News / Arts & Entertainment

Rumour Has It: Rocker Graham Parker is Back

Singer Graham Parker arrives at the premiere of "This is 40," Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, Dec. 12, 2012.
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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.