Elvis Costello
British musician
Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello is an English singer-songwriter. He came to prominence as an early participant in London's pub rock scene in the mid-1970s and later became associated with the punk/New Wave genre. Steeped in word play, the vocabulary of Costello's lyrics is broader than that of most popular songs. His music has drawn on many diverse genres; one critic described him as a "pop encyclopaedia", able to "reinvent the past in his own image".
Biography
Elvis Costello's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Elvis Costello from around the web
Still Showing Her Sexy Sadie Side, Dana Fuchs Sets the Stage to Rise and Shine
Huffington Post - 24 days
Whatever happened to Sexy Sadie? Embodied by Dana Fuchs, she's alive and well and ready to knock your socks off -- if you let her. "I would love people to know that I'm first and foremost a songwriter, a singer, and it's very much like that Sadie character," Fuchs said from her Harlem apartment near the end of an hourlong phone conversation in late January while expecting some terrible weather to hit New York City. "But of course, it's my own music," she added, a bad cold making her deep voice sound even lower and sexier. "It's that kind of raw, rocking, soulful music, and I would love people to know that Sadie is Dana Fuchs, who is living as a musician." It's been 10 years since Fuchs (pronounced Fyooks) made her motion picture mark as Sadie, a powerful blues singer, very hip chick and Earth Mother in Across the Universe. Julie Taymor's wonderfully innovative and inexcusably ignored movie set in the 1960s was filled with teen romance, wild imagery and incredibly inventi ...
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Grammy Nominations 2017 Include Beyoncé And Adele
Huffington Post - 3 months
Awards season is about to begin and music’s biggest night will be here before you know it. On Tuesday morning, the Recording Academy announced the nominees for the 59th annual Grammy Awards.  Last year’s Best New Artist, Meghan Trainor, got things rolling by revealing the general field awards on “CBS This Morning,” and more nominations were announced throughout the day.  Beyoncé leads with nine nominations, while Drake and Rihanna follow close behind with eight each. Meanwhile, Chance the Rapper is nominated for seven awards and Adele earned herself five noms.  Head over to Grammy.com for a full list of all the nominations for 2017: Album Of The Year: 25 — Adele Lemonade — Beyoncé Purpose — Justin Bieber Views — Drake A Sailor’s Guide To Earth — Sturgill Simpson   Song Of The Year: “Formation”— Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles, Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé) “Hello” — Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele) “I Took A Pill In I ...
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After the Apocalypse (with Alter-reviews)
Huffington Post - 4 months
My recent columns: America Now Has (at Least) 9,999 Problems http://billmoyers.com/story/america-now-least-9999-problems/ How Trump's Media Cheerleaders Turned Campaign Coverage Into a Total Disaster https://www.thenation.com/article/how-trumps-media-cheerleaders-turned-campaign-coverage-into-a-total-disaster/ What We Talk About When We Don't Talk About Climate Change https://www.thenation.com/article/what-we-talk-about-when-we-dont-talk-about-climate-change/ Alter-reviews: 1) David Bromberg Live David Bromberg has a fine new album out, which I believe I recommended in my last "Altercation." Last week (or so) I caught him with his Big Band at the Society For Ethical Culture. I've been seeing David now for 40 years and unlike most of us, he just gets better. He's a great guitarist, a musicologist, a polymathic performer and an incredible ham. And the new album, released 'The Blues, The Whole Blues, And Nothing But The Blues' is a perfect showcase for all these talents. I ...
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Elvis Costello reaches deep for innovative Chicago Theatre set
Chicago Times - 4 months
Elvis Costello is at the point in his career where he could've strolled into the Chicago Theatre on Saturday, gone on autopilot and satiated the sold-out audience with a greatest-hits set. A few of his slightly elder peers recently pursued that approach earlier in the month at California's Desert...
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Chicago Times article
First Prince music to be released posthumously
Yahoo News - 4 months
The announcement, made a week after a tribute concert in Prince's native Minnesota meant to offer closure after his sudden death on April 21, comes as his estate steadily moves forward on a business plan for his vast holdings. Warner Brothers Records said it would next month issue a 40-track greatest hits collection, "Prince 4Ever," with an attached 12-page book of photographs. Long known to fans, with Elvis Costello even covering it, "Moonbeam Levels" was never officially released.
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Costello cancels Pittsburgh show in solidarity with strike
Yahoo News - 4 months
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Elvis Costello is canceling his upcoming show in Pittsburgh in solidarity with striking Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians.
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Elvis Costello’s New York Soul
NYTimes - 5 months
He grew up in England, but this veteran troubadour has a long history with the five boroughs. Now he’s back.
