Andrew John Partridge (born 11 November 1953) is an English singer, songwriter, and record producer who founded the rock band XTC. He and Colin Moulding each acted as a songwriter and frontman for XTC, with Partridge writing and singing about two-thirds of the group's material. While the band were a formative punk group, Partridge's music drew heavily from British Invasion songwriters, and his style gradually shifted to more traditional pop, often with pastoral themes. The band's only British top 10 hit, "Senses Working Overtime" (1982), was written by Partridge.
Partridge on XTC's Drums and Wires tour playing Toronto's Music Hall, February 1980
|Birth name||Andrew John Partridge|
|Also known as||Sir John Johns|
|Born||11 November 1953|
|Origin||Swindon, Wiltshire, England|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, record producer, visual artist, game designer|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards|
|Labels||Virgin, CBS, Geffen, Cooking Vinyl, Idea, APE House|
|Associated acts||XTC, the Dukes of Stratosphear, Monstrance, Peter Blegvad|
Partridge is sometimes regarded as the "godfather" of Britpop. Since the 1980s, he has worked, written with, or produced many other recording artists—efforts which include collaborative albums with Peter Blegvad, Harold Budd and Robyn Hitchcock. From 2002 to 2006, Partridge's APE House record label released several volumes of his demos and songs as part of the Fuzzy Warbles album series. Beyond music, he is a graphic illustrator, toy soldier hobbyist, and designer of board games. His son is the web animator Harry Partridge.
Andrew John Partridge was born 11 November 1953 at Mtarfa Royal Navy Hospital in Mtarfa, Malta. He grew up on Penhill council estate in Swindon. An only child, his father John was a navy signalman, and his mother Vera a drugstore clerk. When he entered adolescence, it was discovered that his father was having an extramarital affair, and his mother consequently suffered a nervous breakdown, leading to her being institutionalised. She "verbally disowned" her son once he started growing his hair long.
As a teenager, Partridge was a fan of contemporary pop groups like the Beatles, but was intimidated by the process of learning guitar. When the Monkees grew popular, he became interested in joining a music group. He recalled watching local guitarist Dave Gregory performing Jimi Hendrix-style songs at churches and youth clubs: "Sort of acid-skiffle. I thought, 'Ah, one day I'll play guitar!' But I didn't think I would be in the same band as this kid on the stage." He was particularly fond of psychedelic records such as Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play" (1967), Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle" (1967), and the Moles' "We Are the Moles" (1968). The first records he ever bought were Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) and The Monkees (1966).
Partridge eventually obtained a guitar, taught himself how to play it with no formal training, and immediately took to writing songs. He submitted a caricature of Micky Dolenz to Monkees Monthly's Draw a Monkee competition and won, using the £10 reward to buy a Grundig tape recorder. At the age of 15, he wrote his first song, titled "Please Help Me", and while in Swindon College, attracted the nickname "Rocky" for his early guitar mastery of the Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon" (1968). He also dropped out of school and formed the first of several "loud and horrid" rock bands with the purpose of meeting girls. By the early 1970s, his music tastes had transitioned "from the Monkees to having a big binge on this Euro-avant-garde stuff. I got really in deep." One of his first bands was called "Stiff Beach", formed in August 1970. In early 1972, Partridge's constantly evolving group settled into a four-piece called "Star Park". By then, he had found a job at a record shop and was engrossed with rock bands such as the Stooges, the New York Dolls, Alice Cooper, and Pink Fairies.
In late 1972, Partridge's Star Park was joined by bassist Colin Moulding and drummer Terry Chambers. The band became known as XTC in 1975 and signed to Virgin Records in 1977. Partridge wrote the majority of XTC's songs, was the band's frontman and de facto leader, and in Moulding's view, typically acted as an "executive producer" for their albums. His early XTC songs were marked by his distinct singing style, something he jokingly described as a "walrus" or "seal bark", but otherwise an amalgamation of Buddy Holly's "hiccup", Elvis Presley's vibrato, and "the howled mannerisms of Steve Harley." He later dismissed most of his initial output as premature songs "built around this electric wordplay stuff".
