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born on 13/1/1961 in Hastings, England, United Kingdom

Alias Graham McPherson

Suggs (singer)

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Suggs (singer)

Graham McPherson (born 13 January 1961), better known as Suggs, is an English singer, actor, former radio DJ, television and radio personality, who is best known as the frontman of the band Madness.

Early life

McPherson was born in Hastings, the son of William Rutherford McPherson (1935-1975)[1] and Edith Gower, who married in Paddington in 1960. As a child Suggs was brought up in Hastings by his mother, his father having left shortly before he was born. In a 2009 interview he was asked about what happened to his father:

" I don't know, but what I've heard hasn't been good: heroin, injecting his eyeballs with paraffin, being sectioned. He must be dead now. I mean, he would have got in touch if he was alive, wouldn't he? Yeah, he must be dead, poor bugger."[2]

As a child he moved around a lot. He spent three years of his childhood in Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire and had just started at a grammar school when he moved to North London.[3][4] He then went to comprehensive school at Quintin Kynaston, Swiss Cottage, North London.[5] On the official Madness website he says

" I was born in Hastings on a stormy evening on 13 January 1961. I only lived with my mum, so we were free agents. She was a singer in the pubs and clubs. We moved to Liverpool then London. I lived with relations in Wales for a while and came back to London. Because I was an only child, I was pretty insular and stubborn. All the upheaval made me lazy academically, so by the time I got to Quintin Kynaston school in Finchley Road I didn't bother much, I stayed on to the sixth form for social security reasons, and got two O-levels and a CSE on the way. I met Mike Barson hanging around Hampstead School.""[6]

Suggs got his nickname from randomly sticking a pin in an encyclopedia of jazz musicians (hitting Peter Suggs) while he was still in school, to avoid being labelled as the member of an ethnic minority owing to his Scottish name. To capitalize on the name he went as far as to create a myth around it, writing lines like "Suggs is our leader" on the walls and only answering to that name.[7]

A large part of Suggs' young life was the band Skrewdriver where he was a part of Ian Stuart Donaldson's "crew" of skinheads and eventually became a roadie for Skrewdriver in 1977.[8] It had no wage but it meant he could get into gigs for free. Later he would lend Skrewdriver gear for their London gigs..


Main article: Madness (band)

Solo career

After Madness' reformation for Madstock! in 1992 and 1994, Suggs went to work on his first solo album with the production help of acclaimed reggae producers Sly and Robbie. In 1995 The Lone Ranger was released on WEA and peaked on the UK album charts at # 14. The first single to be released from the album was a cover of The Beatles song "I'm Only Sleeping" entering the UK Top Ten at # 7. The video featured appearances from Madness bandmates Mike Barson and Chas Smash. This was followed by "Camden Town", a homage to his favourite part of London which reached # 14 in the UK. In December of that year, Suggs released The Christmas E.P. featuring his song "The Tune" (co-written with Mike Barson) plus covers of "Sleigh Ride" and "Alright" by Supergrass. In 1996, the third single from the album, a version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic "Cecilia", became his most successful release, entering the U.K charts at # 4 and selling in excess of 500,000 copies. The final single to be released from the album was "No More Alcohol", charting at # 24.

In 1997, Suggs recorded the song "Blue Day" for Chelsea FC with Chelsea players. It was the official song for the team for the FA Cup, which Chelsea eventually won. The song reached # 22 in the UK charts.

In 1998, Suggs released his second solo album The Three Pyramids Club on Warner Music, which was produced by Steve Lironi. The first and only single to be released was "I Am" charting at # 38. The song was also featured on the soundtrack to The Avengers. The album includes a collaboration with ragga artist General Levy and the trombone talents of ska legend Rico Rodriguez.

After his brief solo career, Suggs returned to work with Madness on their first original album in 14 years. Wonderful was released in 1999 and was followed by the covers album The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1 in 2005. In 2009, Madness released The Liberty of Norton Folgate which reached # 5 in the UK Album Charts.

Suggs - The Platinum Collection was released on 30 July in 2007 on Warner Music, featuring a selection of his best tracks from his two solo albums along with "Blue Day" and a remixed version of "Cecilia".

In 2008, Suggs contributed vocals to a cover of 'Hang Out The Stars In Indiana' to the soundtrack for The Edge of Love composed by Angelo Badalamenti. Suggs also has a cameo in the movie singing the track.

Musical collaborations

Suggs worked with Morrissey in 1989/1990, singing backing vocals on the tracks "Piccadilly Palare" and "Sing Your Life". From early 1990 to 1992, he co-managed The Farm and co-produced their first album Spartacus which reached Number 1 in the UK Album Charts and spawned the international hit "All Together Now". He also produced their first single 'Hearts and Minds' in 1984.