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NYTimes article
Dawes' frontman on musical journey and new album
CBS News - 5 months
Dawes is one of the most respected live bands around. The Southern California rock band has toured with Dylan and collaborated with Elvis Costello. "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Anthony Mason spoke to the band's frontman about their decade-long journey.
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Stream The Newport Folk Festival This Weekend
NPR - 7 months
We have your entire weekend planned out. Listen to sets by Ryan Adams, Elvis Costello, Alabama Shakes and more during our live stream of the Newport Folk Festival.
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NPR article
Rob Wasserman, Grammy-Nominated Rock Bassist, Dies at 64
NYTimes - 8 months
Mr. Wasserman played with Bob Weir, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Bobby McFerrin among many others, and his album “Duets” was nominated for three Grammy Awards.
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Follow your path, Lionel Richie says on winning song award
Yahoo News - 9 months
Lionel Richie, Tom Petty and other top-selling musicians have a message for songwriters who are just starting out -- follow your creative instincts. The artists were honored Thursday night by the Songwriters Hall of Fame at a New York dinner that was full of star performers but, in keeping with the behind-the-scenes role of composers, was lower profile than many other music awards galas with no live television coverage. The Hall of Fame inducted Petty along with disco titan Nile Rodgers and his late counterpart Bernard Edwards, English literary rocker Elvis Costello, slain soul legend Marvin Gaye and Chip Taylor, who performed his signature 50-year-old song "Wild Thing" with his three granddaughters.
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Elvis Costello takes (mostly) solo Detour to L.A.'s Ace Hotel
LATimes - 11 months
Think of Elvis Costello’s new round of solo performances not so much as a concert tour than as multimedia bonus content for his recently published autobiography, “Unfinished Music & Disappearing Ink.” The show he delivered Saturday at the Theater at Ace Hotel, the first of two sold-out nights at...
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LATimes article
'SNL' Remembers David Bowie With Quietly Powerful Tribute - Huffington Post
Google News - about 1 year
Huffington Post 'SNL' Remembers David Bowie With Quietly Powerful Tribute Huffington Post The "Saturday Night Live" stage has witnessed some truly iconic performances over its 41-year history, including the likes of Elvis Costello, Ashlee Simpson's lip sync track, Nirvana and, of course, David Bowie. The first "SNL" episode of 2016 took a ... Saturday Night Live Honors David Bowie: 'He Transformed Live Television'People Magazine What's Your Favorite Classic David Bowie Album? Vote!Billboard Fred Armisen pays tribute to David Bowie on SNLEntertainment Weekly Los Angeles Times -RollingStone.com -Vanity Fair all 89 news articles »
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There's a New Sherif in L.A.: Exciting EP Pays Homage to Great Lyricists like Dylan and Costello
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Maybe, I get a chance to breathe Because fear is a suffocating thing And, maybe I get a chance to see Because love can be a very blinding thing --Sherif Serag: "Suffocating Thing" Singer/songwriter/musician Sherif Serag and I are sitting in his producer Omer Avni's Los Angeles studio, listening with joy to the final versions of the five tasty cuts that make up his first solo EP, Look How Far We've Come. Some of his genuine tunes have Top-40 potential written on them, and it's obvious that the American-raised but Egyptian-born musician and his Israeli-born producer/musician have combined to create some music magic. Producer Omer, who has helped shape the musical dreams of a diverse group of artists, leans back from the audio console and smilingly says, "I'm a big fan of Sherif's honesty. Admitting to one's fears makes Sherif a brave songwriter and a rare bird in today's music scene. What separates him from many is one word, depth." Blushingly modest Sherif cites a diver ...
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Elvis Costello
    FORTIES
  • 2016
    Durning the 2016 Detour, he performs with Larkin Poe.
    More Details Hide Details Major artists who have been influenced by Costello include Billy Bragg, the Pogues, Radiohead, Weezer, Dexys Midnight Runners, Pulp, Crowded House, the Futureheads, James, Suzanne Vega, and Foo Fighters. Costello has worked with Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach, Allen Toussaint, T Bone Burnett, Lucinda Williams, Kid Rock, Lee Konitz, Brian Eno, and Rubén Blades.
  • 2014
    On March 2014, Elvis Costello recorded Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes with Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford.
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  • 2013
    On 25 October 2013, Costello was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the New England Conservatory.
    More Details Hide Details In October 2015, Costello's memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, was released.
    On Gov't Mule's album Shout!, released in September 2013, he sang on the track "Funny Little Tragedy".
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    On 10 September 2013, he played during the Apple September 2013 Event after the introduction of iTunes Radio, iPhone 5C and 5S at Town Hall, at the Apple campus.
