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About Clive Gregson
One of the great unsung heroes of British songwriting, Clive Gregson has been penning clever tunes with sometimes witty and always heartfelt lyrics since the mid-'70s. While he's performed in a variety of formats -- with a rock group, as part of a contemporary folk duo, and as a solo act -- he's always been a favorite with critics and discriminating listeners. And though mainstream success has eluded him, he's earned the respect of his peers; his songs have been recorded by Nanci Griffith, Norma Waterson, and Fairport Convention, and he's performed and toured with Richard Thompson, Eddi Reader, and Plainsong.
Gregson was born January 4, 1955 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, England. He developed an ear for music during the first rush of Beatlemania in the U.K., and when his older brother gave up playing the drums, his parents sold his kit and bought young Clive his first guitar. While Gregson played in a band with his school chums, he didn't play his first professional gig until he founded the band Any Trouble, a pub rock/new wave quartet, in Manchester in 1975. The band's sound, and Gregson's songwriting and singing, reminded some critics of Elvis Costello, and Any Trouble was signed by Stiff, the label where Costello got his start. The band made several well-remembered but poor-selling albums, then split up in 1984.
In 1984, Gregson discovered Christine Collister singing in a folk club and, impressed by her talents, offered to work with her on future projects. Gregson had already begun an association with Richard Thompson, initially singing backup on the classic Shoot Out the Lights album in 1982. While working on Thompson's Hand of Kindness, Gregson suggested using Collister for additional backup vocal duties. The formula worked, and the two continued for years as integral parts of the Richard Thompson touring band, arguably the finest live band he's assembled. In 1985, Gregson made a solo album, Strange Persuasions, with Collister singing backup on a few tracks. The two began performing as a duo on the folk club circuit shortly thereafter; their first release was a homemade tape sold at gigs, later released on LP as Home and Away. It was followed by their first formal album, Mischief, in 1987, and by a Change in the Weather in 1989. Love Is a Strange Hotel, released later the same year, was an album of cover versions of Gregson and Collister's favorite songs.
By 1992, the stress of constant touring and working together without substantial success finally took its toll on Gregson and Collister. The two decided to go their separate ways after one parting shot, The Last Word, and one final tour. Gregson eventually relocated to Nashville and launched a solo career, releasing the live "official bootleg" Carousel of Noise on his own label in 1994. People & Places followed in 1995, and I Love This Town was issued by Compass Records in 1996. Gregson also did production work for acts such as the Weather Prophets, the Oysterband, and Brilliant Corners, and frequently collaborated with fellow songwriter Boo Hewerdine.
In 1998, after a brief stint in the group Plainsong, Gregson returned with Happy Hour, and launched a successful tour of the U.K. with Hewerdine and Eddi Reader. Gregson's 2002 release, Comfort and Joy, was followed by extensive touring, including rare jaunts to the United States and Japan, but in 2003, his career was put on hold for several months after a fall from a ladder resulted in a broken shoulder and arm. Thankfully, Gregson fully recovered, and returned with a low-key solo set, Long Story Short, in late 2004.
In 2007, Any Trouble reunited to record an album, Life in Reverse, which they supported with a handful of live dates. Gregson resumed his solo career with the 2011 album Bittersweet, produced by Gregson and featuring all-original material. Another solo set, This Is Now, followed in 2013, and Gregson brought Any Trouble back together in 2015 to record the album Present Tense, which was followed by a tour of the U.K. 2015 also saw Gregson touring with fellow singer and songwriter Liz Simcock, with the duo performing songs from the Gregson and Collister songbook. In 2017, Gregson and Simcock reunited to cut an album together, Underwater Dancing. ~ Chris Woodstra & William Ruhlmann
- Ashton-Under-Lyne, Manchester, En
- 4 Jan 1955
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