Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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FAITHFULL, Marianne

(b 29 Dec. '46, Hampstead, London) The quintessential female '60s UK singer, a blonde, ethereal beauty who may be reaching her peak 30 years later. Discovered at a party by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham; Stones wrote her debut (top ten hit) 'As Tears Go By', released when she was 18; more hits incl. 'Come And Stay With Me', 'This Little Bird', 'Summer Nights', epitomizing the ideal Swinging '60s female, well-publicized relationship with Mick Jagger not hurting. Go Away From My World '65 and North Country Maid were good LPs, her frail voice supported by sympathetic prod. and apposite songs. Drug busts with Jagger kept her in headlines, as did controversial film debut I'll Never Forget Whatsisname '67, with the first four-letter word heard on the British screen; film Girl On A Motorcycle '68 did not add to her reputation, but appearances on stage in Hamlet and Three Sisters were well received. A hapless suicide attempt in Australia while Jagger was working on film Ned Kelly (also a disaster) effectively ended the relationship; she co-wrote 'Sister Morphine' on Stones' Sticky Fingers, 'Wild Horses' on that album widely taken to be his farewell to her. Drug problems and punctured romances kept her in the news; albums Dreaming My Dreams and Faithless '78 were followed by a real comeback, the highly rated Broken English '79, with Stevie Winwood, songs by John Lennon, Shel Silverstein; incl. controversial 'Why D'Ya Do It'. Marriage to punk musician Ben Brierley led to Dangerous Acquaintances '81, A Child's Adventure '83.

Her fragile voice turned to gravel with character, but the fragility was not an act; her survival was celebrated by a successful London concert '81. She contributed a track to Hal Willner's Lost In The Stars '84, a Kurt Weill tribute album; finally kicked drugs after falling down stairs and said Strange Weather '87 on Island was the first album she'd done without chemicals, with Mac Rebennack, Bill Frisell on guitar, revisiting 'As Tears Go By'. She appeared in a production of Weill's Seven Deadly Sins in Brooklyn '89, tracks appearing on Blazing Away '90 as well as studio tracks with Rebbenack, Garth Hudson and others; she contributed to a Chieftains album '92. Her live show 'An Evening in the Weimar Republic' was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival '95 and other places, captured on album 20th Century Blues '96 on RCA (songs by Kurt Weill, Frederick Hollander, NoČl Coward; Harry Nillson's 'Don't Forget Me' and Warren/Dubin's 'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams'). There was a fuss when the classical establishment refused to allow the album on its charts, although opera singer Bryn Terfel's Something Wonderful, a collection of Rodgers and Hammerstein, was allowed; Gramophone critic Patrick O'Connor admits that her Weill will offend purists, but praises her 'haunting voice, with a rich palette of colours ... she has grown so much as an artist that she invests every song with original nuances'. We should not be surprised; she was never just a rock chick, but a genuine bohemian who could claim any influence.