Guide to British Music of the 1960s


Georgie Fame

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Georgie Fame - Keyboards

Pianist Clive Powell from Lancashire was discovered by the well-known promoter Larry Parnes in 1959 after having moved to London. He had been first noticed by Lionel Bart, writer of Oliver, who recommended him to Parnes. Previously, he had been playing piano at Butlins. Parnes changed his name to Georgie Fame and set up him up with Billy Fury’s backing band, the Blue Flames. However, Fame formed his own Blue Flames in 1961 which included Colin Green on guitar, Mike Eve on sax, Red Reece on drums and Tony Makins on bass guitar.

The Blue Flames became the house band at the Flamingo club in the basement of the Whisky-a-Go-Go. Many visiting American musicians came to The Flamingo and Fame noted the Hammond organ being used and decided to invest in one of his own. The band was a major hit with the burgeoning Mod scene and was signed by Columbia in 1963. The singles released were not successful until the fourth release Yeh, Yeh which reached the number one spot in 1965, replacing The Beatles' I Feel Fine. A string of hits followed including four EPs. One of the EPs was recorded live at The Flamingo. The debut album Live at the Flamingo sold well to the converted and was widely seen as an excellent record of Fame’s time at the club. Yeh, Yeh came from the second album Fame at Last .

The personnel in the Blue Flames changed regularly with John McLaughlin playing guitar and future Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell passing through the ranks. However, shortly after Get Away, initially written for a petrol commercial, reached number one, Fame split the Blue Flames to continue as a solo artist. This moved away from the jazz and R&B for which he was well-known to a more mainstream pop direction. He remained in the charts and, following a move to CBS, had his third number one single in 1968 with The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde.

Towards the end of the 1960s, Fame teamed up with former Animals keyboard player Alan Price, having a hit with Rosetta in 1971.

Since the 1960s, Fame has been largely on the cabaret circuit. He has also spent time in Van Morrison’s band. He also works in a modern version of the Blue Flames that includes his son.

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