It’s the 4th of December and time to open yet another door on my Advent Calendar musical extravaganza. As it is a songs with numbers in the title theme this year it is obviously number four today. I have two very different but excellent songs for you today.
First it’s the Boomtown Rats with “Mary Of The Fourth Form” or “Mary Of Year 10” as it would have to be called nowadays. The song was released in 1977 and became the band’s second hit. It reached number 15 in the UK and number 12 in Ireland. The band broke up in 1986 and reformed earlier this year with great success. Albeit without two of the original members; Gerry Cott and Johnnie Fingers. Singer Bob Geldof once wrote for the NME. The band also number a few famous people among their fans, including Jane Horrocks, J K Rowling, Jim Kerr off of Simple Minds and Courtney Love.
Second song of the day today comes from the late, great country star Faron Young. It is a song that was originally released in 1971 it reached the number 3 spot in the UK the following year. It only made it to number 92 on the Billboard chart in the US. However it did become Faron’s first number one on the country music charts. A live clip of Faron Young singing the song was the first song to be played on the Country Music Television (CMT) cable channel when it was launched in 1983. The song has been covered by Tom Jones in the 1980s. It is also heavily referenced in the fabulous “Faron Young” from Prefab Sprout which was a UK single in 1985. Disappointingly it only made number 74 in the UK charts. The cat owned by Frieda in the Peanuts cartoon strip was named Faron as Charles Schultz admired the singer.
this man is a Knight of the Realm................ no seriously, he is!
I think it would be fair to say that there is one area of my life that my Mother may be disappointed in me. That is my dislike of the institution of the British Royal family and all condescending pomposity it has. Yes in case you hadn’t noticed I am very much a Republican (not in the US political sense obviously) and most definitely not a Royalist. Having posted recently about Mick Jagger (aka Sir Michael Philip Jagger) turning down afternoon tea with ‘Call Me Dave’ Cameron and Boris Johnson it’s strangely appropriate that a story about those who turned down Royal Honours appeared in the news today. Following a freedom of information request by the BBC a list of those now deceased who have turned down various Royal Honours form 1951 and 1999 has been published. There are 277 people on the list including artists Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and LS Lowry and authors Roald Dahl and Aldous Huxley. There are no rock or pop stars on the list. Read the full story on the BBC site by clicking here.
Sir Tom shows off his first house
However it got me thinking about those rock and pop stars who have accepted honours and those that haven’t. The obvious list of those who have are the rock and pop ‘Sirs’ Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones and Bono and Bob Geldof who as Irish citizens are Honorary Knights of the British Empire (KBE). Add to that list Dame Shirley Bassey. A large number of British musicians have received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), which is the highest honour a British subject can receive below a knighthood or damehood. Those include: Annie Lennox, Roger Daltrey, Eric Clapton, Sting, Robert Plant the Bee Gees and Rod Stewart. It was alleged that at the time of Elton receiving his knighthood Rod was just a little jealous.
Macca ponders his failure to win top score in Rate My Mullet
What really interests me though are those rock and pop stars who turned down Royal honours. David Bowie turned down a CBE in 2000 and a knighthood in 2003 and was quoted as saying that “was not what he spent his life working for”. George Melly and Paul Weller also turned down the offer of a CBE in 2001 and 2007 respectively. Thankfully Keith Richards also turned down a CBE; I’d have been gutted if he had accepted! His comment on Jagger’s knighthood was that he felt it was ludicrous. Influential guitarist and stalwart of the Shadows Hank Marvin turned down an OBE as did Dub Poet Benjamin Zephaniah. At the time Zephaniah publicly stated ‘I get angry when I hear the word ’empire’; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds me of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised’ An MBE was offered to John Lydon who turned it down. I’m pretty amazed that they offered him one really.
Never a Knight of the realm but the only one who came close to looking the part as opposed to looking like an anagram of part
The four Beatles all received the MBE in 1965. John Lennon later returned his to the Queen in 1969 accompanied by a note which read ‘I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts’. It has been alleged that his Aunt Mimi who brought him up and upon whose mantelpiece the award lived was not amused!
