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Richard Clapton (born ca. 1950) is an Australian singer/songwriter. Although not well-known outside Australia, a number of his songs such as "Girls on the Avenue", "Capricorn Dancer", "Deep Water", "Down in the Lucky Country", "The Best Years of Our Lives", and "I am an Island" are staples of FM radio playlists in Australia.

Life and career

Clapton's date of birth is somewhat elusive; in an interview with the Melbourne Age in 2002, he described himself as 50-something. while an article in Who magazine, his birthdate is given as 1951, although the most authoritative source on the subject, Ian McFarlane's Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop, gives his birth year as 1949.

Clapton emerged in the early 1970s as a talented and ambitious singer-songwriter in the "troubadour" style of artists such as Neil Young and Jackson Browne, both of whom later expressed their admiration for Clapton [280010]. He took up guitar while training as a commercial artist in the 1960s. In 1967 he moved to London and was soon playing with bands in both the United Kingdom and Germany, returning to Australia in 1972.

In 1972 Clapton signed a publishing deal with Essex Music and a recording deal with Infinity Records, the progressive subsidiary of Festival Records. His debut single "Last Train to Marseilles" was released in October 1972; on the recording Clapton was backed by Red McKelvie (guitar, ex The Flying Circus), Kenny Kitching (pedal steel), John Capek (piano, ex Carson) and John Bois (bass) and Tony Bolton (drums), both from Country Radio.

It was another year before the completion and release of his debut album, Prussian Blue (November 1973); two more singles were issued from the LP, "All the Prodigal Children"/"Hardly Knew Myself" (Oct. 1973) and "I Wanna Be A Survivor"/"Prussian Blue" (July 1974). On "Hardly Knew Myself" and "I Wanna Be A Survivor" Clapton was backed by The La De Das, with the other tracks variously featuring Red McKelvie, Glenn Cardier (guitar), Russell Dunlop (drums), Mike Perjanik (organ), Trevor Wilson and Mike Lawler (bass) and Ian Bloxham (percussion). According to rock historian Noel McGrath, the album suffered from lack of radio exposure; Australian commercial pop radio at the time was being overtaken by a local version of the Drake-Chenault "More Music" format, which drastically restricted the scope of pop radio playlists, shutting out many Australian performers. However, thanks to Clapton's solid grass-roots support, Prussian Blue sold steadily by word of mouth and four years later it was still selling 200-500 copies per week. In early 1973 Clapton had a six-week stint as the vocalist for Sydney jazz-rock group Sun, briefly replacing the group's original singer Renee Geyer.

Clapton's commercial breakthrough came with the title song from his second album, "Girls on the Avenue". It was issued as a single in Jan. 1975; although Festival had little faith in song (initially releasing as the B-side of the song "Travelling Down the Castlereagh") it was picked up by radio and became a major hit, reaching the #2 spot on the national Australian Top 40 in March 1975.

In 1976 he contributed to the 'various artists' soundtrack for the film "Highway One", penning the hit single "Capricorn Dancer", which reached #20 on the national chart and remains a concert staple.

At the time of its release, Goodbye Tiger (1977) was one of the most critically acclaimed albums an Australian artist had released, and it was a major commercial success, reaching #5 on the Australian album chart in November 1977. It was the final album Clapton recorded for Festival/Infinity, and like all of his preceding work it was produced by Richard Batchens, one of the most prominent and successful Australian producers of the period, whose other credits included the album At The Mountains of Madness by Blackfeather and a string of hit albums and singles for pop band Sherbet. Many Clapton fans continue to regard this notably melancholic record as his masterpiece, and it included two of his most successful and enduring songs, "Down in the Lucky Country" and the anthemic "Deep Water", which reached #28 in November 1977.

In 1979 he to travelled to Los Angeles to record his fifth studio album "Hearts On The Nightline". The album failed to attract international attention, and Clapton returned to Sydney in 1980 and recorded the critically acclaimed "Dark Spaces".

The 1980s saw Clapton consolidate his career in the music industry, and 1982's The Great Escape (featuring contributions from members of Cold Chisel and INXS) sold strongly; it contained memorable singles in the hard-rocking "I Am An Island" (which featured Cold Chisel members Ian Moss on guitar and Jimmy Barnes on backing vocals) and "The Best Years of Our Lives". During the early 1980s, he was acknowledged as a mentor to several bands emerging from the then-vigorous pub rock scene, in particular INXS whose second LP, Underneath the Colours he produced.

