Midge Ure the voice of Ultravox
MIDGE URE BIOGRAPHY
An artist who has received Ivor Novello, Grammy, BASCAP awards along with a flotilla of gold
and platinum records, really needs very little introduction. Musical success is seldom measured in
time spans of more than a few years, if not Andy Warhol's often quoted "fifteen minutes", so the fact
that by the time Midge's single "If I Was" went to No1 in 1985 he had already crammed several
musical lifetimes into a 10 year professional career speaks volumes Slik,
The Rich Kids, Thin Lizzy, Visage, Ultravox and of course the most famous one off group in musical history Band Aid
had by then all had the guiding hand of his musical navigation.
Then you have to take account of Midge's musical directorship of a series of rock concerts for The
Prince's Trust, Night of the Proms, Wicked Women for Breakthrough and in honour of
Nelson Mandela; record production for Phil Lynott, Steve Harley and countless others; his video
direction of memorable hits by the Fun Boy Three, Bananarama and others, or a whole swathe of
landmark singles by Ultravox; TV, theatre and film music credits ranging from 'Max Headroom' to
stage and big screen. Midge appeared to the wider public in a moment of heady teen success with Slik. Their swayalong
single 'Forever And Ever' took over at No.1 in the UK from Abba's 'Mamma Mia' on Valentine's
Day 1976. Soon outgrowing Slik's pop dimensions, Midge was snapped up by ex Sex
Pistol Glen Matlock the following year for his new outfit, the Rich Kids , who charted amid an avalanche of
press with a selftitled EMI single early in 1978. By 1979, with his name being added to many
musicians' contact book, Ure had been asked by Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann to
become the new frontman in Ultravox .
The band was a major influence on the new romantic and electropop
movements of the early '80s.
Their successful trademark was combining Midge's powerful guitar riffs with sweeping synthesiser
motifs, enigmatic imagery and stateoftheart
visuals. Tracks like 'Reap the Wild Wind', 'Dancing With Tears in My Eyes', 'Love's Great Adventure' and 1981's timeless 'Vienna' were all
massive hits the world over as they charted with awesome regularity, not only on single, but with
seven consecutive top ten albums in just six years . Indeed, Vienna recently was voted the
Nation’s favourite number 2 single of the 80’s, finally granting it a coveted Number 1 position!
Even by then, the Midge Ure story had some individual chapters, of course. He wrote and produced
“Fade to Grey” for Visage in 1980, then hit the top 10 in the summer of 1982 with his first release
under his own name, an atmospheric take on the Tom Rush song made famous half a dozen years
earlier by the Walker Brothers, ' No Regrets '.
Then came November 25, 1984, a historic day for Midge and all of pop music, as 36 artists by the
collective name Band Aid gathered at SARM Studios in west London under Ure's production. They
recorded 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' a song he had just written with Bob Geldof as the
industry's heartfelt and eloquent contribution to Ethiopian famine relief. 600,000 copies sold in its
first week in the UK alone was only the beginning: 800,000 more were bought in the second week,
more than three million worldwide, and the unstoppable emotion engendered by the project led to
Live Aid, the summer 1985 global concert that, all exaggeration aside, spoke for a generation.
Within months, a staggering £8 million had been raised for the starving in Africa, and Geldof said
that without Ure's initial enthusiasm for the idea, not to mention his rapidly penned sketch for the
single, neither Band Aid nor Live Aid could have happened.
Just two months after Live Aid, Midge was back at No.1 in Britain, this time under his own name,
with 'If I Was' , and by the autumn he had a No.2 solo album to accompany it, entitled 'The Gift' .
Further solo albums followed with “Answers to Nothing” in 1988 and “Pure” in 1991 on BMG.
Delivered in 1994, the new 'Breathe ' album was followed by further extensive touring. The Swatch
campaign brought spectacular renewed international activity for the record in 1998. The album and
eponymous single were subsequently in the top 20 throughout Europe for much of that year, and
No.1 in Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland . 'Breathe' sold over half a million copies in
Europe alone. Respected German composer Eberhard Schoener invited him to perform at the
reopening of the Potzdamer Platz in Berlin, in front of an estimated audience of 500,000.
Soon after Midge was busy producing and writing with and for various artists, both established and
unsigned, at his studio in Bath, and writing music for films. Other duties included the 'Music for
Montserrat' benefit at the Royal Albert Hall alongside Sir Paul McCartney, Elton John and
Eric Clapton .
In 2005 Midge undertook both extensive acoustic tours of Germany and the UK as well as
performing with the long standing "Night of the Proms" in Germany. This 21 date sell out tour of
arenas saw a massive production with full orchestra and also starred Roger Daltry and Manfred
He then went on to be executive producer for the Band Aid 20 single working with the likes of Paul
McCartney, Joss Stone and Fran Healey.
Midge's services to both music and charity were finally recognised in the Birthday Honours list in
2005, when Midge was awarded a long overdue OBE. He also released his autobiography "If I
Was" through Virgin books.
He's also received honorary doctorates from both Edinburgh and Dundee Universities, mainly in
recognition for his work with Band Aid and Live 8. Midge actually managed to fit in a performance at
the Edinburgh Live8 show in Murreyfield in July where he played with Eddie Izzard on piano! Surely
Midge had long held an ambition to record an album of cover versions of songs that influenced him.
He managed to record his own version of No Regrets in 1982, but it was to take 25 years and a
change of format from LP to CD before he would record a full set of his favourite songs.
TEN was recorded in a log cabin in Eastern Canada during the long snow bound winter of 2007 2008
and was released again by German label Hypertension in September 2008.
The CD contains songs that influenced the teenage Ure when growing up in Glasgow in the 60s and
70s, so alongside the obvious (David Bowie) are the less obvious The
Carpenters...Lulu. These were the songs that had shaped him as a songwriter.
April 2009 saw the unthinkable happen ULTRAVOX
REFORMED and subsequently released a new album in 2012 and toured the UK and Europe culminating in the band being Special Guests of
Simple Minds on their UK arena tour, ending at a sold out show at the O2 Arena, Londo n.
Even with huge amounts of Ultravox activity, Midge still continued to perform in his own right,
including tours of Australia and the US in 2013. The US tour was recorded and released as “Live
in Chicago” . He also recorded an updated audio version of his autobiography “If I Was” and as
someone who always enjoys pushing the boundaries of technology, this was released on flash drive
in 2014. His radio work with Trevor Dann has also received a pat on the back with prestigious gold
& silver New York Awards .
Fragile was released in 2014 and was a return to his progressive synth roots with soaring melodies
and introspective lyrics. With collaborations by Schiller and Moby ,was playlisted by Radio 2 for 3
2015, being the 20th anniversary of Breathe being completed, Midge decided to perform the album
in it’s entirety for the first time. Ably accompanied by the boys from The India Electric Company,
who had caught Midge’s attention at a show in 2013, the songs took on a new dimension and the
show was a total success both with the critics and audiences throughout the UK and Europe. A live
CD of the show was released by Oblivion/SPV.