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    In September 2013 Costello released Wise Up Ghost, a collaboration with the Roots.
    More Details Hide Details In a BBC documentary 'Mystery Dance' covering his whole career said that this will be his last album and that, as he nears sixty, he will concentrate on being a father to his sons with Diana Krall and just do occasional concerts when he needs the money. "That's it" he said.
    In January 2013, Costello teamed up with Paul McCartney to create an ad campaign backing vegetarian foods produced by the Linda McCartney Foods brand.
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  • 2012
    On 26 February 2012, Costello paid tribute to music legends Chuck Berry and Leonard Cohen who were the recipients of the first annual PEN Awards for songwriting excellence, at the JFK Presidential Library, in Boston, Massachusetts on 26 February 2012.
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  • 2011
    In 2011, Elvis Costello appeared as himself on Sesame Street to perform a song with Elmo and Cookie Monster, titled "Monster Went and Ate My Red 2", a play on (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes.
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  • 2010
    Costello released the album National Ransom in autumn of 2010.
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    Also in 2010, Elvis Costello appeared as himself in David Simon's television series, Treme.
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    On 15 May 2010, Costello announced he would withdraw from a concert performed in Israel in opposition to Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
    More Details Hide Details In a statement on his website, Costello wrote, "It has been necessary to dial out the falsehoods of propaganda, the double game and hysterical language of politics, the vanity and self-righteousness of public communiqués from cranks in order to eventually sift through my own conflicted thoughts."
  • THIRTIES
  • 2009
    Costello released Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, a collaboration with T-Bone Burnett, on 9 June 2009.
    More Details Hide Details Burnett previously worked with Costello on King of America and Spike. It was his first on the Starbucks Hear Music label and a return to country music in the manner of Good Year for the Roses. Costello appeared as himself in the finale of the third season of 30 Rock and sang in the episode's celebrity telethon, Kidney Now! The episode references Costello's given name when Jack Donaghy accuses him of concealing his true identity: "Declan McManus, international art thief."
    In May 2009, Costello made a surprise cameo appearance on-stage at the Beacon Theater in New York as part of Spinal Tap's Unwigged and Unplugged show, singing their fictional 1965 hit "Gimme Some Money" with the band backing him up.
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  • 2008
    Costello was featured on Fall Out Boy's 2008 album Folie à Deux, providing vocals on the track "What a Catch, Donnie", along with other artists who are friends with the band.
    More Details Hide Details Costello appeared in Stephen Colbert's television special A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All. In the program, he was eaten by a bear, but later saved by Santa Claus; he also sang a duet with Colbert. The special was first aired on 23 November 2008.
    Between 2008 and 2010, Costello hosted Channel 4/CTV's series Spectacle in which Costello talked and performed with stars in various fields, styled similarly to Inside the Actors Studio.
    More Details Hide Details Between its two seasons, the show compiled 20 episodes, including one where Costello was interviewed by actress Mary-Louise Parker.
    In July 2008, Costello (as Declan McManus) was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Liverpool.
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    On 22 April 2008, Momofuku was released on Lost Highway Records, the same imprint that released The Delivery Man, his previous studio album.
    More Details Hide Details The album was, at least initially, released exclusively on vinyl (with a code to download a digital copy). That summer, in support of the album, Costello toured with the Police on the final leg of their 2007/2008 Reunion Tour. Costello played a homecoming gig at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 25 June 2006. and, that month, gave his first performance in Poland, appearing with The Imposters for the closing gig of the Malta theatre festival in Poznań.
    Costello later reprised the piece on the stage of the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 2008, with Sting, Joe Sumner of Fiction Plane (Sting's son) and Sylvia Schwartz.
    More Details Hide Details Also released in 2006 was a live recording of a concert with the Metropole Orkest at the North Sea Jazz Festival, entitled My Flame Burns Blue. The soundtrack for House, M.D. featured Costello's interpretation of "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera, with the song appearing in the second episode of Season 2. Costello was commissioned to write a chamber opera by the Danish Royal Opera, Copenhagen, on the subject of Hans Christian Andersen's infatuation with Swedish soprano Jenny Lind. Called The Secret Songs it was unfinished. In a performance in 2007 directed by Kasper Bech Holten at the Opera's studio theatre (Takelloftet), finished songs were interspersed with pieces from Costello's 1993 collaborative classical album The Juliet Letters, featuring Danish soprano Sine Bundgaard as Lind. The 2009 album Secret, Profane & Sugarcane includes material from Secret Songs.
  • 2006
    After Hurricane Katrina, Costello and Allen Toussaint performed in New York at a series of Hurricane Relief benefit concerts in September 2006.
