Biography Midge Ure
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, so the fact that by the time Midge Ure's single 'If I Was' went to No 1 in 1985 he had already several musical lifetimes into a 10 year professional career: Slik, 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 Ure'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.
Midge Ure's musical roots were playing and learning the records of the Small Faces and other rockers who did things very much their own way, Midge Ure 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 on Valentine's Day 1976. Soon outgrowing Slik's pop dimensions, Midge Ure 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 1979 Midge Ure had been asked by Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann to become the new frontman (singer) in Ultravox.
Ultravox was a major influence on the new romantic and electro-pop movements of the early '80s. Their successful trademark was combining Midge Ure'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 1980s rises again to a new peak in 2004, courtesy of Duran Duran's massive success, 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'.
Then came November 25, 1984: a historic day for Midge Ure and all of pop music: 36 artists by the collective name Band Aid gathered at SARM Studios in west London under Midge Ure's production. They recorded 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' a song Midge Ure had just written with Bob Geldof as the industry's heartfelt and eloquent contribution to Ethiopian famine relief.
600,000 copies of the single 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' were sold in its first week in the UK. This was only the beginning: 800,000 more were bought in the second week, more than three million world-wide, and the unstoppable emotion engendered by the project led to Live Aid: the summer 1985 global concert that, all exaggeration aside, spoke for a generation.
Within months, a staggering £8 million had been raised for the starving in Africa, and Geldof said that without Midge 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 Ure is still to this day a Band Aid Trustee.
Midge Ure SoloJust two months after Live Aid, Midge was back at No.1 in Britain, with the single
'If I Was', and by the autumn he had a No.2 solo album to accompany it, entitled 'The Gift'.
In 1993, that chart-topper was to lend itself to the retrospective album 'If I Was'.
In 1996 the new album of Midge Ure 'Breathe' was followed by further 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 'Breathe' and the single 'Breathe' were in the top 20 throughout Europe for much of that year, and No.1 in Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where Midge Ure toured voraciously.
'Breathe' sold over half a million copies in Europe alone.
Soon after Midge Ure 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 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 Ure 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 Ure also narrated a tribute to Alex Harvey for BBC Radio, appeared on BBC1's 'A Question of Pop', 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 Ure was instrumental in the video production.
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 Midge Ure 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.
Always one to ring the changes, Midge Ure next decided to revisit his electronic roots in the 'Sampled, Looped and Trigger Happy' tour. 35 shows left no corner of the UK untouched by this amalgam of old and new. Songs that hadn't seen the light of day for many a year like Astradyne, Reap the Wild Wind and Wastelands and the shows were captured on the tour DVD 'If I Was'.
German lable Hypertension picked up the release and issued it both on DVD and a soundtrack CD entitled Re*Live and his relationship with the Hypertension continues to go from strength to strength.
2005 was the year that Midge undertook both extensive acoustic tours of Germany and the UK as well as performing with the long standing 'Night of the Proms' in Germany. This 21 date sell out tour of arenas saw a massive production with full orchestra.
Midge Ure then went on to be executive producer for the Band Aid 20 single Do They Know It's Christmas? working with the likes of Paul McCartney, Joss Stone and Fran Healey.
Midge Ure's services to both music and charity were finally recognised in the Birthday Honours list in 2005, when Midge was awarded a long overdue OBE (Officer of the British Empire)!
Midge Ure also released his own autobiography 'If I Was' through Virgin books, and undertook a promotional tour of bookshops where he did a short acoustic performance and a question and answer session.
Midge Ure also received honorary doctorates from both Edinburgh and Dundee Universities, mainly in recognition for his work with Band Aid and Live 8.
Midge Ure actually managed to fit in a performance at the Edinburgh Live8 show in Murreyfield in July 2005 where he played with Eddie Izzard on piano!
Midge Ureand band performed a show with Level 42 and the Cutting Crew for legendary German TV show 'Rockpalast' in November 2006. The show was broadcast in early January 2007. He has also performed with German icon Xavier Naidoo at his recent O Livelait show. He also travelled to Korea with old friends WOMAD and performed with Troy Donockley and AD Chivers there. He has also just narrated a documentary about the Cavern Club which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
'Uncovered' is Midge Ure's latest live incarnation. 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, it should certainly provide an entertaining evening! But then that's nothing new….