Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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FARLOWE, Chris

(b John Henry Deighton, 13 Oct. '40, Essex) UK singer, guitarist. With John Henry Skiffle Group, winners of all-England skiffle championship '57. Leader of semi-pro Thunderbirds beat group early '60s; records on Decca, Columbia included 'The Blue Beat' as the Beazers '64 (early reggae effort) but no commercial success. Solo 'Stormy Monday' on Sue label as 'Little Joe Cook' left the deliberate impression that it was by an obscure American; people who wanted to hire 'Cook' to sing his hit were astonished that he was white and British. Farlowe peaked on Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label: six UK chart hits '66-7 included a no. 1 with cover of Rolling Stones' 'Out Of Time' produced by Mick Jagger '66; LP 14 Things To Think About (EMI/Columbia cashed in with compilation Chris Farlowe And The Thunderbirds including 'Stormy Monday'), further LPs The Art Of Chris Farlowe, Farlowe In The Midnight Hour, Chris Farlowe Hits, The Last Goodbye. He still sang well and grittily, but the club scene that fostered the Thunderbirds had gone by the late '60s; he spent more time at his WWII memorabilia stall. There was an LP From Here To Mama Rosa '70 leading band The Hill; he sang with jazz-rock Colosseum, left '71 to join Atomic Rooster; by '72 was a full-time shopkeeper in Islington, North London. A reissue of 'Out Of Time' charted again '75; he formed a new band including ex-Thunderbird guitarist Albert Lee for Chris Farlowe And His Band -- Live on Polydor: it didn't sell and he left music again. He said in a Melody Maker interview, 'I was once, may still be a great blues singer. And I could get up with Ray Charles and sing with 'im ... Wouldn't show meself up neither!' Sang two songs on the soundtrack of Death Wish II '82; having sold his shop and moved to the USA, he returned to Britain late '83 to spend 30 days in jail, refusing to pay 300 rates (property tax) on his shop in protest against the left-wing policies of the the People's Republic of Islington (as the borough of London is known). He recorded again with the Thunderbirds in the mid-'80s; Olympic Rock And Blues Circus on CD included Brian Auger and Pete York.