Suggs (Madness)

Suggs, A.K.A Graham McPherson the singer with ska band Madness was Born 13th January 1961. Originally from Camden Town, London, Madness formed in 1976 and became One of the most prominent bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s 2 Tone ska revival, they continue to perform with their most recognised line-up of seven members.Madness achieved most of their success in the early to mid 1980s. Both Madness and UB40 spent 214 weeks on the UK singles charts over the course of the decade, holding the record for most weeks spent by a group in the 1980s UK singles charts. However, Madness achieved this in a shorter time period (1980–1986).

The core of the band formed as The North London Invaders in 1976, and included Mike Barson (Monsieur Barso) on keyboards and vocals, Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy) on guitar and Lee Thompson (Kix) on saxophone and vocals.[6] They later recruited John Hasler on drums and Cathal Smyth (better known as Chas Smash) on bass guitar. Later in the year, they were joined by lead vocalist Dikron Tulane.This six-piece line-up lasted until part way through 1977, when Graham McPherson (better known as Suggs) took over the lead vocals after seeing the band perform in a friend’s garden. Smyth, who left after an argument with Mike Barson, was replaced by Gavin Rodgers, Barson’s girlfriend’s brother.McPherson was kicked out of the band for too often choosing to watch Chelsea instead of rehearsing. Thompson left the band after Barson criticised his saxophone playing. By 1978, the band had allowed McPherson to return, after filling in temporarily for Hasler (who had taken over vocals when McPherson was removed). Thompson returned after patching things up with Barson, and Daniel Woodgate (Woody) and Mark Bedford (Bedders) also joined the band, on drums, replacing Garry Dovey, and bass guitar, replacing Gavin Rodgers, respectively. After briefly changing their name to Morris and the Minors, the band renamed itself as Madness in 1979; paying homage to one of their favourite songs by ska/reggae artist Prince Buster. The band remained a sextet until late 1979, when Chas Smash rejoined and officially became the seventh member of Madness as a backing vocalist and dancer.

In 1979, the band recorded the Lee Thompson composition “The Prince”. The song, like the band’s name, paid homage to their idol, Prince Buster.That debut album, One Step Beyond…included a re-recording of “The Prince” and its B-side “Madness”, and the band’s second and third singles: “One Step Beyond” and “My Girl”. The band also released an EP featuring one album track and three new tracks. The result was the Work Rest and Play EP, which was headlined by the song “Night Boat to Cairo”, from the One Step Beyond album. In 1980, the band released their second album, Absolutely,which spawned some of the band’s biggest hits, most notably “Baggy Trousers”, “Embarrassment” and “Return of the Los Palmas 7”.In 1981, the band released their third studio album, 7,containing “Grey Day”, “Shut Up” and “Cardiac Arrest”. Madness also released one of their most recognised songs: a cover of Labi Siffre’s 1971 hit “It Must Be Love”. In 1982, Madness released their only number 1 hit to date, “House of Fun”. In November 1982, they released their fourth studio album, The Rise & Fall, which included “Our House”. In 1983, they released the single “Wings of a Dove” , followed by “The Sun & The Rain” and the album, Keep Moving. In October 1983, Mike Barson left the band in June 1984, following the release of “One Better Day”. The six remaining members left Stiff Records and formed their own label, Zarjazz Records, which was a sub-label of Virgin Records. In 1985, the label released the band’s sixth album, Mad Not Mad. While The band were recording their next album, “musical differences” arose between band members, and in September 1986, the band announced that they were splitting and released a a farewell single, “(Waiting For) The Ghost Train”.

In 1991, “It Must Be Love” was re-released followed by a Singles collection called Divine Madness.They then announced plans for a reunion concert, Madstock!, which was held at Finsbury Park, during which The original lineup reunited, performing together for the first time since Barson left the band in 1984. Over 75,000 fans attended the weekend festival, and the dancing of the boisterous crowd seemingly caused an extraordinary event of ground-shaking proportions (during “One Step Beyond”, according to the legends) and an earthquake was reported in North London during the concert. Subsequent to the Finsbury Park comeback, a live album was released, and the associated single, “The Harder They Come” (a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s 1973 song.The band continued to reunite for annual UK Christmas season tours and held three more Madstock! festivals. in 1998, Madness returned to America for their first tour there since 1984. The live album Universal Madness was recorded at the Universal Amphitheatre in L.A. In 1999, Madness released their first studio album since 1986, entitled Wonderful. From 28 October 2002 to 16 August 2003, a musical based on Madness songs, Our House, ran at the Cambridge Theatre in London. Madness played a role in the executive production of the show, and Suggs played a role in the production for a period of time, playing the central character’s father.It won an Olivier Award for best new musical of 2003, and the performance was released on DVD on 1 November 2004. There was also a previous musical based on Madness songs, One Step Beyond!,whichhad a brief run at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1993 and a run at Putney Arts Theatre, London in 2012.

In 2004, the band played a series of low-key concerts as The Dangermen, performing covers of classic reggae and ska songs. This led to the release of the album The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1. In 2007 The six remaining original members of Madness then began working on their first original album in seven years & the non-LP single Sorry was released. A new Madness song NW5 (then still titled NW5 (I Would Give You Everything) and a re-recorded version of It Must Be Love were featured in the German film Neues vom Wixxer in. In June 2008 the group showcased the majority of their new album The Liberty of Norton Folgate which was released on 18 May 2009. . The band also played various festivals, including Pinkpop, Splendour, and Glastonbury. On 27 September 2009, the band also played a free concert on a closed-off Regent Street in association with Absolute Radio. Madness played the Rock en Seine festival near Paris, on the same night where Oasis brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher engaged in a physical altercation, resulting in the split of the band. As Oasis cancelled their headlining slot, Madness, even though having played earlier in the evening, were asked to replace them. Madness accepted the invitation and both of their sets during festival were said to have been extremely well received.As in previous years, the band embarked on a Christmas tour of the UK Some members of the band also appeared in Catherine Tate’s Nan’s Christmas Carol. In September 2010, Madness were awarded the ‘Idol award’ at the Q Awards in London and toured the UK throughout November and December 2010 with their final show at London’s Earl’s Court.In June 2011, the band performed at Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall & In April 2012 the band appeared at the Coachella festival and made a number of concert appearances across California and in Las Vegas.The summer of 2012 saw two notable performances. In June, the band performed “Our House” and “It Must Be Love”at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert from the roof of Buckingham Palace. . Later, in August, the band were the first to perform at the closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games. The Madness album Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da was released In 2012.

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