In 1983, Clapton joined The Party Boys, taking over lead vocals from James Reyne and the album Greatest Hits resulted from the extensive tour of the east coast of Australia. Clapton later left the band to focus on his own next album and tour "Solidarity", handing over vocals to Shirley Strachan.

In 1984 Clapton released "Solidarity" which embraced much of the electronic technology of the time, and was followed in 1987 by his most ambitiously creative album to date, "Glory Road" produced by Jon Farris from INXS. Throughout the Eighties he enjoyed significant success on FM radio playlists and this was sustained by the release of "Distant Thunder" in 1993.

In 1999, Clapton was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. That year also saw the release of the "Definitive Anthology" a compilation album, which for obvious reasons became Clapton's biggest selling album. In the new millennium he spent four years writing and recording the album "Diamond Mine" at his home studio, a process he described as the most creatively liberating experience of his recording career. The album contained thirteen new songs, many of which displayed a willingness to explore new creative territory.

On a 2006 album, Rewired, recorded at his home studio, Clapton produced "unplugged" acoustic versions of his early songs. This album contains many early Clapton songs that have been reworked to fit in with the acoustic feel of the album.

Clapton appeared in the Countdown Spectacular 2 concert series in Australia between late-August and early-September 2007. He sang three songs as part of the show, including the crowd favourite "Girls on the Avenue". He later headlined the 2008 Australia Day concert held at Parliament House, Canberramarker.

To celebrate 35 years of performing, Richard Clapton held a one off concert at the State Theatre marker on June 28, 2008. The event was sold out in days and featured a star studded line up of Australian musicians who have played with him over the years in particular Jon Farriss from INXS a close friend for many years. The atmosphere of this monumentous event was captured in the release, in October 2008, of the live CD, "Live At The State Theatre", which included fourteen of the standout songs from both the acoustic and electric sets that night (Richard performed twenty-seven songs in total that night).

Following the success of the 2008 State Theatre concert Clapton decided to showcase his pivotal 1977 album "Goodbye Tiger" once again at The State Theatre in September 2009. The first concert sold out in less than an hour, so predictably, a second show was added. The entire "Goodbye Tiger" album was performed as authentically as the original recording and an eclectic mix of old and new songs were played in the second set. On the second night Richard and band were joined by Ian Moss (Cold Chisel) who played a blistering rendition of "I Am An Island".

Clapton also inducted one of his favourite bands, The Dingoes, into The ARIA Hall Of Fame on 29th August 2009.