    More Details Hide Details By week’s end, Costello had written "The River in Reverse", performed it with Toussaint and discussed plans for an album with Verve Record executives. The result was Costello's The River in Reverse which is a collaboration with New Orleanian, Allen Toussaint and recorded with The Crescent City Horns. Costello turned to older songs to reflect the national malaise at the time. In a studio recording of Nieve's opera Welcome to the Voice (2006, Deutsche Grammophon), Costello interpreted the character of Chief of Police, with Barbara Bonney, Robert Wyatt, Sting and Amanda Roocroft, and the album reached No. 2 in the Billboard classical charts.
  • 2005
    On 25 May 2005, Costello was due to take the stage with his band at a gig in Norwich, which clashed with Liverpool appearing in the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final against AC Milan.
    More Details Hide Details With Liverpool losing 3-0 at half time, Costello was due on stage and began warming up his voice in preparation for the gig, before deciding: "I might as well see the first few minutes of the second half." With Liverpool staging a remarkable comeback (since dubbed the Miracle of Istanbul) by scoring three goals in six minutes and making it 3-3, Costello delayed his appearance on stage for over an hour. With the game going to penalties, after much delay he had no choice but to take the stage, with Costello recalling: "I tried my best to keep my eyes from the TV screen over the bar at the back of the room but the words "Oh s***, he’s missed" might have accidentally crept into the lyrics of "Good Year for the Roses". With Liverpool prevailing while he was on stage, an ecstatic Costello broke out into a performance of the club's anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone".
    A 2005 tour included a gig at Glastonbury that Costello considered to be so dreadful that he said "I don't care if I ever play England again.
    More Details Hide Details That gig made up my mind I wouldn't come back. I don't get along with it. We lost touch. It's 25 years since I lived there. I don't dig it, they don't dig me.British music fans don't have the same attitude to age as they do in America, where young people come to check out, say Willie Nelson. They feel some connection with him and find a role for that music in their lives."
  • 2004
    In July 2004, Costello's first full-scale orchestral work, Il Sogno, was performed in New York.
    More Details Hide Details The work, a ballet after Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, was commissioned by Italian dance troupe Aterballeto, and received critical acclaim from the classical music critics. Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, the recording was released on CD in September by Deutsche Grammophon. In September of the same year, Costello released the album The Delivery Man, recorded in Oxford, Mississippi, on Lost Highway Records, and it was hailed as one of his best. A CD recording of a collaboration with Marian McPartland on her show Piano Jazz was released in 2005. It featured Costello singing six jazz standards and two of his own songs, accompanied by McPartland on piano. In November, Costello started recording a new album with Allen Toussaint and producer Joe Henry. The River in Reverse was released in the UK on the Verve label the following year in May.
    Costello co-wrote many songs on Krall's 2004 CD, The Girl in the Other Room, the first of hers to feature several original compositions.
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    The song "Scarlet Tide" (co-written by Costello and T-Bone Burnett and used in the film Cold Mountain) was nominated for a 2004 Academy Award; he performed it at the awards ceremony with Alison Krauss, who sang the song on the official soundtrack.
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  • 2003
    Costello became engaged to piano-vocalist Diana Krall in May 2003, and married her at the home of Elton John on 6 December that year. Krall gave birth to twin sons, Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James, on 6 December 2006 in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details From 2001 to 2005, Costello re-issued his back catalogue in the U.S., from My Aim Is True (1977) to All This Useless Beauty (1996), on double-disc collections on the Rhino Records label. These releases, which each contained second discs of bonus material, ultimately fell out of print by 2007 after Universal Music acquired the rights to Costello's catalogue. Universal subsequently released new deluxe editions of My Aim Is True and This Year's Model with new bonus material of full-length concerts from the time of each album's release. These deluxe editions also fell out of print and Universal has reverted to re-releasing Costello's pre-1987 albums in their original context without bonus material. A vegetarian since the early 1980s, Costello says he was moved to reject meat after seeing the documentary The Animals Film (1982), which also helped inspire his song "Pills and Soap" from 1983's Punch the Clock.
    On 12 March 2003, Costello filled in for David Letterman on the Late Show with David Letterman for the evening while Letterman was recovering from an eye infection.
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    On 23 February 2003, Costello, along with Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt, and Dave Grohl, performed a version of the Clash's "London Calling" at the 45th Grammy Awards ceremony, in honour of Clash frontman Joe Strummer, who had died the previous December.
