News / Arts & Entertainment

Rumour Has It: Rocker Graham Parker is Back

Singer Graham Parker arrives at the premiere of
Singer Graham Parker arrives at the premiere of "This is 40," Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, Dec. 12, 2012.
Reuters
Decades on from his days as an angry young rocker, a role in a Hollywood movie playing an aging musician struggling to make a comeback has helped give a new lease of life to Graham Parker.
 
In the movie, Judd Apatow's "This is 40," the bid fails. In the real world, however, things are going pretty well for the 62-year-old London native.
 
He's brought out a well-received album, a documentary and a concert film with his reunited backing band, the Rumour. In late October they play their first British dates in 31 years. The London show sold out straight away.
 
"This guy won't go away. It's like Whac-a-Mole — hit him on the head, but he keeps coming back," Parker told Reuters in an interview. "It's all come out in my favor in many ways."
 
Parker has lived in upstate New York since 1988 and for years has played mostly solo in small venues in the United States.
 
"It doesn't quite seem real, better things are happening than they were a few years ago. But you don't know what's around the corner and you better take it as it comes," said Parker, who sports a grey goatee and wears large red-framed spectacles.
 
The movie "This is 40" is a comedy about a record executive going through a family crisis while his independent company is failing. The character, played by Paul Rudd, pins his hopes on reviving the career of a fading rock veteran.
 
Apatow, a longtime Parker fan, got in touch to ask him to play the part. Not only would he do it, Parker replied, he would bring along the Rumour, which he had just reformed to record an album.
 
The movie, a critical and commercial hit, saw the Rumour play live for the first time in years and a funny, scene-stealing performance from Parker appearing as himself.
 
A DVD of the full Rumour show recorded for the movie has just been released entitled "This is Live."
 
Parker was amazed that the London shows sold out so quickly, believing that getting the grizzled veterans back together would not be a good business move.
 
"When people used to say 'Will you reform Graham Parker and the Rumour?' I always said the only reason to reform a band is to make lots of money and we wouldn't be making our pensions, like the Eagles or Duran Duran."
 
"I'm doing it for all the wrong reasons, which is music, music, music. So I feel a bit righteous."
 
Snarling
 
Parker burst onto the London scene in the mid-1970s with a brand of hard-edged, soul-influenced music with lyrics that railed against the world. The one-time petrol pump attendant snarled out defiant songs and earned a reputation as a somewhat bitter and twisted character.
 
"I was trying to reinvent soul music with Dylanesque lyrics," he said.
 
Critics loved his first two albums, "Heat Treatment" and "Howling Wind," both from 1976, and his shows with the Rumour were hard-driving, impassioned events. For a while he was the next big thing. Bob Dylan was a fan and put him on the bill of his fabled Blackbushe concert in 1978.
 
But when Punk came along, Parker was deemed unfashionable and the media spotlight turned elsewhere.
 
"I wasn't nasty enough, I wasn't dumb enough, too old-style and too clever," he said.
 
Still his records sold fairly well, peaking with "Squeezing Out Sparks" in 1979.
 
"So I was having a blast, being treated like somebody, limo rides to [David] Letterman. Meanwhile in the press it was like 'we knew he was crap anyway.'"
 
Worn out by the road, the Rumour disbanded in 1982. Parker went on to work with others and put out several strong albums, but by the late 1980s, he had slipped out of the mainstream.
 
Sipping a cup of tea during the interview — he had just got in from dates in Japan and was leaving for Ireland the next day — he looks back on his early years with self-deprecating humor and said his angry reputation was "overstated."
 
"It wasn't really true, I got egged on," he said.
 
In a crowd-sourced documentary that aired in March, admirer Bruce Springsteen commented that the young Parker was "caustic."
 
"There's a hard edge to the songs that makes them a bit unpalatable," Parker conceded. "When I listen to something from 'Howling Wind,' I think aw, that's nasty."
 
On his new album, "Three Chords Good," Parker is mellower.
 
In the song at its heart, "Long, Emotional Ride," he sings: "I never took one word of advice/Never in my whole life/But now I wanna hear what other people say."
 
The song was a result of the response to the crowd-sourcing appeal for the documentary, he said.
 
"I realized people have cared about me for a long time. It was very moving and humbling. They wanted the story to be told. It blew me away."

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.