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Former Madness singer Suggs McPherson (b. Graham McPherson, 13 January 1961, Hastings, Sussex, England) had toyed with various re-formations of that hugely successful UK pop band before launching his solo career in 1995. The success of the band’s ‘Madstock’ shows in Finsbury Park, London, in 1993, had reawakened public affection for the engaging singer. Suggs explained the delay thus: ‘When I left Madness, I didn’t want to stay in the music industry as a performer.’ Instead he managed the Farm, co-producing their first album, and worked on his own show on satellite television (the ill-fated BSB). He began to write his own songs again in 1991, with the co-operation of former Madness colleague Mike Barson. When he decided to undertake a belated solo career in 1994 he found a willing aid in the shape of Warner Music chairman Rob Dickins, who had arranged Madness’ publishing and originally lent the band the £200 necessary to record their first single, ‘The Prince’. However, sessions for Suggs’ self-produced solo release were delayed until Dickens suggested that Sly And Robbie, the reggae production/rhythm team, were available. Their input revitalised the sessions, along with the contributions of Jamaican saxophonist Rico Rodriguez, bass maestro Jah Wobble and Aswad’s brass section. The first release was in August 1995 with the double a-side, ‘Off On Holiday’ and ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, followed by ‘Camden Town’. Its offbeat celebration of the hip north London district was immediately recognisable to fans of Madness, far too much so for some critics. The reception afforded The Lone Ranger, which fell down the charts rather ominously after an initially high placing, was similarly muted. Few did not celebrate the return of one of Britain’s most accessible songwriters, though more enthusiasm greeted the news that Suggs was also scheduled for December 1995 dates leading a re-formed Madness. A second major hit was culled from the album in the shape of ‘Cecilia’, the former Simon And Garfunkel hit and now a fixture of ‘gold’ radio stations. A second collection, The Three Pyramid Club, failed to build on the success of his earlier singles. On UK television, he also hosts Channel 5’s wonderfully trashy celebrity karaoke show, Night Fever.
13 January 1961 in Hastings, East Sussex, England
'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s