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Best known for his tenure fronting the Scottish pop revivalists Orange Juice as well as his international solo hit "A Girl Like You," singer Edwyn Collins was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1959. In 1976, he formed the Nu-Sonics, who resurfaced three years later as Orange Juice; the leading proponent of the Glasgow neo-pop scene, the band earned a devoted cult following but little commercial success, and by the early '80s Collins was the only remaining founding member. After a self-titled 1984 release failed to chart, Orange Juice disbanded, and Collins was freed from his contract with the group's label, Polydor.
A solo career seemed imminent, but the singer struggled; dogged by a reputation as a stubborn, difficult perfectionist unmoved by prevailing commercial attitudes, Collins found no one willing to offer him a contract, and only after a pair of sold-out London performances did Creation's Alan McGee sign him to the label's Elevation subsidiary in 1986. The singles "Don't Shilly Shally" (produced by Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie) and "My Beloved Girl" followed, but both failed to chart; in 1987, Elevation folded, and after Collins and McGee had a falling out, the singer was again left without a contract.
Some months later, Collins accepted the opportunity to record at a small German studio run by a group of devoted Orange Juice fans; cut with the aid of producer Dennis Bovell as well as Aztec Camera frontman Roddy Frame, the resulting LP, Hope and Despair, a brooding, ambitious collection spotlighting Collins' smooth, soulful baritone, was eventually picked up by the Demon label and issued in 1989. The album proved quite successful on the independent charts, and soon Collins returned to the studio to record 1990's Spartan Hellbent on Compromise; when the LP failed to repeat its predecessor's good fortune, Demon dropped him from their ranks, and another long sabbatical followed.
After spending much of the decade's first half in the producer's seat, overseeing sessions from artists including longtime pal Paul Quinn, the Rockingbirds, A House, and the Frank and Walters, Collins finally earned another shot as a performer: after signing with the tiny U.K. indie Setanta, he recorded 1994's Gorgeous George, a scathing, shimmering set of retro-pop highlighted by the single "A Girl Like You." Slowly, the song became a massive hit throughout Europe as well as the U.S. and returned Collins to the charts for the first time since the 1983 Orange Juice smash "Rip It Up," finally establishing the longstanding cult hero as something of a household name.
In 2005, Collins was rushed to the hospital after suffering a severe cerebral hemorrhage; he would eventually spend six months recovering from brain surgery. The album that Collins had been recording prior to his illness was mixed after he was discharged from the hospital. Entitled Home Again, it was released on Heavenly Recordings in September 2007. In 2010 Collins released Losing Sleep, his first new collection of songs since his illness. The album featured guest appearances from a wide range of friends and admirers and showed that Collins was well along the road to recovery.
As Collins continued to get stronger, he and James Endeacott, a former A&R man at Rough Trade, formed a new record label, Analogue Enhanced Digital, to release further records by Edwyn and also new artists the duo discovered. He also maintained a regular schedule of playing live shows, and in March of 2013 released a new album for AED, Understated.
Edwyn Stephen Collins (born 23 August 1959) is a Scottish musician, producer and record label owner, widely known for his 1994 song "A Girl Like You". Collins formed the musical group Nu-Sonics in 1976, which later became Orange Juice, and has pursued a solo career since 1985. Collins was cofounder of the defunct Postcard Records label and cofounded the Analogue Enhanced Digital (AED) Records label in late 2011. Collins has also worked as an illustrator, television actor, television producer and record producer. Collins is an Ivor Novello Award-winner.Ankeny, Jason (23 August 1959). "Allmusic biography". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2009-07-26. "stv.tv article". Entertainment.stv.tv. 22 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
Collins was born in Edinburgh, Scotland.
ContentsCareer1.1 Orange Juice1.2 Solo career to 20051.3 Cerebral haemorrhage1.4 Post-cerebral haemorrhage
Formed in 1979, Orange Juice was signed to Glaswegian independent label Postcard Records, which Collins cofounded with Alan Horne. The Orange Juice single "Rip It Up" is considered a hit, as it reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart; the song was their sole Top 40 single and biggest commercial success. In 1985 Orange Juice disbanded; after some difficulty finding a record label to sign with, Collins began his solo career a year later, after signing with the Elevation subsidiary of Creation Records.
Solo career to 2005
Collins worked with Robin Guthrie, from the Cocteau Twins, and produced two singles for the Elevation label, but, after both failed to enter the singles chart, the label was closed in 1987. Collins and McGee also experienced a "falling out", and the former was without the backing of a music company.
At the request of passionate Orange Juice fans in Germany, Collins recorded his next album at a small German studio, with the aid of producer Dennis Bovell, who had worked with Collins in Orange Juice, and Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera. The album, entitled Hope and Despair, was released in 1989 by the Demon label and achieved success as an independent release. Demon also released Collins's next record, Spartan Hellbent on Compromise (1990), which was not as successful as its predecessor. Demon and Collins then parted ways and Collins embarked on a lengthy hiatus.
Collins built his own recording studio in 1994 that was used to record his third solo album, Gorgeous George, which he also produced. The studio, located in West Hampstead, London, UK, would become the West Heath Yard Studios that Collins would use for his future record label, AED Records.
