Bertie Wooster Blues Star
It is not the fate you would expect of the star of arguably the most popular TV show in the world, but Hugh Laurie has got the blues.
The British performer, 51, is the highest paid actor on US television for his role as Dr Gregory House in the medical drama and was previously a star of British TV with series including A Bit of Fry and Laurie and the PG Wodehouse adaptation Jeeves and Wooster.
Laurie says he is a lifelong fan of the blues, ever since hearing I Can’t Quit You Baby by Willie Dixon as a child. “I’m embarrassed to say I don’t recall where I was when I heard that John Lennon had been assassinated,” he said recently, “but I do remember where I was when I heard Muddy Waters had died. I was driving down the A1 from Lincolnshire and had this awful, selfish reaction: ‘Now I’ll never get to see him play live’.”
To satisfy his musical ambitions, Laurie recorded an album at Ocean Way studios in Los Angeles in September 2010, covering songs such as St James Infirmary.
Guests on the record, titled Let Them Talk, include pianist Dr John, blues singer Irma Thomas and Sir Tom Jones. Laurie sings lead vocals and plays the piano and guitar.
“In my imagination New Orleans just straight hummed with music, romance, joy, despair,” he said. “Its rhythms got into my gawky English frame and, at times, made me so happy and sad, I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I love this music as authentically as I know how.”
The producer of the record, singer-songwriter Joe Henry, said: “I’m sincere when I say I think people will be stunned, not just at how much time he’s devoted to his musical life but how interesting his take on the music is.”
Laurie has previously played guitar in different episodes of House and guested as a pianist on Meat Loaf’s’s 2010 album Hang Cool Teddy Bear following an appearance from the US rock star on the TV show. He also appeared in the music videos for the Kate Bush single Experiment IV in 1986 and the 1992 single Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox.
Anticipating criticism of his new career, Hugh Laurie added in a statement to accompany the release of Let Them Talk: “I was not born in Alabama in the 1890s. I’ve never eaten grits, cropped a share, or ridden a boxcar. I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south. If that weren’t bad enough, I’m also an actor: one of those pampered ninnies who can’t find his way through an airport without a babysitter.”
The album is released on 9 May. Laurie is billed to close the Cheltenham Jazz festival in May and a London date will also be announced.
For more information visit http://www.hughlaurieblues.com/home.htm
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