A Wonderful Life

6917659_origAs you all know, my role on the page is purely administrative, but the team very graciously allowed me to add a short post of my own on this occasion.

I’m very much a child of music, born to two young people of the sixties, at the start of the seventies, and reached maturity in the eighties. That’s pretty much where my music tastes rest. I like rock and melodies, words and the beat of the drums or the strum of guitar. So it had been a bit of a shock as the favourites of my youth, Lemmy and Phil Taylor, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, John Bradbury, Jimmy Bain and Natalie Cole have succumbed in quick succession in a matter of weeks to various illnesses.

One of my favourite songs as a young woman was ‘Wonderful Life’ by Black singer Colin Vearncombe. It figured quite heavily in the mid-80s and as the song that would later shake me free of some personal demons. From time to time over the last 30 years or so, I have re-visited Black’s work, with a smile whilst remembering moments from my youth, grateful that the desire to run was past. Always eager for travel and taking in the history of the world, in 2013 I was lucky enough to take a study trip back to Crete to view some archaeology work that was taking place at Knossos Palace. As some of my family and a friend travelled with me, (any opportunity for a holiday right?) I took a day or two out to relax.

3646811_origOne of these days saw us travel up into the hills overlooking Hersonissos to have a day out at the Water Park. It was fairly early in the morning when we set off, in two cars. My driver, Paul had the radio on and we chatted a little about the songs, and sang along smiling. ‘Wonderful Life’ started to play as we rounded a bend, on the hill and I looked out of the open window, across the valley below. The sun was shining and all was quiet. The scenery was magnificent and I sang along… “No need to run, and hide, it’s a wonderful, wonderful life…”

Born in Liverpool in May 1962, Colin Vearncombe first achieved moderate success touring with his band, Black, supporting The Thompson Twins aged 20 before signing with WEA in 1984. He achieved some success outside of the UK, before writing what is for me, his greatest hit, rather out of frustration the following year. The song was released on an independent label and got Black noticed, leading to a signing with A & M, launching an international career. Their first single with A & M achieved little, and was subsequently far outshone by successful follow-up ‘The Sweetest Smile’. ‘Wonderful Life’ was then re-released, being a massive hit. An album of the same name followed shortly afterwards in 1987.

Two further albums, ‘Comedy’ and ‘Black’ achieved similar success. Colin married his Swedish singer partner Camilla Griehsel, and broke with A & M, after becoming disillusioned with working for a large label. Forming his own record label Nero Schwartz, Colin released one album in 1993, ‘Are we having fun yet?’ He took a break from the industry, returning in 1999 under his own name. In 2005 after re-adopting the name Black, he poked fun at his success with ‘Wonderful life’ with one of the songs on his album ‘Between Two Churches’ which asked ‘Are you having a wonderful life?’

4979967_origSince then, Colin had released four further albums, using a variety of media, including his latest, ‘Blind Faith, in April 2015 as a result of a crowd-funding project. Colin had also fitted in several appearances at a variety of select venues both in the UK and abroad, in that time. Colin Vearncombe was involved in a serious car crash in Ireland on January 12th 2016. As a result of his injuries, he was placed in a medically induced coma, where his condition remained stable but critical. I sent silent thoughts of hope out into the ether. Sadly, despite the hopes and prayers of many many fans, friends and family, Colin’s condition deteriorated and he passed away today. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

The song may have become synonymous with the artist often at the expense of his later work, but for me the memories associated with it make that personally worthwhile. Although several others are also highly rated in my iPod, I will forever associate Colin with a warm, peaceful August morning driving in the hills of Crete….. a truly wonderful memory.