Astro UB40

Astro, the percussionist and one of the founding members of  British Reggae/pop band UB40 was born June 24 1957. Formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England, UB40 were named after the Unemployment Benefit form, in protest of widespread unemployment (As was the song “One in Ten” and have gone on to enjoy massive success, having placed more than 50 singles in the UK Singles Chart, and also achieving considerable international success. The band have also been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album four times, and in 1984, were nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group. One of the world’s best-selling music artists, UB40 have sold over 70 million records. Among Their hit singles are their debut “Food for Thought” and two U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number ones with “Red Red Wine”, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “I Got You Babe” featuring guest vocals from Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders.

The ethnic makeup of the band’s original lineup is diverse, with musicians of English, Scottish, Irish, Yemeni and Jamaican parentage. The band’s initial lineup lasted for 30 years from the band’s formation in 1978 until frontman Ali Campbell’s departure from the band in 2008. Since that time, two other founding members (Mickey Virtue and Astro) have also left the band, and the trio of Campbell, Virtue, and Astro have since formed UB40 Reunited and are due to play Birmingham O2 Academy on 19 December, London IndigO2 on 20 December and Manchester Academy on 21 December 2014. They also have a new song “Reggae Music” available to download from the website http://www.ub40.org and a new album to follow.

Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)

Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac was born 24 June 1947. The band were formed in 1966 in London. Although band founder Peer Green named the group by combining he surnames of two ofhis former bandmates (Fleetwood, MVie) from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Christine Mc vie joined the band in 1970 while married to John McVie, Green asked if drummer Mick Fleetwood could join. The Bluesbreakers now consisted of Green, Fleetwoo John McVie and Mayall. Soon after, Green cotacted Fleetwood to form a new band. The pair wanted McVie on bass guitar and even named the band ‘Fleetwood Mac’ as a way to entice him.

In the meantime Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood teamed up with slide player Jeremy Spencer and bassist Bob Brunning. The band made its debut on 13 August 1967 at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival. Within weeks of this show, John McVie agreed to join the band as permanent bassist.fleetwood Mac’s first album, Fleetwood Mac, was a no-frills blues album and was released on te Blue Horizon label in February 1968. In fact there were no other players on the album (except for the song “Long Grey Mare”, which was recorded with Brunning on bass). The album was successful in the UK, though it did not have any singles on it. The band soon released two singles “Black Magic Woman” (later a big hit for Santana) and “Need Your Love So Bad”.The band’s second album, Mr. Wonderful, was released in August 1968.  This was another -blues album, but with a few changes. The album was recorded live in the studio with miked amplifiers and PA system, rather than plugged into the board. This method provided the ideal environment for producing this style of music, and gave it an authentically vintage sound. They also added horns . The Next album was the well-regarded Then Then Play On the American release also contained the song “Oh Well”

Sadly Peter Green left and In September 1970, Fleetwood Mac released Kiln House. Kirwan’s songs sounded more “rocky”, while, Spencer’s songs resembled the country-tinged “Sun Sound” of the late 1950s. Christine Perfect, contributed to Kiln House, by singing backup vocals, and drawing the album cover, and was asked to join the band. They also released a single at that time; “Dragonfly” b/w “The Purple Dancer” . At this time Christine Perfect was also married to bassist John McVie. an album of previously unreleased material from the original Fleetwood Mac called The Original Fleetwood Mac was also released.

Then While on tour in 1971, Jeremy Spencer disappeared And joined a religious group, the Children of God. So the band decided to search for a new guitarist, eventually hiring Bob Welch  .In September 1971, the band released Future Games, which was different from anything the band had done up to that point, gained them many new fans in America. six months after the release of Future Games, the band released the well-received album Bare Trees. Though mostly composed by Kirwan, Bare Trees featured Welch’s “Sentimental Lady”, which would be a much bigger hit for him five years later when he re-recorded it for his solo album French Kiss, backed with Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie. It also featured “Spare Me a Little of Your Love”, a bright Christine McVie tune that became a staple of the band’s live act throughout the early to mid-1970s, sadly While on tour Danny Kirwan developed an alcohol dependency and became alienated from Welch and the McVies umtil Fleetwood was finally convinced that he had no choice but to fire Kirwan. The next two and a half years proved to be the most challenging for the band. In the three albums they released in this period, they constantly changed line-ups. In September 1972, the band added guitarist Bob Weston and vocalist Dave Walker, formerly of Savoy Brown and Idle Race.Fleetwood Mac also hired Savoy Brown’s road manager, John Courage. Mick, John, Christine, Welch, Weston, and Walker recorded Penguin, which was released in January 1973.

