Julie Felix, one of the all time greats of the 60s folk music boom, is about to embark on her annual tour of Ireland, following her 2008 tour, which was a complete sell out of at all venues -including The Passionfruit Theatre on Thursday October 1.
Julie left her home in California in the early 60s; she hitch-hiked throughout Europe with a duffle bag and guitar, and after living on a Greek island - where she met and performed with another newcomer by the name of Leonard Cohen - she finally arrived in England in 1964.
A few months after her arrival, she became the first solo folk artist to be signed to a major British record company, when Decca released her first album, Julie Felix , and a single, ‘Someday Soon’.That same year Julie appeared on The Eammon Andrews TV show, and was asked back the following week by popular demand.
In 1965 she headlined Croydon's Fairfield Hall, followed by the Royal Albert Hall, becoming the first British-based folk singer to fill London’s top venue.
In 1966 Julie became the resident singer on the amazingly popular TV show The Frost Report, quickly becoming a household name. The same year she played at Westminster Abbey's 900th anniversary - the first "popular" singer to perform there.
Brian Epstein, The Beatles manager, booked Julie in 1967 to top the bill with Georgie Fame for a two week engagement at London's Saville Theatre, supported by a newcomer named Cat Stevens.
In 1968 she was given her own TV series of 17 shows - the first colour series produced by the BBC. Guests included Leonard Cohen, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Donovan, Dusty Springfield, Spike Milligan, and Richard Harris. In 1970 the series was moved from BBC2 to BBC1, and she was signed by hit-maker Mickie Most, becoming the first artist to have a hit on the RAK label with her version of Paul Simon's If Could '(El Condor Pasa). Her first LP on RAK, Clotho's Web,included contributions from John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Danny Thompson (John Martyn Band, Pentangle, Richard Thompson Band), and the late Cozy Powell (Jeff Beck Group).
In 1974 Julie signed with the EMI label and recorded the album Lightning, touring Japan, Australia, and New Zealand to promote it, and in the late 70s she moved to Norway where the title track of her 1976 album Hot Chocolata went to number one in the singles chart. Bright Shadows was the debut album for Julie’s own label, Remarkable Records.
In 1969, Julie appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival with Bob Dylan, and had remained one of the world's top interpreters of his music, so it was no surprise when Julie released the album Starry Eyed and Laughing, a double CD of Julie’s versions of Bob Dylan’s songs. She was backed by ‘superstar’ musicians including John Paul Jones, (Led Zeppelin), John Renbourn (Pentangle etc), Danny Thompson (John Martyn Band, Pentangle, Richard Thompson Band etc.), Dave Swarbrick (Fairport Convention etc.), Martin Carthy (Steeleye Span etc.), Kiki Dee, and PJ Wright (Steve Gibbons Band, The Dylan Project).
In April 2008 Julie again joined forces with PJ Wright , and with the multi-instrumentalist Anna Ryder formed The Julie Felix Trio, headlining - for one night only - a tribute to Bob Dylan at Hammersmith Irish Cultural Centre, London to great acclaim.
During her long career Julie Felix has sung out for many causes. She has visited the Middle East as a humanitarian ambassador for Christian Aid; urged New Zealanders not to engage in conscription at a concert during the Vietnam War; campaigned for Latin American refugees; founded ‘Guitars Against Landmines; and marched against the Iraq War in London.
In June 2008 Julie celebrated her 70th birthday playing a sold out gig at Gateshead’s Sage Theatre, in north east England. During the performance, and just prior to performing a classic song written by another American folk legend, Tom Paxton, Julie read out a birthday greeting she had just received from the man himself. “At 70, still the possessor of the most radiant smile in Britain. Old friends are the best friends, especially when they get old. But that’s not for a while yet for you. They tell me that 70 is the new 40, but you’re not a day over 35. All the best. From Tom.”
After nearly 50 years of making phenomenal music nothing’s changed; she’s still brimming with energy on stage and off, with performances exuding pure joy for music and the world around us.