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Elliott James Murphy (born March 16 1949 on Long Islandmarker, New Yorkmarker) is an Americanmarker rock singer-songwriter, novelist, producer and journalist living in Parismarker.

Biography

Elliott James Murphy Jr. was born in Mercy Hospital, Rockville Centremarker, New Yorkmarker in 1949 to a show business family. His mother Josephine was a former actress while his father, Elliott Sr., was the well-known impresario whose multi-faceted Aquashow ran all through the 1950s on the site of the 1939 New York World's Fair. The show was staged in an Art Deco outdoor theatre and featured diving clowns, ballet swimmers, jugglers, comedians and The Duke Ellington Orchestra. Later, Elliott Sr. opened the Sky Club in Roosevelt Field, Long Islandmarker not far from where Charles Lindbergh took off for his historic flight to Europe. The Sky Club was a politically connected restaurant/private club hosting such famous politicians of the time as Bobby Kennedy and Nelson Rockefeller. But more impressive to the young Elliott were the Sky Club's dance soirees, which featured The Ronettes, Jay and the Americans and The Seeds.

Elliott grew up in nearby Garden City, started playing the guitar at 12 years old and with his band The Rapscallions he won the 1966 New York State Battle of the Bands. He began writing songs while singing on the streets of Europe in 1971 and returned to New Yorkmarker after a brief stay in San Franciscomarker to secure a record contract with Polydor Records. His debut album Aquashow (1973) was a critical success landing on many "best of" lists for the year and feature stories on Murphy appeared in Rolling Stone, Newsweek and The New Yorker. Follow up albums Lost Generation (1975), Night Lights (1976) and Just a Story from America (1977) received equal acclaim. Special guests included Mick Taylor, Billy Joel, Phil Collins. His music was post-Bob Dylan poetic rock heavily influenced by New York's Velvet Underground and propelled by Murphy's driving electric guitar and harmonica. After four albums on major labels Murphy was one of the first American artists to go independent (by both choice and necessity) with the release of the EP Affairs (1980) that sold well in Europe and set the stage for the successful Murph the Surf (1982). In 1985 the Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) produced Milwaukee began his long relationship with New Rose Records in France. By this time Murphy was touring Europe constantly and finally moved to Parismarker in 1989 where he continues to live with his wife and son. Selling the Gold (1995) featured a duet with Bruce Springsteen, long-time friend, who often has invited him on stage during his European shows.

Of late Elliott's been revisiting the States for tourdates, mainly on the East Coast in December 2008 and April 2009, and the West Coast in January 2009, with pop singer-songwriter Jann Klose opening for a number of the shows. In a November 22, 2008 interview with Pollstar, Elliott explained that his son, musician Gaspard Murphy was attending school in the States, and he wanted to stay close to him.

The following albums Beauregard, Rainy Season, Soul Surfing and La Terre Commune (a duo with Iain Matthews) marked a renaissance in his recording career, with many critics calling his double album Strings of the Storm his finest up to this point. With Frenchmarker guitar wizard Olivier Durand he tours constantly, playing well over 100 shows a year all over Europe and to sum up their 10 years together, Never Say Never...The Best of 1995-2005, a CD + bonus DVD package of performances, videos and a discography showing all 26 album covers was released in 2005. The year ended with Murphy Gets Muddy, an album of 9 classic blues covers and 5 Murphy blues originals, accompanied by a bonus DVD honoring blues songsmith Willy Dixon with 5 live interpretations. In early 2007 the album Coming Home Again was released in Europe and on iTunes. Murphy's 30th studio album, Notes from the Underground, came out in 2008 and received 4 stars on the prestigious All Music Guide, In fact, 18 of Murphy's albums have received 4 or 5 stars on All Music Guide. 2008/2009 saw Murphy back in the United States for a duo and a band tour. A live CD/DVD-set documenting a Paris concert is scheduled for release in fall 2009.

