Blues (1991)
- Three Line Whip (1994)
- The Blues and Me (1996)
- How Long Has This Been Going On (Van Morrison con Georgie Fame & Friends) (1996)
- Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison (1996)
- Name Droppin': Live at Ronnie Scott's, Vol. 1 (1997)
- Walkin' Wounded: Live at Ronnie Scott's, Vol. 2 (1998)
- Endangered Species (con The Danish Radio Big Band) (registrato nel 1993, pubblicato nel 1999)
- Poet in New York (2000)
- Relationships (2001)
- The Birthday Big Band (registrato nel 1998, pubblicato nel 2007)
- Charleston (2007)
- Tone-Wheels 'A' Turnin' (2009)
Georgie Fame nel 1968
Fame is the only British pop star to have achieved three number one hits with his only Top 10 chart entries: "Yeh, Yeh" in 1964, "Get Away" in 1966 and "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967.
Early lifeFame was born in Leigh, Lancashire. He took piano lessons from the age of seven and on leaving Leigh Central County Secondary School at 15 he worked for a brief period in a cotton weaving mill and played piano for a band called the Dominoes in the evenings. After taking part in a singing contest at the Butlins Holiday Camp in Pwllheli, North Wales he was offered a job there by the band leader, early British rock'n'roll star Rory Blackwell.
At sixteen years of age, Fame went to London and, on the recommendation of Lionel Bart, entered into a management agreement with Larry Parnes, who had given new stage names to such artists as Marty Wilde and Billy Fury. Fame later recalled that Parnes had given him an ultimatum over his forced change of name: "It was very much against my will but he said, 'If you don't use my name, I won't use you in the show'".
Over the following year Fame toured the UK playing beside Wilde, Joe Brown, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and others. Fame played piano for Billy Fury in his backing band, the Blue Flames. When the backing band got the sack at the end of 1961, the band were re-billed as "Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames" and went on to enjoy great success with a repertoire largely of rhythm and blues numbers.
The Blue FlamesFame was influenced from early on by jazz and such blues musicians as Willie Mabon and Mose Allison, and was one of the first white artists to be influenced by the ska music he heard in Jamaican cafes in and around Ladbroke Grove. Black American soldiers who visited the Flamingo Club, where the band had a three-year residency, would play him the latest jazz and blues releases from America, "Midnight Special" by Jimmy Smith, "Grooving With Jug" by Gene Ammons and Richard "Groove" Holmes, and "Green Onions" by Booker T. & the M.G.'s. Fame later recalled:
... it was a great place to play, a midnight to 6am thing on Fridays and Saturdays, and it was full of American GIs who came in from their bases for the weekend. They brought records with them and one of them gave me "Green Onions" by Booker T & the MG's. I had been playing piano up to that point but I bought a Hammond organ the next day."In August 1963 the band took a weekly Friday-night spot at "The Scene" on Great Windmill Street. In September 1963 the band recorded its debut album, Rhythm And Blues at the Flamingo, live at the Flamingo Club. Produced by Ian Samwell, who had previously played with Cliff Richard, and engineered by Glyn Johns, the album was released, in place of a planned single, on the EMI Columbia label. It failed to reach the chart but the October 1964 follow-up, Fame at Last, achieved No. 15 on the UK album chart. In 1964 Fame and the band appeared on five episodes of ITV's Ready Steady Go!
When Ronan O'Rahilly, who then managed him, could not get Fame's first record played by the BBC and was also turned down by Radio Luxembourg, he announced that he would start his own radio station to promote the record. The station became the offshore pirate radio station Radio Caroline.Fame subsequently enjoyed regular chart success with singles, having three Top 10 hits, which all made number one in the UK Singles Chart. His version of "Yeh, Yeh", released on 14 January 1965, spent two weeks at No. 1 on the UK singles chart and a total of 12 weeks on the chart. The following-up single, in 1965, was "In The Meantime", which also charted in both UK and US. Fame made his US television debut that same year on the NBC Hullabaloo series. His single "Get Away", released on 21 July 1966, spent one week at No. 1 on the UK chart and 11 weeks on the chart in total. The song was originally written as a jingle for a television petrol advertisement. It was later used as the theme tune for a quiz show on Australian television. After the song was a hit Fame disbanded his band and went solo.
