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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Trumpeter, percussionist and bandleader Etienne Charles was born in Trinidad and blends island rhythms with modern jazz. He and his stellar band perform a rich gumbo of jazz, calypso, reggae, and rock-steady that Charles calls “Creole Soul” on "The Hamilton Live."