He has collaborated with Jools Holland twice on his 'Small World Big Band' albums, firstly in 2001 with the song "Oranges and Lemons Again" and then with "Jack O The Green" in 2003. He also performed with Holland and his Rhythm And Blues Orchestra in 2003 for a television special where they performed two songs with veteran ska singer Prince Buster.

In July 2005, shortly after the terrorist attacks in London, Suggs and Chas Smash performed the Bob Marley song "So Much Trouble in the World" with Billy Bragg at a concert in London's Brockwell Park in aid of the victims. Also in 2005, Suggs collaborated with electronic group Audio Bullys on the track "This Road" from their Top 40 album Generation. In 2006, Suggs performed the Madness classic "My Girl" with The Ordinary Boys at the Brixton Academy which was released as a B-side on their UK hit single " Nine2five ".

In May 2008, Suggs and Madness band mate Chas Smash, joined The Pet Shop Boys on stage at a gig in London's Heaven nightclub and they performed a dance version of the Madness classic My Girl. In 2010 Suggs and Mike Barson again worked with the Audiobullys on their album 'Higher Than The Eiffel'. They appear on the tracks 'Twist Me Up' and 'Goodbye'.

Acting & Stage Work

Suggs has acted in films such as The Tall Guy and Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1998). He starred in the Channel 4 drama The Final Frame (1990), in which he played a pop star named East. He also played a pop star (called Jason Woods) in the Press Gang episode "Friends Like These" in 1990. In 1994, he appeared in the TV film Thicker Than Blood: The Larry McLinden Story. He also played the part of Joe's dad in the stage musical Our House, featuring the songs of Madness for a limited period in London's West End in 2003. Suggs appears in the 2008 romantic drama The Edge of Love starring Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller, playing the part of 'the crooner' (also credited as Al Bowlly) singing Bowlly's hit "Hang Out The Stars In Indiana".

In late 2011, Suggs began a nationwide UK tour of a new one man stage show entitled 'LIVESUGGS'. In the critically acclaimed show, Suggs shares various anecdotes from his childhood to the present day intertwined with musical numbers. The show will tour into 2012.


Suggs was a principal and original DJ on the BBC radio station BBC 6 Music when it launched in March 2002.[9] He also worked with the late Bob Monkhouse on the BBC Radio 4 musical sitcom I Think I've Got a Problem, which also starred comedian Phil Cornwell and was written by Andrew McGibbon.

He became a DJ on Virgin Radio with the show Virgin Party Classics, and was nominated for a Sony Award in 2005. In 2006, Virgin launched the Party Classics radio channel, available via digital television. The channel was hosted by Suggs, but was short-lived, being pulled just four months after it launched. He regularly features on Virgin Radio competitions where listeners can win the chance to meet him and have a drink with him. On one such occasion well-known children's book writer, Simon I. Boy chatted about pop records that Suggs was pleased he had no connection with, particularly a 1974 Decca recording entitled 'Name it, you got it' by Micky Moonshine. 2007 saw him presenting a new show on the station five days a week entitled Afternoon Tea with Suggs which ran every weekday afternoon between 14:00 - 16:00. In August 2007 the show was given an extra hour and was on every weekday 13:00 - 16:00. It was produced by Mark Bingham.[10] The promotion of the show was voiced by Brian Sewell. On 3 December he quit Virgin and Neil Francis took over his weekday afternoon slot with immediate effect. On 27 September Suggs and Madness closed down Regent Street to perform for Absolute Radio's first birthday.[11]


Suggs twice appeared with Madness on the British TV comedy show The Young Ones, firstly on the episode titled Boring in which the band performed "House of Fun". On the second series, the band performed "Our House" on the penultimate episode Sick.

Suggs has hosted a celebrity karaoke game show on the UK's TV channel Five called 'Night Fever'. He was a team captain in the BBC music trivia game show A Question of Pop, hosted by Jamie Theakston, opposite Noddy Holder. Suggs has also appeared as a guest on the BBC2 show Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

He has hosted a series of sixty minute programmes called Salvage Squad, in which a group of engineers restored rare old machinery. Some of the items restored included a steamroller, a ploughing engine called "Margaret", a Blackpool "Coronation" tram, a Scammell Mechanical Horse, a Revopak dustcart, various boats, World War II tanks, early C20 motor launches, railway locomotives and vintage cars.

In 2005 he filmed a series called Disappearing London for ITV in the London area, in which he investigates architectural and other curiosities that are vanishing. The series won three Royal Television Society awards with Suggs winning the award for 'Presenter of the Year'. A second series was filmed in 2006 for transmission in early 2007. In 2005 he filmed a similar one-off programme for the BBC entitled A Picture Of London by Suggs, which featured the newly penned song "Cracks In the Pavement". Suggs has twice been a guest presenter on the BBC's long-running chart show Top Of The Pops, once in 1995 and again in 2005.

