You Are Here : BIOGRAPHIES » Henry Priestman


Henry Priestman

ArtForm: Workshop Panellist

After over 30 years in the music business – and with a credit list longer than both your arms – in late 2008 Henry Priestman (having not sung since 1981!!) re-invented him as a singer-songwriter, and finally released his debut solo album. Entitled “The Chronicles of Modern Life” it’s the sound of a man who’s seen the music world explode from punk (his band Yachts supported the Sex Pistols in ‘77…and supported The Who on European Tour in ‘79) through to pop (three million albums with The Christians; a top five single for Mark Owen) through to the digital age (soundtracks for James Bond/Xbox, BBC’s Wildlife on One, Natural World, plus commercials) and ending up with a more organic approach (with writing/production duties for the likes of singer/songwriters Marli Harwood, Amy Wadge and Lotte Mullan), yet still has something worth singing about.

So in this age of genre’s, niches and “tribes”, where does Henry fit in? seem to think he’s folk (“Chronicles…” topped the Amazon “Folk and World” charts on it’s release), Radio 2’s Johnnie Walker describes Henry’s new direction as “music for grumpy old men”, The Daily Mail said he is “a master of the rueful observation”, and elsewhere the phrase “post-punk-folk-protest” has been bandied about. Even the NME waded in with a positive review (his first ever off that publication!). Says Henry: “I’m just trying to write scruffy songs of pith, wit and poignancy…with the emphasis on scruffy,” (referring to the fact that he played almost everything on the album himself).

Henry Priestman’s “got form,” his “previous” including Yachts (described in Gene Sculatti’s U.S. book The Catalog of Cool as“Cole Porter Punk”!), Bette Bright’s Illuminations (alongside Suggs and Sex Pistol Glen Matlock), It’s Immaterial, The Christians (writing all songs on their 1987 triple-platinum debut), sharing a mic and a number one single with Paul McCartney, and composing the title song for London West End musical “Dreamboats and Petticoats” (now in it’s 3rd year). To say nothing of a roll call of sessions for fellow North West luminaries including Lightening Seeds, Johnny Marr, Ian McCulloch, Pete Wylie, Wild Swans, Ian McNabb and Echo & The Bunnymen, plus vocals on Jools Holland/Tom Jones’ 2004 CD.
In 2009, Island Records (home of Amy Winehouse and Sugababes) picked up Henry’s album from Stiff making him at 53, the oldest-ever artist to be signed to a major label for a debut solo album! The track “Grey’s The New Blonde” was playlisted at Radio 2 [“cut & paste” link to see BBC Breakfast TV performance of “Grey’s…”: ], and further singles “Don’t You Love Me no More” and “He Ain’t Good Enough for You” also picked up extensive Radio 2 airplay. Henry is currently working on the follow up to “Chronicles…” (working title “The Last Mad Surge of Youth”) interspersed with a new-found love of live-work which is taking him all over the UK (including a recent support slot on Radio 2 Folk Award-winning “The Fishermans Friends” tour, and a slot at 2011 Beverley Folk Festival).


Press/media quotes about Henry Priestman’s “The Chronicles of Modern Life”:

“An album of rough-hewn charm that should appeal to listeners for whom thumping disappointment & bloody-minded stoicism are the new rock and roll” **** The Sunday Times

“A brilliantly wry realisation of the grumbles, pains and pleasures that come with a certain amount of living” **** The Sun

“A solo album full of wit & love & disappointment & vitriol… perfect pop decorated with spikiness and anger” **** Rock n Reel

“…. he is a fine songwriter with an acerbic wit when it comes to his take on relationships, work, life and how some of us are getting slightly older but not quite ready for it yet….this all adds up to make “Chronicles….” a very good album indeed. What helps make this release standout is that Henry deals with issues that affect our everyday lives & it is easy to relate to the subject matter of his songs and thereby this release comes highly recommended . ****½ Maverick

“A master of the rueful observation” *** The Daily Mail

“A set of home-made, ramshackle pop songs…a welcome addition to a varied and charming back catalogue *** NME

“This is Grumpy Old Men set to music … fantastic” The Guardian

“A one-man musical battle against banking greed” The Independent

“Folk-pop songs … filled with wry observation” Birmingham Sunday Mercury

“Outstanding from start to finish, it provides a vibrant vehicle for Priestman’s distinctive voice underpinned by great songs, great musicians, and great arrangements. Highly recommended.” Folk Northwest

“It really is a fabulous album…gorgeous” Janice Long – Radio 2, 10-10-08

“…It’s just great, it’s real…got great songs on it” Johnnie Walker – Radio 2, 18-09-08.

“it’s absolutely brilliant…he’s found his voice!” Bob Harris – Radio 2, 30-12-08

“Don’t you love that!?…fantastic…really good..” Terry Wogan – Radio 2, 26-11-08


Biog as for City Showcase in 2011

Featuring In:

Finding the Future in Hull 2011
Monday 10.10.2011
Like every site, this site has the odd cookie to help you use it. EU law requires us t...
More Info »