SoloFame's version of the Bobby Hebb song "Sunny" made No. 13 in the UK charts in September 1966. The follow-up, "Sitting in the Park", a Billy Stewart cover, made No. 12. His greatest chart success was "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967, which was a number one hit in the United Kingdom, and No.7 in the United States. "Yeh Yeh" and "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs.
Price of FameFame continued playing into the 1970s, having a hit, "Rosetta", with his close friend Alan Price, ex-keyboard player of the Animals, in 1971, and they worked together extensively for a time. In 1974, Fame reformed the Blue Flames and also began to sing with Europe's finest orchestras and big bands, a musical tradition he still currently pursues. During the 1970s, he also wrote jingles for several UK radio and TV commercials, and composed the music for the feature films Entertaining Mr Sloane (1970) and The Alf Garnett Saga (1972). The theme tune from Entertaining Mr Sloane was issued as the B-side of the 1970 single "Somebody Stole My Thunder".
Recent workFame has collaborated with other successful popular musicians. He has been a core member of Van Morrison's band, as well as his musical producer. Fame also played keyboards and sang harmony vocals on such tracks as "In the Days before Rock 'n' Roll" from the album Enlightenment, while still recording and touring as an artist in his own right. Fame played organ on all of the Van Morrison albums between 1989 and 1997, and starred at Terry Dillon's 60th-birthday party on 10 May 2008. Morrison refers to Fame in the line "I don't run into Mr. Clive" in his song "Don't Go to Nightclubs Anymore" featured on the 2008 Keep It Simple album. Fame appeared as a special guest on Morrison's television concert show presented by BBC Four series on 25 and 27 April 2008.
Fame was also founding member of his friend Bill Wyman's early band Rhythm Kings, touring with the band. He has also worked with Count Basie, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Joan Armatrading and the Verve.
Fame has frequently played residences at jazz clubs, such as Ronnie Scott's. He has also played organ on Starclub's album. He was the headline act on the Sunday night at the Jazz World stage at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival, this following a headline gig the night before at the "Midsummer Music @ Spencers" festival in Essex.
On 18 April 2010, Fame, together with his two sons Tristan Powell (guitar) and James Powell (drums), performed at the Live Room at Twickenham Stadium, as part of the 10th-birthday celebrations of "The Eel Pie Club". Part of the proceeds from the concert will benefit The Otakar Kraus Trust, which provides music and voice therapy for children and young people with physical and mental difficulties. The trio performed later that same year at the opening night at Towersey Festival.
Fame has made several albums on his own Three Line Whip label since the late 1990s, mostly new original compositions with a jazz/R&B framework.
In July 2014 Fame played two consecutive dates at the village hall in Goring-on-Thames and then at the Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire
Fame was featured in Diana Krall's cover of his early hit "Yeh Yeh" on Krall's Wildflower album released on 3 February 2015. In October 2015 Fame announced a 12-date UK tour and on 4 October was a guest on BBC Radio 2's Weekend Wogan.
Personal lifeIn 1972, Fame married Nicolette (née Harrison), Marchioness of Londonderry, the former wife of the 9th Marquess. Lady Londonderry already had given birth to one of Fame's children during her marriage to the marquess; the child, Tristan, bore the courtesy title Viscount Castlereagh and was believed to be heir to the marquisate. When tests determined that the child was actually Fame's, the Londonderrys divorced.The couple had another son, James, during their marriage.
Nicolette Powell died on 13 August 1993, after jumping off the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Fame said that they had stayed happily married because of her "charm, beauty, forbearance and understanding".
Views and advocacyFame is a supporter of the Countryside Alliance and has played concerts to raise funds for the organisation.
Bill Wyman, Rhythm Kings, Middelburg, Georgie Fame on keyboards