Getting closer to the big day by the hour now and behind one of the few remaining perforated cardboard door flaps on my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar today, December 23rd, is a song that has been the Christmas number one on three separate occasions and technically by different acts each time. It was number one firstly in the Christmas of 1984, then in 1989 and most recently in 2004. It was the last UK Christmas number one before the X Factor winners had four years in a row, finally broken last year by Rage Against The Machine. You have probably guessed that the song is “Do They Know It’s Christmas” originally by Band Aid in 1984, then Band Aid II (1989) followed by Band Aid 20 (2004). Maybe it’ll be top again for the 30th anniversary in 2014.
It was number one fora total of 12 weeks; 5 weeks in 1984, 3 weeks in 1989 and 4 weeks in 2004. The song was written by Bob Geldof off of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure off of Ultravox after they had seen the news coverage of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia. They had aimed to raise money for famine relief and the single and subsequent Live Aid concert probably went way beyond their initial expectations. It sold more than a million copies in its first week alone and went on to sell 3.5 million copies. It remained the fastest and highest selling UK single until Elton John’s rerecording of “Candle In The Wind” following the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. The song was recorded on November 29th 1984 at SARM Studios in London after Geldof gathered the great and good of pop music at the time. The opening line was originally written for David Bowie, who was unfortunately unable to make it, so it was done by Paul Young. The single was released just 4 days after the recording on December 3rd 1984 and remember this was way before the days of downloads.
Midge Ure produced the original version, it was offered to Trevor Horn but he was not in the UK at the time. Stock, Aitken and Waterman produced the 1989 version. Some artists such as David Bowie and Paul McCartney were unable to be at the recording of the original so provided messages that appeared on the B-Side. Members of Bananarama appeared on the 1984 and 1989 version whilst Bono sang the same line in 1984 as he did in 2004; ‘Well, tonight, thank God it’s them, instead of you’. On the 2004 version Dizzee Rascal also added some new lyrics.
The artists that appeared on each version are listed below;
BAND AID (1984)
Bono, U2, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, Boomtown Rats, Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet, Midge Ure, Ultravox, Simon Le Bon, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Heaven 17, Marilyn, Bananarama, Jody Watley, Paul Weller, Kool & The Gang, George Michael , Status Quo, Boy George, Culture Club, Sting, Holly Johnson, Big Country
BAND AID II (1989)
Bananarama, Big Fun, Bros, Cathy Dennis, D Mob, Jason Donovan, Kevin Godley, Glen Goldsmith, Kylie Minogue, Pasadenas, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Somerville, Sonia, Lisa Stansfield, Technotronic, Wet Wet Wet
BAND AID 20 (2004)
Bono, Daniel Bedingfield, Natasha Bedingfield, Vishal Das, Busted, Chris Martin, Dido, Dizzee Rascal, Ms Dynamite, Skye Edwards, Estelle, Neil Hannon, Justin Hawkins, Jamelia, Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley, Beverley Knight, Lemar, Shaznay Lewis, Katie Melua, Róisín Murphy, Feeder, Snow Patrol, Rachel Stevens, Joss Stone, Sugababes, Thrills, Turin Brakes, Robbie Williams, Will Young, Francis Healy, Danny Goffey, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Paul McCartney, Francis Healy, Andy Dunlop, Dougie Payne
If you would like to donate to Oxfam then click here
Back in the days when everyone knew me as Billy, now it’s more like Old Bill
This may seem a bit self-indulgent, but is it just me or is there anyone else out there who either loves or loathes songs that include their name? My name is William, but these days most people know me as Bill. As a boy I was known as Billy and some of my Scottish relatives called me Willie, or Wullie as it sounds in a strong Glaswegian accent. I also suffered from being called Little Billy for quite a few years as my Dad and grandfather were fellow Williams. So at the top there was my Grandad, Bill then my Dad, Billy and finally me, Little Billy. Perhaps that is one of the reasons my son is not called William.
