Georgie Fame

Last updated

Georgie Fame
Georgie Fame 2009.jpg
Background information
Birth nameClive Powell
Also known asGeorgie Fortune
Born (1943-06-26) 26 June 1943 (age 77)
Leigh, Lancashire, England
Years active1959–present
Labels Columbia, Polydor, CBS, Pye
Associated acts Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Alan Price, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, Van Morrison

Georgie Fame (born Clive Powell; 26 June 1943) is an English R&B and jazz musician. [2] Fame, who had a string of 1960s hits, is still performing, often working with contemporaries such as Alan Price, [3] Van Morrison and Bill Wyman. [4] Fame is the only British music act 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 life

Powell was born at 1 Cotton Street, Leigh, Lancashire, England. [2] 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 and roll star Rory Blackwell.

At sixteen years of age, Powell 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 artists Marty Wilde and Billy Fury. [2] 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'". [5]

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, it was 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 Flames

Fame and Rick Brown performing at The Grand Gala du Disque, Amsterdam on Saturday, 2 October 1966 GeorgieFame1966.jpg
Fame and Rick Brown performing at The Grand Gala du Disque, Amsterdam on Saturday, 2 October 1966

Fame was influenced by jazz, blues, and the musicians Mose Allison and Willie Mabon. He was one of the first white musicians to be influenced by ska after hearing it in cafés in Jamaica and Ladbroke Grove in England. He recalled The Flamingo Club was "full of American GIs who came in from their bases for the weekend" who played for him the song "Green Onions" by Booker T. & the M.G.'s. "I had been playing piano up to that point but I bought a Hammond organ the next day." [6]

In 1963, the band recorded its debut album, Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo. [2] Produced by Ian Samwell and engineered by Glyn Johns, [7] the album was released in place of a planned single by EMI Columbia. It failed to reach the chart, but the October 1964 follow-up, Fame at Last, reached No. 15 on the UK Albums Chart.

Ronan O'Rahilly failed to get Fame's first record played by the BBC. [8] After it was rejected by Radio Luxembourg, O'Rahilly announced he would start his own radio station to promote the record. [9] The station became the offshore pirate radio station Radio Caroline. [10]

Fame enjoyed continual chart success, with three number one hits in the UK Singles Chart. [4] His version of "Yeh, Yeh", released on 14 January 1965, spent two weeks at No. 1 on the UK singles chart. [2] "In the Meantime" charted in both UK and US. Fame made his US television debut that same year on Hullabaloo . 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. The song was written as a jingle for a petrol commercial. [11] His version of the Bobby Hebb song "Sunny" made No. 13 in the UK charts in September 1966. [12] His greatest chart success was in 1967 when "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" became a number one hit in the UK, and No. 7 in the US. [2] "Yeh, Yeh" and "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" sold over one million copies and were awarded gold discs. [13]

Georgie Fame at Grona Lund, Stockholm, 1968 Georgie Fame in Sweden 1968.jpg
Georgie Fame at Gröna Lund, Stockholm, 1968


Fame continued playing into the 1970s, having a hit with "Rosetta" with his friend Alan Price in 1971, and they worked together extensively. [2] In 1974, he reunited the Blue Flames and began to sing with European orchestras and big bands. He wrote jingles for radio and TV commercials and composed for the films Entertaining Mr Sloane (1970) and The Alf Garnett Saga (1972).

He became a member of Van Morrison's band, as well as his musical producer. [2] He played keyboards and sang harmony vocals on "In the Days Before Rock 'n' Roll" from the album Enlightenment while recording and touring as a solo act. He played organ on Van Morrison's 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" on the 2008 Keep It Simple album. Fame appeared as a guest on Morrison's television concert presented by BBC Four on 25 and 27 April 2008.

Fame was a founding member of Bill Wyman's band Rhythm Kings. He also worked with Count Basie, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Joan Armatrading, and the Verve. [14]

Fame has played residences at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club. [2] He 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 after performing at the Midsummer Music at Spencers festival in Essex. [15]

On 18 April 2010, Fame and his sons Tristan Powell (guitar) and James Powell (drums) performed at the Live Room at Twickenham Stadium [16] for the tenth birthday celebrations of The Eel Pie Club. [17] Part of the proceeds from the concert benefitted 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 year at the Towersey Festival. [18]

In July 2014, Fame played at the village hall in Goring-on-Thames [19] and then at the Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire. [20]

Personal life

In 1972, Fame married Nicolette (née Harrison), Marchioness of Londonderry, the former wife of the 9th Marquess. Lady Londonderry 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. [21] When tests determined the child was Fame's, the Londonderrys divorced. [22] The couple had another son, James, during their marriage.

