Believe it or not, it’s 50 years since Wigan singer-songwriter Georgie Fame teamed up with Geordie musician Alan Price in the early 1970s.
The pair regularly appeared on national TV, each playing a grand piano side by side. They even commanded a weekly spot on the BBC’s flagship Saturday night show The Two Ronnies.
It was certainly a far cry from the origins of the two performers. Fame played piano for Joe Brown, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran before backing Billy Fury in the Blue Flames.
Price was the keyboardist for British band the Animals, playing organ on classic hits like The House of the Rising Sun and Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.
Born a year apart – Fame in June 1943 and Price in April 1942 – the pair got together in 1971 to release the single Rosetta which climbed to No. 12 in the UK charts.
Rosetta was written by Mike Snow, formerly of the Blue Aces and the Checkmates, while the single’s B side, John and Mary, was composed by Price.
An album quickly followed on the CBS label. Its awkward title – Fame and Price, Price and Fame Together – belied its musical quality.
Produced by Mike Smith, the album contained 10 tracks in addition to Rosetta. They included Yellow Man, the Dole Song, Blue Condition and Ballad of Billy Joe.
In spite of the national exposure enjoyed by Price and Fame, including an appearance on the Morecambe and Wise show, the album never made the Top 40.
After the partnership split, Price recorded the autobiographical album Between Today and Yesterday in 1974. It included the Top Ten hit Jarrow Song which reached No. 6 in the UK singles charts.
Fame reformed the Blue Flames in 1974 and extended his range to sing with big bands and European orchestras as well as writing jingles for radio and TV adverts.
He also composed music for the 1970 movie Entertaining Mr Sloane, starring Beryl Reid and Peter McEnery, and The Alf Garnett Saga in 1972.
Born Clive Powell in Cotton Street, Leigh, Fame took his first music lessons at Leigh Central County Secondary School.
He was a cotton weaver before winning a singing contest at Butlins in Pwllheli, North Wales, where he was instantly offered a job by band leader Rory Blackwell.
The name Georgie Fame was coined when Powell was 16. It was the idea of his new manager, well-known impresario Larry Parnes.
Price was born in Washington, County Durham, and was educated at Jarrow Grammar School. He taught himself piano before becoming a founder member of the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, later renamed the Animals.
Fame’s career really started to take off in 1961 when singer Billy Fury decided to end his association with the Blue Flames.
At the age of 18, Fame fronted the new group – Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames – who were heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and played every week at The Scene in London’s Soho.
The band’s first album was recorded live in another London club The Flamingo in September 1963. It was aptly named Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo.
It failed to chart, but the next album – Fame at Last – peaked at No. 15. The band also managed to make five appearances on the ITV pop show Ready Steady Go!
In 1964, Fame’s popularity went into overdrive when he knocked the Beatles off the top of the UK singles charts.
The Fab Four had been at Number One with I Feel Fine for five weeks before Fame and his band weighed in with the Latin soul tune Yeh, Yeh.
Fame then made music history by becoming the only British pop star to achieve three Number Ones with his only Top Ten chart entries.
He followed up Yeh, Yeh with Get Away in 1966 and The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967. The latter became his biggest hit, going to No. 7 in the US charts and selling more than a million copies.
Fame had split from the Blue Flames in 1966 to pursue a solo career, while Price left the Animals in 1965 to form the Alan Price Set.
In 1966, Price enjoyed chart success with the single I Put a Spell on You, which reached No. 9 in the UK singles chart followed up Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo which peaked at No. 11.
Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear went to No. 4 in 1967 while Don’t Stop the Carnival reached No. 13 in 1968.
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