September 2010 – Musician – Eddi Reader


eddi autograph


Eddi Reader MBE (born Sadenia Reader; 9 August 1959)is a Scottish singer, known both for her work with Fairground Attraction and for an enduring solo career. She is the recipient of three Brit Awards and has topped both the album and singles charts.In 2003 she showcased the works of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.

Early career

Reader was born in Glasgow, the daughter of a welder, and the eldest of seven children. She was nicknamed Edna by her parents. Living at first in the district of Anderston, Glasgow, in a tenement slum demolished in 1965, The young Reader family moved to a two-bedroomed flat in the estate of Arden, Glasgow.

In 1976, due to overcrowding the family was re-housed 25 miles from Glasgow, in the council development of Irvine, Ayrshire ; however, Reader returned to Glasgow (where she lived with her grandmother) in order to finish her compulsory schooling.She began playing the guitar at the age of ten, and started her musical career busking, first in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, then in the early 1980s in London and around Europe (where she also worked with circus and performance artists).

Back in Scotland, while finding factory work in Irvine and working part time in Sirocco Recording Studio in Kilmarnock, she answered an advert in the music press and travelled to London to audition and join the punk band Gang of Four who needed a backing singer for their appearance on the British television music show: The Old Grey Whistle Test and for their UK tour. This led to her first US tour with the band. Back in the UK, after leaving the band she started working as a session vocalist in London, picking up work singing jingles for radio advertisements and singing with such acts as Eurythmics, The Waterboys, Billy MacKenzie and Alison Moyet.

Fairground Attraction

In 1984, Reader was working in Paris, France, under contract to a Parisian music company, singing for the composer Vladimir Cosma who wrote the music for the film DIVA in 1981. But through her contact with the brass section session players The Kick Horns in London, she signed a contract with EMI, and for a brief time recorded two singles with the disco group Outbar Squeek. Around the same time, she met and asked Mark E. Nevin, a guitarist and songwriter from the band Jane Aire And The Belvederes to write for her and she recorded two of his songs for the Compact record company, calling themselves The Academy Of Fine Popular Music. They subsequently formed Fairground Attraction, they released their first single, “Perfect”, which became a UK number one, winning best single at the 1989 BRIT Awards. Their first album, The First of a Million Kisses, was also a success, reaching number two in the UK Albums Chart, and winning best album at the 1989 Brits.

This success was short-lived, however. In November 1989, after a break, during which Reader had her first child, Charlie, with her French-Algerian partner Milou, arguments arose within the group, and Nevin abandoned a recording session for the second album, which eventually led to the splitting of the band. A makeshift second album, a collection of B-sides and live tracks, Ay Fond Kiss, was rushed out the following year.

Solo career

Reader returned to Scotland, but before she embarked on her solo career she took a temporary detour into acting. She played Jolene Jowett, a singer and accordionist, in John Byrne’s Your Cheatin’ Heart, a comedy-drama series for BBC television, set in the country music scene in Scotland. Her other acting credits include playing the part of Joy from the(artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company) production of Janice Galloway’s The Trick Is To Keep Breathing. This was a BBC Radio Four production in 1996, Also a Tron Theatre production the same year.

Returning to London, Reader worked on new material with a backing band calling itself The Patron Saints of Imperfection (made up of Roy Dodds, Neill and Calum MacColl, and Phil Steriopoulos). This became her first solo album, recorded for RCA Records: 1992’s Mirmama. She met Geoff Travis who signed her to Warner Brothers subsidiary label, Blanco Y Negro , The managing director Rob Dickens executively produced her second solo album Eddi Reader (1994), which won her the “Best female singer” BRIT Award that year, followed by Candyfloss and Medicine (1996), Angels & Electricity (1998). She parted from Warner Brothers and continued her work on Geoff Travis’ Rough Trade label when she recorded Simple Soul (2001) and Driftwood (2002) – a “homegrown” release of songs recorded during the Simple Soul sessions. During this time, Reader also recorded the song “Ocean Love” for the soundtrack of the animated film Help! I’m a Fish (2001). Reader also contributed vocals to one of Big Country’s final singles before Stuart Adamson’s death, “Fragile Thing.”

Reader continued to tour In 2003, she recorded her album of material by Robert Burns, with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, leading to good reviews and an international resurgence in interest in Scotland’s “bard”.

She spent April 2006 touring Australia with Boo Hewerdine and Alan Kelly, following the release of St Clare’s Night Out: Live at The Basement, with Australian acts such as David Hosking invited to open the concerts.

Her eighth studio album Peacetime was released in the UK on 29 January 2007 on the Rough Trade record label. Produced by fellow Scottish folk musician, John McCusker, the album features a few Burns composed songs, alongside brand new material with longtime collaborator Boo Hewerdine and The Trash Can Sinatras’ John Douglas. Reader promoted the album with a fifteen date UK tour.

In spring 2008, Reader was a special guest at the Hotel Cafe Tour hosted by Tom McRae. In 2009, she performed in period-drama Me and Orson Welles, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Zac Efron, Christian McKay and Claire Danes. Reader performed re-arranged 1930’s standards, with Jools Holland. She previously collaborated with Holland on the single “Waiting Game”.

