Belfast Telegraph

Elvis Costello honoured with OBE for five decades in music industry

The singer previously associated with the punk scene has received the ultimate establishment endorsement.

Elvis Costello has been made an OBE (PA)
Elvis Costello has been made an OBE (PA)

Elvis Costello started his career being associated with the early British punk scene but has now received the ultimate establishment endorsement of a royal honour.

The revered singer, songwriter and producer is recognised for a career spanning five decades with an OBE for services to music.

Costello was born Declan Patrick MacManus in London in 1954, the son of Lilian Alda and jazz trumpeter Ross MacManus.

His first broadcast recording was alongside his father, performing backing vocals for an advert for R White’s Lemonade, which aired in 1974.

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Elvis Costello performs on the Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury Festival in 2013 (PA)

Costello signed with the independent label Stiff Records in 1976 and his debut album, My Aim Is True, arrived a year later.

The cover featured Costello in his trademark oversized glasses.

My Aim Is True contained the songs Alison and Less Than Zero and in 2007 the album was inducted into the Grammy hall of fame.

Costello made his US TV debut in December 1977 with an appearance on long running comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, which was then in its infancy.

A late replacement for the Sex Pistols, who were unable to get a visa due to previous legal issues, a 23-year-old Costello showed his punk credentials by stopping a performance of his single Less Than Zero after about 10 seconds.

He then instructed his backing band, the Attractions, to play the track Radio Radio. The move infuriated SNL bosses, who banned Costello from the show. He did not appear on SNL again until 1989.

Writing in his memoir, Costello said of the incident: “The confused and indignant faces behind the camera were the funniest things we’d seen all night and we laughed all the way to the bar, if not the bank.”

In 1978 Costello released his second studio album, This Year’s Model. Another critical success, the record reached number two in the UK album charts, powered by the singles Pump It Up and Radio Radio.

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Elvis Costello pictured arriving at Heathrow Airport from Los Angeles in 1984 (PA)

By now an established star, Costello’s third album, Armed Forces, featured the popular hit Oliver’s Army and again reached number two in the UK while making the top 10 in the US.

He was prolific throughout the 1980s – despite a short-lived retirement in 1984 – and appeared at the Live Aid concert in 1985.

In 1999 he recorded a cover of the Charles Aznavour song She for the romantic comedy Notting Hill, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.

Costello has continued to record new material, bringing his career studio albums to 30.

He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2003 and in 2004 was ranked by Rolling Stone as number 80 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

In 2012 he featured on an updated version of Sir Peter Blake’s famous cover of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, celebrating the best of British culture.

But in July last year he was forced to cancel six tour dates in Europe to recover from surgery for a “small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy”.

Costello is married to his third wife, Diana Krall, and has three children.

PA

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