    More Details Hide Details In March, Elvis Costello & the Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He announced his engagement in May to Canadian jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall, whom he had seen in concert and then met backstage at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. That September, he released North, an album of piano-based ballads concerning the breakdown of his former marriage, and his falling in love with Krall. Also that year, Costello made an appearance in the television series Frasier as a folk singer in the Cafe Nervosa, sending Frasier and Niles on a search for a new coffee bar.
  • 2002
    He released the album When I Was Cruel in 2002 on Island Records, and toured with a new band, the Imposters (essentially the Attractions but with a different bass player, Davey Faragher, formerly of Cracker).
    More Details Hide Details He appeared as himself in the "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation" episode of The Simpsons.
  • 2001
    In 2001, Costello was artist-in-residence at UCLA and wrote the music for a new ballet.
    More Details Hide Details He produced and appeared on an album of pop songs for the classical singer Anne Sofie von Otter.
  • 2000
    In 2000, Costello appeared at the Town Hall, New York, in Steve Nieve's opera Welcome to the Voice, alongside Ron Sexsmith and John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1999
    In 1999, Costello contributed a version of "She", released in 1974 by Charles Aznavour and Herbert Kretzmer, for the soundtrack of the film Notting Hill, with Trevor Jones producing.
    More Details Hide Details For the 25th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, Costello was invited to the programme, where he re-enacted his abrupt song-switch: This time, however, he interrupted the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", and they acted as his backing group for "Radio Radio".
  • 1998
    This led the pair to write and record the critically acclaimed album Painted From Memory, released under his new contract in 1998, on the Mercury Records label, featuring songs that were largely inspired by the dissolution of his marriage to Cait O'Riordan.
    More Details Hide Details Costello and Bacharach performed several concerts with a full orchestral backing, and also recorded an updated version of Bacharach's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" for the soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, with both appearing in the film to perform the song. He also wrote "I Throw My Toys Around" for The Rugrats Movie and performed it with No Doubt. The same year, he collaborated with Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains on "The Long Journey Home" on the soundtrack of the PBS/Disney mini-series of the same name. The soundtrack won a Grammy that year.
    In 1998, Costello signed a multi-label contract with Polygram Records, sold by its parent company the same year to become part of the Universal Music Group.
    More Details Hide Details Costello released his new work on what he deemed the suitable imprimatur within the family of labels. His first new release as part of this contract involved a collaboration with Burt Bacharach. Their work had commenced earlier, in 1996, on a song called "God Give Me Strength" for the movie Grace of My Heart.
  • 1995
    He was instrumental in bringing Sexsmith to a wider audience in 1995 by championing his debut album in Mojo magazine, even appearing on the cover with the album.
    More Details Hide Details In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him No. 80 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Costello has had a long collaborative history with Allen Toussaint, beginning with a couple of scattered album tracks in the 1980s and skipping ahead to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with the production of The River in Reverse.
    In the intervening period, Costello had served as artistic chair for the 1995 Meltdown Festival, which gave him the opportunity to explore his increasingly eclectic musical interests.
    More Details Hide Details His involvement in the festival yielded a one-off live EP with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, which featured both cover material and a few of his own songs.
    In 1995, he released Kojak Variety, an album of cover songs recorded five years earlier, and followed in 1996 with an album of songs originally written for other artists, All This Useless Beauty.
    More Details Hide Details This was the final album of original material that he issued under his Warner Bros. contract, and also his final album with the Attractions. In the spring of 1996, Costello played a series of intimate club dates, backed only by Steve Nieve on the piano, in support of All This Useless Beauty. An ensuing summer and fall tour with the Attractions proved to be the death knell for the band. With relations between Costello and bassist Bruce Thomas at a breaking point, Costello announced that the current tour would be the Attractions' last. The quartet performed their final U.S. show in Seattle, Washington on 1 September 1996, before wrapping up their tour in Japan. Costello would still continue to work frequently with Attractions Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas; eventually, both would be members of Costello's new back-up band, The Imposters.
  • 1993
    During this period, he wrote a full album's worth of material for Wendy James, and these songs became the tracks on her 1993 solo album Now Ain't the Time for Your Tears.
    More Details Hide Details Costello returned to rock and roll the following year with a project that reunited him with the Attractions, Brutal Youth.
    In 1993, Costello experimented with classical music with a critically acclaimed collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet on The Juliet Letters.
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  • 1991
    In 1991, Costello released Mighty Like a Rose, which featured the single "The Other Side of Summer".
    More Details Hide Details He also co-composed and co-produced, with Richard Harvey, the title and incidental music for the mini-series G.B.H. by Alan Bleasdale. This entirely instrumental, and largely orchestral, soundtrack garnered a BAFTA, for Best Music for a TV Series for the pair.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1989
    He signed a new contract with Warner Bros. and in early 1989 released Spike, which spawned his biggest single in the U.S., the Top 20 hit "Veronica", one of several songs Costello co-wrote with Paul McCartney.