Discography

Albums

  • Prussian Blue (1973)- Tracks: Hardly Know Myself; Southern Germany; Poor Man's Saviour; Strange Days In Chippendale; Prussian Blue; I Wanna Be A Survivor; Last Train To Marseilles; All The Prodigal Children; Burning Ships; The Lonesome Voyager.
  • Girls on the Avenue (1975)- Tracks: Girls On The Avenue; Down The Road; Blue Bay Blues; Throw Me Down A Line; Burn Down Your Bridges; Rose Wine Cafe; Ode To A Slowboat; I Fell For You; The Ride Out.
  • Main Street Jive (1976)- Tracks: Soldier Of Fortune; Suit Yourself; Kickin' The Moon Around; Lonesome Heart; Need A Visionary; Factory Life; Casanova's Got The Blues; Islands Of The Heart.
  • Goodbye Tiger (1977) - Tracks: Down In The Lucky Country; Wild Child; Goodbye Tiger; I Can Talk To You; Deep Water; Out On The Edge Again; Hiding From The Light; Wintertime In Amsterdam.
  • Past Hits and Previews (1978) - Tracks: Steppin' Across The Line; Girls On The Avenue; Goodbye Tiger; Capricorn Dancer; I Wanna Be A Survivor; When The Heat's Off; Deep Water; Blue Bay Blues; Need A Visionary; Suit Yourself.
  • Hearts on the Nightline (1979) - Tracks: Hearts On The Nightline; Passing Trains; Ace Of Hearts; Down The Tracks; Sometimes The Fire; Mainstreet Hustle; Out On The Island; Throw Me Down A Line; Thorn In My Saddle.
  • Dark Spaces (1980) - Tracks: I Just Can't Make It; High Society; Shadows; Sophisticated Girl; Dark Spaces; Get Back To The Shelter; Le Club Des Fools; The Working Class Life; Metropolis.
  • The Very Best Of... (1981)
  • The Great Escape (1982) - Tracks: I Am An Island; The Universal; Spellbound; Flow In Motion; The Best Years Of Our Lives; Syncopation Train; I Fought The Law (cover); All Night Long; Walk On Water.
  • Solidarity (1984) - Tracks: The Heart Of It; Chinatown; Amsterdam; Kathleen; Solidarity; Feelin' Alright Tonight; Katy's Leaving Babylon; Cry Mercy Sister; Atom Bomb; New World.
  • Glory Road (1987) - Tracks: Trust Somebody (The Best Of Friends); The Night Train; Glory Road; I Didn't Wanna Make You Stay; The Emperor's New Clothes; Chameleons; The Underground; Down To The Ark; Angelou; Modern Life.
  • The Best Years of Our Lives (Live, 1989) - Tracks: Deep Water; Trust Somebody; Ace Of Hearts; Blue Bay Blues; Get Back To The Shelter; The Night Train; Capricorn Dancer; Down In The Lucky Country; High Society; Girls On The Avenue; Goodbye Tiger; Angelou; Glory Road; I Am An Island; The Best Years Of Our Lives.
  • Distant Thunder (1993) - Tracks: Distant Thunder; Oceans Of The Heart; All Fall Down; Happy Valley; Don't Be A Stranger; Here Inside Of Me; Up Where The Angels Fly; Precious; Stop Foolin' Around; Real Love.
  • Angeltown (1996) - Tracks: Dixieland; My Mind's Eye; That Moon; Stay With Me; Howl; Paris; Turn My Heart Around; Shine A Light; The Devil In Paradise; Angeltown; Real Life (Is Stranger Than Fiction).
  • The Definitive Anthology (1999) - Tracks: Disc 1: Girls On The Avenue; Capricorn Dancer; Down In The Lucky Country; Deep Water; Goodbye Tiger; Get Back To The Shelter; I Am An Island; The Best Years Of Our Lives; Solidarity; Trust Somebody; Glory Road; Ace Of Hearts; Distant Thunder; Oceans Of The Heart; Calling For You; Little Pilgrims. Disk 2: Blue Bay Blues; The Universal; Walk On Water; Angelou; Real Love; Love Is Strong; Everybody's Making Money (Except Me).
  • Up and Down The Glory Road (Live, 2001) Tracks: Disc 1: Down In The Lucky Country; Capricorn Dancer; Get Back To The Shelter; Oceans Of The Heart; Distant Thunder; Deep Water; That Moon; The Underground; Glory Road; Ace Of Hearts; Flow In Motion; I Am An Island; The Best Years Of Our Lives; Girls On The Avenue. Disc 2: Suit Yourself; Dark Spaces; Blue Bay Blues; Real Love; Spellbound; Calling For You; Goodbye Tiger.
  • Diamond Mine (2004) Tracks: Obsession; Some Sunny Day; Bomb The Bomb; Diamond Mine; High As The Heavens; The Simple Things; Head Full Of Rain; Paradise Drive; Zweite Neon; The Dark End Of The Road; Tides Of Time; What Does It Take To Get Lucky?; All Stand Together.
  • The Definitive Collection (2004)
  • Rewired (2006) - Tracks: Trust Somebody; Blue Bay Blues; Liberty Bell; Glory Road; Get Back To The Shelter; Goodbye Tiger; Up Where The Angels Fly; Katy's Leaving Babylon; High Society; Hearts On The Nightline; Capricorn Dancer; Prussian Blue; Ace Of Hearts.
  • Live At The State Theatre (Live, 2008) - Tracks: Blue Bay Blues; Wintertime In Amsterdam; Spellbound; Trust Somebody; High Society; Obsession; Suit Yourself; Glory Road; Solidarity; Angelou; Diamond Mine; Steppin' Across The Line; Distant Thunder; I Am An Island; The Best Years Of Our Lives.


References

External links




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