Georgie Fame’s career has spanned more than four decades and has seen him work with musicians including Eric Clapton, Count Basie, Stevie Wonder and Muddy Waters and, notably, forge a close association with Van Morrison. He’s produced more than 20 acclaimed albums, had three number one singles and pick up numerous awards.
One of the most influential post-war British musicians, he’s widely credited as being among the first artists to introduce Britain’s youth to soul, R&B, Blues and SKA. Incredibly stylish, both musically and personally, he’s also one of the few to be described as an Ace Face.
Born Clive Powell on June 26, 1943 in the English industrial town of Leigh, Lancashire, jazz legend, Georgie Fame’s interest in music started at an early age. Entertainment ‘sessions’ at home and musical evenings in the church hall across the street, where his father also played in an amateur dance band, encouraged him, aged seven, to take piano lessons for a short time.
It wasn’t, however, until the arrival of Rock ‘n’ Roll on the radio, during the mid-fifties, where he discovered artists including Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard that his passion was truly ignited and he began taking the family piano seriously.
Having left school when he was just 15, he followed the family tradition and took a job as an apprentice cotton weaver in one of the many local mills. His spare time was spent playing piano in pubs with local band, The Dominoes.
During the summer of 1959, while away at a holiday camp, Powell was discovered by the resident “Rock ‘n’ Roll” bandleader Rory Blackwell who offered him a full time job. Rory and the Blackjacks departed for their hometown of London, when the summer season ended prematurely and Powell went with them. The promise of glamorous work didn’t materialise and the band broke up and Powell took a solo residency at the Essex Arms, in the Docklands.
Later that year, Blackwell arranged for Powell to audition for impresario Larry Parnes, who was responsible for discovering Marty Wilde and Billy Fury among many others. The audition was a success and Powell became Georgie Fame.
Before his seventeenth birthday, Fame had toured Britain extensively, playing alongside Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Tony Sheridan, Freddie Canon, Jerry Keller, Dickie Pride, Joe Brown and many more. During this time, Billy Fury selected four musicians, including Fame, for his personal backing group and The Blue Flames was born. At the end of 1961, after a disagreement, Fury and the band parted company.
In March 1962, Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames became resident at The Flamingo Club in Soho, playing all night dance sessions, to packed houses, made up of US Air Force personnel, visiting American musicians and London club-goers. The Band’s reputation spread rapidly, and in 1963, they recorded their first album Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo live.
A string of hit records followed over the next few years, including the No.1 best sellers Yeh Yeh,Getaway and The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde. At the same time, Fame pursued his interest in jazz, recording the milestone album Sound Venture with the Harry South Big Band. This led directly to the successful tours of the UK and Europe singing with Count Basie and his Orchestra during 1967 and 1968.
From 1970 to 1973, during a period when the Blue Flames had disbanded, Fame worked almost exclusively in a memorable partnership with fellow musician Alan Price. The duo featured in their own television series The Price of Fame and guested on countless others, notably Peter Cook & Dudley Moore’s. The partnership also produced the hit single Rosetta.
In 1974 Fame reformed The Blue Flames and they continue working with him to this day. Away from the keyboards he also sings regularly with Europe’s finest orchestras and has his own big band.