A year by year overview of Gavin Friday’s career
1959 – 1985
Gavin Friday is born in Dublin, Ireland on October 8, 1959. He survives a Christian Brothers education to become a singer, composer and painter. Ireland’s most avant-garde chanteur founds the legendary Virgin Prunes in 1977. The band’s uncompromising body of work ensures a dedicated fan base in Ireland, the U.K. and mainland Europe in particular.
1986 – 1991
In 1986 Gavin briefly abandones music to paint, which culminates in the 1988 group-exhibition entitled ‘Four Artists, Many Wednesdays‘ at Dublin’s Hendriks Gallery. He returns to the stage in ’87, acting as master of ceremonies in his own weekly cabaret, the ‘Blue Jaysus’ club. Friday’s own unique interpretations of classic burlesque songs feature alongside comedy and drag acts, as well as appearances by special guests from Dublin’s always fertile music scene.
From 1987 to 2005 he composes and performs with pianist Maurice Roycroft (The Man Seezer). Fresh from The Blue Jaysus, they play their first gig together in October 1987 at an AIDS benefit in Dublin. A demo tape of original material attracts the attention of Island Records’ Chris Blackwell, who signs them to the label in November 1987.
‘Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves’ (1989), their compelling moody debut produced by Hal Willner, explores the world of Jacques Brel (whose song ‘Next’ is covered on the album), Edith Piaf, Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill regarded with a healthy punk ethos. Recorded in New York, Friday claims it articulates everything he wasn’t able to say in the Virgin Prunes. Themes of love, death and sex permeate the album, which has a strong musical cast including Michael Blair, Marc Ribot, Fernando Saunders and Bill Frisell.
1992 – 1994
The follow up, 1992’s ‘Adam ‘N’ Eve’ is an eclectic work by an artist who refuses to be pigeonholed. Influenced by Gavin’s adolescent pop past, the album contains shades of T-Rex, Roxy Music, Bowie, Eric Satie and Burt Bacharach and is lighter and more humorous than its predecessor. The first single, ‘I Want to Live’, charts in The Netherlands and Belgium where Friday’s debut album had also been especially well received.
In 1993 Gavin Friday works on the soundtrack of Jim Sheridan’s film ‘In the Name of the Father’ and together with U2’s Bono writes the title track as well as the Sinead O’Connor sung hit ‘You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart’.
1995 – 1998
In 1995 Gavin Friday releases ‘Shag Tobacco’. Produced by Bomb the Bass’ Tim Simenon, this sultry, cinematic album uniquely blends 90’s dance rhythms with more traditional European pop, all set in a world not quite in the future, or in the past. ‘It’s a very sexual album,’ says Friday, ‘if there is a location for this album, it is a place where love is most definitely the drug and everyone is a junkie.’ The Shag Tobacco tours last well into 1996, ending triumphantly with a show at the Olympia Theatre in Friday’s home town, Dublin.
Friday and Seezer contribute the song ‘Angel’ to the 1996 film ‘Romeo + Juliet’ by director Baz Luhrmann and it is included on its hugely popular soundtrack CD. They also write their first piece of score for the Australian film ‘Angel Baby’, directed by Michael Reimer. In 1998 they compose the score for Jim Sheridan’s The Boxer, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
1999 – 2005
In Summer 1999, Gavin travels to Kosovo on behalf of the charity Concern, to film a documentary highlighting to plight of Kosovan refugees. ‘Artists for Kosovo‘, a slide-show of work by renowned Irish artists set to Friday/Seezer music opens in Dublin’s Temple Bar. Later that year Gavin completes the video documentary ‘Three Wishes For Kosovo’ and his children’s charity project for Kosovo, ‘Muc the flying pig‘ launches. The project encourages kids in schools around Ireland to organise their own collections for the charity.
Friday and Seezer write the score for Kirsten Sheridan’s ‘Disco Pigs’ (2001) and Gavin has a cameo in the film which stars Cilian Murphy. Also that year Gavin creates ‘Ich Liebe Dich’, a twisted and seductive musical theatre tribute to the German composer Kurt Weill. Performed with the Friday-Seezer Ensemble at the Dublin Theatre Festival, the sold out six-show run brings the best of 1920s/30s Berlin and 40s Broadway into the 21st century. The following year Friday and Seezer tackle Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’, recording their own arrangement of the children’s classic with their ensemble. A luxury box set, with artwork by U2’s Bono, raises money and awareness for the Irish Hospice Foundation.
