The British Invasion made such a big impact on the US the two musical worlds often seem to merge together. Sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly who is American and who is a true Brit. Here are some iconic 60s musicians you may not have realised were British!
1. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Yes, sure Jimi was American, he was born in Seattle and even enlisted in the US Army as a paratrooper, but he picked up both his drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding on the swinging London scene back in the 60s. Apparently Jimi liked Noel’s hair. The trio played clubs in London and made a name for themselves in the UK before joining the British Invasion and storming America.
2. Graham Nash
Surely such a crucial exponent of Americana, the singer of country, folk must be a yank? No, no. Nash was born in Blackpool and was a founder member of Manchester beat group The Hollies before crossing the Atlantic to take his place as collaborator with American’s David Crosby and Stephen Stills. He’s known as Graham Nash OBE these days by the way!
3. Dusty Springfield
With such a powerful soulful voice it’s easy to forget that Dusty was a British sensation first. Singing with her sister in the group ‘The Springfields’ and hosting her own UK show promoting great American soul singers, Dusty was the pride of High Wycombe. But she is perhaps best remembered for the recordings she made in Memphis for Atlantic records, sessions which birthed the classic “Son Of A Preacher” iconically used in Quentin Tarantino’s Americana cult movie classic “Pulp Fiction”.
4. The Monkees
OK fair enough Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork were all American, but actor and singer Davy Jones was actually from Manchester. Prior to joining British Invasion wannabes The Monkees, Davy had made his name playing the Artful Dodger in London’s West End production of Oliver and at one point was even in Coronation Street. Can’t get more British than that right?
5. The Foundations
This time the whole group is British, although arguably they don’t sound it because The Foundations were one of the only UK bands to really master the Motown sound. Boasting members with West Indian, White and Shri Lankan heritage they were also first multi-racial group to have a number one hit in the UK with “Baby Now That I’ve Found You”. Their second top 40 hit “Build Me Up Buttercup” has become a soul standard and a regular dance floor filler at any British wedding party.
6. John Cale
Piano player, violinist and founder member of seminal 60s New York alternative rock band the Velvet Underground, John Cale was originally from Carmarthenshire in Wales. After a stint studying music at Goldsmiths College in London Cale made his way to NYC and the rest is rock ’n’ roll history. Cale has had a varied career since the demise of the Velvet Underground, playing avant-garde, rock, electronic, drone-rock, and even classical music!
Did any of these famous faces catch you out? Can you think of any other sixties British icons often mistaken as coming from “across the pond”? Leave a comment below and let us know!