While XTC were a formative punk group, Partridge's music drew heavily from British Invasion songwriters, and his style gradually shifted to more traditional pop, often with pastoral themes. Music critic John Harris said that Partridge exemplified "a very English genre: rock music uprooted from the glamour and dazzle of the city, and recast as the soundtrack to life in suburbs, small towns, and the kind of places – like Swindon – that may be more sizeable, but are still held up as bywords for broken hopes and limited horizons." He cited Partridge's 1981 song "Respectable Street" as one of the "most evocative items" in his catalog.
In 1982, as XTC were about to headline a series of US performances in support of the album English Settlement, they permanently withdrew from concert touring and remained a studio-only band from then on. For a period afterward, it was rumoured among fans and industry insiders that the group stopped performing because Partridge had died, and some American bands put on XTC tribute shows in his remembrance. The group ran into more problems once it was discovered that poor management led to them incurring hundreds of thousands in unpaid value-added taxes. Partridge said that he was eventually left with "about £300 in the bank, which is really heavy when you've got a family and everyone thinks you're 'Mr Rich and Famous'."
In December 1984, Partridge formed the Dukes of Stratosphear, an XTC offshoot he envisioned as a simulacrum of "your favourite bands from 1967". They recorded only two albums: 25 O'Clock (1985) and Psonic Psunspot (1987), both of which outsold XTC's newest albums in the UK: The Big Express (1984) and Skylarking (1986). Around this time, Partridge established himself as a producer of other artists. However, Virgin Records refused to allow XTC to act as their own producers, which sometimes caused tensions between Partridge and whoever was assigned to produce the band. According to Partridge, he generally got along with the band's producers, except for Todd Rundgren on Skylarking and Gus Dudgeon on 1992's Nonsuch.
In the 1990s, Partridge became regarded as "godfather" to the nascent Britpop movement due to his earlier work with XTC. They released several more albums on Virgin and two more on their own label, Idea Records, before going on hiatus in 2006. In July 2008, Partridge wrote in the Swindon Advertiser that he believed his "musical partnership with Colin Moulding has come to an end. For reasons too personal and varied to go into here, but we had a good run as they say and produced some real good work."
Since XTC's breakup, Partridge has acted as curator to the band's legacy, overseeing reissues and remasters, and maintaining a web presence. The official XTC Twitter account @xtcfans was originally managed by writer Todd Bernhardt. According to Partridge, after some time, "I sort of took it over, because I thought it was weird that there was another person in the way." In 2016, Partridge and Bernhardt released a book, Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC, that contains discussions between the two about 29 XTC songs, one Partridge solo track, and an overview of his approach to songwriting. It was published by Jawbone Press.
Solo work and collaborationsEdit
Since the 1980s, Partridge has worked, written with, or produced many other musicians and bands, including Peter Blegvad, the Lilac Time, the Nines, Miles Kane, David Yazbek, Voice of the Beehive, the Woodentops, the Wallflowers, Perennial Divide, the Raiders, and Charlotte Hatherley. He stated in a 2007 interview: "I got asked regularly to produce people, but I said no to everybody; after a while, people just stopped asking. I got sick of the social-worker aspect of it. I found it had very little to do with music ... I also think it’s kind of odd that everyone wants to sound like 1979 again."
In 1980, Partridge, in collaboration with producer John Leckie, released a collection of XTC dub recordings on Virgin Records called Take Away / The Lure of Salvage. It was credited to "Mr. Partridge". Even though no other XTC member was involved with the album's making, he does not personally consider it a solo effort. Virgin Records rejected his request to issue it under the XTC banner as it would have counted toward their record contract. In Japan, the record was hailed as a work of "electronic genius" and outsold all other XTC albums.