Nicolette Powell died on 13 August 1993, after jumping off the Clifton Suspension Bridge. [23] In an interview before her death, Fame said that they had stayed happily married because of her "charm, beauty, forbearance and understanding". [24]

Fame supports the Countryside Alliance and has played concerts to raise funds for the organisation. [25]


Related Research Articles

Van Morrison Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician

Sir George Ivan Morrison is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and record producer. His professional career began as a teenager in the late 1950s, playing a variety of instruments including guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone for various Irish showbands, covering the popular hits of that time. Known as "Van the Man" to his fans, he rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Northern Irish R&B and rock band Them, with whom he recorded the garage band classic "Gloria". His solo career began in 1967, under the pop-hit orientated guidance of Bert Berns with the release of the hit single "Brown Eyed Girl". After Berns's death, Warner Bros. Records bought out his contract and allowed him three sessions to record Astral Weeks (1968). Though this album eventually garnered praise, it was initially a poor seller.

Jimmy Reed American blues musician and songwriter

Mathis James Reed was an American blues musician and songwriter. His particular style of electric blues was popular with blues as well as non-blues audiences. Reed's songs such as "Honest I Do" (1957), "Baby What You Want Me to Do" (1960), "Big Boss Man" (1961), and "Bright Lights, Big City" (1961) appeared on both Billboard magazine's rhythm and blues and Hot 100 singles charts.

Bobby Bland American blues and soul musician

Robert Calvin Bland, known professionally as Bobby "Blue" Bland, was an American blues singer.

The OJays

The O'Jays are an American R&B group from Canton, Ohio, formed in 1958 and originally consisting of Eddie Levert, Walter Lee Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. The O'Jays made their first chart appearance with the minor hit "Lonely Drifter" in 1963, but reached their greatest level of success once Gamble & Huff, a team of producers and songwriters, signed them to their Philadelphia International label in 1972. With Gamble & Huff, the O'Jays emerged at the forefront of Philadelphia soul with "Back Stabbers" (1972), and topped the US Billboard Hot 100 the following year with "Love Train." Several other US R&B hits followed, and The O'Jays were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2013 they were inducted into National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

Yeh, Yeh 1964 single by Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames

"Yeh, Yeh" is a Latin soul tune that was written as an instrumental by Rodgers Grant and Pat Patrick, and first recorded by Mongo Santamaría on his 1963 album Watermelon Man! Lyrics were written for it shortly thereafter by Jon Hendricks of the vocal group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.

Blue-eyed soul is rhythm and blues and soul music performed by white artists. The slang, coined in the mid-1960s, was invoked by music magazines in the 1960s such as Life who used it for the Righteous Brothers, Barry McGuire, Sonny & Cher; other times it meant style and mannerisms associated with soul music sung by white musicians. Though many rhythm and blues radio stations in the United States in that period would only play music by black musicians, some began to play music by White acts considered to have "soul feeling" and their music was then described as "blue-eyed soul."

Alan Price is an English musician, who was the original keyboardist for the British band The Animals, and who is also known for his subsequent solo work.

The Jeff Beck Group English blues rock band

The Jeff Beck Group was a British rock band formed in London in January 1967 by former Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck. Their innovative approach to heavy-sounding blues, rhythm and blues and rock was a major influence on popular music.

Big Jim Sullivan English musician

James George Tomkins, known professionally as Big Jim Sullivan, was an English musician whose career started in 1958.

<i>How Long Has This Been Going On</i> (Van Morrison album) 1995 studio album by Van Morrison

How Long Has This Been Going On is the twenty-fourth studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, "with Georgie Fame and Friends", released in December 1995 in the UK. It charted at No. 1 on Top Jazz Albums.


Noisettes are an indie rock band from London, currently composed of singer and bassist Shingai Shoniwa and guitarist Dan Smith. The band first achieved commercial success and nationwide recognition with the second single of their second album, "Don't Upset the Rhythm " which reached number two on the UK Singles Chart in Spring 2009.

Night Train (Jimmy Forrest composition)

"Night Train" is a twelve-bar blues instrumental standard first recorded by Jimmy Forrest in 1951.

Moondance (Van Morrison song) 1970 single by Van Morrison

"Moondance" is a song recorded by Northern Irish singer and songwriter Van Morrison and is the title song on his third studio album Moondance (1970). It was written by Morrison, and produced by Morrison and Lewis Merenstein.