"Rock'n roll is my addiction and literature is my religion", Murphy likes to confess in interviews and articles. In addition to his music and song lyrics Murphy has written for Rolling Stone, Spin, Mucchio Selvaggio and various European magazines and has published Cold & Electric, a semi-autobiographical novel, in French, German and Spanish editions, as well as two short story collections (The Lion Sleeps Tonight and Where the Women Are Naked And The Men Are Rich) and in 2003 Café Notes (Hachette, France). In 2005 his neo-western novel Poetic Justice (Hachette, France) came out in a French translation. English and Italian editions are in preparation. The novel has attracted interest from film producers as well.

Discography and Books

Albums and EPs

  • Aquashow (1973)
  • Lost Generation (1975)
  • Night Lights (1976)
  • Just a Story from America (1977)
  • Affairs (1980)
  • Murph the Surf (1982)
  • Party girls / Broken Poets (1984)
  • Milwaukee (1985)
  • Change Will Come (1987)
  • Aprés le déluge (1987)
  • 12 (1990) US re-edition: Unreal City (1993)
  • If Poets Were Kings (1992)
  • Paris/New York (1993)
  • Selling the Gold (1995)
  • Beauregard (1998)
  • Rainy Season (2000)
  • La terre commune (with Iain Matthews (2001)
  • Soul Surfing (2002)
  • Soul Surfing - the Next Wave EP (2002)
  • Strings of the Storm (2003)
  • Murphy Gets Muddy (2005)
  • Coming Home Again (2007)
  • Notes from the Underground (2008)


Compilations

  • Diamonds by the Yard (1991)
  • Going Through Something - the Best of 1982-1991 (1996)
  • Never Say Never - the Best of 1995-2003 & Live DVD (2005)


Live

  • Live Hot Point (1991)
  • April - a Live Album (1999)
  • The Last of the Rock Stars... and Me and You (2001)


Guest appearances

  • David Johansen - Here Comes the Night (1982): guitar, harmonica (the then Elliott Murphy Band is the album personnel)
  • Rocking Chairs - Freedom Rain (1988): voice and guitar on Wild Horses
  • Rocking Chairs - No Sad Goodbyes (1989): producer


Books

  • Cold and Electric (1989)
  • Where the Men are Rich and the Women are Naked (1992)
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight (1992)
  • Café Notes (2002)
  • Poetic Justice (2005)


Tributes

A great tribute song : "Johan & Elliott" has been released by french singer Jessepop.

Other related musicians

Beside his close friend Bruce Springsteen and co-author Ian Matthews, many musicians have often appeared in Elliott Murphy albums as guests. Amongst those:



His current backing band, sometimes referred to as The Normandy All Stars, is formed by

Taping-friendly policy

Elliott is one of many artists who have issued a "non commercial tapers-friendly" official policy. His shows may be freely recorded and spread as long as it's done in an entirely non-commercial way. Many bootlegs have always existed of his concerts, mostly of great quality. Elliott's live show are embued with energy and charm, and usually, such qualities are faithfully reflected on the recordings, to the point that a minority of fans regard them (but this is a personal opinion of theirs) as even better than the official live recordings.

Sound and Instrumentation

Even if Elliott himself is not a guitar wizard, his electric albums (up to the 90's) always had a "signature sound" given by his faithful Stratocaster. Since he started working with guitarist Olivier Durand in 1996, his sound has dramatically turned much more acoustic for two reasons: the acoustic set is easier to set up allowing better results for an artist who play relatively small (300-1000 places) venues and who plays a lot (100+) of gigs a year, and Olivier Durand is a true guitar virtuoso who regularly impresses audiences with the sound of his acoustic guitar who is now a trademark of Elliott's music. After a short time using Guild guitars (mostly on the Beauregard album) he started using Taylor guitars for they uniquely versatile sound.He always played harmonica, traditionally the classic Hohner and more recently Tombo's Lee Oskar.

References




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