In 1992, Partridge produced unreleased recordings for Blur's album Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993). He was replaced by Stephen Street at the insistence of their record label, Food. According to Partridge he was unpaid for the expenses and received his session payment only. Three of the tracks he produced were later released on the 2012 boxed set Blur 21. In 1993, Partridge recorded and produced an album with Martin Newell, The Greatest Living Englishman. When released in Japan, it was credited as a duo album. The album was well-received by critics and ultimately became the most acclaimed of Newell's career. Partridge also wrote four songs for Disney's version of James and the Giant Peach (1996), but was replaced by Randy Newman due to creative differences between director Henry Selick and Disney regarding the choice of soundtrack composer and the fact that Disney wanted to own the copyright to the songs for perpetuity.
From 2002 to 2006, Partridge released demos of his songs under his own name as part of the Fuzzy Warbles album series on his APE House record label. Eight volumes of Fuzzy Warbles were made available, as well as The Official Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album, which includes a bonus ninth disc Hinges. Partridge said that the impetus for the project was the proliferation of bootleggers who were selling low-quality copies of the material. He added that the Fuzzy Warbles set earned him more money than XTC's back catalog on Virgin.
In 2007, Partridge released music as part of a trio known as Monstrance, made up of Partridge on guitar, Barry Andrews (an early member of XTC) on keyboards, and Martyn Barker on drums. The group has released an album of the same name, as well as a download-only EP known as Fine Wires Humming a New Song. That same year, he collaborated once again with Andrews on the Shriekback album Glory Bumps.
In 2010, Partridge released a limited edition CD of music inspired by science fiction illustrator Richard M. Powers' art titled Powers. In 2012, he contributed eight co-written songs to Mike Keneally's album Wing Beat Fantastic. In 2016, he wrote a song "You Bring the Summer" for the Monkees' reunion album Good Times!; the 2018 follow-up, Christmas Party, included his "Unwrap You at Christmas". He became involved with the reunion project through the band's manager, a former journalist who sought to repay Partridge for an interview conducted decades earlier. In 2019, Partridge and Robyn Hitchcock completed the 13-years-in-the-making EP Planet England.
Radio and filmEdit
Partridge was a regular performer on BBC Radio 1 in the mid-1980s. He has had acting roles, including a character named "Agony Andy", a spoof aunt on the Janice Long show, and he was a regular panelist on both Roundtable.[better source needed] In 1987, he filmed a pilot for an ITV children's quiz show, Matchmakers. He contributed the theme song to the Fox television series Wonderfalls (2004).
Relationships and childrenEdit
Partridge was married to Marianne Wyborn from 1979 to 1994. Together, they had two children: Holly and Harry. Harry is an animator who created the comedic short Saturday Morning Watchmen (2009). After his divorce, Partridge entered into a long-term relationship with American singer Erica Wexler. Some songs written by Partridge, including "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her" (1984) and "Another Satellite" (1986), have been attributed by Partridge to aspects of their ongoing relationship. Partridge met Wexler in the early 1980s; they began dating shortly after she split from artist Roy Lichtenstein in 1994.
Partridge experiences auditory synesthesia, which he uses in his songwriting process. In later interviews, he speculated that he was possibly on the autistic spectrum. At the age of 12, he was professionally diagnosed as "hyperactive" and given a prescription of Valium. He later formed a dependency on the drug that was exacerbated by the pressures of his music career. After disposing of the drug in 1981, he experienced severe withdrawal effects that led to XTC's withdrawal from touring.
In 1992, Partridge suffered from an ear infection that left him temporarily deaf, and in 2006, during one of the sessions for Monstrance, some of his hearing was destroyed following a studio mishap, which caused him to develop severe and permanent tinnitus. He later stated that he had "contemplated suicide, just to stop it [the tinnitus]."