Jackie Wilson Said (Im in Heaven When You Smile) 1972 single by Van Morrison

"Jackie Wilson Said " is a song written and performed by Van Morrison and featured as the opening track on his sixth studio album, Saint Dominic's Preview. It was released by Warner Bros. in July 1972 as the first of three singles from the album and charted at number sixty-one on the US Billboard Hot 100. Both the music and lyrics are inspired by rhythm and blues singer Jackie Wilson and his song "Reet Petite", which is directly quoted in the song.

Get Away (Georgie Fame song) 1966 single by Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames

"Get Away" is a song by Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, written by Georgie Fame. Released on the Columbia label, it topped the UK Singles Chart for one week in July 1966. Some original pressings and reissues, as well as BMI, give its title as a single word, "Getaway".

<i>Sound Venture</i> 1966 studio album by Georgie Fame

Sound Venture is a jazz album recorded by Georgie Fame and the Harry South Big Band in 1966. Featuring many of Britain's top jazz musicians, and arranged by big band arranger Harry South, it marked a departure from Fame's R&B hits with the Blue Flames. The record peaked at number 9 on the national albums chart in the UK.

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames were a noted British rhythm and blues group during the 1960s whose repertoire spanned jazz, soul, ska, and calypso. They were also the backing band for rock and roll singer Billy Fury. At the end of 1961, their piano player Georgie Fame took over as vocalist and they went on to enjoy great success without Fury. They were influenced by Jon Hendricks, Mose Allison and blues musicians such as Willie Mabon. The group found other influences in ska, which could be heard in Jamaican cafes in and around Ladbroke Grove frequented by the group's Jamaican born trumpeter Eddie Thornton. During the group's three-year residency at The Flamingo Club, Fame heard the latest jazz and blues from America, and it was Booker T. & the M.G.'s "Green Onions" which inspired him to take up playing Hammond organ with the band.

British rhythm and blues was a musical movement that developed in the United Kingdom between the late 1950s and the early 1960s, and reached a peak in the mid-1960s. It overlapped with, but was distinct from, the broader British beat and more purist British blues scenes, attempting to emulate the music of American blues and rock and roll pioneers, such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. It often placed greater emphasis on guitars and was often played with greater energy.

The Flamingo Club

The Flamingo Club was a nightclub in Soho, London, between 1952 and 1969. It was located at 33–37 Wardour Street from 1957 onwards and played an important role in the development of British rhythm and blues and jazz. During the 1960s, the Flamingo was one of the first clubs to employ fully amplified stage sound and used sound systems provided by ska musicians from the Caribbean. The club had a wide social appeal and was a favourite haunt for musicians, including the Beatles.

<i>Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo</i> 1964 live album by Georgie Fame

Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo is a live rhythm and blues album recorded by Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames at the Flamingo Club in September 1963 and released by Columbia Records in 1964. It was the first album on which Fame appeared.


  1. "Georgie Fame | Biography & History". AllMusic . Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 452. ISBN   1-85227-745-9.
  3. "How We Met: 46. Georgie Fame and Alan Price". The Independent . 22 October 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  4. 1 2 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records. p. 194. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  5. Rudland, D. (2010), CD booklet notes to Georgie Fame: Mod Classics 1964–1966, Ace Records, CDBGPD 206
  6. Archived 9 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Johnny Gunnell, cover liner notes on Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo, Polydor RSO, SPELP80.
  8. Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Archived 15 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  10. "The Offshore Radio Revolution in Britain 1964 - 2004 - Edited Entry". 31 October 2004. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  11. "UKMIX – Articles – Chart Of All Time – 1966". Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  12. "Georgie Fame". 26 June 1943. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  13. Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins. pp.  174, 220. ISBN   0-214-20512-6.
  14. Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  15. "Spencers – Spencers Events". Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  16. "Yeh Yeh Georgie Fame at the Live Room". Richmond and Twickenham Times . 19 April 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  17. "Eel Pie Club". Eel Pie Club. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  18. Archived 24 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. "Henley on Thames News | Concert for Festival featuring Georgie Fame". Archived from the original on 22 August 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  20. "Line Up – Cornbury Music Festival". Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  21. Walker, Tim (13 September 2012). "Annabel Goldsmith prepares joyful celebration for the late Marquess of Londonderry". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  22. Singh, Anita (30 March 2014). "Sale of the century as aristocrats auction heirlooms". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  23. "High Society: Whatever happened to the last of the debs?". The Independent . 24 September 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  24. "Pop star's wife died in fall from bridge". The Independent . 24 August 1993. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  25. "Welcome -".