birthday on 26th october on the road with his tourbus with his wife and son and lifelong friend who all work with him. Charlie will be in Worthing on the night of his birthday and I will be there too just to share in some of this mans magic. Yet, I know, that he will still see me in the audience and dedicate a particular song to me, as he knows me on sight and also knows that I was diagnosed suddenly, that I am going blind. I am only one of many, many people that Charlie gives his personal touch and kindness too, but I also know that mere fans are eternally gratefull for what he does and stands for.
Charlie and his five-piece band play to sell-out audiences and are well known for keeping concertgoers enthralled with his heartfelt and telling lyrics and his very human anecdotes.
Charlie Landsborough is a performer who is difficult to categorise, sometimes folk, sometimes country, sometimes rock ‘n’ roll, sometimes gospel. If you go into a music shop, you may find Charlie’s music in the Country or the Easy Listening section but this belies the nature of a man who is uncomfortable with labels but spans various musical forms.
Charlie was, for a long time, unsure of his own talents and, indeed, when he first took the initial tentative steps as a songwriter, it was more as a vehicle to showcase his vocal talents than to express his own personal insights; though, as anyone who has listened to Charlie’s music would agree, he shows a depth of compassion and understanding which seems almost incongruous to his simplistic yet captivating style. His own personal song writing blends easy on the ear and is always inspirational; his strong and often personal lyric content mixed with his wit and repartee has led to a winning formula which has earned him admiration from fellow professionals and fans alike. Charlie is a prolific songwriter inspiring such names as Jack Jones, Pat Boone, Foster and Allen, George Hamilton IV, Daniel O’Donnel and others to cover his songs.
Since 1995 Charlie has toured the UK and Eire twice a year, building up a large following for his live work. He has performed at most major concert halls and theatres including the London Palladium, Labatts Apollo, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Belfast Opera House, Belfast Waterfront and Dublin’s National Concert Hall.
Charlie has received rave reviews for his shows, particularly at the prestigious Liverpool Summer Pops festival where the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied him and his band before a sell-out crowd of over 4,000, also his headline slot at Birmingham’s sold-out charity night at the Symphony Hall, not to mention playing to packed houses around the globe.
Charlie has won just about every award possible in the UK country scene and are too numerous to mention here individually suffice to point out that Charlie has won Best Songwriter, Best Song, Best Male Vocalist, Best Album and International Country Album of the year. He has also received a nomination as Best Global Country Artist in the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville. Many of his albums have topped the country charts as well as getting into the British pop charts. He is a true and immensely talented star having sold well over a million albums.
Charlie is a shining example to us all regarding persistence with a ‘never give in’ attitude and amazing belief, as he eventually achieved recognition after struggling for nearly three decades. He worked as a teacher, amongst other things as he continued to write and perform on a semi-pro basis but by 1994 began to feel that his ambitions might not materialise. He has proved that, despite the knocks life throws at us and the twists and turns of fortune, talent will always win through in the end. Don’t let the music media fool you – age is no barrier to success; dogged persistence and pure talent is far more important.
One song in particular was to transform his life. Charlie wrote What Colour is the Wind, which tells the story of a young blind child’s attempts to envision the world. As a result of Gerry Anderson playing the track on radio in Northern Ireland, the song came to the notice of TV chat show host Pat Kenny in Dublin, who invited Charlie to perform on his immensely popular Kenny Live show (RTE January 1995). The programme received its biggest ever response following Charlie’s appearance, and a week later Charlie’s album, also called What Colour is the Wind was suddenly at number one in the Irish charts, removing Garth Brooks from the top spot and fighting off fierce competition from Celine Dion and The Chieftains. This was a dream come true for Charlie and since then he has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the all-time biggest selling artists in Irish music.
Since his initial success, Charlie has appeared on several TV shows.
Granada TV’s one hour special documentary on Charlie – Road to Nashville, Granada TV’s Christmas Eve Service from Liverpool Cathedral, Terry Wogan, Gloria Hunniford, My Favourite Hymns, Making a difference TV show, London TV’s Talk of the Town, London Weekend TV, and in particular, his performance on GMTV and the now much missed Pebble Mill Live, which resulted in the switchboard being jammed with a record number of enquiries to the show – plus many more appearances on TV programmes.