Fleetwood Mac "Rumours" high res cover artAfter the tour, the band fired Walker The remaining five carried on and recorded Mystery to Me six months later. This album contained the song “Hypnotized” which got a lot of airplay on the radio and became one of the band’s most successful songs to date. However, things were not well within the band. The McVies’ marriage at this time was under a lot of stress, which was aggravated by their constant working with each other, and John McVie’s considerable alcohol abuse. During the tour, Weston had an affair with Fleetwood’s wife, Jenny Boyd Fleetwood, the sister of Pattie Boyd Harrison. Fleetwood soon fired Weston and the tour was cancelled and in one of the most bizarre events in rock history, the band’s manager, Clifford Davis, claimed that he owned the name Fleetwood Mac and put out a “fake Mac”. Nobody in the “fake Mac” was ever officially in the real band, Fans were told that Bob Welch and John McVie had quit the group, and that Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie would be joining the band at a later date. Fleetwood Mac’s road manager, John Courage, hid the real Fleetwood Mac’s equipment, which helped shorten the tour by the fake band. But the lawsuit that followed put the real Fleetwood Mac out of commission for almost a year. The issue was who actually owned the name “Fleetwood Mac”. While it would seem obvious that the band was named after Fleetwood and McVie, they had signed contracts that showed the band forfeited the rights to the name. The “real” Fleetwood Mac were in fact Fleetwood, Welch and the McVies. While this did not end the legal battle, the band was able to record as Fleetwood Mac again. Instead of getting another manager, Fleetwood Mac decided to manage themselves.The fake Mac consisted of Elmer Gantry (vocals, guitar), Kirby Gregory (guitar), Paul Martinez (bass), John Wilkinson (keyboards) and Craig Collinge (drums). Gantry and Gregory went on to become members of Stretch, Gantry later joined The Alan Parsons Project and Martinez eventually became a bassist for Robert Plant’s solo efforts. The real Fleetwood Mac, released Heroes Are Hard to Find in September 1974. For the first time in its history, the band had only one guitarist. On the road, they added a second keyboardist Doug Graves.

After Welch announced that he was leaving the band, Fleetwood began searching for a possible replacement. While Fleetwood was scouting Van Nuys, California,Mick Flletwood heard a song titled “Frozen Love” by an American band, Buckingham Nicks. Fleetwood liked it, and was introduced to the guitarist from the band, Lindsey Buckingham, who coincidentally was at Sound City that day recording some demos. Fleetwood soon asked him to join. Buckingham agreed, on the condition that his musical partner and girlfriend, Stephanie “Stevie” Nicks, also become part of the band; Fleetwood agreed. Buckingham and Nicks joined the band on New Year’s Eve 1974. In 1975, the new line-up released the eponymous Fleetwood Mac. The album proved to be a breakthrough for the band and became a huge hit, Among the hit singles from this album were Christine McVie’s “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me”, and Stevie Nicks’ “Rhiannon” and “Landslide” . with the success of the band also came the end of John and Christine McVie’s marriage, as well as Buckingham and Nicks’ long term romantic relationship. Even Fleetwood was in the midst of divorce proceedings from his wife, Jenny. The pressure put on Fleetwood Mac to release a successful follow-up album, combined with their new-found wealth, led to creative and personal tensions, fuelled by high consumption of drugs and alcohol.The album the band members released in 1977 was Rumours, in which they laid bare the emotional turmoil experienced at that time. Critically acclaimed, it was the recipient of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for 1977. Hit singles included Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way”, Nicks’s U.S. No.1 “Dreams”  and Christine McVie’s “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun”. Buckingham’s “Second Hand News”, Nicks’ “Gold Dust Woman” and “The Chain”. In a 2013 interview on ‘Top Gear’, Mick Fleetwood stated that the album had sold ‘nearly 50 million copies’.