    More Details Hide Details At the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards on 6 September in Los Angeles, "Veronica" won the MTV Award for Best Male Video.
  • 1987
    Costello's recording contract with Columbia Records ended after Blood & Chocolate. In 1987 he released compilation album, Out of Our Idiot on his U.K. label, Demon Records consisting of B-sides, side projects, and unreleased songs from recording sessions from 1980 to 1987.
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  • 1986
    In May 1986, he performed at Self Aid, a benefit concert held in Dublin that focused on the chronic unemployment which was widespread in Ireland at that time.
    More Details Hide Details Later that year, Costello returned to the studio with the Attractions and recorded Blood and Chocolate, which was lauded for a post-punk fervour not heard since 1978's This Year's Model. It also marked the return of producer Nick Lowe, who had produced Costello's first five albums. While Blood and Chocolate failed to chart a hit single of any significance, it did produce what has since become one of Costello's signature concert songs, "I Want You." On this album, Costello adopted the alias Napoleon Dynamite, the name he later attributed to the character of the emcee that he played during the vaudeville-style tour to support Blood and Chocolate. (The pseudonym had previously been used in 1982, when the B-side single "Imperial Bedroom" was credited to Napoleon Dynamite & the Royal Guard; whether the title of the 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite was inspired by Costello is disputed). After the tour for Blood & Chocolate, Costello split from the Attractions, due mostly to tensions between Costello and Bruce Thomas. Costello would continue to work with Attraction Pete Thomas as a session musician for future releases.
    Growing antipathy between Costello and Bruce Thomas contributed to the Attractions' first split in 1986 when Costello was preparing to make a comeback.
    More Details Hide Details Working in the U.S. with Burnett, a band containing a number of Elvis Presley's sidemen (including James Burton and Jerry Scheff), and minor input from the Attractions, he produced King of America, an acoustic guitar-driven album with a country sound. It was billed as performed by "The Costello Show featuring the Attractions and Confederates" in the UK and Europe and "The Costello Show featuring Elvis Costello" in North America. Around this time he legally changed his name back to Declan MacManus, adding Aloysius as an extra middle name. Costello retooled his upcoming tour to allow for multiple nights in each city, playing one night with the Confederates, one night with the Attractions, and one night solo acoustic.
    Costello and the Attractions toured and recorded together for the better part of a decade, though differences between them caused a split by 1986.
    More Details Hide Details Much of Costello's work since has been as a solo artist, though reunions with members of the Attractions have been credited to the group over the years. Steeped in wordplay, the vocabulary of Costello's lyrics is broad. His music has drawn on many diverse genres; one critic described him as a "pop encyclopaedia", able to "reinvent the past in his own image". He has won multiple awards in his career, including a Grammy Award, and has twice been nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Singer. In 2003, Costello and the Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Costello number 80 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Costello has also co-written several original songs for motion pictures, including "God Give Me Strength" from Grace of My Heart (1996, with Burt Bacharach) and "The Scarlet Tide" from Cold Mountain (2003, with T-Bone Burnett). For the latter, Costello was nominated (along with Burnett) for the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
  • 1985
    In 1985, Costello became involved with Cait O'Riordan, then the bassist of the London Irish group the Pogues, while he was producing the Pogues' album Rum Sodomy and the Lash. They married in 1986 and split up by the end of 2002.
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    In 1985, he appeared in the Live Aid benefit concert in England, singing the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" as a solo artist. (The event was overrunning and Costello was asked to "ditch the band".) Costello introduced the song as an "old northern English folk song", and the audience was invited to sing the chorus.
    More Details Hide Details In the same year Costello teamed up with friend T-Bone Burnett for the single "The People's Limousine" under the moniker of The Coward Brothers. That year, Costello also produced Rum Sodomy & the Lash for the Irish punk/folk band the Pogues.
  • 1983
    Under the pseudonym The Imposter, Costello released "Pills and Soap", an attack on the changes in British society brought on by Thatcherism, released to coincide with the run-up to the 1983 U.K. general election.
