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Gilbert O'Sullivan

Singer/songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan successfully combined a flair for Beatlesque popcraft with an old-fashioned music hall sensibility to emerge as one of the most distinctive and popular new performers of the early 1970s. Born Raymond O'Sullivan in Waterford, Ireland on December 1, 1946, he went on to attend art school in Swindon, England, writing songs throughout his formative years and sending out demo tapes to little avail. After graduating he went to work in a London department store; one of his co-workers there was under contract with CBS, and soon O'Sullivan was signed to the label as well. Early singles like "What Can I Do?" and "Mr. Moody's Garden" were released to little attention, however, and so O'Sullivan sent his demo to impresario Gordon Mills, whose MAM label was home to superstars like Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck; the gambit worked, and his first single for MAM, "Nothing Rhymed," became a Top Ten U.K. hit in late 1970.

The wit and craft of O'Sullivan's music aside, much of his early success was predicated on his unusual image -- at the peak of the hippie movement, he resembled nothing so much as a Depression-era street urchin, complete with pudding-bowl haircut, short pants, and flat cap. Subsequent hits including "We Will" and "No Matter How I Try" followed, and in 1971, O'Sullivan issued his debut LP, Himself; a year later, he finally broke through to the American market with the ballad "Alone Again (Naturally)," which topped the U.S. pop charts. Around this time, the singer jettisoned his so-called "Bisto Kid" image in favor of an endless series of collegiate-styled sweaters embossed with the letter "G." In late 1972, O'Sullivan scored his first British number one with "Clair," falling just shy of topping charts on the other side of the Atlantic; the follow-up, "Get Down," reached number one at home as well, as did the LP Back to Front.

As quickly as O'Sullivan ascended to fame, however, his star began to fall. Although singles like "Ooh Baby" and "Happiness Is Me and You" continued to chart, they sold increasingly fewer copies, and after 1973, his overseas popularity essentially ceased altogether. At home, he notched his final Top 20 hit with 1975's "I Don't Love You But I Think I Like You," subsequently leaving MAM after a well-publicized dispute with Gordon Mills; returning to CBS, albums like 1977's Southpaw and 1980's Off Centre failed to find an audience, and outside of the minor hit "What's in a Kiss?" O'Sullivan disappeared from the charts. In 1982, he took Mills to court, ultimately winning back the master tapes to his recordings as well as the copyrights to his songs; in 1991, O'Sullivan was again victorious thanks to a judge's landmark ruling that rapper Biz Markie's unauthorized sample from "Alone Again (Naturally)" was in fact theft.

Regrettably, O'Sullivan's court appearances constituted his highest public profile during this period. After releasing the Graham Gouldman-produced Life & Rhymes in 1982, he did not issue another new LP until Frobisher Drive five years later. In the Key of G followed in 1989, and although none of these records made an impact on the charts they did appeal to the singer's small but fiercely devoted cult audience, much of it now centered in Japan; indeed, O'Sullivan's next three releases (1992's Rare Tracks, The Little Album, and 1993's Live in Japan, respectively) were initially issued only in Asian markets, and he performed live there regularly. O'Sullivan remained a prolific talent throughout the decade to follow, with subsequent LPs including 1993's Sounds of the Loop, 1994's By Larry, 1995's Every Song Has Its Play, and 1997's Singer Sowing Machine. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Always entertaines
lyrically amazing!
reyesc814
Good song. I always thought the Beatles sang this. Similar vocal to Paul McCartney.
As a music lover with a very wide margin of just about all of it ,,, I like this as much as I enjoy ,,,, all of it. Jeffy Sheehan. Indian orchard mass
This guy wrote the sound track of my elementary school days. He made his mark in the 70s singer/songw r i t e r era of civilized melodic music gone forever but not forgotten. He is a retro antidote to modern noise.
Alone again greatest song in my memory
ocassiuso
@Shank DO WHAT!? No, forget I asked.
this man single-hande d l y ruined hip hop..
Amazingly, Gil (now in his 60's) continues to compose and perform around the world. Did you know he has a studio in Nashville? He remains one of my favorite all-time performers - and he can still DO IT!
No matter how often I hear Alone Again, I get choked up. I don't know why-- I'm 50 & lucky enough to still have both my parents.. I guess thinking about losing them isn't something I let myself do-- I put the idea out of my mind. This song forces me to deal with thinking about that eventuality, & those emotions are powerful.
Dear pandora, I didn't sign up to hear political ads by Nobama. He's been campaining for 4 yrs. now.. Please STOP1
nicko252008
One of the greastest singers/song writers of ALL TIME!!!
Love this song. I used to rock my baby to this song and she is now 40.
ALBEE356
ONE OF THE GREAT SONGS THE BEE GEES WROTE!
I love Get Down. It's so poppy and happy :)
This is one of my favorite songs of ALL time!!!!! I don't even know all the words, but I know it touches my soul to a level I can't even describe.
rachel208
Heard in Germany in the early '70's while on a trip to the 1st Internationa l Youth Band Festival in Vienna, Austria. What a trip! Came in 3rd in the world...not bad for a hot high school band from Huntsville, Alabama. Gilbert's "Alone Again" was such a cool sound. Heard in Rudischeim, "West" Germany (yeah, way back!).
brings back wonderful memories.
O'Sullivan was and is definitely an artist I really enjoy. Sounds good now too. Also isn't it is nice that we have all the great equiptment like Mp3 players and CD Players? In the old days I never could have believed that things would ever be more wonderful than the old LPs, but now look -- the sound in better and you can listed without dragging the old fashioned LP 33 rpm machines around that were the size of a kitchen sink. I remember a fellow dorm resident making fun of the sound of my old RC
This is deep music, no doubt it is depressing (dealing with loneliness and hopelessness ) , but ultimately, comforting to a certain extent. Probably because of a combination of musical/harm o n i c elements, smooth voice timbre and quieter dynamic range, and lastly, an overall nonchalant, calming emotional approach to especially troubling subjects. There is a masked sorrow in the emotional tone, so this song should be followed by something more optimistic (for those who have a greater tendency to b
Gilbert O'Sullivan's earlier works continue to live decades after his debut because he has not only a distinctive voice, but was prolific in his catchy, well conceived lyrics and stylistic music composition (he is a very gifted composer and has HUGE audiences in both Europe and Asia). I've often thought Gilbert's US music demise was because his talent was ultimately above his American audiences who, within that era, had the attention span of a 5 year old. Now that we're potty trained 30 years la
calias26
As a teenager I listened to Gilbert O'Sullivan every day. I waited with huge anticipation for each new release. I have Every album in vinyl that he ever thought about recording. I have tried to find all of the albums to buy on cd format but cannot. I adore him. Any ideas? For the zoo song person - I know that song but until I can peruse the albums I won't remember the title.
I am trying to find a song about the zoo or animals that I only heard once and I am pretty sure Gilbert sang. Does anyone know it?
I remmember being 10 years old in the summer of '72 and going in to my sisters room and listening to her brand new stereo and hearing alone again and all those great hits of that year wishing my youth could last forever. What a time the 1970;s, the best era for music.
Gilbert put out some great songs,sure brings memories of days gone by,I use to listen to him over and over,in fact heard him sing "Alone Again" just yesterday being played on a local radio station,so he is still being played...Tha n k s Pandora
yessssss!
kmay63
I love this song.(Alone Again-Natura l l y ) . A nice Irish boy!
red_xiii_
i like his songs..and i don't know why
it's just great.

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