Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Annie Lennox (Tourists and Eurythmics)

Ann Lennox was born in 1954 in Aberdeen, the daughter of Dorothy (née Ferguson) and Thomas Allison Lennox.

Aged 16, she won a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London and studied the flute, piano and harpsichord before she dropped out to pursue her ambitions in pop music. Living on a student grant required her to supplement her income working part-time. She soon joined a folk band called Windsong, playing flute and singing. Later she became a member of Dragon's Playground. In 1975 Annie joined The Catch (Pete Combes Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox). They released one single, Borderline in 1977. The single was released in the UK, The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal but was not a commercial success. The band evolved into a new wave band called The Tourists.

Peet Coombes (guitarist and singer-songwriter), Dave Stewart (guitar), Annie Lennox (vocals and keyboards) were joined by Eddie Chin (bass) and drummer Jim Toomey. They released three albums: The Tourists(1979), Reality Effect (1979) and Luminous Basement (1980), as well as half a dozen singles, including "Blind Among the Flowers" (1979), "The Loneliest Man in the World" (1979), "Don't Say I Told You So" (1980) and two hits, the Dusty Springfield cover "I Only Want to Be with You" (1979) and "So Good to Be Back Home Again" (1980), both of which reached the top 10 in the UK.

Sadly, despite some chart success the group were critically savaged by the UK music press and when they became bogged down with legal wrangling with the band's management, publishers and record labels combined with personal tensions within the band, they decided to call it a day in late 1980. Lennox and Stewart felt constrained and wanted freedom to experiment with electronics and the avant-garde. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were in a hotel in Wagga Wagga, Australia, playing around with a portable mini-synthesizer, when they decided to become a duo. The name Eurythmics came from a musical exercise Annie was taught as a child. The pair decided to keep themselves as the only permanent members and songwriters, and involve other musicians in collaborations based on mutual compatibility and availability. The duo signed to RCA Records. Their first album In the Garden was recorded in Cologne and produced by Conny Plank and released in 1981. Two singles were released from the album in the UK, "Never Gonna Cry Again" and "Belinda". Neither the album nor the singles achieved much commercial success, although "Never Gonna Cry Again" charted at #63 in the UK singles chart.

The Eurythmics were a visual band and feast for the eyes with Annie Lennox known for her androgyny, sometimes wearing suits cut in a man’s style on stage. Dave Stewart was not only a gifted musician but he too had a flair for the visual. They got their first break opening on tour for Roxy Music

If a band was made for the video age, then it had to be Eurythmics. They had a long line of singles in the 1980s, including "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" (a US number one and UK number two), "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" (UK number one), "Love Is A Stranger", "Here Comes the Rain Again", "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves", "Who's That Girl?", "Would I Lie to You?", "Missionary Man", "You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart", "Thorn in My Side", "The Miracle of Love" and "Don't Ask Me Why".

The group had a decade of international success before Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart finally broke up musically. The group never officially disbanded. In 1990, Annie Lennox recorded a version of Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" for the Cole Porter tribute album Red Hot + Blue, a benefit for AIDS awareness.

By 1992 Annie Lennox had released her debut album, Diva, which produced several hit singles including "Why" and "Walking on Broken Glass". Diva was a commercial and critical success, charting No. 1 in the UK.

Annie Lennox went onto released six solo studio albums. Despite taking time out to bring up her two children outside of the media's glare, she continued to record. Her second album, Medusa, was released in March 1995 and consisted of cover songs originally recorded by male artists. The album charted at No. 1 in the UK and peaked in the US at number 11. The album yielded four UK singles: "No More I Love You's" (which entered the UK singles chart at No. 2, Lennox's highest ever solo peak), "A Whiter Shade of Pale", "Waiting in Vain" and "Something So Right".

In 1998, following the death of Peet Coombes, Eurythmics reformed to write and record Peace, their first album of new material in ten years. The single "I Saved the World Today" reached number 11 in the UK singles charts, and a remix of "17 Again" gave the duo their first chart-topper on the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. The band also embarked on a world tour, dubbed the "Peacetour", to support the album. The tour started at Cologne's Kölnarena and ended at the London Docklands Arena. All proceeds from the tour went to Greenpeace and Amnesty International.

Annie Lennox released her third solo album in 2003. Bare was a top 5 hit in the UK and the US, with three tracks reaching the top of the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.

Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were together again in 2005 on a collaboration on two new songs for their Eurythmics compilation album, Ultimate Collection, of which "I've Got a Life" was released as a single. The single peaked at number fourteen in the UK Singles Chart and was a number-one US Dance hit.

In addition to her career as a musician, Annie Lennox became a political and social activist, notable for raising money and awareness for HIV/ AIDS as it affects women and children in Africa. To promote Songs of Mass Destruction, she embarked on a North American tour called Annie Lennox Sing. "Sing" was born out of her involvement with Nelson Mandela's 46664 campaign and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), both of which are human rights groups which seek education and health care for those affected by HIV.

In 2010, she released a Christmas album entitled A Christmas Cornucopia featuring a collection of traditional festive songs. The album included one new composition, "Universal Child" with a second single "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".

Annie Lennox released her sixth solo album Nostalgia which features a collection of her childhood favourite soul, jazz and blues songs. The lead single from the album was "I Put a Spell On You"

Annie Lennox continues to write and perform and has become not just one of the world’s greatest pop singers of the 20th and 21st centuries but also a much respected person who works for many charities and worthwhile causes.

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