Charlie’s talent and recognition have also led to many other notable events, one being invited to close Ireland’s Special Paraplegic Olympics with his own song Special. He was also George Hamilton IV’s guest for three nights on the Grand Ole Opry.
As well as being blessed with a wonderful voice, he has an abundance of talent for song writing. He has had many jobs throughout his life, finally finishing as a teacher, which has given him a great grounding to draw on life’s experiences to write his classic songs. Through these songs he can have you shedding tears of sadness, turning into tears of joy, to total elation with your feet tapping and wanting to dance.
The statement Gerry Anderson of BBC TV made says it all; ‘Charlie is like good wine, he matures quietly over a long period of time, when the cork is popped, it’s well worth the wait.’
I was born on the 26th October 1941 the youngest of eleven children. To escape the bombing my mother was taken to Wrexham, returning to Merseyside after I was born. My mam’s name was Aggie and I was christened Charles Alexander after my dad. My beloved brothers and sisters are Harry, Derek, Arthur, Jack, Dot, Sylvia, Doreen and Joyce.
I was reared in the dockland area of Birkenhead and the view from our front window was a mixture of docks, dumps, railway lines, oil factories and the coal wharf. It sounds grim but my childhood was far from that. Surrounded by a loving family, animals and of course music my early years were extremely happy. My brothers were all sailors and apart from the guitars and all the music, they brought home gifts from all around the world. I remember sitting enchanted by the scent of the wood in a guitar brought from Spain, my imagination afire at the sight of a small canoe carved by natives of West Africa, pistols with real revolving chambers from the US and getting my first pair of dungarees from Canada. Small wonder I so eagerly awaited the return of each brother from another trip.
Pictured above from left to right - Arthur, Derek and Harry (Charlie’s brothers). Pictured above is Jack, another of Charlie’s brothers.
Our house was always full of animals and apart from dogs and cats we also kept chickens in the back and at one time a duck. There was also birds - budgies, canaries and finches and a very special gift of a monkey smuggled in by my brother Harry. This little delight with the unimaginative name of Jacko made me very popular with schoolfriends. These things apart, my brother Jack, a sort of scouse St. Francis, was always bringing home assorted four-legged waifs and strays. That house is now earmarked for demolition and I climbed in recently to have a last look round for old time sake. In my mind it had seemed so much bigger. In reality it was very small and I was amazed to think how it could have been a home to so many people and animals.
I was always surrounded by music and my dad told me I used to sing myself to sleep when I was about three. He was a ballad singer billed locally as the Silver Voiced Tenor and one of my earliest recollections is of sitting on his knee at a ‘do’ and duetting with him on You Take The Tables And I’ll Take The Chairs. My mother’s favourites were Gracie Fields and Hank Williams - now there’s a combination. My brothers of course were returning from their voyages with the first guitars I’d ever seen and wonderful country music from such artists as Hank Williams, Jimmy Rodgers, Ferlin Husky and Montana Slim. They’d often arrive home with a group of friends and a crate of beer and I’d sit enthralled as they laughed and sang the hours away.
At Primary School I had blonde shoulder length hair (yes long hair even then) for a while my dreams fluctuated between being a great footballer or a great artist (see picture!). The long hair had been cropped at the time of this picture - I think the result of a basin-cut (so called because you put a basin on the head and cut round it, in the days when you couldn’t afford a barber) from my brother Arthur.
Charlie with his sisters from left to right- Doreen, Joyce and Sylvia.
Charlie at primary school showing off his creative talents.
At the age of about fourteen when I was in Grammer School my brother surprised me one day trying to play the guitar - I think I’d managed the first few notes of the Harry Lime theme. He ignored my self-consciousness and showed me a couple of chords. I was hooked! I’d sit up ‘til late playing Hank, Elvis, Jimmy Rodgers, etc. Of course my education began to suffer and my headmaster, the kindly Mr. King, later commented that I’d had a good academic future ahead of me until I’d discovered that ‘damn banjo’. Thank God for that ‘damn banjo’.