Anyway onto the songs, I have always thought that derivations of my name feature in a hell of a lot of songs, but that is probably because I listen out for it. I’m not sure which the most common names used in songs are but I reckon possibly Johnny for the boys and perhaps Susan/ Sue/ Suzie for the girls. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well. I was also surprised to find that there are far more William/ Billy songs that I like than those I don’t like
Now onto those William related songs. I have put them into three categories; The Good (those that are ok), the Bad (those that I really don’t like) and the Ugly (reserved for the one William or Billy song that I really, really do not like) I have included songs where my name is included in the lyric and not necessarily in the title.
“William It Was Really Nothing” – Smiths. Probably one of my most favourite William songs. This clip is the famous Top Of The Pops appearance from 1984 where Morrissey pulls open his shirt to reveal the words ‘MARRY ME’
“Wedding Bell Blues” – 5th Dimension. This act featured Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Junior who went on to have a massive hit in 1976 with “You Don’t Have To Be A Star”
“All The Young Dudes” – Mott The Hoople. Simply for the ‘Billy rocked all night about suicide’ line. This is the song that Bowie gave to Mott to ensure that they didn’t break up. Apparently they turned down “Suffragette City” and Drive-In Saturday”. This version is from the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert at Wembley in 1992 and features the remaining members of Queen, David Bowie, Ian Hunter and the late, great Mick Ronson
“Rat Trap” – Boomtown Rats. This one is here as one of the songs main protagonists is Billy. Apparently when Bob Geldof was unsure about releasing this song. He played a demo of it to Phil Lynott off of Thin Lizzy who said that if Geldof didn’t do it he certainly would
“My Girl Bill” – Jim Stafford. This song has a great twist and check out the amazing shirt collar on Mr Stafford
“Billy” – James Blunt. I never have liked James Blunt, I just don’t like his voice, so I guess there was no chance for this song with me
“Little Willy” – Sweet. I have grown to like this a bit more over the years. But to have a song like this out when you’re going through adolescence is no fun. A great opportunity for other kids to diss the size of one’s budding manhood!
“Which Way You Going Billy?” – Poppy Family. A Canadian act with what for me ranks as one of the most insipid songs of the sixties
“Billy Don’t Be A Hero” – Paper Lace. What can I say? I really, really, really, really dislike this song. It was a UK number one in 1974 for Paper Lace, but the US hit was by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods
To paraphrase the words of the Beatles, “it was 25 years ago today that Mr Geldof got the bands to play!” Yes folks 25 years ago this very day (July 13th 2010) the event that was Live Aid took place featuring most of the great and good in music at that time. Looking back on it now it was a fantastic achievement engineered by Bob Geldof. I watched the whole of the live broadcast on the BBC which kicked off at midday with Status Quo performing “Rocking All Over The World”. It really launched a couple of acts into the stratosphere for me, notably U2 and Queen, although Freddie and the boys were close to it anyway. In my opinion there were some obvious disappointments as well; Bob Dylan’s performance, no Jacko appearance, no Prince appearance, Simon Le Bon’s vocals and Spandau Ballet’s suits.
Phil Collins played on both sides of the Atlantic having flown to the USA in Concorde. Sting performed with Dire Straits. Mick Jagger performed with Tina Turner. Paul McCartney’s microphone failed to work and David Bowie gave up one his songs to allow a short documentary to be shown, which helped raise even more money. The total raised was around £150 million toward famine relief in Africa, especially Ethiopia. The Wembley leg of the concert was attended by 72,000 people and the Philadelphia leg by 99,000 people. Click on Wembley or Philadelphia in the previous sentence for the set lists at each show. But more than 2 billion people watched it around the world! In a strange little incident at the Wembley gig the helicopters carrying the artists were allowed to land at a London Transport Bowling Club near the stadium. The interesting thing here is that there was a wedding reception being held there at the time. So the happy couple might have been inconvenienced but they did have a string of music superstars appearing in their wedding pictures!
