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MIDGE URE BIOGRAPHY - MARCH 2012
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, if not Andy
Warhol's often quoted "fifteen minutes", so the fact that by the time Midge's single "If I
Was" went to No1 in 1985 he had already crammed several musical lifetimes into a 10
year professional career speaks volumes - Slik, The 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'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.
His musical roots were playing and learning the records of the Small Faces and other
rockers who did things very much their own way, Midge 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 from Abba's 'Mamma Mia' on Valentine's Day 1976. Soon
outgrowing Slik's pop dimensions, Midge 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 '79, with his name being added to
many musicians' contact book, Ure had been asked by Billy Currie, Chris Cross and
Warren Cann to become the new frontman in Ultravox.
The band was a major influence on the electro-pop movements of the early '80s and many
an open-minded studio and bedroom experimentalist since. Their successful trademark
was combining Midge'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 artists and innovative style-makers.
As interest in the 1980's rises again to a new peak in 2012, courtesy of reformations of the
likes of Duran Duran and most recently Spandau Ballet, 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 ,
produced and co founded the studio collective 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 and all of pop music,
as 36 artists by the collective name Band Aid gathered at SARM Studios in west London
under Ure's production. They recorded 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' a song he had
just written with Bob Geldof as the industry's heartfelt and eloquent contribution to
Ethiopian famine relief. 600,000 copies sold in its first week in the UK alone 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 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 is
still to this day a Band Aid Trustee and an ambassador for Save the Children.
Just two months after Live Aid, Midge was back at No.1 in Britain, this time under his own
name, with 'If I Was', and by the autumn he had a No.2 solo album to accompany it,
entitled 'The Gift'. In 1993, that particular song was to lend itself to the retrospective
album 'If I Was'. After an initial solo outing to the Oxford Debating Society where his
response to "What song would you write for Take That" was met with the characteristically
witty retort of "An instrumental!" broke the ice, he supported the album's release with a 22-
date 'Out Alone' tour of Britain, armed only with a couple of guitars and a keyboard.
In 1996 the new 'Breathe' album was followed by further extensive 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 and eponymous single
were subsequently in the top 20 throughout Europe for much of that year, and No.1 in
Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where Midge toured voraciously. 'Breathe' sold
over half a million copies in Europe alone.Respected German composer Eberhard
Schoener invited him to perform at the re-opening of the Potzdamer Platz in Berlin, in
front of an estimated audience of 500,000.
Soon after Midge 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 George
Martin, 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 (where he
broke the house attendance record) 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 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.
Whilst completing work on his next studio album 'Move Me', Midge also narrated a tribute
to Alex Harvey for BBC Radio, appeared on BBC1's 'A Question of Pop' with Craig
David, 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 was instrumental in the video
production, always preferring to keep things under his direct control. 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 he 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". Another exclusive release also hit the virtual shelves.
"Intimate Moments" is a candid record of his acoustic show, captured on a double CD.
Always one to ring the changes, Midge next decided to revisit his "electronic" roots in the
"Sampled, Looped and Trigger Happy" tour. The 35 show tour left no corner of the UK
untouched by this amalgam of old and new, the old being given a contemporary twist
sitting comfortably alongside the new. The shows were captured on the tour DVD, If I Was.
German label Hypertension picked up the release and issued it both on DVD and a
soundtrack CD entitled Re*Live and his relationship with Hypertension continues to go
from strength to strength.
2005 was the year that Midge undertook both extensive acoustic tours of Europe 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.
He then went on to be executive producer for the Band Aid 20 single working with the
likes of Paul McCartney, Joss Stone, Radiohead and Chris Martin.
Midge'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!
He also released his 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.
He's also received honorary doctorates from both Edinburgh and Dundee Universities,
mainly in recognition for his work with Band Aid and Live 8, which took up a lot of 2006!
Midge actually managed to fit in a performance at the Edinburgh Live8 show in
Murrayfield in July where he played with Eddie Izzard helping out on piano! Surely a first!
In November 2006 Midge and band performed a show with Level 42 and the Cutting
Crew for legendary German TV show "Rockpalast" which was received with great critical
acclaim! The show was broadcast in early January 2007. He has also performed with
German icon Xavier Naidoo at his recent O Livelait show.
In September 2006 Midge travelled to Korea with old friends WOMAD and performed with
Troy Donockley and AD Chivers there. He also just narrated a documentary about the
Cavern Club which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
"Uncovered" is his latest live incarnation - launched onto the UK theatre circuit in 2008....
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.
Midge has long held an ambition to record an LP of cover versions of songs that
influenced him...... the ambition was born when as a teenager in his first hit band Slik he
saw The Walker Brothers performing No Regrets on Top Of The Pops in 1976....
He managed to record his own version of No Regrets in 1982, but it was to take 25 years
and a change of format from LP to CD before he would record a full set of his favourite
TEN was recorded in a log cabin in Eastern Canada during the long snow bound winter of
2007 - 2008 and was released again by German label Hypertension in September 2008.
The CD contains 10 (surprise !) songs that influenced the teenage Ure when growing up in
Glasgow in the 1960's - 70's, so alongside the obvious (David Bowie) are the less obvious
- The Carpenters...Lulu !!! - All songs chosen for their unique qualities and lasting impact
on Midge.... songs that somehow shaped his songwriting.
In November 2008 Midge joined and participated in and acted as patron for the Burnsong
project , which aims to encourage up and coming young songwriters in the "black art" of
A spin off from this project was Midges' involvement with the Burns Humanitarian Awards
in Scotland in May 2009 - where the Burns Humanitarian Trust award was awarded to Guy
Willoughby of the Halo Trust which removes landmines worldwide.
April 2009 saw the unthinkable happen - ULTRAVOX REFORMED !! Six months of talking
between Midge and other Ultravox band members Chris Cross, Billy Currie and Warren
Cann led to a 3 week tour of the UK and Ireland....
The last UK show at Londons historical Roundhouse was filmed for the HD DVD release
"Return To Eden"
Summer 2009 saw Midge combining further Ultravox festival appearances, solo acoustic
shows, outdoor festival appearances with his own 4 piece band, and appearances at the
ever popular " Here & Now " outdoor shows which play at stately homes across the UK
with other 1980's guest vocalists.
November 2010 also saw Midge return to his role of MD for the Princes Trust at the Royal
Albert Hall with a cast of the usual suspects including Eric Clapton and Phil Collins. He
even managed to fulfil a lifelong ambition and performed "Seven seas of Rhye" with
The second part of Ultravox's tour in 2010 took in Europe and Scandinavia, and following
that plans were made to record an original new set of songs together for the first time in 26
years... work started in September 2010 in Canada, and continued throughout the winter
into Spring 2011. The subsequent album 'Brilliant' released on the Chrysalis label through
EMI on 28th May 2012 received huge critical praise from the media and even more from
the fans who never thought such a thing could ever happen.
Midge, Chris Allan and Lee Curran have shot a documentary "Brilliant beginnings" which
follows the band through Europe and the writing and recording of the album in Canada,
Los Angeles and London.
Midge is in the process of adding extra chapters to his autobiography "If I Was" and has
plans to release it in e-book format.
Midge continues to present show for BBC radio 4 including, Rockin Scots. Rocking the
Blitz Club. Motownship, the story of music and youth in the townships of Cape Town.
Mysterious Mr Mercury the Freddie Mercury story. The art of water music and The
Ziggy Stardust story.
As summer 2013 beckons its business as usual in camp Ure...which means busy busy