5324Buckingham pursuaded by Fleetwood to make the next album more experimental and the result was the quirky 20-track double album, Tusk, released in 1979. It spawned three hit singles; Lindsey Buckingham’s “Tusk” Christine McVie’s “Think About Me” and Stevie Nicks’ 6½ minute opus “Sara” .Tusk remains one of Fleetwood Mac’s most ambitious albums to date, and the band embarked on a huge 18-month tour to support and promote Tusk. including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In Germany they shared the bill with reggae superstar Bob Marley. It was on this world tour that the band recorded music for the Fleetwood Mac Live album, which was released at the end of 1980.The next album, 1982′s Mirage, following 1981 solo turns by Nicks (Bella Donna) and Buckingham (Law and Order), was a return to the more conventional soundan attempt to recapture the huge success of Rumours. Its hits included Christine McVie’s “Hold Me” and “Love In Store” Stevie Nicks’s “Gypsy”, and Lindsey Buckingham’s “Oh Diane”, A minor hit was also scored by Buckingham’s “Eyes Of The World” and “Can’t Go Back”. Following Mirage, the band went on hiatus, which allowed members to pursue solo careers. Stevie Nicks released two more solo albums (1983′s The Wild Heart and 1985′s Rock a Little), Lindsey Buckingham issued Go Insane in 1984, the same year that Christine McVie made an eponymous album (yielding the Top 10 hit “Got A Hold On Me” and the Top 40 hit “Love Will Show Us How”).However, also during this period, Mick Fleetwood had filed for bankruptcy, Nicks was admitted to the Betty Ford Clinic for addiction problems, and John McVie had suffered an addiction-related seizure—all attributed to the lifestyle of excess afforded to them by their worldwide success. It was rumoured that Fleetwood Mac had finally broken up. However Fleetwood Mac recorded one more album for the time being, Tango in the Night, in 1987. The album went on to become their best-selling release since Rumours, especially in the UK where it hit no. 1 three times over the following year. The album sold three million copies in the USA and contained four hits: Christine McVie’s “Little Lies” and “Everywhere” (the former being co-written with McVie’s new husband Eddy Quintela), Sandy Stewart and Stevie Nicks’ “Seven Wonders”, and Lindsey Buckingham’s “Big Love”. “Family Man”, “Isn’t It Midnight”,

Fleetwood+Mac+-+Tango+In+The+Night+(1987)Lindsey Buckingham left and Following his departure, Fleetwood Mac added two new guitarists to the band,Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. Burnette had already worked with Mick Fleetwood in Zoo,  Christine McVie, done some session work with Stevie Nicks and even backed Lindsey Buckingham on Saturday Night Live. Furthermore, Fleetwood and Christine McVie played on his Try Me album in 1985. Vito, a Peter Green admirer, played with many artists from Bonnie Raitt to John Mayall, and even worked with John McVie on two Mayall albums.Capitalising on the success of Tango in the Night, the band continued with a Greatest Hitsalbum in 1988. It featured singles from the 1975–88 era, and included two new ompositions: “No Questions Asked” written by Nicks, and “As Long as You Follow” written by McVie and Quintela. The Greatest Hits album, which peaked at No.3 in the UK and No.14 in the US (though has since sold over 8 million copies there), was dedicated to Buckingham by the band, with whom they had now reconciled.Following the Greatest Hits collection, Fleetwood Mac recorded the album Behind the Mask, which included McVie’s “Save Me”. The subsequent “Behind the Mask” tour saw the band play sold out shows at London’s Wembley Stadium, and on the final show in Los Angeles, the band were joined onstage by Buckingham. The two women of the band, McVie and Nicks, had decided that the tour would be their last (McVie’s father died during the tour) though both stated that they would still record with the band. However, in 1991, both Nicks and Rick Vito announced they were leaving Fleetwood Mac altogether.In 1992, Fleetwood himself arranged a 4-disc box set spanning highlights from the band’s 25 year history, titled 25 Years – The Chain. The box set, included a brand new Stevie Nicks/Rick Vito composition, “Paper Doll”,here were also two new Christine McVie compositions, “Heart of Stone” and “Love Shines”, and Lindsey Buckingham also contributed a new song, “Make Me a Mask”, Mick Fleetwood also released a deluxe hardcover companion book to coincide with the release of the box set, titled My 25 Years in Fleetwood Mac. The volume featured many rare photographs and notes (written by Fleetwood himself) detailing the band’s 25 year history.

