Elvis Costello Tickets for Sale
Declan Patrick Aloysius McManus (born August 25, 1954), better known by his stage name, Elvis Costello, is a popular British musician, singer, and songwriter of Irish descent. He was an early participant in London's pub rock scene in the mid-1970s, and later became associated with the punk rock and new wave musical genres, before establishing himself as a unique and original voice in the 1980s. His output has been wildly diverse: One critic has written that "Costello, the pop encyclopedia, can reinvent the past in his own image."
Born into a musical family (his father, Ross McManus, sang with Joe Loss), McManus moved with his mother to Liverpool in 1971. It was there that he formed his first band, Flip City, which had a style very much in the pub rock vein. They lasted until 1975-1976, by which time McManus was living in London with a wife and child. McManus worked a number of dead-end jobs, during which time he continued to write songs, and began aggressively looking for a solo recording contract, which led to an incident in which he was arrested while busking outside a conference of record executives. On the basis of a demo tape, he was signed to Stiff Records. His manager at Stiff, Jake Riviera suggested a name change (using Presley's first name and his mother's maiden name to form "Elvis Costello") and teamed him with a country/soft rock band named "Clover" (who would later back Huey Lewis as 'The News').
Costello's first album, My Aim Is True (1977) was a moderate commercial success (No. 14 in the UK and Top 40 in the US) with Costello appearing on the cover in his trademark glasses bearing a striking resemblance to Buddy Holly. Its release saw Costello marketed by Stiff as a new wave artist or a punk, despite the fact that the album featured the ballad "Alison" (one of his most enduring songs). The same year, Costello recruited his own band, The Attractions (Steve Nieve, born Steve Nason, piano; Bruce Thomas, bass guitar and Pete Thomas drums; the Thomases are unrelated). He released his first major hit single, the cinematic "Watching The Detectives", recorded with Nieve, plus Steve Goulding (drums) & Andrew Bodnar (bass), both members of Graham Parker & The Rumour.
Following a whirlwind tour with other Stiff artists (captured on the Live Stiffs album, notable for Costello's recording of the Burt Bacharach standard "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself") the band recorded This Year's Model (1978), a frenetic record filled with raucous energy and Costello's barbed lyrics. Stand-out tracks include the British hit "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" and "Lipstick Vogue", on which the rhythm section excel. A tour of the US and Canada also saw the release of the much bootlegged promo-only "Live At The El Mocambo" which finally saw an official release as part of the "2 1/2 Years" boxset in 1993.
In 1977, Costello appeared on Saturday Night Live. During rehearsal, he and the Attractions played "Less Than Zero" but when the live performance came, Costello played the introduction for that song, then--to the shock of the program's producers--he stopped the song, apologized to the audience, then broke into a rendition of "Radio, Radio" despite being asked not to play the song because of its anti-corporate message. Costello has also stated that he thought "Less Than Zero" would not make much sense to American audiences. He was banned from Saturday Night Live for nearly fifteen years, and didn't appear on any American television programs for several years.
1979 would see the peak of Costello's commercial success with the release of the album Armed Forces (originally titled "Emotional Fascism"). Inspired by the constant touring, the band were in fine form and Elvis had further honed his lyrical wit, tackling subjects both personal and political. Both the album and the single "Oliver's Army", with a piano hook self-admittedly borrowed from ABBA's "Dancing Queen", went to No.2 in the UK. Costello also found time in 1979 to produce the debut album for ska band The Specials. His success in the US was severely dented, however when Costello called Ray Charles a "blind, ignorant nigger" during an argument with Bonnie Bramlett in an Ohio bar (the comment being particularly odd, since Elvis worked extensively in Britain's "Rock Against Racism" campaign both before and after). A contrite Costello apologized at a press conference, claiming that he had been drunk, and had said it only to annoy Bramlett (at which he was successful, since Bramlett punched him in the face).