Collins released a 1994 single from Gorgeous George, "A Girl Like You", and it became a hit in both the UK and the US; the song was featured on the film soundtracks for Empire Records and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. "The Magic Piper (of Love)", a 1997 single that appeared on the soundtrack of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, was also released.
In a BBC 6 Music radio interview on 18 February 2005, Collins said he felt unwell, but ascribed the nausea and vertigo to food poisoning. Two days later, he was admitted to intensive care in London's Royal Free Hospital after apparently suffering a major cerebral haemorrhage. After suffering a second haemorrhage he had an operation on 25 February 2005, which was followed by a lengthy programme of neurological rehabilitation owing to right-sided weakness and difficulty with speech. The aphasia he suffered allowed him to repeat only four phrases, over and over again: "yes", "no", "Grace Maxwell" (his wife's name) and "the possibilities are endless".
Collins released his sixth solo album, entitled Home Again, in September 2007 on Heavenly Records. The album was recorded before his illness but mixed after his discharge from hospital. While still recovering, Collins returned to singing live, including playing a gig at The Arts Theatre in London, UK. A tribute song celebrating his return was recorded by the indie pop band The Candy Twins.
A BBC Scotland documentary, Edwyn Collins: Home Again, narrated by Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos, was broadcast on 19 May 2008. Filmed during 2007, it followed Collins's progress in recovering from his illness, and his first return to live performance at the BBC Electric Proms. Collins then performed at the Glastonbury Festival, which was broadcast on 28 June 2008 on BBC Two, and at T in the Park on 10 July 2009 (Collins's first ever T in the Park).
On 2 October 2009 Collins's wife and manager Grace Maxwell detailed her "running battle" with Warner Music Group and MySpace over his right to allow fans to listen to "A Girl Like You" for free on his MySpace page.
In November 2009, at a gig in London's Bloomsbury Ballroom, following a tour of the Scottish Highlands, Collins's singing was contrasted with his slow speech: "[W]hen he started to sing, his baritone proved as powerful as ever." On 20 February 2010, he joined The Maccabees onstage at Brixton Academy for their encore, performing vocals on a rendition of "Rip It Up".
Losing Sleep, Collins's first written and recorded album since his 2005 illness, was then released on 13 September 2010 in the UK. The album was recorded at his own West Heath Studios between November 2008 and May 2010, and was produced by Collins and Sebastian Lewsley. Collins and Lewsley first met in 1992, while Collins was producing former Subway Sect frontman Vic Godard's album The End of the Surrey People and Lewsley was his assistant. For the album, he collaborated with The Cribs' Ryan Jarman and Johnny Marr, Franz Ferdinand, The Magic Numbers singer Romeo Stodart, The Drums and Roddy Frame. Lewsley explained the recording process of Losing Sleep in 2010:
We did each song in a day ... and a day consists of about four hours. So there's a real expediency about how it's recorded. The whole attitude of the album is just doing that. Not indulging anyone. Not having any band sitting round for days and days. "Have you got a guitar part yet? No? Just do it. You've got a coupla hours." They [Collins's collaborators] all looked quite petrified but they did it.
In 2009, during the making of Losing Sleep, Lewsley observed Collins gradually regain his musical proficiency—Lewsley explained: "The studio is more of an instrument again for Edwyn.” The cover art for the album features a collection of bird drawings that Collins started working on in 2005.
On 30 September 2010 Collins and his band broadcast three live songs from the Royal Beacon Hotel in Exmouth for BBC Radio 2's "Radcliffe and Maconie Show". (Stuart Maconie is a former music journalist and his first NME article was a review of Collins's 1987 gig at the Manchester International.)
On 30 July 2011 Collins performed at the Indietracks festival that was held at the Midland Railway, Butterley, UK. During the 2012 Kendal Calling event Collins sang "A Girl Like You", with Roddy Frame on guitar and Tim Burgess on backing vocals.
Collins's eighth solo album, Understated, was released in March 2013 on his own AED Records label and was critically well received, with God Is in the TV stating:
Understated is more than just another step to recovery, it is indeed a fine record in its own right, and utterly life-affirming. It’s also perhaps the ultimate testament to the healing power of music. He lost the ability to read, write, and lost movement in half of his body, but what he didn’t lose was his gift for coming up with an ear-catching tune, as is proved here. It will make you smile, it may even make you cry, and its an album that reminds you how good it is to be alive.