Some months after this, the Buckingham/Nicks/McVie/McVie/Fleetwood line-up reunited at the request of U.S. President Bill Clintonfor his first Inaugural Ball in 1993. Clinton had made Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” his campaign theme song. His subsequent request to perform it at the Inauguration Ball was met with enthusiasm by the band, however this line-up had no intention to reunite again. Inspired by the new interest in the band, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Christine McVie recorded another album as Fleetwood Mac, with Billy Burnette taking on lead guitar duties and leaving shortly afterwards he was replaced by singer/guitarist Bekka Bramlett and Traffic’s Dave Mason, who had worked with Bekka’s parentsDelaney & Bonnie twenty five years earlier, was also added. By March 1994, Billy Burnette, himself a good friend and co-songwriter with Delaney Bramlett, returned with Fleetwood’s blessing.The band, minus Christine McVie, toured in 1994.The tour saw the band perform classic Fleetwood Mac songs from the initial 1967–1974 era On 10 October 1995, Fleetwood Mac released Time.Shortly after the album’s release, Christine McVie informed the band that the album was her last. Bramlett and Burnette subsequently formed a country music duo, Bekka & Billy.Just weeks after disbanding Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood announced that he was working with Lindsey Buckingham again. John McVie was soon added to the sessions, and later Christine McVie. Stevie Nicks also enlisted Lindsey Buckingham to produce a song for a soundtrack.In May 1996, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks made an appearance at a private party in Louisville,Kentucky prior to the Kentucky Derby

later, the Twister film soundtrack was released, which featured the Stevie Nicks-Lindsey Buckingham duet, “Twisted”, with Mick Fleetwood on drums. This eventually led to a full Rumours line-up reunion when the band officially reformed in March 1997. The regrouped Mac performed a live concer and from this performance came the 1997 live album The Dance, bringing Fleetwood Mac back to the top of the US album charts for the first time in 15 years. They also released the 20th anniversary of their Rumours album. However, this would be the final foray of the classic line-up with Christine McVie.Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham on the Say You Will Tour, 2003In 1998, Fleetwood Mac (Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and performed at the Grammy Awards program that year. They were also the recipients of the “Outstanding Contribution to Music” award at the BRIT Awards(British Phonographic Industry Awards) the same year.In 1998, Christine McVie left the band permanently, Her departure left Buckingham and Nicks to sing all the lead vocals for the band’s 2003 album,Say You Will, although Christine did contribute some backing vocals and keyboards. The album yielded chart hits with “Peacekeeper” and the title track, and a successful world arena tour which lasted through 2004.

In 2008 it was reported Sheryl Crow would be working with Fleetwood Mac in 2009. Crow and Stevie Nicks collaborated a great deal in the past andthe group will start working on material and recording probably in October, and finish an album.” In 2008, Mick Fleetwood confirmed that the band were working in the studio and announced plans for a world tour in 2009.In late 2008, Fleetwood Mac announced that the band would tour in 2009, The tour was branded as a ‘greatest hits’ show entitled Unleashed, although they played album tracks such as “Storms” and “I Know I’m Not Wrong”. Stevie Nicks also premiered part of a new song that she had written about Hurricane Katrina. The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac was re-released in an extended two-disc format.On 1 November 2009, a new one-hour documentary, Fleetwood Mac: Don’t Stop, was shown and There was also an episode of Glee entitled “Rumours” that featured six songs from the band’s 1977 album. This sparking renewed interest in the band and Rumours reentered the Billboard 200 chart, the same week that Stevie Nicks’ new solo album In Your Dreams. Fleetwood Mac reunited for a 2013 tour without  Former guitarist and singer Bob Weston or singer and guitarist Bob Welch who are both sadly no longer with us, and performed two new songs (“Sad Angel” and “Without You”), and In 1998, select members of Fleetwood Mac were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

John Illsley (Dire Straits)

Best known for being the bass guitarist with rock group Dire Straits, John Illsley was born 24 June 1949. Formed in 1977 by Brothers Mark (lead vocals and lead guitar)and David Knopfler (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), and friends John Illsley (bass guitar and backing vocals, and Pick Withers (drums and percussion), Dire Straits recorded a five-song demo tape which included their future hit single, “Sultans of Swing”, as well as “Water of Love”, “Down to the Waterline”, “Wild West End” and David Knopfler’s “Sacred Loving”.