    More Details Hide Details Punch the Clock also generated an international hit in the single "Everyday I Write the Book", aided by a music video featuring lookalikes of the Prince and Princess of Wales undergoing domestic strife in a suburban home. The song became Costello's first Top 40 hit single in the U.S. Also in the same year, Costello provided vocals on a version of the Madness song "Tomorrow's Just Another Day" released as a B-side on the single of the same name. Tensions within the band—notably between Costello and bassist Bruce Thomas—were beginning to tell, and Costello announced his retirement and the break-up of the group shortly before they were to record Goodbye Cruel World (1984). Costello would later say of this record that they had "got it as wrong as you can in terms of the execution". The record was poorly received upon its initial release; the liner notes to the 1995 Rykodisc re-release, penned by Costello, begin with the words "Congratulations! You've just purchased our worst album". Costello's retirement, although short-lived, was accompanied by two compilations, Elvis Costello: The Man in the UK, Europe and Australia, and The Best of Elvis Costello & The Attractions in the U.S.
    In 1983, he released Punch the Clock, featuring female backing vocal duo (Afrodiziak) and a four-piece horn section (the TKO Horns), alongside the Attractions.
    More Details Hide Details Clive Langer (who co-produced with Alan Winstanley), provided Costello with a melody which eventually became "Shipbuilding", which featured a trumpet solo by Chet Baker. Prior to the release of Costello's own version, a version of the song was a minor UK hit for former Soft Machine founder Robert Wyatt.
  • 1981
    Costello also co-produced Squeeze's popular 1981 album East Side Story (with Roger Bechirian) and also performed backing vocals on the group's hit single "Tempted".
    More Details Hide Details October saw the release of Almost Blue, an album of country music cover songs written by the likes of Hank Williams ("Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used to Do?)"), Merle Haggard ("Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down") and Gram Parsons ("How Much I Lied"). The album, which received mixed reviews, was a tribute to the country music that Costello had grown up listening to, especially George Jones. The first pressings of the record in the UK bore a sticker with the message: "WARNING: This album contains country & western music and may cause a radical reaction in narrow minded listeners." Almost Blue did spawn a surprise UK hit single in a version of George Jones' "Good Year for the Roses" (written by Jerry Chesnut), which reached No. 6. Imperial Bedroom (1982) had a much darker sound, due in part to the production of Geoff Emerick, famed for engineering several Beatles records. Imperial Bedroom remains one of his most critically acclaimed records, but again failed to produce any hit singles. Costello has said he disliked the marketing pitch for the album. The album also featured Costello's song "Almost Blue", inspired by the music of jazz singer and trumpeter Chet Baker, who would later perform and record a version of the song (Chet Baker in Tokyo).
    In January 1981, Costello released Trust amidst growing tensions within the Attractions, particularly between Bruce and Pete Thomas.
    More Details Hide Details In the U.S., the single "Watch Your Step" was released and played live on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow show, and received airplay on FM rock radio. In the U.K., the single "Clubland" scraped the lower reaches of the charts; follow-up single "From a Whisper to a Scream" (a duet with Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze) became the first Costello single in over four years to completely miss the charts.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1980
    His only 1980 appearance in North America was at the Heatwave festival in August near Toronto.
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  • 1979
    Costello's standing in the U.S. was bruised for a time when in March 1979, during a drunken argument with Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett in a Columbus, Ohio, Holiday Inn bar, the singer referred to James Brown as a "jive-ass nigger", then upped the ante by pronouncing Ray Charles a "blind, ignorant nigger".
    More Details Hide Details Costello apologised at a New York City press conference a few days later, claiming that he had been drunk and had been attempting to be obnoxious in order to bring the conversation to a swift conclusion, not anticipating that Bramlett would bring his comments to the press. According to Costello, "it became necessary for me to outrage these people with about the most obnoxious and offensive remarks that I could muster." In his liner notes for the expanded version of Get Happy!! Costello writes that some time after the incident he had declined an offer to meet Charles out of guilt and embarrassment, though Charles himself had forgiven Costello saying "Drunken talk isn't meant to be printed in the paper." Costello worked extensively in Britain's Rock Against Racism campaign both before and after the incident. The incident inspired his Get Happy!! song "Riot Act." In an interview with Questlove (drummer for the Roots, whom Costello collaborated with in 2013), he addressed the controversy, stating: "It’s upsetting because I can’t explain how I even got to think you could be funny about something like that," and further elaborating with, "I’m sorry. You know? It’s about time I said it out loud."
    Costello also found time in 1979 to produce the debut album for the 2 Tone ska revival band the Specials.
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    In 1979, he released his third LP Armed Forces (originally to have been titled Emotional Fascism, a phrase that appeared on the LP's inner sleeve).
    More Details Hide Details American editions included a 45rpm EP recorded live at the Hollywood High School Gymnasium in Hollywood in 1978. Both the album and the single "Oliver's Army" went to No. 2 in the UK, and the opening track "Accidents Will Happen" gained wide television exposure thanks to its innovative animated music video, directed by Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton.
