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Almond, Marc (9th July 1957-Present)

He is a successful singer-songwriter born Peter Mark Almond in Southport, Lancashire to a family where his father was a second lieutenant in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. He was raised at his grandparents in Birkdale until he was 4 years old when he moved to Starbeck in North Yorkshire.  He returned to Southport when he was about 6 years old and then moved again to Horsforth in West Yorkshire.

His parents divorced in 1972 and he returned to Southport and after leaving high school was given a place at Southport College to specialise in performance art.  He also sung in a local band and worked at a Southport theatre and fairground.  He then got accepted into Leeds Polytechnic, where he earned his BA Honours, and during his time as a student he performed a series of theatre works and often visited London during college breaks. At some point he changed his name from Mark to Marc as he had been such a massive fan of Marc Bolan from the very early ’70s.

During his time at Leeds Polytechnic  he met up with co-student David Ball who was an electronic musician and in 1977 the two of them formed the pop duo Soft Cell.  Their first release was funded by David Ball’s mother in 1980 and after they had been signed up by the Some Bizarre label they saw major success.  Several of their songs made the Top 5 in the UK, with their cover of “Tainted Love” hitting the No 1 spot in the UK and becoming a major international hit and winning 1981’s best single at the Brit Awards.

In 1982, still with Soft Cell, he started the offshoot collective Marc and the Mambas where the Mambas would be various artists at different times.  They released the 1982 album Untitled and their second album Torment and Toreros in 1983.  Marc later disbanded them.

In 1983 Soft Cell performed on the Channel 4 show The Switch  with the musician JG Thirlwell and through that meeting Marc and he became friends and they went to New York with the musician Nick Cave.  They met up with the singer Lydia Lunch and joined The Immaculate Consumptive group.

1984 came around and prior to the release of the Soft Cell album This Last Night in Sodom the duo disbanded, although did return to give performances together at later dates.  That same year he released his first solo album Vermin in Ermine which had his backing ensemble known as The Willing Sinners.  It reached No. 36 on the UK Album chart with the second Stories of Johnny coming out in 1985.

In 1987 he released his Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters and that same year he worked with JG Thirlwell, who was using the name Clint Ruin at the time, in the project The Flesh Volcano and released the EP Slut.

The following year, in 1988, he released The Stars We Are after having changed his label to EMI.  This would produce the track “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart” which had been a hit song for Gene Pitney in the 1960s.  They recorded it as a duo and the single topped the chart in the UK and became an international hit.  Another single from the album was “Tears Run Rings” which reached No. 26 in the UK chart and would be the only song that charted in the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No 67, where he had sung alone.

In 1989 he recorded the album of French chansons and poems set to music Jacques, which was finished in Paris in the 1990s and later released as Absinthe in 1993.

When the 1990s came around he released Enchanted in 1990 which produced the UK Top 30 hit “A Lover Spurned”.  The following year a remix of Soft Cell’s “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” was released and then “Tainted Love” was re-released.  Both of those appeared on the compilation Memorabilia – The Singles released that same year.  Also that year he changed his record label again, this time to WEA, with whom he recorded and released Tenement Symphony.  The singles included “Jacky” which went to No. 17 in the UK and “Days of Pearly Spencer” which reach No.4 in the UK.  In 1992 he performed a show of songs from his career at London’s Royal Albert Hall which came out as 12 Years of Tears on video and CD.

1993 saw him touring Russia after being invited by Moscow’s British consul.  It was at also at this time that he started his love of Russian folk torch songs.

Fantastic Star was recorded in New York and reworked in London when he changed his label to Mercury records.  It was released in 1996 and reached No 54 on the UK Album chart with the highest charting single from it being “Adored and Explored” which reached No. 25 in the UK singles chart.  Two years later, in 1998, he released Open All Night which had duets with the singers Siouxsie Sioux and Kelli Ali.

When the new millennium came around he moved to Moscow and over the next 3 years worked on the 2003 album Heart on Snow which comprised Russian songs and featured a folk orchestra and several Russian artists.  Two years earlier he had reunited with David Ball and Soft Cell released  Cruelty in Beauty, which was their first in 18 years.  Also in 2001 he released his Stranger Things and presented the tv series New Music Television.

From October 2004 things came to a halt for the next couple of years as he was involved in a motorbike accident in London where he was in a coma for 2 weeks and suffered a collapsed lung, multiple fractures and breaks and a serious head injury.  He slowly recovered with his sights on getting back to his career, having to learn to sing again, but in 2007 he released the album Stardom Road, which reached No. 53 on the UK Album chart.  That same year he performed a tribute show to Marc Bolan and his version of Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” for the fashion house Yves Saint Laurent for a show in London.

The following year he toured the UK with Jools Holland and in 2009 released his Orpheus in Exile, which was a tribute to the singer Vadim Kozin.  .

When 2010 came around he he recorded his next album Variete and toured for his 30th anniversary as an artist, with the magazine Mojo naming him a Mojo Hero.  The next year he released Feasting with Panthers before participating in the musical theatre Ten Plagues which won the Fringe First Award winning at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  In 2012 he took on the role of Seneca in the rock adaptation of Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea.  That same year he and Marc and the Mambas got back together for Anohni’s Meltdown Festival.

2013 saw a month’s revival of Ten Plagues as well as him performing with Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull.  He was also given the Ivor Novello Inspiration Award and the magazine Attitude presented him with the Icon Award.  The next year, 2014, saw him issuing the albums The Tyburn Tree, The Dancing Marquis and Ten Plagues  A Song Cycle.  He also received the award of a fellowship from Leeds College of Music.

In 2015 he worked on a song cycle for a performance of A rebours and also  released The Velvet Trail.   In 2016 his box-set Trials of Eyeliner was released and his 2017 collection Hits and Pieces/The Best of Soft Cell and Marc Almond debuting at No. 7 on the UK album chart in 2017. Later that year Shadows &  Reflections reached No. 14 and 2018 Soft Cell performed at the O2 in London.  In 2017 he was awarded the OBE.

His Chaos and a Dancing Star came out in 2020 and during the COVID-19 lockdown the Soft Cell album Happiness Not Included was written and released with 12 new tracks two years later in 2022.  Soft Cell did a worldwide tour in 2023 and in 2024 another album of cover songs I’m Not Anyone and a UK tour is set for July and September respectively.

As a writer he has published three books of verse and the autobiographies Tainted Life and In Search of the Pleasure Palace.