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David Balfe (born 2 October 1958 in Carlisle, Cumberland) is a musician and record company executive, most notable for playing keyboards with The Teardrop Explodes, founding the Zoo and Food independent record labels, signing Blur and for being the subject of their first number one hit, "Country House".
|Birth name||David Balfe|
|Also known as||Dave Balfe, The Chameleons (along Bill Drummond)|
|Born||Carlisle, Cumberland, England2 October 1958|
|Genres||Punk rock, new wave, post-punk, synthpop|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, record producer|
|Instruments||Bass guitar, keyboards|
|Years active||Mid 1970s–present|
|Associated acts||Mr. McKenzie, Radio Blank, Dalek I Love You, Big in Japan, Lori and the Chameleons, The Teardrop Explodes|
David Balfe grew up in Merseyside, where he played with several Liverpool bands in the late 1970s that emerged from the city's legendary Eric's club scene, including Radio Blank, Big in Japan, Dalek I Love You and The Teardrop Explodes. He also played keyboards on and co-produced the first Echo & the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes albums, as well as managing both bands with Bill Drummond for the years from their inception to their early success.
Balfe and Drummond, having met while playing together in Big in Japan, founded the Zoo record label in 1978 in order to release Big in Japan's posthumous EP From Y to Z and Never Again. The label went on to sign and release the early work of The Teardrop Explodes and Echo & the Bunnymen.
Balfe and Drummond did their production work under the name of The Chameleons, and also released the singles "Touch" and "The Lonely Spy" – credited to Lori and The Chameleons – on the Zoo label, later licensing them to Sire/Korova.
Although they released a few other artists, The Teardrop Explodes and Echo & the Bunnymen grew to take up most of their time. Eventually, due to lack of finance, they signed both bands to major London Record Companies and continued to manage them, while letting the label fade into inactivity.
The Teardrop ExplodesEdit
Balfe began as The Teardrop Explodes' label head, manager and producer, but after their first single, on the departure of their original keyboard player, Paul Simpson, Balfe stepped in for what turned into four years in and out of the band, having a famously tempestuous relationship with their singer, Julian Cope. He played keyboards on their Top 10 single, "Reward", and their two gold albums, Kilimanjaro (1980) & Wilder (1981).
After The Teardrop Explodes disbanded in 1983, Balfe moved to London where, after managing Strawberry Switchblade (UK top 5 Hit, "Since Yesterday") and Brilliant (the post-Killing Joke band of subsequently famous producer, Youth), he then founded the Food record label in 1984.
Food, initially funded by Balfe alone, signed Voice of the Beehive, Zodiac Mindwarp (both of whom moved on to major labels, while Balfe continued to manage them for many years), Crazyhead, and Diesel Park West, before signing a deal with EMI to fund and distribute the label worldwide while retaining creative independence.
They then signed Jesus Jones who went on to have a number one album in the UK and multi-million sales internationally with their second album, 'Doubt', and a number two single in the USA with 'Right Here Right Now'. A year after signing Jesus Jones they signed Blur.
Balfe, along with later label partner Andy Ross, convinced the band to change their name from 'Seymour' to Blur on signing in 1989.
Disenchanted with the alternative scene in the years of "Grunge", Balfe decided to sell the Food label to EMI in 1994, and semi-retire with his young family to the country – inspiring Damon Albarn to pen Blur's first No.1 hit, "Country House".
After two years of living in the countryside, Balfe returned to the music business to take up a position at Sony Music from 1996 to 1999 as General Manager and Head of A&R of the Columbia label. His most notable success of that period was the million-selling Kula Shaker.
In June 2010, Balfe received the Mojo Magazine 'Inspiration Award' on behalf of The Teardrop Explodes. It was presented by Alex James from Blur.
In May 2018, Balfe was elected as a Labour Councillor for Eastbrook Ward in Adur.