Hugh Laurie conquers America as celebrity band takes LA by storm
Ever since he crossed the Atlantic and took American television by storm, Hugh Laurie has hardly been able to put a foot wrong.
Once the darling of the British comedy circuit with his foppish and often intellectually challenged characters, Laurie has become a household name in the US, thanks to his award-winning role as the grumpy Dr Gregory House in the medical sitcom House.
But Laurie has found new fame as the singer-cum-keyboardist in a celebrity-packed band that has taken the jet-set of Los Angeles, and iTunes, by storm.
The group, which goes by the self-explanatory name of Band From TV, specialises in blues and soul covers and is fronted by some of the biggest names in US network television drama. Laurie's fellow band mates include the Desperate Housewives star James Denton on guitar and Greg Grunberg, known for his role as a mind-reading policeman in Heroes, who keeps rhythm on drums.
The idea for the group started as a one-off gig for charity. But the band's recording of Cab Calloway's jazz classic "Minnie the Moocher" has taken iTunes by storm, out-selling not only original recordings of the song, but also all subsequent covers.
They recently recorded tracks for the House soundtrack, which included a cover of the Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want". But it is "Minnie The Moocher", which Laurie also played during an episode of the British cult comedy Jeeves and Wooster, that appears to have clinched their cult following. Laurie said that theirs was a "a funky version" of the blues track, adding: "There are about 50 versions of 'Minnie The Moocher' on iTunes and I'm afraid to say ours is the most popular."
Laurie, who began his acting career in Cambridge University's Footlights club and achieved UK success through British cult comedies such as Jeeves and Wooster and Blackadder, said that music success "was a real thrill". Still starry-eyed at the thought of being a temporary rock star, he noted that in their first concert they played alongside Yes, Fleetwood Mac and Macy Gray.
The band has become an internet phenomenon, with more than 100,000 visitors to their MySpace site and thousands of enthusiasts logging on to view footage on YouTube. Earlier this month they played a blues and rock concert at the Emmys' after-party, with a guest appearance from the Desperate Housewives lead Teri Hatcher.
Grunberg was originally asked to get together some television names for a charity concert at The House Of Blues. The gig was such a success that the actor was keen to keep it going. After meeting Laurie as a guest star on House, the pair got together with James Denton and Bob Guiney for another charity concert.
The band's lead singers Bonnie Somerville and Guiney, are well-known in America, starring in the dramas Cashmere Mafia and The Bachelor. But they have yet to become household names in the UK.
The 'house' band
James Denton (Guitar)
The plumber from Desperate Housewives, who ranked in People Magazine's 2004 list of the Sexiest Men Alive, showed surprising talent.
Greg Grunberg (drums)
The band's founder member plays the mind-reading supercop Matt Parkman in Heroes.
Bonnie Somerville (vocals)
The lead singer has had several minor roles in sitcoms, including walk-on parts in Friends, NYPD Blue and The OC. She is now acting alongside Lucy Liu in Cashmere Mafia.
Bob Guiney (vocals)
One of many "celebrities" to be plucked from obscurity by reality television, Bob Guiney was The Bachelor in a series of the same name. Band From TV is a step up for the wannabe.