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Georgie Fame's swinging, surprisingly credible blend of jazz and American R&B earned him a substantial following in his native U.K., where he scored three number one singles during the '60s. Fame played piano and organ in addition to singing, and was influenced by the likes of Mose Allison, Booker T. & the MG's, and Louis Jordan. Early in his career, he also peppered his repertoire with Jamaican ska and bluebeat tunes, helping to popularize that genre in England; during his later years, he was one of the few jazz singers of any stripe to take an interest in the vanishing art of vocalese, and earned much general respect from jazz critics on both sides of the Atlantic.
Fame was born Clive Powell on June 26, 1943, in Leigh, Lancashire (near Manchester, England). He began playing piano at a young age, and performed with several groups around Manchester as a teenager, when he was particularly fond of Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1959, his family moved to London, where the 16 year old was discovered by songwriter Lionel Bart (best known for the musical Oliver). Bart took Powell to talent manager Larry Parnes, who promoted British rockers like Billy Fury, Marty Wilde, Johnny Gentle, and Vince Eager. Powell naturally had to be renamed as well, and as Georgie Fame, he played piano behind Wilde and Eager before officially joining Fury's backing band, the Blue Flames, in the summer of 1961. (The Blue Flames also included guitarist Colin Green, saxophonist Mick Eve, bassist Tony Makins, and drummer Red Reece.) When Fury let the band go at the end of the year, Fame became their lead singer, and they hit the London club circuit playing a distinctive blend of rock, pop, R&B, jazz, and ska. Their budding reputation landed them a residency at the West End jazz club the Flamingo, and thanks to the American servicemen who frequented the club and lent Fame their records, he discovered the Hammond B-3 organ, becoming one of the very few British musicians to adopt the instrument in late 1962. From there, the Blue Flames became one of the most popular live bands in London. In 1963, they signed with EMI Columbia, and in early 1964 released their acclaimed debut LP, Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo. It wasn't a hot seller at first, and likewise their first three singles all flopped, but word of the group was spreading.
Finally, in early 1965, Fame hit the charts with "Yeh Yeh," a swinging tune recorded by Latin jazz legend Mongo Santamaria and given lyrics by vocalese virtuoso Jon Hendricks of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. "Yeh Yeh" went all the way to number one on the British charts, and Fame started living up to his stage name (although the song barely missed the Top 20 in America). His 1965 LP Fame at Last reached the British Top 20, and after several more minor hits, he had another British number one with "Getaway" in 1966. After one more LP with the original Blue Flames, 1966's Sweet Thing, Fame broke up the band and recorded solo; over the next few years, his backing bands included drummer Mitch Mitchell (later of the Jimi Hendrix Experience) and the young guitarist John McLaughlin (Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra).
At the outset, Fame's solo career was just as productive as before, kicking off with the Top Ten big-band LP Sound Venture (recorded with Harry South's orchestra); thanks to its success, he toured with the legendary Count Basie the following year. Several hit singles followed over the next few years, including "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde," which became his third British chart-topper in late 1967 and, the following year, his only Top Ten hit in America. But by 1969, his success was beginning to tail off; hoping to make inroads into the more adult-oriented cabaret circuit, Fame was moving more and more into straight-up pop and away from his roots. In 1971, he teamed up with onetime Animals organist Alan Price and recorded an album of critically reviled MOR pop, Fame & Price; the partnership produced a near-Top Ten hit in "Rosetta," but ended in 1973. Fame re-formed the Blue Flames with original guitarist Colin Green in 1974 and attempted to return to R&B, but his records for Island attracted little attention. He spent much of the '70s and '80s making ends meet by performing on TV and the cabaret circuit, as well as writing advertising jingles; he also continued to make records, to little fanfare.
In 1989, Fame played organ on Van Morrison's Avalon Sunset album, which grew into a fruitful collaboration over the course of the '90s; Fame played on all of Morrison's albums through 1997's The Healing Game, received co-billing on Morrison's 1996 jazz album How Long Has This Been Going On, and even served a stint as Morrison's musical director. Meanwhile, Fame's own solo work during the '90s received some of his best reviews since the '60s, starting with 1991's jazzy Cool Cat Blues, which featured a duet with Morrison on "Moondance." 1995's Three Line Whip featured his sons Tristan and James Powell on guitar and drums, respectively, and 1996's The Blues and Me further enhanced his growing jazz credibility. In 1998, Fame split with Morrison to record and tour with former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman's new group the Rhythm Kings, contributing organ and vocals to several albums. In 2000, now signed to Ben Sidran's Go Jazz label, Fame released the acclaimed Poet in New York, which established him as an impressive student of jazz's vocalese tradition.
Georgie Fame (born Clive Powell, 26 June 1943) is an English rhythm and blues and jazz singer, and keyboard player. The one-time rock and roll tour musician, who had a string of 1960s hits, is still a popular performer, often working with contemporaries such as Van Morrison and Bill Wyman.
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, "Getaway" in 1966 and "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967.
Early life 
Fame 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:
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 Flames 
Fame 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;
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 in order 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, originally recorded with a view to using it as a television jingle for a petrol advertisement, was later used as the theme tune for a quiz show on Australian television. At this point Fame disbanded his band and went solo.
Fame'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 Fame 
Fame 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 and The Alf Garnett Saga (1972).
Recent work 
Fame has collaborated with some of the most successful performers in the world of popular music. 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 April and 27 April 2008.
Fame was also founding member of 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.
Personal life 
In 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 marriage to the marquess; the child, James, bore the courtesy title Viscount Castlereagh and was believed to be heir to the marquessate. When tests determined that the child was actually Fame's, the Londonderrys divorced. The couple had another son, Tristan, 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 advocacy 
Fame is a supporter of the Countryside Alliance and has played concerts to raise funds for the organisation, and a supporter of The Otakar Kraus Music Trust.
Fame's 1966 "Music Talk" has been sampled by:The Beatnuts - "World's Famous Intro" (Intoxicated Demons EP, Relativity, 1993)The Herbaliser - "Amores Bongo" (Amores Bongo / Bongo Boom, Skyline, 2007)Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - "Wig Out" (Mecca and the Soul Brother, Elektra, 1992)The Chemical Brothers - "Playground for a Wedgeless Firm" (Exit Planet Dust, Freestyle Dust, 1995)