With a fresh rose in the buttonhole and a jaunty bowler on his bonce, every Englishman this morning strode off to his place of work whistling William Blake’s Jerusalem and thanking god that he was born on this hallowed shore. Famous Englishmen include Graham Hill, Terry Thomas, Sir Alec Guinness, William Shakespeare (who was born and died on this day) and Alfred Hitchcock. Some pop stars have also been English including Marc Bolan, Billy Fury, Robert Plant, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Gaz Coombes.
However, today Pop Junkie is saluting all Georges in the history of pop regardless of nationality (being that Saint G never stepped foot on the land).
1. George Harrison ~ aka The Quiet One. The first Beatle to get a solo number one (is it cool to say that My Sweet Lord is a great song? I think so) and writer of Here Comes the Sun, Something, I Need You, Only a Northern Song, Taxman and While My Guitar Gently Weeps among several others.
2. Sir George Martin ~ Recently chronicled on these pages as a potential Meltdown curator, he doesn’t really need much more introduction. Producer of Peter Sellars, Beyond the Fringe, Charlie Drake, Cilla, Matt Monro, Earth Wind & Fire and The Beatles.
3 & 4. Boy George & George Michael ~ Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that I do not share the world’s enthusiasm for their music. My sister used to go out with a nice chap called Dave who took the whole Wham thing on board; singlet/vest, highlighted mullet, stubble, espadrilles etc. My Mum loved him and wanted me to dress the same. I, at the time, modelled myself on Percy Thrower. I wore 1960s clothes, but 1960s clothes as worn by someone who had flown a Spitfire twenty years earlier. Dave is now a millionaire and lives in a beach house in Florida. I write for Pop Junkie.
5. George Best ~ Probably couldn’t sing for toffee, but a bigger pop star there has never been. Subject of Don Farndon’s excellent Belfast Boy, as covered by my band Ye Ascoyne d’Ascoynes in 1989. Also lent his name to the vastly overrated Wedding Present’s 1987 album. Georgie also embraced that Wham look back in the day…
6. Giorgio Moroder ~ The King of disco pop. Regular readers may be surprised to learn that I give him the thumbs up. Hated that Kraftwerk/disco pulse at the time, but age plays tricks on one’s tastebuds. Worked with everyone from that late 70s/early 80s era who wanted a sprinkle of gold dust on their discs; Bowie, Phil Oakey, the Three Degrees, Japan, Irene Cara, Donna Summer (of course), Blondie and even Roger Daltrey (apparently!).
7. Georgy Girl ~ The Seekers’ early twee classic. Shoegazing sixties style. Co-written by Jim ‘Carry On’ Dale no less! Don’t think I’ve ever seen the film with Lynn Redgrave, James Mason (now there was an Englishman) and Alan Bates (stop swooning Raechel). I love this jaunty version, apparently it is from their 1968 farewell concert. My Dad wore his sideburns and specs in similar fashion to the double bassist.
8. George Benson ~ Not my favourite pop star, but not my least fave either. I guess you can file him in the legend pile. I thought he was just a disco singer at a time when I was wrapped up in Magazine, Buzzcocks and the Subway Sect, then found out he was one of the world’s foremost jazz guitarists.
9. Lowell George ~ Little Feat’s enigmatic, hard-living front man who died a young death from a heart attack. I was a bit too young to get into their brand of Californian country rock boogie. Apparently played for a brief time with the Standells and Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.
10. George Baker Selection ~ The Dutch have had their pop moments down the years (Focus & Pussycat spring to mind). Would have made this chart on the strength of Una Paloma Blanca, the kitsch hit of 1975, reminding me of a smashing holiday at Pontins’ Wick Ferry in Dorset. However, Little Green Bag, which I didn’t come across until two decades later, is one of my all time dance faves. Used of course in Reservoir Dogs.