The group’s first album, was intitled Dire Straits the album had little promotion when initially released in the United Kingdom However, the album came to the attention of A&R representative Karin Berg, working at Warner Bros. Records in New York City. She felt that it was the kind of music audiences were hungry for, That same year, Dire Straits began a tour as opening band for the Talking Heads after the re-released “Sultans of Swing” which scaled the charts to number four in the United States and number eight in the United Kingdom. The song was one of Dire Straits’ biggest hits and became a fixture in the band’s live performances.

Recording sessions for the group’s second album, Communiqué, took place in December 1978, Released in June 1979 Communiqué Featured the single “Lady Writer”, the second album continued in a similar vein as the first and displayed the expanding scope of Knopfler’s lyricism on the opening track, “Once Upon a Time in the West”. In 1980, Dire Straits werenominated for two Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for “Sultans Of Swing.In July 1980 the band started recording tracks for their third album. Making Movies which featured longer songs with more complex arrangements, a style which would continue for the rest of the band’s career. The album featured many of Mark Knopfler’s most personal compositions. The most successful chart single was “Romeo and Juliet” and was released in October 1980.

Dire Straits’ fourth studio album Love Over Gold, an album of songs filled with lengthy, experimental passages, was well received when it was released in September 1982, going gold in America and spending four weeks at number one in the United Kingdom, its main chart hit, “Private Investigations”, gave Dire Straits their first top 5 hit single in the United Kingdom, where it reached the number 2 position despite its almost seven-minute length, and became another of the band’s most popular live songs. along with “Industrial Disease”, a song that looks at the decline of the British manufacturing industry in the early 1980s. In 1983, a four-song EP titled ExtendedancEPlay was released while Love Over Gold was still in the album charts. It featured the hit single “Twisting By the Pool”. Dire Straits also embarked on a world tour. wgich resulted in The double album Alchemy Live, a recording of two live concerts of the group at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in July 1983, was released in March 1984.

Dire Straits returned to the recording studios at the end of 1984 to record their biggest selling album to date, Brothers in Arms, which has so far sold over 30 million copies and contains the songs “Money for Nothing”, “Walk of Life”, “So Far Away”, “Your Latest Trick” and “Brothers in Arms”. Released in May 1985, Brothers In Arms entered the UK Albums Chart at number 1 and spent a total of 228 weeks in the charts, It went on to become the best-selling album of 1985 in the UK, “Money for Nothing” was also the first video ever to be played on MTV in Britain and featured guest vocals by Sting, who is credited with co-writing the song with Mark Knopfler, although in fact, it was just the inclusion of the melody line from “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”.Brothers in Arms was among the first albums recorded on digital equipment due to Knopfler pushing for improved sound quality The album’s title track is reported to be the world’s first CD single. The album is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first compact disc to sell a million copies, and has been credited with helping to popularise the CD formaTheir sound drew from a variety of musical influences, including jazz, folk, blues, and came closest to beat music within the context of rock and roll. Despite the prominence of punk rock during the band’s early years, the band’s stripped-down sound contrasted with punk, demonstrating a more “rootsy” influence that emerged out of pub rock.

Many of Dire Straits’ compositions were melancholic and they have gone on to became one of the world’s most commercially successful bands, with worldwide album sales of over 120 million. making them One of the world’s best selling music artists, and their fifth album, Brothers in Arms, has won many accolades. In November 2009, Dire Straits were honoured by the new PRS for Music Heritage Award. A special blue plaque was erected at Farrer House, Church Street, Deptford in south London, where the original group, Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, John Illsley and Pick Withers once shared a council flat and performed their first ever gig in 1977. PRS for Music has set up the Heritage Award to recognise the unusual “performance birthplaces” of famous bands and artists. Dire Straits have also won numerous music awards during their career, including four Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards—winning Best British Group twice, and two MTV Video Music Awards. The band’ most popular songs include “Sultans of Swing”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Tunnel of Love”, “Private Investigations” .Dire Straits’ career spanned 18 years. There were several changes in personnel over that period, leaving Mark Knopfler and John Illsley as the only two original bandmates who had remained throughout the band’s career. Dire Straits disbanded in 1995 when Mark Knopfler launched his career full time as a solo artist.