1978 Chris Rea – Fool If You Think It’s Over
Chris Rea grew up in England, the son of a man who ran an ice cream factory. Unlike most musicians we investigate, Chris didn’t even own his first guitar until he was at least 21 years old. He practiced playing slide guitar and when the chance came to join a band…he turned it down since the cost of joining the band would exceed the income he could make playing in it. Instead, he kept working with ice cream.
Chris finally joined a band in 1973 and formed his own band, The Beautiful Losers, a few months later. He did not initially plan to be a singer, but after filling in for a vocalist who didn’t show up for practice, Chris began singing after all. In 1974 he recorded his first single, So Much Love. His band broke up in 1977, after which Chris recorded his first album.
The results were dismal.
Elton John’s producer, Gus Dungeon, was brought in to produce a second try at the album, and he completed Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? in 1978. The first single from the album failed to gain any traction in England, but Fool If You Think It’s Over peaked at #12 on the US Hot 100. The single also topped the Adult Contemporary chart in the US. The record company re-issued the single in England after the success in the US, but the second try still couldn’t get the record any higher than #30 on the UK chart. The title song from the album became the next single, but it only reached #71 in the US.
Chris released his second album in 1978. The single Diamonds had identical results in both the UK and the US: it stopped at #44 on each chart. His career was essentially over in the US, but he continued to perform in the UK and Europe and built up enough of a following to have million selling albums and score over a dozen top forty singles and at least one top ten tune.
Strangely, Chris may be best remembered long-term because of a snowy night in England. When he and his wife were driving home in a snowstorm, he worked up the lyrics for the song that became Driving Home For Christmas in 1978. He wrote the song for Van Morrison, but never even got to sing the song to him. He began singing the song in live appearances during the Holiday seasons, and Chris finally recorded and released the song in 1988. He included it on a Christmas EP and it charted at #53. Christmas songs being as special as they are, the song began charting in the UK top forty every year beginning in 2007. It has reached as high as #11 in the UK and has already reached the top ten in several other countries.
Chris met Joan in 1968 when they were still teenagers, and they are still married, a rare success story for a musician.
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