Will anything like this ever happen again? Well there was Live 8, but that was small by comparison. Live Aid was a tremendous event that was very much of its time and to me it seems like a lifetime ago. Will it need to happen again? I think it will for the sake of Africa and other parts of the Third World. But for now enjoy some of the finest Live Aid moments below, including the heartbreaking CBC video introduced by David Bowie and soundtracked by the Cars “Drive”
Two posts in a row, wow I haven’t done that in ages! Just a few more ‘onthisdays’ today (July 13th) dear readers
Another entry for that bunch of pensionable rockers the Rolling Stones on this day in 1963 they played their first ever gig outside London. They appeared as the support band to the Hollies at the Alcove Club in Middlesborough in the north east of England.
Being in the Stones was becoming a bit of a drag these days
On this day in 1965 Paul McCartney received five Ivor Novello awards at the Savoy in London, he arrived late as he had apparently forgotten about the engagement. John Lennon refused to attend, presumably in protest at something! Sticking with the Beatles on this day in 1969 the band’s single “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” was banned by more than 100 US Radio Stations because it contained what US Radio authorities saw as offensive in the line “Christ you know it ain’t easy”. Bloody hell these guys were easily offended weren’t they?
Despite being given a piggy-back from Paul John still couldn’t be bothered to turn up at the Novello Awards
July 13th 1997 saw Anthony Kiedis off of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers undergo five hours of surgery after a serious motorbike accident.I recently read Kiedis’ superb autobiography entitled ‘Scar Tissue’ it is one of the most brutally honest rock biographies I have ever read. He deals very openly with his addictions and relationships. I never knew much about him before I read the book and now I have immense respect for him. If you read no other music books, read this one! Incidentally in the book he describes how it took five doses of morphine to kill the pain from the motorbike accident, largely due to an intolerance built up from prolonged heroin use. Anyway here are the RHCP’s with “Scar Tissue” live from Slane Castle in Dublin, well not actually live this one hot minute but obviously live when it was recorded!
After his motorbike mishap Anthony took to riding bikes without engines, I wonder if he used stabiliser wheels too?
On this day in 1985 Duran Duran became the first artists to have a US number one single with a James Bond theme when they reached the top of the pile with “A View To A Kill“. Personally I thought that their performance of the song at Live Aid was abysmal, which brings us to………..
Andy Taylor and Simon LeBon argue over which one of them was the most crap at Live Aid
……… on this day in 1985 at 12.01 UK time Status Quo kicked off the Live Aid extravaganza which was largely put together by Bob Geldof and raised millions for famine relief in Africa. It was a joint event where Quo kicked off at Wembley Stadium, the US show was at the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. The shows were viewed by more than 1.5 billion people in 160 countries (that is quite a bit more than view my blog each day!). For me the best performances on the day were Queen, U2 and David Bowie (well I would say Bowie wouldn’t I?) Here is Mr Bowie with “Heroes” from that very show! Incidentally Bowie gave up one of his song slots to air a hard hitting video of the famine victims in Africa which was soundtracked by the song “Drive” from the Cars. It was truly heartbreaking. What were your own favourite memories of Live Aid? Were you there?
Chas and Di realise that they are a week early for the Polo and Equestrian finals when they see the Quo on stage
Hello again everyone how are well all then? I hope that you’re all ok because I have some very sad, bad, bleak news to impart. You really should be sitting down when you read this. Trust me it is the worst music news I’ve had to deliver since I started blogging, I know that’s only six weeks ago but this is really dreadful. So are you sitting comfortably? This is a bit like ‘Watch With Mother’ now isn’t it? Right I’ve been putting it off for long enough, now I have to tell you, stay in your seats. “Agadoo” by Black Lace is going to be reissued soon. See I told you it was awful news. It will be a 2009 remix and the video has been directed by Kevin Kennedy who used to play Curly Watts in Coronation Street, he also appears in it. He must need the money because this is a crime against music. The song was originally released in 1984 and made it to number 2 in the UK charts, held off the top spot by George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”. Click here to see just how bad it is, but be warned click at your own peril!
