Huge Congratulations To Marc Almond On Being Awarded An OBE In The Queens Honours List
Marc Almond was born in Southport in 1957. He grew up watching the Pop shows of the late 50’s and 60’s ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’, ‘Ready Steady Go’ and ‘Top of the Pops’ as well as listening to Radio Caroline and Radio Luxemburg and by adolescence and early teens was a dedicated music fan with an extensive musical knowledge. Marc at different times was a progressive Rocker, a Glam Rocker, a Punk, A Soul and Disco dancer and electro-futurist and it was during this time after flipping over David Bowie’s single Sorrow as well hearing Next by Alex Harvey and Jacky by Scott Walker he discovered Jacques Brel which led him into some of the musical directions he follows today. All those influences can be heard in his music and seen in his style. He joined a drama and dance class in Leeds and took part in Theatre productions and small film parts.
After a childhood of sickness and a turbulent adolescence and difficult schooling he left school with few qualifications, and after a number of local jobs went to Art College in Southport to do General Art and Design and a Foundation course. It was there he nurtured his love for Experimental Theatre, performance Art and Dance.
He left Southport Art College to do a B.A. course in Fine Art at Leeds Polytechnic. There he studied performance Art and film. He put on a number of his own performance pieces ‘Zazou’, ‘Glamour in Squalor’ and ‘Twilights and Lowlifes’. Influenced by German Expressionism, Punk, Warhol, Ballet Rambert, Lindsay Kemp and John Waters. It was there he met David Ball where they formed Soft Cell. Soft Cell at first an experimental electronic Art duo and later with a more Pop direction, went on to have Club success with Memorabilia then after signing with Phonogram had international number one chart success with The Gloria Jones/Ruth Swan Northern Soul track Tainted Love. The record was in the Guinness book of records for a long time as the track spending the most weeks in the American Billboard charts and received a Brit as single of the year at the first Brit awards. Tainted Love was followed by a string of hits and three albums recorded in New York with producer Mike Thorne before Dave Ball and Marc parted company in 1984. Both wanted to go in different directions.
Marc had already branched out into a solo career with his Marc and the Mambas project. The Mambas, a loose collective of Musicians, set the template for the Artist Marc would develop into, his shows a mix of his own songs and carefully chosen songs by other writers he re-invented his style as a Torch song and ballad singer, a ‘Pop Troubadour’ with great success. He recorded the seminal album Torment and Toreros with The Mambas. He embarked on a successful and diverse solo career with critical acclaim and solo hits. In 1989 he had his second international number one, a duet with the late Gene Pitney ‘Something’s Gotten Hold of my Heart’. The record was number one in Britain for five weeks.
Many albums followed and Stars We Are and the single Tears Run Rings saw him achieve his most successful album in the USA.
In 2000 he re-united with David Ball for the last time, recorded an album Cruelty Without Beauty and had a top forty hit with The Night, a Northern Soul hit for Frankie Valli.
The nineties was a prolific time for Marc, after re-locating to Moscow he recorded an album Heart on Snow, Russian folk and ‘Romance’ Torch songs – songs with a number of legendary Russian singers and musicians from the Soviet era to present. This was followed by a second album of Russian songs dedicated to the soviet era exiled Russian Gypsy Romance singer and dissident Vadim Kozin.
In 2004 he was involved in a near fatal motorbike crash and in a coma; his life was in the balance for some time. Recovery took a few years and after learning to sing again and regain his confidence after memory loss and post trauma, he began a long road back to his own concert performances at an appearance with Antony and the Johnsons. Antony has always cited Marc as an inspiration. He followed soon afterwards with his own two week residency at Wiltons Music Hall where Marc is a Patron. An album produced by Tris Penna and Marius De Vries ‘Stardom Road’, a collection of diverse covers and Marc’s most successful album for many years followed. He was awarded The Hero award by music magazine Mojo and the award was presented by Antony. Since then he has returned full time to concert performances alternating between his All A’s shows (Hits and A side shows) and his Sin Songs shows. His Sin Songs Torch and Romance shows, an eclectic mix of songs, Pop, Folk, Chanson and Torch ballads have become a favourite with fans and show Marc in his truest light as a curator of songs, and a story teller.
In 2010 he released a new album of all self written material, his first in 10 Years since Open all Night. Variete was heralded by both critics and fans as a real return, the accident finally behind him.
In recent years Marc has gone full circle and returned to Theatre. In 2011 he performed Ten Plagues a one man Opera written by acclaimed play write Mark Ravenhill and Composer Conor Mitchell at the Edinburgh Festival where as well as receiving critical praise, it received a Festival First Award. The piece follows one man’s journey and survival through The Great Plague of London in 1666, with its references to modern day so called ‘plagues’ and epidemics such as Aids. 2012 saw him at the famous Chatalet Musical Theatre in Paris playing the part of Seneca in an experimental ‘rock’ version of Poppea (Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea).
Marc has recorded over 20 albums and over 36 singles and has sold over 35 Million records Worldwide and written two best selling biographies including Tainted Life and currently working on another, and three books of poems, verse and lyrics.