A documentary film about Collins entitled The Possibilities Are Endless, directed by James Hall and Edward Lovelace, was released in November 2014."Show 507 – Edwyn Collins Feature". British Council on SoundCloud. SoundCloud. 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2014. Cite error: The named reference AMG was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Biography". iTunes Preview. Apple Inc. 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014. "Edwyn Collins – Gorgeous George". Edwyn Collins on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014. "AED Welcomes You". AED Records. AED Records. 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2014. "Various – Empire Records – The Soundtrack". Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014. "Various – Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle – Music From The Motion Picture". Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014. "Various – Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery – Original Soundtrack". Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014. Goddard, Simon (17 August 2007). "'I was dead – and I was resurrected'". London: Music.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-07-26. Lewis, John (12 September 2010). "Edwyn Collins: Back with a vengeance | Metro News". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-03-30. "YouTube – The Candy Twins Edwyn Collins is Back (tribute song)". Uk.youtube.com. 25 February 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-26. "Daily Record @ T in the Park: Edwyn Collins & Franz Ferdinand" (Video upload). scottishdailyrecord on YouTube. Google Inc. 10 July 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2014. "Edwyn Collins' manager blasts MySpace and major labels over 'A Girl Like You'". NME. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-07. "Musician, heal thyself". CBC News. Retrieved 2009-10-20. "Edwyn Collins new album and download track 'Losing Sleep'". Heavenly Recordings. Heavenly Recordings. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2014. "Edwyn Collins". Heavenly Recordings. Heavenly Recordings. 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2014. "BBC Radio 2 – The Radcliffe and Maconie Show, 30/09/2010, Edwyn Collins – Losing Sleep and What Is My Role". Bbc.co.uk. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-30. Maconie, Stuart (2004). Cider With Roadies (1st ed.). London: Random House. p. 182. ISBN 0-09-189115-9. tunafishmediavideos (4 August 2012). "Edwyn Collins, Tim Burgess and Roddy Frame- A Girl Like You (At Tim Peaks- Kendal Calling 2012)" (Video upload). tunafishmediavideos on YouTube. Google Inc. Retrieved 17 April 2014. Ben P Scott (29 March 2013). "Review: Edwyn Collins – Understated (AED Records)". Godisinthetvzine.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-24. "The Possibilities Are Endless". thepossibilities.co.uk. 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014. "The Possibilities Are Endless". IMDb. 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
Relationship with Roddy Frame
Frame has maintained a long-term friendship with Collins, since they were both signed to Postcard Records in the 1980s—Collins was 21 years old, while Frame was 16 years old when they first met. Collins and Frame collaborated on the Aztec Camera album Stray, including a live performance of the song "Consolation Prize".
Frame performed with Collins in November 2007 during Collins's first concert after his recovery from a serious illness, and the pair played again at the Glastonbury Festival in June 2008, on the Park Stage, and at the Purcell Rooms in London, UK, in September 2008.
Frame's fourth solo album, Seven Dials, was released in 2014 on Collins's AED record label. Frame explained, following the album's release, that he had been inspired to make an album with a full band after his positive experience playing with Collins in 2007 and 2008."Roddy Frame chats to Stuart Maconie" (Audio upload). Radcliffe and Maconie on BBC Radio 6. BBC. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2014. "With Roddy Frame" (Audio upload). The Tom Robinson Show. BBC. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014. "Aztec Camera Stray – Credits". Aztec Camera on AllMusic. All Media Network, LLC. 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2014. "The Soulful Survivor". Evening Standard. 20 November 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2008. Hayley Madden. "Glastonbury Festival 2008" (Image upload). Getty Images. Getty Images. Retrieved 17 April 2014. "A GIRL LIKE YOU EDWYN COLLINS PURCELL ROOMS SEPT 14 2008" (Video upload). David Yeates on YouTube. Google Inc. 14 September 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
Collins has also worked extensively as a record producer with other artists, including Terrorvision, Vic Godard, Robert Forster, The Cribs, and Little Barrie. In 2005 Collins produced the Cribs album The New Fellas and co-produced the 2013 album Clarietta, by Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs, with Lewsley.Cite error: The named reference Sleep was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs – Clarietta". Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014. "Cribs, The – The New Fellas". Cribs, The on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
In addition to his music career Collins also produced and starred in the Channel 4 television show West Heath Yard. Collins released his first book of illustrations, Some British Birds, with Morel Books in 2009.Matt Frost (January 2011). "Edwyn Collins: Recording Losing Sleep". Sound on Sound. SOS Publications Group. Retrieved 3 July 2014. Edwyn Collins (2009). "Some British Birds". Google Books. Google Inc. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
Awards and honours
In May 2009 Collins won the Ivors Inspiration Award in recognition of his struggles following his 2005 brain haemorrhage.
In 2010 he received an honorary masters degree from the Buckinghamshire New University, in recognition of his "strong influences and contribution to the national and international music industry over the last three decades".
On 21 August 2010 Collins attended the Helmsdale Highland Games as the chieftain, an honour also previously bestowed on his grandfather.Cite error: The named reference stv.tv_article was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "University to honour Olympic gold hero (From Bucks Free Press)". Bucksfreepress.co.uk. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-02. ""This Years Chieftain 2010"". Helmsdalegames.info. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
Collins is married to manager Maxwell. The couple live in London and Helmsdale and have one son, William.
In September 2014 Collins announced on his Twitter page that he is a socialist and in favour of Scottish independence. He said "Friends: me- a socialist, and internationalist. No SNP, not me. But I'm for the future, not the past. Changed my mind. I'm for #YES"."Collins faces fight to build Highland recording studio". Herald Scotland. 9 March 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-17. "article". London: Blogs.guardian.co.uk. 4 July 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-26. "2:40 AM – 5 Sep 2014". Edwyn Collins on Twitter. Twitter. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2014.