Aiken Promotions Presents
In the spring of 1975, Graham Parker, a 24-year-old petrol pump attendant from Surrey, England, began to drive up to London to meet like-minded musicians and get a backing band behind his songs, which he now considered to be stronger and more interesting than anything he was hearing on the radio. By placing an advert in the Melody Maker he met Noel Brown, a guitarist, and Paul “Bassman” Riley, a bass player who had featured in Chilli Willi and The Red Hot Peppers, a so-called “pub rock” band that had recently split up. Riley thought Parker should meet Dave Robinson, a manager who ran a small studio above the Hope and Anchor pub in Islington. Robinson had previously managed Brinsley Schwarz, another demised pub rock outfit that included its eponymous guitarist, Nick Lowe on bass and Bob Andrews on keyboards.
Lights went off in Robinson’s head when he heard Parker’s songs, and shortly after recording some demos, began to ease Schwarz and Andrews, along with a young rhythm section comprised of Andrew Bodnar on bass and Steve Goulding on drums, into place behind Parker. Together with Martin Belmont, the former guitarist of Ducks Deluxe, yet another alleged pub rock band that had also called it quits, they began rehearsing that summer.
Parker and the Rumour’s first album “Howlin’ Wind” was recorded in London in late 1975 and released in April 1976 to widespread critical acclaim. This was followed in the same year by “Heat Treatment” and a hit EP, “The Pink Parker,” released on pink vinyl. The band played a handful of small venues starting in late ‘75 before opening for the hit band Ace (“How Long”) on a concert tour. Within a year they were headlining concert hall tours in the UK themselves and toured America twice, driving around in a station wagon and picking up gigs wherever Dave Robinson could find them. Parker’s label, Mercury Records, the American arm of Phonogram, paid scant attention to the band. With punk rock and new wave still a year and a half away from making any impression, Mercury failed to see a marketing angle to use and therefore left them, much to Dave Robinson’s annoyance, largely to fend for themselves in the land of Styx and Kansas. But their critical acclaim and fervent and growing fan base could not be denied and by 1978, despite the mixed reaction to their third album “Stick To Me,” released in 1977, they made steady progress and began to gain a reputation for being a premier live band throughout the world.
Finally, after the lack of support from Mercury, Parker signed a lucrative deal with Arista records and released the Jack Nitzsche produced “Squeezing Out Sparks” in 1979. The album, which contained such classics as “You Can’t Be Too Strong,” “Discovering Japan” and “Passion Is No Ordinary Word” reached #44 in the US album charts, sold a quarter of a million copies and was widely hailed as a masterpiece. Parker and the Rumour toured extensively in the year of its release, beginning at Belfast’s Witlow Hall on February 2nd and ending at the Town Hall, Auckland, New Zealand on the 26th of November, with very little time off in between.
They made their last album together, “The Up Escalator,” with Nicky Hopkins and Danny Federici replacing Bob Andrews on piano and organ respectively.
In May 2011, Parker called the Rumour members out of the blue to work with him once again on a new album that would be their first together in over 30 years.
The new album, “Three Chords Good,” was recorded in July of that year. In a strange quirk of fate, not more than two weeks after the band confirmed that they would indeed be conducive to a recording reunion, movie and TV writer/director/producer Judd Apatow got hold of Parker and proposed a meeting. Apatow loosely described to Parker a movie project he was writing in which he thought Parker might have a small part to play. The movie, entitled “This Is 40,” was put into wide theatrical release in December 2012 and became a number three box office hit in its first weekend. It features Parker acting as himself as well as a duo performance (with Tom Freund) and with the Rumour. The Blu Ray/DVD was released in May 2013 and features extra footage of Parker and the band as well as an 18-minute feature called “Long Emotional Ride.” Parker will be in Los Angeles in June to receive a “Top Box Office” award from ASCAP movie and TV department for his musical contributions to “This Is 40.”
Three Chords Good was released in November 2012 and followed by two USA tours featuring the Rumour once again reunited with Parker.
“Don’t Ask Me Questions,” a documentary by the Gramaglia Brothers (“End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones”) has been in the works for over ten years and was basically finished when Parker announced to the film makers that he was about to do what he swore he would never do: reform the Rumour. The Gramaglias therefore filmed the entire recording sessions in conjunction with Judd Apatow and also shot footage of Parker and the Rumour in Hollywood on the movie set. The documentary was shown on BBC4 early in 2013 and received overwhelmingly positive reactions. It will eventually be released on DVD.
In August 2013 Shout/Factory will release a DVD entitled “This Is Live,” the complete performances of Graham Parker and the Rumour performing 12 songs at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles on the set of the Judd Apatow movie.
Strictly over 18′s, I.D. may be required.
AFTER THE GIG
Whelan’s Indie Club w/ Late Bar from 10:30pm or check out the bands playing The Midnight Hour in the upstairs venue (FREE ENTRY, 12am).