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MIDGE URE BIOGRAPHY - AUGUST 2012
An artist who has received Ivor Novello, Grammy, BASCAP awards along with a flotilla of gold and platinum records, really needs very little introduction.
Musical success is seldom measured in time spans of more than a few years, if not Andy Warhol's often quoted "fifteen minutes", so the fact that by the time Midge's single "If I Was" went to No1 in 1985 he had already crammed several musical lifetimes into a 10 year professional career speaks volumes - Slik, The Rich Kids, Thin Lizzy, Visage, Ultravox and of course the most famous one off group in musical history Band Aid had by then all had the guiding hand of his musical navigation.
Then you have to take account of Midge's musical directorship of a series of rock concerts for The Prince's Trust, Wicked Women for Breakthrough and in honour of Nelson Mandela; a Lord Provost award for services to Scottish music; record production for Phil Lynott, Steve Harley and countless others; his video direction of memorable hits by the Fun Boy Three, Bananarama and others, or a whole swathe of landmark singles by Ultravox; TV, theatre and film music credits ranging from 'Max Headroom' to stage and big screen.
His musical roots were playing and learning the records of the Small Faces and other rockers who did things very much their own way, Midge appeared to the wider public in a moment of heady teen success with Slik. Their sway-along Bell single 'Forever And Ever' took over at No.1 in the UK from Abba's 'Mamma Mia' on Valentine's Day 1976. Soon outgrowing Slik's pop dimensions, Midge was snapped up by ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock the following year for his new outfit, the Rich Kids, who charted amid an avalanche of press with a self-titled EMI single early in 1978. By April '79, with his name being added to many musicians' contact book, Ure had been asked by Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann to become the new frontman in Ultravox.
The band was a major influence on the new romantic and electro-pop movements of the early '80s and many an open-minded studio and bedroom experimentalist since. Their successful trademark was combining Midge's powerful guitar riffs with sweeping synthesiser motifs, enigmatic imagery and state-of-the-art visuals. Throughout the first half of the '80s, they brilliantly combined the responsibilities of top 10 chartmakers and innovative style-makers.
As interest in the 1980's rises again to a new peak in 2009, courtesy of reformations of the likes of Duran Duran and most recently Spandau Ballet, Ultravox's chart catalogue rewards merits new scrutiny. Tracks like 'Reap the Wild Wind', 'Dancing With Tears in My Eyes', 'Love's Great Adventure' and 1981's timeless 'Vienna' were all massive hits the world over as they charted with awesome regularity, not only on single, but with seven consecutive top ten albums in just six years.
Even by then, the Midge
Ure story had some individual chapters, of course. He wrote and
produced Visage in 1980, then hit the top 10 in the summer of
1982 with his first release under his own name, an atmospheric
take on the Tom Rush song made famous half a dozen years earlier
by the Walker Brothers, 'No Regrets'.
Within months, a staggering
£8 million had been raised for the starving in Africa,
and Geldof said that without Ure's initial enthusiasm for the
idea, not to mention his rapidly penned sketch for the single,
neither Band Aid nor Live Aid could have happened. Midge is still
to this day a Band Aid Trustee.
In 1996 the new 'Breathe' album was followed by further extensive touring, including dates in the US as special guest to the Chieftains. The Swatch campaign brought spectacular renewed international activity for the record in 1998. The album and eponymous single were subsequently in the top 20 throughout Europe for much of that year, and No.1 in Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where Midge toured voraciously. 'Breathe' sold over half a million copies in Europe alone.Respected German composer Eberhard Schoener invited him to perform at the re-opening of the Potzdamer Platz in Berlin, in front of an estimated audience of 500,000.
Soon after Midge was busy producing and writing with and for various artists, both established and unsigned, at his studio in Bath, and writing music for films. Other duties included the 'Music for Montserrat' benefit at the Royal Albert Hall alongside Sir Paul McCartney, Elton John and Eric Clapton, and a performance for the launch of the Hard Rock Hotel in Bali.
1999 brought a major Japanese tour and shows for WOMAD in Singapore (where he broke the house attendance record) and Las Palmas, where the band played to a packed town square in a performance broadcast by Spanish TV later that year. Yet another new strand to his career emerged when Midge presented shows for BBC Radio on the careers of Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry and Thin Lizzy, also participating in a 15th anniversary radio show to celebrate the Band Aid success. He has also recorded a contribution to BBC Radio 2's 'Electrifying - The History of the Electric Guitar.'
Whilst completing work on his next studio album 'Move Me', Midge also narrated a tribute to Alex Harvey for BBC Radio, appeared on BBC1's 'A Question of Pop' with Craig David, and made various festival appearances, including a performance with Sir George Martin for 'Wings & Strings', as well as completing another extensive European tour of his own to support the album release.
Following Midge's appearance on the flagship ITV program "This is your Life" in early 2001, EMI released 'THE VERY BEST OF MIDGE URE & ULTRAVOX' which prompted him to go back out on the road in "rock band mode" 'Rewind - The Greatest Hits Tour' a major fifteen date UK jaunt supported the release and performed his hits from across the full spectrum of his career. The show was filmed at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, and released on DVD through Eagle Rock. Once again, Midge was instrumental in the video production, always preferring to keep things under his direct control. Another important milestone was the opening of the www.midgeure.com online shop; a vehicle which allows him to release his own product, completely under his own control. The first exclusive shop release was "Glorious Noise - Breathe Live", followed by "Intimate Moments"; a collection of previously unreleased material. As he says, "I needed a home for the songs that didn't fit a particular album. They're my Little Orphans!"
As we moved into 2002, once again he combined a series of acoustic shows with a glorious summer spent performing a series of shows in historic building across the UK in band format with "The Pretenders". Another exclusive release also hit the virtual shelves. "Intimate Moments" is a candid record of his acoustic show, captured on a double CD.
Always one to ring the
changes, Midge next decided to revisit his "electronic"
roots in the "Sampled, Looped and Trigger Happy" tour.
The 35 show tour left no corner of the UK untouched by this amalgam
of old and new, the old being given a contemporary twist sitting
comfortably alongside the new. Songs that hadn't seen the light
of day for many a year like Astradyne, Reap the Wild Wind and
Sleepwalk and the shows were captured on the tour DVD, If I Was.
his latest live incarnation - launched onto the UK theatre circuit
in 2008.... Combining his own classic hits with a selection of
songs that have been a major influence on him along with a smattering
of personal reflections, all done in an acoustic format.
Midges solo gigs continue in late 2012 and into 2013 with a varied set list drawing on his Ultravox and solo catalogue, plus songs that have influenced him both old and new.