In 2004 Gavin performs the surreal and personal one man show ‘I Didn’t Come up the Liffey in a Bubble‘ at the Dublin Fringe Festival. Film director Neil Jordan cast Gavin as the sexually ambiguous rocker Billy Hatchet in the 2005 movie “Breakfast on Pluto”. Starring alongside Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson and Brendan Gleeson, Friday holds his own and receives much praise for his debut screen appearance.
Late 2005, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer team up with legendary producer Quincy Jones to score the Jim Sheridan directed 50 Cent biopic ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’.’
2006 – 2008
Gavin Friday returns to the stage with his tribute to German culture, ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me‘, and again collaborates with producer Hal Willner on a boisterous collection of pirate ballads, sea songs and chanteys, entitled ‘Rogue’s Gallery’. Later that year, Gavin narrates The Fortune Teller, a marionette play by Erik Sanko. It premieres in New York to great acclaim. Early 2007, Gavin Friday starts writing songs together with Cork-based musician Herbie Macken.
Taking time out from work on his fourth solo album with new writing partner Herb Macken, Gavin participates in the Shakespeare Sonnet Project, jointly commissioned by Opera North Projects and the Royal Shakespeare Company. The project, curated by the English composer Gavin Bryars, premieres in Stratford-Upon-Avon in February and tours around the U.K. through March 2007. Gavin performs his take on ‘Sonnet 40′ and narrates the eight sonnets that make up Bryars’ 40-minute composition ‘Nothing Like the Sun’.
In Summer 2007 Gavin Friday and Herb Macken compose the music and main theme ‘Dreamland’ for Patrick McCabe’s play ‘The Revenant’, which opens at the Galway Arts Festival in July. Gavin also takes part in Hal Willner’s Disney tribute ‘Stay Awake’ at the Royal Festival Hall in London and records the classic ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ for Lemon magazine. He teams up with members of Ireland’s Crash Ensemble to narrate composer Ian Wilson’s ‘Handsomest Drowned Man in the World’ in Dublin and Brighton.
When Hal Willner takes the ‘Rogue’s Gallery’ album to the stage for a UK/Ireland tour, Gavin joins him again, performing the pirate songs alongside an eclectic troupe of musicians including Shane McGowan, Martha Wainwright, Rachel Unthank, Lou Reed and actor Tim Robbins.
2009 – 2010
In October 2009 Gavin celebrates his 50th birthday in style. “An Evening with Gavin Friday and Friends” takes place at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Backed by an all star band, Gavin plays a selection of his own work and covers, duetting with Antony, Rufus Wainwright, Courtney Love, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Lydia Lunch, Maria McKee, Shane MacGowan, U2 among others. Proceeds of the show go to the (RED) charity.
Hal Willner’s Rogue’s Gallery show travels to Sydney early 2010. Gavin performs at the Opera House alongside Marianne Faithfull, David Johansen, Baby Gramps, David Thomas and Norma Waterson.
In April 2010 Gavin finishes recording his fourth solo album in Dublin with producer Ken Thomas.
A cover of the Suicide classic Ghostrider is released on Blast First Petite in collaboration with Dave Ball (Soft Cell) in June and Gavin takes part the in Ireland’s National Library’s Yeats Festival Summer’s Wreath, reading a selection of Yeats’ poetry, accompanied by fiddle player Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill.
Gavin Friday’s fourth solo album is released in Ireland on Good Friday, April 22. The first single is the song Able. Kevin Godley (10cc) directs the Able video. Gavin Friday and his band play the Electric Picnic festival in September 2011 and the Crossing Border festival in The Hague and Antwerp in November. ‘Lord I’m Coming’ off the catholic album is the opening track on the soundtrack of Paolo Sorrentino’s film “This Must Be The Place”.
2012 – 2013
The ‘catholic’ tour continues with sold out shows in Belgium and Holland. Gavin composes music for the Anton Corbijn documentary ‘Inside Out’ which premieres at the Berlin Film Festival.
2015 – 2019
Gavin played various roles among which Uncle Ernie and the Acid Queen in Hal Willner and Eric Mingus’s re-interpretation of the rock opera Tommy at the Adelaide Festival in Australia. He continues to play live with Gavin Bryars and creates The Casement Sonata at Dublin’s prestigious the Hugh Lane Gallery, a sonic response to the centenary of the execution of Roger Casement in 1916. He collaborates with poet Jeremy Reed and Anni Hogan on their albums and features on five songs on the album Atonalism by French band Atonalist, reuniting with former Gavin Friday band member Renaud Pion. Summer 2019 sees Gavin sharing the stage with Ute Lemper, Blixa Bargeld, Cathal Coughlan, Meow Meow and Camille O’Sullivan, celebrating the work of Bertold Brecht at the National Concert Hall in Dublin.
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