To commemorate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth, Reader released The Songs of Robert Burns Deluxe Edition in January 2009. The new release brought together the original Burns album with seven additional songs, two from the original 2003 sessions (“Green Grow the Rashes O”, “Of A’ the Airts”), three from 2007’s Peacetime (“Ye banks and Braes”, “Aye Waukin O” and “Leezie Lindsay”) the unreleased “Dainty Davie”, also from that session, and a brand new recording, “Comin’ Thro The Rye/Dram Behind the Curtain”. The new album was promoted, like the original release, with two sold out shows at the annual Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow.

Her ninth studio album Love is the Way, produced by Reader herself, was released on 13 April 2009. In a special arrangement with record label Rough Trade she sold an exclusive, pre-released and minimally-packaged version of the disc on her autumn 2008 UK tour in October and November. Support for the 19 date tour was provided by Lucy Wainwright Roche, daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Suzzy Roche of The Roches.


The Robert Burns project saw Reader awarded an MBE for outstanding contributions to the arts in the New Year’s honours list of 2006.

In May 2007 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde.

Later that year she was recognised for her contributions to music and to the education and encouragement of young musicians with an honorary doctorate and a Doctor of Letters from Glasgow Caledonian University.

In June 2008 she received another doctorate for her musical work, this time from the University of Stirling.

Abridged From Wikipdiea

Lnl Questionnaire

Your favourite virtue?

self honesty

Your favourite qualities in a man?

deep empathy

Your favourite qualities in a woman?

as above

Your main characteristic?

spontaneous yet predictable

What draws you most to your friends?

Kindness and generosity, wit….

Given the opportunity what would you most like to change?

My non- long sightedness… but I would like to keep my short-

Sightedness…. I want both… is that too much to ask

Who would you most like to take out for dinner?

someone hungry

Your idea of happiness?

no-one hungry or lonely

What is your favourite way of spending the day?

finding tiny forgotten bits and pieces that everyone else seems to overlook… today I found the most intricate roses carved into the doorway of a

new pub in Sauchie Hall Street… I guessed originally carved into the

wall around the time Jessie James was holding up trains in the USA

Whose life other than yours would you most like to have lived?

My great, great , great grand Child’s whoever they

might be.

Where would you most like to live?

right here in Scotland

Who is your favourite author?

It changes, recently I devoured

The Suspicions of Mr Whitcher…. I loved that writer….Kate

someone……Janice Galloway sometimes… then sometimes its someone

else …. I loved reading Knut Hansuns Hunger….Its hard to pick

one…. William Soryan was another fav…. I read everything by

Richard Brautigan. Boo Hewerdine bought me a book on the HENRY ROOT

guy … William Donaldson… I am enjoying that.

Who is your favourite poet?

ANOTHER HARD one… SOMETIMES Burns…. Sometimes Pete Docherty, Emily Dickenson…. At this time I

am falling madly for JOHN MASEFIELD…. Roger mc Gough I love and how

could I miss out the MAGICAL Seamus Heaney…. DOROTHY PARKER!!!!

Your favourite heroes in fiction?

ROBIN HOOD and HOBBS from CALVIN AND HOBBS…. I also like RENTON from Trainspotting

Your favourite heroines in fiction?

Mary Poppins by PL TRAVERS…. AND Francis McDormand’s character in FARGO

Your Favourite Film:

Calamity Jane, Whistle down the wind,Jean du florette et manon du source,

Its a wonderful life, singing in the rain, The lacemaker, The shining,

pans labyrinth and devils backbone, lord of the rings, the original The vanishing.

any film with judy Holiday in .Meet me in St louis.

The first LASSIE come home movie…

laurel and hardy WAY OUT WEST… that would be number one.

this is too hard…..

Your favourite painters?

Edward Hopper, Modigliani, Picasso,

Van Gogh, John Martin, Maxwell Parish, Jurek Putter.

Who is your favourite composer?

Cole porter, Hogey Carmichael,

John Douglas, Boo Hewerdine, Bob Dylan, Quincy Jones with Michael

Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Rachmananov, Mozart, Robert

Burns, The Gang of Four, Michael Marra, Joni Mitchell, The Smiths,


Your favourite food?

raw veg’ juice drinks and cheese with

Strawberry jam sandwiches.

Your favourite drink?

oh ….. French Martinis

Who do you most admire?

whoever invented this machine

What is your present state of mind?

peaceful, excited about

seeing my old friends The Gang Of Four… reliving my

twenty year old self. Happy

For what fault have you most toleration?

I tolerate most mistakes…. maliciousness I have a hard time dealing with…. when I

see complete disregard for someone else that bugs me a lot.

Your favourite motto?


MEET… Tom Waits…. I also like….. NEVER PICK A FIGHT WITH THOSE


How It Came To Be That Eddi

Sang ‘Sweet Mountain’…..