Disenchanted somewhat with the world in the wake of my mam’s death when I was only twelve I left school early and made minor excursions into the work place. I worked as an apprentice telephone engineer, on the railways, in the flour mills and wound up trying to be one of the lads.
I remember the day I was driven to court on a coach along with a few others. I sat in handcuffs and over the radio they played Don’t by Elvis and Every Time We Say Goodbye by the lovely Ella. I was hoping there was not some deep significance in the titles.
Fortunately I was given probation and suitably chastened by the whole ordeal I returned home to my thankful and forgiving family.
I was soon bored with my situation however and decided that for excitement I, like my brothers before me, must travel. Finding the Navy Office closed I joined the Army without informing any of my family. My sisters were in tears but armed with my guitar and a D.A. hairstyle I set off to Wales to do my training. I then applied for a posting in Hong Kong and with typical army logic found myself in West Germany. I made many great friends (some of whom I now meet up with on my travels) and started to play in bands with such exotic names as the Rockavons and the Onions.
One abiding memory of my army days was of the Cuban missile crisis. Being only thirty miles from the border I was convinced that within a short space of time I would be dead. After going into N.A.T.O. camps the scene of frenzied activity. When I got back to our camp what did I find? Our lads were padding around polishing floors and locker knobs for an inspection the next day. Was I relieved when the Russian vessels turned!
After four enjoyable years I grew a little bored and bought myself out. My army record states that I am intelligent, reliable and a good runner! Not a very distinguished career eh! Still I had learned German and how to drink with the Scottish, the Irish and the Geordies etc. without falling over.
After leaving the army I was back in Birkenhead and jobless. I left for Coventry and after a short stint as a postman I decided to return to Germany. I arrived in Dortmund with the equivelent of about half a crown to my name, to audition for a band called Chicago Sect. I’d been singing country songs and ballads around the pubs back home and of course knew very little about Tamla Motown, Rock etc. The band were not impressed at my ignorance as I shook my head at each song they suggested. Just as it looked like I’d have to hitch back home someone asked if I knew any Ray Charles. I knew Georgia! I sang it and was in. Thanks Hoagy Carmichael!
I was in Dortmund for about nine months during which time I married Thelma who had been a dream of mine since I’d first seen her as a teenager in Birkenhead. I’d been in Dortmund supposedly saving for our future but sad to say I’d had a marvellous time but returned home skint. Thelma bought my suit for the wedding on a cheque from her mother and she and our two witnesses (all that were present apart from the priest) paid for our drink, etc. We celebrated unknown to anyone in the local pub Murphys.
Once I was married I became a little more responsible and although I played with the local bands I worked a variety of jobs during the day. At various times I was a grocery store manager, driver, navvy, quality control engineer (bluffed my way in) and finally a teacher. All the time my dreams were of music.
During my teaching years I began to write to try and fulfil my ambition of being a proffesional singer and to bring about the musical recognition I sought. Ironically I began to make a name as a writer and my singing was overlooked. However through my songs I began to meet people who have since become great friends to me. People like George Hamilton IV, Daniel O’Donnell and of course Foster and Allen. Tony Allen it was who first invited me to Ireland and I’ve been going there ever since. I love the heady mix of joy and melancholy, anarchy and reverence, the humour, the music, the people and of course the odd pint of Guiness!
So I’d arrived in 1994 thinking that all my efforts had been largely in vain and questioning God about giving me musical talents and yet seemingly thwarting my every move. When I surrendered my will to Him, He stepped in swiftly and powerfully and with the help of Gerry Anderson, Pat Kenny, numerous Irish DJs and the Irish people and of course Ritz Records my dreams began to be realised.
With the continued support of all the marvellous people we have met all around England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, namely you, I am sure it will be. God bless you and thank you for everything you have done for me and my family, Thelma, Charlie Jnr, Allan and Jamie. Yours, Charlie.
Edited by deeneyjg on 14 Aug 2010, 16:40
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