They should be arrested for those haircuts alone never mind that bloody song!
I have some other news too, not as bad as the first piece though. Apparently Ozzy Osbourne has had a premonition of his death. This is the quoted comment from Ozzy, “Some bird with some very rare virus is going to fly over my head. It’s going to shit on me and I’m going to melt on the floor” I presume he means a bird of the feathered variety. Can we also assume that it has nothing to do with drumming up publicity for the new series of ‘The Osbournes’ which will be called “The Osbournes Reloaded”. Reviews so far have completely panned it. perhaps he could do a deal with Satan and get that bird to shit on Black Lace instead?
Will it be the lesser spotted Sharon Bird that shits on Ozzy's head?
Have you been following the coverage of the G20 summit? There is actually a music link here too, not the fact that Bob Geldof was pontificating as usual either. the Queen usually gives visiting world leaders and dignitaries a signed framed photograph of her and Prince Phillip, she receives a wide range of gifts in return. This week she received a video iPod from the Obama’s. It was preloaded with photos of the Queen’s state visits to the US in 1957 and 2007, some video and audio of Barack Obama’s speeches including the inauguration and 40 great show tunes. The Queen loves musicals apparently and the gift also came with a rare songbook which was signed by Rodgers off of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
And finally on the news front the two remaining Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will be taking part in a live public webcast later today, April 3rd (12 noon EST). The pair will be helping promote the David Lynch Foundation’s initiative to teach at least one million ‘at-risk’ youths to meditate. perhaps they’re seeking “Instant Karma” The pair along with many other rock luminaries have been practising Transcendental meditation for years. To take part in the conference visit davidlynchfoundation.org Later this evening McCartney and Starr will be joined by a cast of many at new York’s Radio City for a benefit concert to raise money for the David Lynch Foundation. Performers include Eddie Vedder (off of Pearl Jam), Moby, Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, Paul Horn, Bettye La Vette, Mike Love (off of the Beach Boys) and Jim James (off of My Morning Jacket).
David is ready to release his chicken over Ozzy's head
Have any of you seen the BBC documentary ‘The Queens Of British Pop’? I saw part 1 this week and it was rather good. It featured Dusty Springfield, Sandie Shaw, Suzi Quatro, Siouxse Sioux and the mighty Kate Bush. Click here for the link. yes I know Suzi is American but she did have her biggest success in the UK. As for Kate well on this day in 1979 she made her live debut at the Liverpool Empire. Kate is also the number one search term used which arrived at this very blog. More than 700 searches for Kate have found their way here. The next two are Pink Floyd with over 600 and Lily Allen with nearly 200 plus another 10 for Lily Allen Naked!
Kate has just released a Falcon towards Ozzy, perhaps it would have been easier to unleash the Hounds Of Love!
Here comes another blatantly shameless plug for my son Luke’s band Steal The Smile. They are playing at the Face Bar in Reading this evening so go and check them out. If you can’t make it get yourself over to their MySpace page by clicking here and let me know what you think of them.
I’ll end todays post with a couple of ‘onthisdays’ and the birthdays will return another time! Firstly on this day in 1975 Steve Miller was charged with setting fire to the clothes of a friend, Benita Diorio. Presumably not a close friend or perhaps he had the hots for her! Police arrived at Miller’s house to find Benita trying to put out the flames. Miller began fighting with some of the policemen and was eventually charged with resisting arrest.
Steve plays on despite the fact that his friend's wardrobe is on fire behind him
And finally on this day in 1993 the Bluebells were at number one in the UK with “Young At Heart” The song had originally been released some ten years earlier. But this time around it was the beneficiary of a Volkswagen TV advertising campaign. Here’s one for you fact fans too, the song was co written by Siobhan Fahey off of Shakespears Sister and Bananarama!
The Bluebells contemplate drowning themselves after hearing that Agadoo is about to be released again!