THE SHIRES HIT AMERICA!
Oct 28, 2016 Expanded Press Release
UK COUNTRY SUPERSTARS, THE SHIRES, MAKE MUSIC HISTORY BY BECOMING FIRST UK COUNTRY ACT TO SIGN TO HIGH PROFILE USA-BASED COUNTRY RECORD LABEL
BIG MACHINE LABEL GROUP PRESIDENT/CEO SCOTT BORCHETTA SIGNS THE SHIRES, FOLLOWING THE RELEASE OF ‘MY UNIVERSE’, THE FASTEST-SELLING UK COUNTRY ALBUM OF ALL TIME
|The Shires: Ben Earle (L) & Crissie Rhodes (R)|
celebrate signing to DOT Records
UK country duo The Shires (“leading British-born country act”), make music history today by signing a ground-breaking record deal with the Nashville-based Big Machine Label Group under the historic Dot Records imprint.
The Shires, whose second album MY UNIVERSE became the fastest-selling UK Country album of all time (* based on 1st week sales) in the UK upon release three weeks ago, today joined the ranks of prominent US Big Machine Label Group Country artists, including Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett, by signing an exclusive recording deal with the leading US Country music record label. The Shires are BMLG’s first ever UK signing.
Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes of The Shires stated: “We are absolutely thrilled to sign with Dot Records in the USA. The UK is our home and we are proud of our success so far, thanks to Decca Records, but it’s always been a massive goal for us to build our presence and make a name for ourselves in the USA. Scott was one of the first people to approach us as a band, after hearing our original demos nearly three years ago. His advice back then was clear, to break the UK first and come to the US with a story. We took his advice and are extremely excited to be working with him and his team in the US. It is the home of Country Music and what better label could any act ever hope to sign with than Dot Records! Scott, Chris and their team are incredible at what they do and have worked with some of the biggest names in Country music history – we can’t wait to get started!”
Scott Borchetta, President and CEO of the Big Machine Label Group, commented, “I’ve been watching The Shires closely and from afar, and now the time is right to have them join the family. I can’t wait for America to experience The Shires!”
We’ve been lucky enough to have seen them perform many times, from our first gig in their local pub to their debut at Grand Ole Opry, we know their success has been hard-earned and we hope they are the first of many British country artists to break the USA!
Dot Records Roster:
1. Zac Brown Band (Southern Ground/John Varvatos Records/Republic Records)
2. Maddie & Tae
3. Drake White
4. Tucker Beathard
5. Steven Tyler
6. Aaron Lewis
7. The Shires !!!! ** NEW **
Dot Records is an American record label founded by Randy Wood that was active between 1950 and 1979. The label was reactivated in 2014 through a joint venture between Big Machine Label Group and the Republic Records unit of Universal Music Group (which owns the original Dot Records catalogue). It is based in Nashville, TN.
The label's first signees include Maddie and Tae, Drake White, and Steven Tyler.
The Shires have already had significant success on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, they have graced the stage at the famous Grand Ole Opry, adding their names alongside Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Garth Brooks and a veritable who’s who of Country music who have all played at the famous Nashville landmark venue. Regulars to Nashville, The Shires have already worked with top country music writers, and their current album was recorded at Sound Stage Studios, one of the most prestigious recording studios in Nashville, which has cut records for other Country superstars such as Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum.
Formed three years ago, following a Facebook plea by Earle for a singer to join him, they were championed by Whispering Bob Harris (OBE) on his BBC Radio 2 country music show.
Decca Records signed them up in the UK and tireless touring, plus appearances at the Country to Country Festival in London, assisted with building a large British fan base.
Their debut album BRAVE was the first UK country music album to break Top 10 in the UK.
The Shires make history becoming first UK Country act to sign to High Profile USA based country Record label
So is this true?
Olivia Newton John if we can claim her as one of her own was born in Cambridgeshire, UK on Sept 26, 1948 (now aged 68)
In 1954, when she was six, Newton-John's family emigrated to Melbourne, Australia.
In the United States, Newton-John's career floundered after 1971 single If Not For You.
Subsequent singles including "Banks of the Ohio" (No. 94 Pop, No. 34 AC) and remakes of George Harrison's "What Is Life" (No. 34 AC) and John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" (No. 119 Pop) made minimal chart impact until the release of "Let Me Be There" in 1973. The song reached the American Top 10 on the Pop (#6), Country (#7) and earned her a Grammy for Best Country Female and an Academy of Country Music award for Most Promising Female Vocalist.
THE LONG LIVE LOVE album was released in the U.S. as IF YOU LOVE ME, LET ME KNOW (MCA Records – MCA-411; recorded at EMI in London) with the six Eurovision songs dropped for four different, more country-oriented tracks intended to capitalise on the success of "Let Me Be There". The title track was the first single reaching No. 5 Pop, No.2 Country (her best country placement to date).
The next single, "I Honestly Love You" (soft/rock), became Newton-John's signature song. Written and composed by Jeff Barry and Peter Allen, the ballad became her first No.1 Pop (two weeks), and third Top 10 Country (#6) hit and earned Newton-John two more Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance-Female. The success of both singles helped the album reach No.1 on both the Pop and Country (eight weeks) Albums charts.
