Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Ugly Rumours Had Made It

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Ugly Rumours Had Made It

Article excerpt

He is one of the most recognisable figures in modern British culture, whose trembling pronouncements from his Los Angeles home have entertained millions. He is the former godfather of metal whose drug-fuelled antics made him the supreme symbol of Seventies excess. And he is the star of MTV's acclaimed reality show, the paterfamilias whose dysfunctional family became the unlikely hero of American television, and whose poolside conversion to Catholicism was voted the outstanding television moment of 2007. Welcome to the weird world of Tony Blair.

During his student days at Oxford, a career as a rock god seemed implausible: friends joke that he seemed more likely to become prime minister than to carry off the NME's Godlike Genius Award. But it was at Oxford that Blair co-founded the band that was to make him famous, Ugly Rumours. And with their hard-driving rhythms and grinding riffs, the Rumours made an instant impact on the fragmented rock landscape of the early Seventies--especially when they adopted a harder sound, instantly increasing their appeal among the downtrodden and dispossessed.

Critics often claim that Tony sold out when musical fashions changed and heavy metal began to look outdated in the Eighties. Those were wilderness years for the Rumours, when the charismatic lead singer often seemed adrift on a sea of Jack Daniel's. And by the time the band re-formed in the early Nineties, he seemed almost a different person, hands trembling, his clipped consonants having given way to Estuary English, his speech punctuated by all those trademark "y'knows". …

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