P. P. Arnold (born Patricia Ann Cole, 3 October 1946, Los Angeles, California), is an American-born soul singer who enjoyed considerable success in the United Kingdom in the 1960s and beyond.
After several years touring the United States with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, she came to England in 1966 when the Revue toured there in support of The Rolling Stones. Impressed by her powerful and soulful voice, Mick Jagger convinced Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham to sign Arnold to a recording contract with his newly founded Immediate Records record label. Arnold quit the Turner band to remain in London and establish a solo career.
She enjoyed several major British hits on Immediate, including songs written for her by Paul Korda, who wrote “The Time Has Come.”
Arnold also provided backing vocals on the group’s hit “Tin Soldier” as well as touring with them during 1968.
Her first backing band, The Blue Jays, had been inherited from American soul singer Ronnie Jones. This was followed by The Nice, led by Keith Emerson on organ who had just quit from The VIP’s – later to be known as Spooky Tooth – on organ and piano, David O’List on guitar, Lee Jackson on bass and Ian Hague on drums. During this period Pat toured alongside Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Kinks, Blind Faith, David Bowie and others, and she scored several hits including a cover version of “The First Cut Is the Deepest” and “Angel of the Morning“.
After the collapse of Immediate in the late 1960s, Arnold signed a production contract with the Robert Stigwood Organisation and released two singles on the Polydor label, produced by Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees, but a planned album with Gibb was never completed, though she had prevously recorded this my favourite Bee Gees song.
In 1970 she moved to the musical stage, appearing alongside P.J. Proby in the rock musical Catch My Soul. She then formed a new backing band that included the future members of Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, plus Steve Howe, who would soon join Yes. During this period she contributed session musician backing vocals to many notable UK sessions (including the Nick Drake song “Poor Boy”) and she toured with Eric Clapton, who also produced a number of unreleased sessions with her.
During these sessions she met the American bassist Fuzzy Samuels of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and they subsequently married and had a son. In 1974 she sang on the Freddie King album Burglar and feeling out of place in the rapidly changing British music scene of the mid 1970s, Arnold and Samuels returned to her hometown of Los Angeles.
While living there, Arnold’s marriage to Samuels ended and just two weeks after the split, her daughter Debbie was killed in a car accident. After her daughter’s death Arnold withdrew from public life for some time, not re-emerging until 1978. At this time she was reunited with Barry Gibb, who wanted to complete the never-finished solo album for her. Again this did not materialise, but Arnold was eventually teamed up with Barry’s youngest brother Andy Gibb for a duet recording of the Carole King song “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. Arnold subsequently formed a new band, Inner Circle, but this was not successful.
In 1981 she moved to Hollywood, where she won minor roles in popular TV series including St. Elsewhere and Knots Landing. She returned to England in 1982, wishing to raise her younger son there. She soon began working with leading British reggae band Steel Pulse and returned to the charts in both the UK and Australia thanks to her unmistakable vocal contributions on the hit 1983 cover version of the Staple Singers “Respect Yourself”, recorded with British electro-pop group Kane Gang, which reached #21 in Britian and #19 in Australia.
Without a record contract and unable to play live, Arnold survived by doing sessions for advertising jingles. This eventually led to a successful collaboration with The Beatmasters on the retro-styled hip house/disco hit “Burn It Up”, which reached #14 in Britain in October ’88 and became her third hit to spend 10 weeks or more on the UK singles chart.
Little over a year later she worked with The KLF on the tracks “3 a.m. Eternal” and “Last Train to Trancentral” and Altern-8 on “Evapor 8” (credited as Altern-8, guest vocal P.P. Arnold).
Growing dissatisfied with her session singer role, she returned to the musical stage with work in a theatre workshop project.
In 1994 she joined the cast of the award-winning musical Once On This Island as Erzulie, beautiful Goddess of Love. While the production was playing in Birmingham she met leading UK band Ocean Colour Scene, one of the new wave of latter-day mod groups who (like their mentor Paul Weller), idolised The Small Faces.
Her friendship with OCS led to her singing the lead vocal, backed by Primal Scream, on a cover of The Small Faces’ “Understanding”, which was included on a successful Small Faces tribute album. She also worked extensively with Ocean Colour Scene on their 1997 album Marchin’ Already. This was followed by numerous TV appearances including Later with Jools Holland and touring with Ocean Colour Scene in 1997-98.
This success led to plans for her to record her first solo album in decades, but once again it was not completed. Deciding to put together a new band to promote her material, Arnold joined forces with Chaz Jankel, former pianist with Ian Dury and The Blockheads. This was followed by an invitation to tour widely with Roger Waters. She was a backup vocalist on his 1999–2000 tour In the Flesh, (also on the CD and DVD of the same name) as well as the 2006–2008 tour, Dark Side of the Moon Live.
In mid 2007 she released her first recorded work for several years, Five In The Afternoon. The album is a duet with the Blow Monkeys frontman Dr. Robert and has been met with critical acclaim, as have their live performances at several venues.
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