Whilst I was driving home from work on a glorious hot summer’s afternoon in 2001, I turned the radio on; Steve Wright, I don’t normally listen to the radio, but for some reason, there he was…. I tuned in just as he announced that after the next song his special guest was to be Eddi Reader; one of my favourite singers…

I had got into her music years ago, Laurence had a spare ticket for a folk gig, it was ’93 I had nothing to do that night and love my music so thought what the hell, we headed over to Cambridge in his tatty old land rover! I sat there wondering what I was in for… We took our seats in the wonderful Cambridge Corn Exchange, I noticed in the row in front were the group ‘Everything but the Girl’ (The Best of Everything But the Girl) a good sign I thought, I was right. What a great concert! I immediately fell in love with the way Eddi sang, so emotive and also how expressive she was whilst singing, moving her arms with the ebb and flow of the music, lost… she sang one of my favourite songs, ‘Dolphins’ (Do You Ever Think of Me) a great Fred Neil song that was little heard of then; now it seems everyone sings it! Well that was it, I was hooked and as is my way when I like someone, I went all out and bought all her cds.

So now as I cast my mind back to 2001 and Steve Wright, I lend an ear to the radio, Eddi is talking of her record collection saying she has a few gaps, she said she has Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ but not ‘Harvest !!! and a few other albums she mentions that she would like to have. I have tickets to see her the following night at the Stables in Wavenden.

So once I am home I ponder on her interview and wonder about what sort of music she would like, it inspired me to set about compiling her, a tape – yes it was still tapes in those days – I love creating compilations. Casting my eyes over my cd collection, wondering to myself what would suit the listeners’ taste, but I also want to give them that little something mind blowing that will alter their path forever… I have actually always aimed for this…. little did I know how true that was to be….. I decided to start it off with Nilsson’s ‘One’, (‘Nilsson – Greatest Hits) no idea why, but took it as a good start. Popped on Nick Drake, Neil Young of course, Dennis Wilson, so underrated and yet sublime music, in-between Neil and Dennis I popped a little known Brian Wilson gem called ‘Sweet Mountain’ (Spring… Plus ) he wrote it for his wife in the early 70’s and I have always loved it. I can’t actually remember what else I popped on; I remember it was an eclectic mix.

Fast forward to the next day, her concert was great as ever, lovely venue, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields. My Dad came with me and he enjoyed it too. I was for some reason really nervous about the tape. Sometimes at the end of the concert Eddi would come out and say ‘Hi’, but needless to say not on this occasion, luckily the drummer passed by, so I asked him if he would mind giving Eddi the tape, he looked at me as though I was a freak, but agreed.

Life went on, I thought no more about it, until a month or so later, and I got the following e-mail from Eddi -I had popped my e-mail address in just in case!

Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 HI eddi reader here….that tape you gave me was amazing LOADS of stuff I hadn’t heard … I particularly loved the Spring track sweet mountain……and the version of b wilson’s wonderful…much better than the one I have on smiley smile……only thing is I was playing it up at kate rusbys place and I have lost it between here and Sheffield…. I am soo upset because It was the soundtrack to my Easter…..Is it possible for another copy?…I want to hear sweet mountain again so much….. I hope this email reaches you …. thank you from the bottom of me heart love Eddi.

I was filled with immediate panic, shock that she had e-mailed me, joy that she liked it and horror as of course I couldn’t remember what I had put on the tape. I managed to do the best I could, popped it in the post and in doing so began a pen pal friendship that lasted for quite a few years, which included her telling me she had seen Jeff Buckley live in small pubs around London, what it was like when she won the Britt Award and general chat. I even managed to talk her into coming to one of Brian’s Pet Sounds’ concerts, she sat a few seats behind me so during the interval I popped over to say ‘Hi’, announcing my arrival as ‘the one who keeps e-mailing you.’ She was so lovely, introduced me to her friend and even sang a bit of ‘Sweet Mountain’ to me. It turns out that that was the song that had caught her attention. She loved it and vowed to record it one day.

So here we are, its winter 2009, I was to be found watching telly when an e-mail caught my eye, its one of Eddi’s ‘my space’ blog’s about Ireland and how much she loves it, then tagged onto the end of it,

‘where is Lucy’……’

I pause and think oh that’s funny she mentions someone called Lucy and read on slightly intrigued, have to re read, as she mentions ‘Sweet Mountain’ and how I must know I was the one that planted the seed. It turns out she has recorded it!!! Its track 6 on her new cd Love Is The Way!!!

I e-mail immediately of course and a week or so later Eddi sent me a signed copy! Eddi tells me that this was the song that had helped her fall in love. So my aim to alter the path has had a wonderful ending! Eddi fell in love to the song and I now have one of my favourite artists singing one of my favourite songs, isn’t life wonderful;…

Go and check it out, she does a wonderful job! Brian would be proud! Thanks Eddi

© Lucy Hall 2009

Do you have any similar stories? Feel free to send them in to us!

{iframe width=”500″ hight=”400″ …}images/stories/Eddi Reader Gallery{/iframe}



Eddi’s Site

Eddi’s MySpace

Eddi’s cds on Amazon

Celebrities of the month Lesbians of North London Music

Your Comments

Recent pins