Newton-John's country success sparked a debate among purists, who took issue with a foreigner singing country-flavoured pop music being equated with native Nashville artists.
Olivia was also named the Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year in 1974, defeating more established Nashville-based nominees Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker, as well as Canadian artist Anne Murray.
Newton-John recorded her 1976 album, Don't Stop Believin', in Nashville.
Olivia Newton John Album Chart Success in America
LET ME BE THERE (1973) Label: Festival Records | #37 UK #1 US Top Country Albums
IF YOU LOVE ME, LET ME KNOW (May 1974) Label: MCA Records | #1 US Top Country Albums
HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN MELLOW R(Feb 12, 1975) Label: MCA Records | #1 US Top Country Albums
CLEARLY LOVE (1975) Label: MCA Records | #6 US Top Country Albums
COME ON OVER (Country, pop rock; Feb 29, 1976) Label: MCA Records | #2 US Top Country Albums
DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' (1976) Label: MCA Records | #7 US Top Country Albums
MAKING A GOOD THING BETTER (1977) Label: MCA Records | #13 US Top Country Albums * Newton-John was in a dispute with MCA Records at the time of the recording and was in negotiations to be released from MCA, thus the label did not promote the album. Olivia Newton-John went on to sign on to do the movie Grease, and came to an agreement to stay with MCA Records, though her recordings from the movie were on RSO Records.
BACK WITH A HEART R(May 12, 1998) Label: MCA Nashville | #9 US Top Country Albums Back with a Heart was recorded in Nashville and marked Newton-John's return to the US Country chart after an absence of almost twenty years.
Best Country Vocal, Female, 1973
Record of the Year, 1974 (I Honestly Love You)
American Music Awards
Fav. Single - Country, 1974 (IHLY)
Fav. Female Vocalist - Country, 1974
Fav. Album - Country, 1974 (Let Me be There)
Fav. Female Vocalist - Country, 1975
Academy of Country Music
Olivia Newton John wins Promising Female Vocalist of the Year (1974)
Favorite Female Country Singles Artist, 1975
Favorite Female Country Album Artist, 1975
In the late 70s a “terrific group” from Lancashire, Poacher, were not only signed up by Nashville but also had a single Darlin’ on the Billboard charts (US top 90 country chart).
Albert Lee, Stu Stevens, The Hillsiders, Tammy Cline, Raymond Frogatt and Peter Sayers not all were on Nashville labels, but they were American.
British Country band Poacher were formed in Warrington, Cheshire in 1977 by guitar and singer Tim Flaherty (b. 1950).
The original line-up featured Flaherty (vocals), Adrian Hart (lead guitar), Allan Crookes (bass), Pete Allen (steel guitar), Pete Longbottom (banjo) and Stan Bennett (drums). Within months of being formed, Poacher won a heat on UK television’s New Faces and then the all-winners final with a new British country song, ‘Silver Dollar Hero’.
Their first single, ‘Darling’, made a minor impact on the UK charts and a few months later the song was a hit for Frankie Miller. Other versions come from Tom Jones and Barbara Mandrell, but Poacher’s original made number 86 in the US country charts, no mean achievement for a British group. Despite several singles (‘Star Love’, ‘You Are No Angel’), Poacher did not reach the UK charts, although they were a very popular cabaret and country club act.
Dave Warwick, who managed Poacher, said: "They had a huge hit in America with a song called Darlin' and Tom Jones actually covered it."
Weymouth born Oscar Stewart Blandamer forged a successful songwriting career penning such tunes as "I'll Mend Your Broken Heart" for Phil Everly and Cliff Richard and "Tomb of Memories" for Paul Young. Despite writing "Darlin" in 1970, it wasn't until 1977 that the song was recorded by the Poacher. Despite a great deal of airplay it flopped in the UK though it did make #86 on the US Country charts.
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The Hillsiders played country when country was not cool in England!
As the UK’s leading country band, they helped introduce thousands of people to the music. The band’s origins went back to 1959 when the late Kenny Johnson (b. Dec 11, 1939 – Oct 13, 2015) , Liverpool, England; lead vocals/guitar) formed the Country Three. Johnson, joined by Joe Butler (b. 12 January 1939, Liverpool, England, d. May 2007; guitar), changed the group to Sonny Webb And The Country Four, taking his stage name from the American country stars Sonny James and Webb Pierce. In 1961, following an argument, Johnson regrouped as Sonny Webb And The Cascades.
The Hillsiders were recognised as one of Britain's top Country bands for over 3 decades, playing major venues and touring the GI bases both at home and in Germany. They opened for many of Country Music's major artistes such as Marty Robbins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Watson and Glen Campbell.