Beliefs and other activitiesEdit
Beyond music, Partridge is an avid collector, sculptor, and painter of toy soldiers, an "obsession" he credits to his mother throwing away his toys as a child. In 1990, he estimated owning thousands of figures since he started collecting them in 1979. Before then, he owned a large American comic book collection that he had to sell off due to a mice infestation in the home he was living in. He has also designed board games, such as one called "Damn and Blast", and at one point considered a career as a graphic illustrator. Many of the XTC record sleeves were designed by him. According to Partridge in a 1990 interview, he contributed World War I-era designs to an unspecified "firm that makes these war game figures in North England".
The subject matter of his songs frequently touch upon politics, religion, his hometown of Swindon, financial shortage, factory work, insects, comic book characters, seafaring, war, and ancient rituals. He said he did not become interested in politics until circa 1979, when he voted for Margaret Thatcher "purely because she was a woman. I was that naive. Now I'm very left." He also identifies as an atheist. On the back of the Apple Venus Volume 1 (1999) record sleeve is the Wiccan Rede, "Do what you will but harm none." He stated that he only had "a smattering of knowledge" on Wiccan topics and added that he was "interested in the pre-Christian appreciation of the land and the spirit of things, spirits in animate things and inanimate things."
XTC's 1986 song "Dear God", written by Partridge, was controversial for its anti-religious message. Partridge stated that the song failed to represent his true feelings on religion, as human belief is "such a vast subject". Although he is an atheist, he believes that heaven and hell exist metaphorically. Another of his songs, "Season Cycle" (1986), included the couplet "Everybody says, Join our religion, get to heaven / I say, no thanks, why bless my soul, I'm already there!" Explaining the lyric "do what you want to do / just don't hurt nobody" from his 1989 song "Garden of Earthly Delights", he said: "I'm sure .. what heaven is, really ... is not hurting anyone."
As stated by Partridge, artists who have influenced him include:
- Burt Bacharach
- Captain Beefheart
- Alice Cooper
- Ray Davies
- John French
- Johnny and the Hurricanes
- John Lennon
- The Mahavishnu Orchestra
- Paul McCartney
- The Monkees
- New York Dolls
- Charlie Parker, especially "Ornithology" (1946)
- Pink Fairies
- Judee Sill
- The Stooges
- The Tony Williams Lifetime, especially Emergency! (1968)
- Brian Wilson
Artists who have specifically cited Partridge as an influence include:
- Morrish, John (20 February 1999). "Arts: The agony and the XTC". The Independent.
- Twomey, Chris (1992). XTC: Chalkhills and Children. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780711927582.
- "XTC: Ninjas of the Mundane" (PDF). Rolling Stone. 20 April 1989.
- Paphides, Peter (April 2004). "Senses Working Overtime". The Word. No. 14.
- Bookasta, Randy; Howard, David (1990). "Season Cyclers". Contrast. No. 7.
- Myers, Paul (14 October 2009). "XTC's Psych Side Project Gets an Acid Flashback". Crawdaddy!.
- Passantino, Rosemary (April 1989). "XTC at Last". Spin. Vol. 5 no. 1. ISSN 0886-3032.
- Fortnam, Ian (19 February 2016). "Heavy Load: Andy Partridge". Louder Sound. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
- Ingham, Chris (March 1999). "XTC – 'Til Death Do Us Part". Mojo.
- Small, Michael (May–June 1992). "On the Road". People.
- Gimarc, George (2005). Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982. Backbeat Books. pp. 1, 10. ISBN 978-0-87930-848-3.
- Myers, Paul (2010). A Wizard, a True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio. Jawbone Press. p. 255. ISBN 978-1-906002-33-6.
- Farmer, Neville (1998). XTC: Song Stories: The Exclusive Authorized Story Behind the Music. London: Helter Skelter Publishing. ISBN 190092403X.
- Friedman, Roger (October 1992). "The Agony of XTC". Guitar.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Andy Partridge". AllMusic.
