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Billy Bragg

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Barking, Essex (1957 – present)

Billy Bragg (Stephen William Bragg, Barking, Essex, England, 20 December, 1957) is an English singer-songwriter and left-wing activist. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, and his lyrics mostly deal with political or romantic themes.

In 1977, Bragg formed the punk rock/pub rock band Riff Raff, and toured London’s pubs and clubs. The band released a series of singles, which did not receive wide exposure. He also worked in Guy Norris Records in Barking. Bragg became disillusioned with his music career, and in May 1981 joined the British Army as a recruit destined for the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars of the Royal Armoured Corps. After three months, he bought his way out of the army for £175 and returned home, having attended basic training but having never served in a regiment as a soldier.

Bragg began performing frequent concerts and busking around London, playing solo with an electric guitar. His roadie at the time was Andy Kershaw, who became a BBC DJ (Bragg and Kershaw later, in 1989, appeared in an episode of the BBC TV programme, Great Journeys, in which they travelled the Silver Road from Potosí, Bolivia, to the Pacific coast at Arica, Chile). Bragg performing at South by Southwest in 2008.

Bragg’s demo tape initially got no response from the record industry, but by pretending to be a television repair man, he got into the office of Charisma Records’ A&R man Peter Jenner.

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  • Hunter_Zombie

    Good points, thanks for taking the time to explain further. And Bragg's editorial in the Guardian did seem a bit dismissive. I do hope he will reconsider his position.

    1 Apr 10:12pm Reply
  • glitter-kitten

    The skate park was pretty my saviour in my early teens - it still remains the same for plenty of other working-class, directionless teenagers. It keeps us out of trouble, it's one of the few places in London that we didn't feel like a nuisance to spend time in when things at home - or our friends were dropping dead around us from drug abuse. The campaign to keep it standing has addressed this point. Bragg has ignored it. His plans are just a further form of gentrification that is disenfranchising the poor, young folk here. I never said that he hated them - I think that implies some kind of social awareness that he patently lacks. I'm saying that his music is disingenuous and his politics basically are there to serve people like himself.

    28 Mar 11:38pm Reply
  • Hunter_Zombie

    But when Private Eye's architecture columnist is siding with the skateboaders and Billy Bragg against, you realise the situation is a bit more nuanced that it may first appear.

    18 Mar 9:25pm Reply
  • Hunter_Zombie

    I don't see how holding an unpopular and quite likely ignorant opinion on the future of a skate park at the South Bank Centre equates with hating the poor? Out of touch? Quite possibly.

    18 Mar 8:53pm Reply
  • glitter-kitten

    http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/billy-brag-is-a-knob-ignore-him-and-help-save-the-southbank/ WORKING CLASS HEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    27 Feb 6:20am Reply
  • glitter-kitten

    I'm a lefty from the UK and Billy Bragg is a rich sellout piece of shit who's pretty much waging war against the deprived youth in my city. So go figure, the sanctimonious asshole who genuinely gives zero shits about the working class unless it makes him look good. He seems like the kind of megalomaniac who'd search for himself on here... you suck, mate.

    27 Feb 6:14am Reply
  • two-gallants

    Billy Bragg; what a fuckin' mug.

    30 Jan 2:38pm Reply
  • Gaffes

    Interesting voice.

    12 Jan 10:45am Reply
  • drownedinsound2

    A really cheap night out!! : )

    29 Dec 2013 Reply
  • Furashubakku

    Billy was brilliant at Sheffield City Hall. The support act Kim Churchill was lovely too.

    3 Dec 2013 Reply
  • imisscleveland

    Wish I could see him. Coming out West, Billly?

    26 Jul 2013 Reply
  • ShirkHorse

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Union Chapel show- genuinely one of the best shows I've ever seen. Playing Life's A Riot as a second encore to celebrate its 30th anniversary was an inspired decision.

    9 Jun 2013 Reply
  • GeorgeDrucsen

    Review: Billy Bragg – Tooth And Nail [8/10]

    23 Apr 2013 Reply
  • ShirkHorse

    What do people think of Tooth and Nail? Overall, I like it. It's nice to have a more-or-less entirely acoustic album from Bragg. One thing I would say is that I'm personally not keen on the American accent he has adopted, but I appreciate he is experimenting with a new sound. Lyrically, I think it is very strong, and it makes a nice change to have a less overtly political Bragg album.

    24 Mar 2013 Reply
  • kanto_sho

    Shame few pics from Braggs first group Riff Raff (page is dominated by a rapper)

    24 Mar 2013 Reply
  • northernbeach

    Gerade ist aus England das neue Billy Bragg Album "Tooth and nail" angekommen. Direkt bestellt, scheiß auf Amazon und Co. Schon beim ersten Mal hören geht das direkt ans Herz und in'n Kopf und über die Gänsehaut in den Bauch und zum Lächeln ins Gesicht. Definitiv ein Album, dass mich dieses Jahr und vielleicht länger begleiten wird. Und das Autogramm vom Bard of Barking, dem Sherpa of heartbreak rundet das Ganze ab. Thanx a lot Mr Bragg.

    23 Mar 2013 Reply
  • Furashubakku

    I quite like "There Will Be a Reckoning" from the new album.

    18 Mar 2013 Reply
  • Neue_regel_

    underrated

    28 Feb 2013 Reply
  • Furashubakku

    I'm going to see Billy for the first time in November. Glad he's playing Sheffield. :-D

    28 Feb 2013 Reply
  • byyoutheradio

    pertamax 2013! yeah

    9 Jan 2013 Reply
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