The Bobby Bare tour was brilliant for them. Bobby liked the harmonies that the Hillsiders had (who had a #1 hit record at the same time). At the end of the tour they brought him back to do a show at The Grafton in Liverpool. And then after a party at my house, Bare said - "When I get back to the states, I'm gonna see Chet Atkins, and we're going to do an album together". The man was true to his word, he went back to Nashville, saw Chet Atkins, got The Hillsiders a deal with RCA, and they flew out and recorded the album, and it was said it got to #17 (?) in the Billboard Hot 100 Album charts.
The Hillsiders recorded an album "The English Countryside" (LP, Mono | RCA Victor LPM 3896 (M); LSP 3896) in 1967 with him on the RCA Nashville label, produced by the renowned Chet Atkins. "The English Countryside" made a debut at No.44 (chart dated Dec 23, 1967), then climbed to #31 and peaked at #29 (chart dated Jan 13, 1968) for 3 weeks on the US Billboard Hot Country Album Charts and received a silver disk for sales. The novel combination of one of America's top country singers and a Liverpool quintet made for fine versions of songs such as Tom T. Hall's "I Wash My Face in the Morning Dew." The 8 cuts that featured Bare with the Hillsiders were the best numbers. Other gems included "Six Days on the Road,", “You all Come" and "Sweet Dreams".
The English Country Side (RCA Victor RD7918) stood for many years as a well-crafted example of Liverpool-recorded country music. George Hamilton IV and The Hillsiders became firm friends and performed together on Hamilton's BBC TV Series and recorded an album together in 1971 HERITAGE (RCA Victor | LDP4609).
Pete Sayers (born Nov 6, 1942, in Bath): The only British performer ever to appear as a regular guest on Nashville's legendary Grand Ole Opry.
Pete Sayers on dobro. Peterborough Festival of country music 1980
Not for want of trying, no English performers have become stars in American country music, but Pete Sayers got closer than most. He was an engaging performer, able to sing serious songs and indulge in comedy banter, as well as being a multi-talented musician. (Source Independent UK; snapshot of article that appeared on 27 Oct 2016 )
As a teen he formed the Bluegrass Cut-Ups, possibly Britain's first bluegrass band, and by the age of 18 he was regularly playing with the U.S. singer Johnny Duncan and his Blue Grass Boys.
By 1966 Sayers was ensconced as the host of his own country music series on Tyne-Tees Television. That same year, he took a brief holiday to visit Nashville, and ended up remaining there for the next five years. Within weeks of his arrival in Music City he was hired as an Opry warm-up artist, a gig he held until 1969. Sayers frequently appeared on the show itself as well, additionally hosting a Nashville-based morning TV program. Upon returning to England in 1971 he toured with George Hamilton IV before founding the Grand Ole Opry (England), which staged its shows in Newmarket's Kingsway Cinema. His debut solo LP, Bye Bye Tennessee, followed on Pye Nashville International in 1973. Two years later, he returned with the Transatlantic label release Grand Ole Opry Road Show, followed in 1976 by Watermelon Summer.
After a long battle with cancer, he died on February 11, 2005.
The late Stu Stevens (b. Wilfrid Pierce, Sept 25, c.1937 - June 13th 2016 (died aged 79), Annesley Woodhouse, Kirkby-In-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire)
In the late 60s, as Stuart Stevens, he made his first recordings for EMI Records, including the release of a single (‘Soft Is The Night’/‘Tender Hearted’). He also appeared on the Lonnie Donegan television show. In March 1970, he was booked to entertain at a reception for the American country stars of the Wembley Festival. Performing as Willard Pierce, he created such an impression that it led to him appearing at the Festival itself the following day - seemingly the first British artist to do so.
In 1973, he performed at a disc jockey convention in Nashville, subsequently appearing at many major venues, including the Grand Ole Opry and on network television. Meetings with Elvis Presley and John Wayne inspired him to greater things.
He was getting plenty of airplay in the States when he was signed by Cliffie Stone to the US Granite label in 1974, who released his YOUNGBLOOD album in the USA and in Europe.
His version of Marty Robbins' "My Woman My Woman My Wife" drew praise from Marty himself, but it was when he released (on his own Eagle label) the single "The Man From Outer Space" that things really started to happen.
Sadly Stu never quite made it to his 80th year and he died on June 13th 2016 aged 79 of pneumonia following an illness.
Tammy Jones (b. Marilyn Margaret Croff, 16 June 1953, Hull, Humberside). The teenage Croff was performing in working-men’s clubs in the Hull area and gave up her job at a starch factory because the chemicals were affecting her voice. She met her husband, Rod Boulton, when she sang with a local band, the Falcons.
After the birth of their daughter they became a duo and, on a whim, Rod named them Tammy And Dave Cline. Although not intentional, it was the ideal name for Marilyn Croff, whose strongest influences were Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline.
Tammy Jones in a stunning outfit impresses the crowd with a Jean Shepard classic "Slipping Away", at the Peterborough Country Music Festival (UK) 1983:
Tammy recorded in Nashville - one single for the UK market, ‘Love Is A Puzzle’, and another for the US, ‘I Don’t Know How To Tell Him’. Although chart success eluded her, she was voted Britain’s Top Female Country Singer for five consecutive years.