- Harris, John (2 April 2010). "The sound of the suburbs and literary tradition". The Guardian.
- Milano, Bret (7 November 1984). "An exclusive and revealing discussion with the band's eloquent frontman". Fairfield County Advocate.
- Hunt, Chris (1989). "Andy Partridge Interview". Phaze 1.
- Schabe, Patrick (27 October 2006). "The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul". PopMatters. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
- Doug (17 February 2008). "Andy Partridge interview". Rundgren Radio (Audio). Event occurs at 57:00–58:50, 1:45:00–1:46:25. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
- Andy Partridge (30 July 2008). "What's happening with Colin?". The Swindon Advertiser. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
- Nelson, Sean (13 April 2016). "Artistic Crap: Part One of a Serialized Interview with Andy Partridge of XTC". The Stranger. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- Zaleski, Annie (20 March 2016). ""Music is so abused these days": XTC's Andy Partridge opens up about songwriting, painting and developing the "cruel parent gene" toward your own art". Salon. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
- XTC (22 April 2019). "WC- Some of the people I have worked/written with/produced that have been omitted are PETER BLEGVAD, LILAC TIME, THE NINES,MILES KANE, DAVID YAZBEK, VOICE OF THE BEEHIVE,THE WOODENTOPS, THE WALLFLOWERS, PERENNIAL DIVIDE, THE RAIDERS, CHARLOTTE HATHERLY and many others". @xtcfans. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- duBrowa, Corey (26 May 2007). "ANDY PARTRIDGE: SOLDIER OF MISFORTUNE". Magnet Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- Andy Partridge [@xtcfans] (19 March 2014). "THE CORRECTOR-TAKEAWAY/LURE OF SALVAGE was not a solo album,merely a dub record of XTC tracks,the band never attended" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- XTC (22 April 2019). "WIKI CORRECTOR "Partridge has released one solo album on Virgin Records in 1980 called Take Away / The Lure of Salvage" It was not a 'solo' album. It was a dub record using previous XTC recordings, and adding poems/extra sounds and inter-editing songs together. Leckie was vital". @xtcfans. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
- Partridge, Andy [@xtcfans] (29 January 2019). "WC-"Partridge made his solo debut with Take Away / The Lure of Salvage" Careful, it wasn't a 'solo album', it was a continuation of more dub experiments. Virgin didn't want it out as XTC, as it would have counted as a contractual album" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- George, Harry (October 1983). "The Case of the Missing Andy Boy". Trouser Press. pp. 26–29.
- Harris, Will (10 June 2009). "The Popdose Interview: Andy Partridge". Popdose.com.
- XTC (22 April 2019). "WIKI COR- Re Blur production. "According to Partridge he was unpaid for the sessions and received his expenses only" Untrue. I WAS paid for the sessions, but my expenses, Travel etc, £500.01, were never paid". @xtcfans. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
- Petridis, Alexis (26 July 2012). "Blur: 21 – review". The Guardian.
- Stone, Aug (3 March 2018). "Martin Newell's The Greatest Living Englishman 25 Years On". The Quietus.
- XTC (22 April 2019). "WIKI COR-Re JAMES +GIANT PEACH. "... but was replaced by Randy Newman when he could not get Disney to offer him "an acceptable deal". More that Disney wanted Newman, filmmaker Sellick wanted me. I feel Disney made things difficult for me, so they would get their choice". @xtcfans. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
- Dahlen, Chris (19 January 2007). "Andy Partridge – Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
- "Sample Andy's Powers". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- "Mike Keneally "Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs written by Mike Keneally & A - The Mike Keneally Store". The Mike Keneally Store.
