Famous Bands from Coventry

Famous Bands from Coventry

Coventry has much to offer for aspiring singers and has served as the vibrant backdrop in the professional careers of an eclectic range of artists. The likes of the politically-charged band, The Specials and country singer Frank Ifield have thrived on the musical culture within the city. Here at Singing Lessons Coventry, we encourage all students to immerse themselves in the musical history of this city, as a source of inspiration, education, and aspiration. We believe that these artists will be highly influential to our students, encouraging them to follow in the same footsteps towards stardom.

Here is a list we have compiled of four biographies encapsulating some of the most diverse acts to have arisen from the streets of Coventry...

The Specials

The Specials (also known as The Special AKA) formed in Coventry in 1977. Their music has been described as both ska and punk and centres on the turbulent political issues of the Thatcherite era. The band originally consisted of Jerry Dammers (songwriter and keyboardist), Tim Strickland (vocals), Lynval Golding (guitar and vocalist), Silverton Hutchinson (drums), and Horace Panter (bass). However, Terry Hall replaced Strickland soon after the band got together, and Neville Staple (vocalist) and Roddy Byers (guitarist) also joined the band the following year. They adopted the mod-style of the sixties and engaged themselves heavily with social and political issues. Their EP, The Special AKA Live! included the hit song “Too Much Too Young” which reached number 1 in the charts in 1980. Their success continued in 1981 with “Ghost Town” also hitting number 1, a song based on unemployment issues.  Maintaining their place in the charts, the years 1979-1981 saw seven of their singles within the UK Top 10 Singles chart, but their profound success wasn’t enough to keep them together.  They abandoned a music career, instead focusing on political activism. They did, however, create the politically-charged “Nelson Mandela” in 1984, which reached number 9 in the charts and promoted anti-racism. Many activists associated with the song, and it became widely popular. Their talents were recognised by Joe Strummer, band-member of The Clash, who requested they open the performances of the On Parole UK Tour. The Specials complied, becoming nationally-famous.

The Enemy

This indie rock band formed in 2006 under the name The Enemy (known as The Enemy UK in the USA). Both Liam Watts (drummer) and Andy Hopkins (bassist) are originally from Coventry, while Tom Clarke (frontman) is from Birmingham, but met the other members when he moved to Coventry. The band met their first manager John Dawkins through family friends of Watts and he then convinced producer Matt Terry to give the band access to a studio, allowing them to produce “Heart Attack”, “Had Enough” and “40 Days and 40 Nights”.  These songs were then passed on to David Bianchi at A&R Warner. In 2006, the band opened the Godiva Festival at Coventry and eventually reached the headline slot after playing two more sets at the festival over the course of two years.  They gained immediate success with their first album We’ll Live and Die in These Towns which reached number 1 in the UK album charts in 2007, and their second album Music for the People which reached number 2 in 2008. Their third album Streets in the Sky was again in the top ten in 2012. The Enemy has supported such profound acts as Oasis, Kasabian, Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics in their sell-out tours and has performed at such festivals as Glastonbury and T in the Park.  

Frank Ifield

Frank Ifield was born in Coundon, Coventry in 1937. This country singer gained considerable popularity in the 1960s, achieving four Number 1 hits in the years 1962-1963. Moving to a rural town in Australia in 1946, he was heavily influenced by the “hillbilly” music he was surrounded by. Other musical influences such as Yodel formed the basis of his inspiration, and he began to imitate Hank Snow. At the mere age of 13, he recorded his first song “Did You See My Daddy Over There?” and then went on to acquire the status of “number one recording star” in both Australia and New Zealand by the age of 19. Returning to England in 1959, he released “Lucky Devil” in 1960, which quickly reached 22 in the UK charts. After six less-successful songs following this, his perseverance finally paid off with “I Remember You”, which maintained the top position in the charts for seven weeks running in 1962.  

Panjabi MC

Rajinder Singh Rai (otherwise known as Panjabi MC) moved to Coventry in 1988. He is renowned for producing songs which are a fusion of bhangra and hip-hop, evident in his most famous single, “Mundian To Bach Ke”. This song which was released in 1998 on the album Legalised is a mix of the theme-tune to Knight Rider and bhangra. It first took off on the internet before being recognised by Superstar Recordings record label in Germany. The popularity of the song quickly spread across Germany, before reaching other European countries such as the UK. The song was adapted in 2003 to feature Jay-Z, and re-named “Beware of the Boys”. Rajinder Singh was signed to Nachural Records as a result of his remix of Kuldeep Manak’s “Ghariah Milan De” and created his stage name based on the Punjabi language which features so prominently in his music.  As a result of his remixes, and with the help of promotion from the BBC, Bhangra has finally reached a global audience.

Photography: Christian Bertrand

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