Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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Don Partridge: Street Musician Who Briefly Went Pop

I discovered an inveterate English singer-songwriter and one-man band whilst scouting material related to music’s intersection with mirth:  Don Partridge (“King of the Buskers”). In late 60s UK, Partridge achieved a surprising amount of commercial success for a “street musician” – one of the first in London following the end of the Second World War, as noted in his 2010 Guardian obituary.  Partridge would later define his own artistic niche:  “I wasn’t a cabaret singer or a club artist.  I was really half circus act and half street singer, so I didn’t fit into the traditional musical mould.”

Partridge’s peak chart success began with “Rosie” (#4, released 1967 at year’s end), continued with “Blue Eyes” (#3, mid-1968), and concluded with “Breakfast on Pluto” (#26, beginning of 1969).  During this fruitful time, Partridge’s records would enjoy release on Columbia in Europe (Netherlands, France, UK & Germany), Oceania (New Zealand & Australia), Africa (Rhodesia) & North America (US & Canada – although on Capitol).

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Sometime In the midst of Partridge’s brief dalliance with the pop charts (October of 1968, to be exact), “We Have Ways of Making You Laugh” was issued as the B-side to “Top Man” (except in the US, where it was the flip side to “Homeless Bones”):

Don Partridge     “We Have Ways of Making You Laugh”     1968

“Disillusioned with the mainstream music industry, Partridge returned to busking and selling books of his own poetry, often travelling overseas,” informs the Guardian obituary.

The first few years of the new millenium would find Partridge on tour with the aforementioned British Sea Power, as well as electronic music duo, Lemon Jelly.

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One Response

  1. Just for info, there is a fuller record of Don’s life and recordings on Wikipedia. After his initial pop success, followed by the Albert Hall “Buskers’ Concert” and later Buskers’ Tour, Don formed an acoustic folk-rock group together Gordon Giltrap and others – Accolade. Several of Don’s later and best compositions are on the two Accolade albums. Later albums included “Don Partridge & Friends”, “Street Harvest” and “The Highwayman”.

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