- Fisher, Mark (4 December 2018). "Single Stories: The Monkees, "Unwrap You At Christmas"". rhino.com. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
- Graff, Gary (10 March 2008). "Hitchcock, Partridge Working On Collaborative Album". Billboard. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
- Gray, Julia (4 August 2019). "Andy Partridge & Robyn Hitchcock Announce Collaborative EP Out Next Month". Stereogum. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
- Worthington, Tim (2012). Fun at One: The Story of Comedy at BBC Radio 1. Lulu Press.
- "Interviews - Interview: Harry Partridge". Kittysneezes.com. 30 December 2016. Archived from the original on 25 August 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
- Bernhardt, Todd; Partridge, Andy (8 July 2007). "Andy discusses 'Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her'". Chalkhills.
- "'Roy didn't want a woman. He liked them young and juicy': Lichtenstein's secret lover on being the muse behind his nudes". 18 February 2013.
- Bernhardt, Todd; Partridge, Andy (24 March 2006). "The Lyrical Andy Partridge". Chalkhills. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Tunetribe Podcast (2017). "96: Andy Partridge" (Audio). SoundCloud. Event occurs at 17:37. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Bernhardt, Todd; Partridge, Andy (27 July 2008). "Andy discusses 'Beatown'". Chalkhills. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- Gallo, Phil (4 December 2006). "XTC's Partridge discusses boxset, Monstrance". Variety. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
- Isler, Scott (May 1989). "The Dukes of Swindon". Musician.
- Sakamoto, John, ed. (5 March 1999). "The XTC Interview". Jam! Music.
- Bernhardt, Todd; Partridge, Andy (26 November 2006). "Andy discusses 'Dear God'". Chalkhills. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
- Sherwood, Harrison (2002). "Bless My Soul, I'm Already There!". Coat of Many Cupboards (liner). XTC. Virgin.
- Walsh, Ryan (21 April 2000). "Killing Your Influences, Pissing On Your Peers". The Daily Free Press.
- "Mission: unlistenable | Music". The Guardian. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
- Bernhardt, Todd (17 May 1998). "Andy Partridge: Providing XTC's Rhythmic Oversight". Chalkhills. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
- Partridge, Andy [@xtcfans] (29 January 2019). "WC-"The band's early influences included disco, dub reggae, circus tunes," What? Circus fucking tunes? What are they? Someone's twisted up the organ dominated 45's by Johnny and the Hurricanes, frequently played at fairgrounds in the late 50's/early 60's. A sound I liked" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Partridge, Andy; Bernhardt, Todd (2016). Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC. Jawbone Press. ISBN 978-1-908279-78-1.
- "Q&A: Andy Partridge Talks About the Monkees". Rock Cellar Magazine. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
- Partridge, Andy (25 October 1992). "My Record Collection: ANDY PARTRIDGE - XTC". The Independent. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
- Hodgkinson, Will (2 April 2004). "Above average Andy". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
- Danny Elfman [@dannyelfman] (2 July 2019). "Andy Partridge was a huge influence. It was that first year of getting back to the radio after a decade long moratorium, and the music of XTC, The Specials, Selector, Madness, Fun Boy Three and Devo that turned me around" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Dalley, Helen (August 2002). "John Frusciante". Total Guitar. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
I wanted to listen to these people who weren’t just about technique but more about textures. People like Johnny Marr, John McGeoch and Andy Partridge. People who used good chords ...
- Itoi, Shigesato (16 June 2003). "『MOTHER』の音楽は鬼だった。" [Music of "MOTHER" was a demon]. 1101.com. Translation. Archived from the original on 6 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
- Prato, Greg (1 February 2016). "Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree: Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
Andy Partridge is one of my favorite songwriters of all time. What I love about Andy's music is that every song he writes has a very strong concept or idea behind it.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Andy Partridge|
- APE House Records official site
- Rundgren Radio online two-hour audio interview with Andy Partridge 2008
- Audio interview (April 2009) at BBC Wiltshire
- Andy Partridge on RPM BBC West TV programme clips showing Partridge touring his hometown of Swindon, and talking about giving up playing live.