About Graham Parker
Graham Parker is an English singer-songwriter, who is best known as the lead singer of the British band Graham Parker & the Rumour.
Parker was born in Hackney, East London in 1950. He was a pupil at Chobham Secondary Modern School in Surrey. After the arrival of the Beatles, Parker and some other 12/13 year olds formed the Deepcut Three, soon renamed the Black Rockers. None of the members actually learned to play their instruments, however, and were merely dress-up bands, adopting Beatle haircuts, black jeans and polo neck sweaters. By the time Parker was 15 he was a fan of soul music, especially Otis Redding, and would go to dance clubs in the nearby towns of Woking and Camberley where there was a thriving appreciation of soul music, Motown and ska. Parker left school at 16 and went to work at the Animal Virus Research Institute in Pirbright, Surrey, where he bred animals for foot-and-mouth disease research. At 18 he left the job and moved to Guernsey in the Channel Islands where he took a variety of jobs, picking tomatoes, digging ditches, collecting money from pinball machines, and working in a bakery. In Guernsey he bought an acoustic guitar and began to learn fingerpicking style and began writing songs with lyrics heavily influenced by the psychedelic music of the time.
Parker returned to England for a year, living in Chichester in Sussex where he worked at the Chichester Rubber Glove Factory. By 1971, he had left England again and spent time in Paris right at the time of the Free Angela Davis march through the city. From France, Parker hitchhiked through Spain to Morocco, where he traveled around for a year before moving to Gibraltar. In Gibraltar he worked on the docks unloading frozen foods, which he then helped deliver to supermarkets. His guitar playing and writing skills were improving, and after playing songs to a few locals in a bar, he found himself on an afternoon show on Gibraltar television where he performed two or three of his own songs. At that time, a strongly psychedelic influenced band named Pegasus often played in the same bar and asked Parker to join them. With Parker in the band playing a borrowed electric guitar, Pegasus played one show in Gibraltar before going to Tangier, Morocco, where they briefly performed in a nightclub. Parker, however, was growing out of the hippie trappings and decided the band needed to learn a few songs that involved major keys and so taught the members some of the soul numbers he had loved as a youth, including Wilson Pickett’s "In The Midnight Hour". He also tired of the band's hippie name and renamed them Terry Burbot's Magic Mud.
In late 1972, Parker returned to England and lived with his parents, working at a petrol station around the corner from his childhood home in Deepcut. By now he was determined to pursue a career in music and worked steadily on improving his guitar playing and song writing. In late 1974 he placed an ad in Melody Maker seeking like-minded backing musicians. One of the musicians who answered the ad was Noel Brown, a guitarist who lived in south London. Brown introduced him to Paul "Bassman" Riley who had recently been a member of Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers. Riley thought Parker should meet Dave Robinson, the manager of the by now defunct Brinsley Schwarz band. Robinson had a small studio above the Hope & Anchor pub in Islington and began to record Parker, sometimes solo and sometimes with a few musicians behind him.
One of the songs Parker recorded was "Between You and Me." This demo version ended up on Parker's first album, Howlin' Wind, after the Rumour tried to record it but failed to achieve the natural feel of the demo. Another song, "Nothin’s Gonna Pull Us Apart" was played, in demo form, on the Charlie Gillett show "Honky Tonk" on BBC London 94.9. On hearing the song, Nigel Grainge from Phonogram Records called Gillett and asked who the new singer was. By now Robinson had become Parker's manager and a deal with Phonogram was struck. Robinson then went about recruiting the musicians who would become the Rumour, and recording for Howlin’ Wind began in the winter of 1975 with Nick Lowe producing. In 1975, he recorded a few demo tracks in London with Dave Robinson, who would shortly found Stiff Records and who connected Parker with his first backing band of note, The Rumour. Parker had one track, "Back to Schooldays", released on the compilation album, A Bunch of Stiff Records for Stiff Records.
In the summer of 1975, Parker joined ex-members of three British pub-rock bands to form Graham Parker and the Rumour: Parker with Brinsley Schwarz and Bob Andrews , Martin Belmont and Andrew Bodnar and Steve Goulding . They began in the British pub rock scene, often augmented at times by a four-man horn section known as The Rumour Horns: John "Irish" Earle , Chris Gower , Dick Hanson , and Ray Beavis .
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