  • 1978
    The Attractions' first tour of Australia in December 1978 was notable for a controversial performance at Sydney's Regent Theatre when, angered by the group's failure to perform an encore after their brief 35-minute set, audience members destroyed some of the seating.
    More Details Hide Details By the end of the 70s Costello was firmly established as both performer and songwriter, with Linda Ronstadt and Dave Edmunds having success with his compositions. A tour of the U.S. and Canada also saw the release of the much-bootlegged Canadian promo-only Live at the El Mocambo, recorded at a Toronto rock club, which finally saw an official release as part of the 2½ Years box set in 1993.
  • 1977
    On 17 December 1977, Costello and the Attractions, as a replacement act for the Sex Pistols, were scheduled to play "Less Than Zero" on Saturday Night Live; however, in imitation of a rebellious act by Jimi Hendrix on a BBC show, Costello stopped the song mid-intro, yelling "Stop!
    More Details Hide Details Stop!" to his band, and played "Radio Radio" instead – a song that criticizes the commercialization of the airwaves, which NBC and Lorne Michaels had forbidden them to play. Costello was subsequently banned from the show (the ban was lifted in 1989) and he received considerable attention as an angry young man. His insistence on performing "Radio Radio" on SNL proved a boon to his debut album, and its popularity exploded in the U.S. after the performance. Following a tour with other Stiff artists – captured on the Live Stiffs Live album, which includes Costello's version of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David standard "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" – the band recorded This Year's Model (1978). Some of the more popular tracks include the British hit "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea" and "Pump It Up." His U.S. record company saw Costello as such a priority that his last name replaced the word Columbia on the label of the disc's original pressing.
    Later in 1977, Costello formed his own permanent backing band, the Attractions, consisting of Steve Nieve (piano), Bruce Thomas (bass guitar), and Pete Thomas (drums; unrelated to Bruce Thomas).
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    Costello's first single for Stiff was "Less Than Zero", released on 25 March 1977.
    More Details Hide Details Four months later, his début album, My Aim Is True (1977), was released to moderate commercial success (No. 14 in the UK and, later, Top 40 in the US) with Costello appearing on the cover in what became his trademark oversize glasses, bearing some resemblance to Buddy Holly. Costello failed to chart with his early singles, which included the anti-fascist "Less Than Zero" and the ballad "Alison". Stiff's records were initially distributed only in the UK, which meant that Costello's first album and singles were available in the US as imports only. In an attempt to change this, Costello was arrested for busking outside a London convention of CBS Records executives, protesting that no US record company had yet seen fit to release his records in the United States. Costello signed to Columbia Records, CBS in the U.S., a few months later.
    His critically acclaimed debut album, My Aim Is True, was recorded in 1977.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly after recording it, he formed the Attractions as his backing band. His second album, This Year's Model, was released in 1978, and was ranked number 11 by Rolling Stone on its list of the best albums from 1967–1987. His third album, Armed Forces, was released in 1979, and features his most successful single "Oliver's Army". His first three albums all appeared on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
  • 1974
    Costello has been married three times, the first time in 1974 to Mary Burgoyne, with whom he had a son, Matthew.
    More Details Hide Details Toward the end of his first marriage, Costello became embroiled in an on-again/off-again romance with Bebe Buell, then-girlfriend of Todd Rundgren (and mother of Steven Tyler's daughter Liv). Buell has said she was the inspiration behind some of Costello's most bitter love songs from the Armed Forces era, though Costello countered by claiming most of those songs had been written before he ever met Buell.
  • 1971
    Costello moved with his Liverpool-born mother to Birkenhead, Cheshire, in 1971.
    More Details Hide Details There, he formed his first band, a folk duo called Rusty, with Allan Mayes. After completing secondary school at St. Francis Xavier's College he moved back to London where he next formed a band called Flip City, which had a style in the pub rock vein. They were active from 1974 through to early 1976. Around this time, Costello adopted the stage name D.P. Costello. His father had performed under the name Day Costello, and Elvis has said in interviews that he took this name as a tribute to his father. Costello worked at a number of office jobs to support himself, most famously at Elizabeth Arden – immortalised in the lyrics of "I'm Not Angry" as the "vanity factory" – where he worked as a data entry clerk. He worked for a short period as a computer operator at the Midland Bank computer centre in Bootle. He continued to write songs and began looking for a solo recording contract. He was signed to independent label Stiff Records on the basis of a demo tape. His manager at Stiff, Jake Riviera, suggested a name change, combining Elvis Presley's first name and Costello, his father's stage name.
  • OTHER
  • 1954
    Born on August 25, 1954.
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