In 2006, Suggs was the main presenter of the BBC London series Inside Out, a weekly programme for Londoners looking at surprising stories in the capital. He was part of Declan Donnelly's Boy Band on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway the same year, and performed "It Only Takes a Minute" by Take That.

In 2007, Suggs starred in a series of Birds Eye commercials which feature the Madness song Our House. A popular online game featuring Suggs was also based around the commercials.

In December 2007, he narrated a one off documentary for ITV on the London music venue The Hammersmith Palais which closed down in 2007. The programme was broadcast on BBC Four on Christmas Eve.

In February 2008, Teachers TV broadcast Suggs in a one-off 'Teaching Challenge'. The challenge required Suggs to return to his secondary school, Quintin Kynaston School in North London, and teach a music lesson to a group of GCSE students. In this lesson he was assisted by renowned vocalist Micky Moonshine, his voice coach Been Cross and his valet S. I. Boy The class performed the timeless Decca classic 'Name it, You Got it.'[12]

In 2008 he presented his own chat show titled Suggs in the City. The show, set in the Soho members club The Colony Room, aired on ITV London on Thursday nights.

In October 2008 he presented a new culture series called 'Suggs' Italian Job' which was aired on Sky Arts, following the singer around Italy's most culturally significant hot spots. Suggs owns a holiday home in the Italian countryside.

In 2009, Suggs performed with Zoë Ball in Let's Dance For Comic Relief dancing to You Can Never Tell from Pulp Fiction but was eliminated. He also appeared in an episode of Australian music quiz show, Spicks and Specks, on 15 April.


Suggs' first book, Suggs and the City: My Journeys Through Disappearing London, which is partly based on his TV series Disappearing London, was published in August 2009.

Personal life

He is married to singer Bette Bright, who was the vocalist of the 1970s British band Deaf School. They met through their connection with Clive Langer and married in 1981. They have two daughters, Scarlett and Viva.

Suggs is a patron of the charity Children in Need, and has frequently appeared on the annual television fundraiser; performing various Madness tracks with other celebrities. He has also been involved with Cancer Research UK and their 'Busking Cancer' campaign, for which he busked live with Rod Stewart on HMS Belfast in May 2009.

Suggs is a member of the 'Useless Information Society' (founded 1995) a society of journalists, writers and entertainers which focuses around useless esoteric information and has released books such as 'the Book of Useless Information'. Other members include or have included Keith Waterhouse, Richard Littlejohn, Noel Botham, Ken Stott and Brian Hitchen.

Suggs is a fan of Chelsea F.C., made apparent by the F.A. Cup song which he wrote and then performed along with the rest of the 1996/1997 Chelsea squad. He is currently recording a new album with Madness.

Solo discography

For Suggs' albums and singles with Madness, The Madness and The Fink Brothers see Madness discography.


  • The Lone Ranger UK No. 14[13] (October 1995)
  • The Three Pyramids Club (August 1998)
  • The Platinum Collection (July 2007)


Year Single Chart Position Appeared on album
1995 "I'm Only Sleeping" /
"Off on Holiday"
UK 7 The Lone Ranger
"Camden Town" UK 14
"The Tune" UK 33
1996 "Cecilia" UK 4
"No More Alcohol" UK 24
1997 "Blue Day" UK 22 non album single
1998 "I Am" UK 38 The Three Pyramids Club

Other appearances

Year Song Album
2002 "Oranges and Lemons Again" Jools Holland's Big Band Rhythm & Blues[14]


  1. [General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. Volume 32 (London, England: General Register Office), 164. The death of William Rutherford McPherson was registered in Birmingham between January and March 1975]
  2. The Scotsman
  3. Reed, John (31 Oct 2010). House of Fun:The Story of Madness, Omnibus Press.
  4. Ross, Deborah, Interview; Exile from the house of fun; Suggs, The Independent, 5 May 1997.
  5. Rebecca Smithers. Rebecca Smithers meets secondary headteacher of the year Jo Shuter | Education | The Guardian. Retrieved on 2011-12-31.
  6. Madness Central - In Print. Retrieved on 2011-12-31.
  7. Madness Central - In Print. Retrieved on 2011-12-31.
  8. "Skrewdriver Biography" Retrieved 23 July 2012
  9. Suggs page at BBC 6 Music in 2002
  10. Behind the mic: Mark Bingham. Tabor lures Park to Global Radio. The one-man band. Retrieved on 2011-12-31.
  11. [1]
  12. The Department for Education. Teachers TV. Retrieved on 2011-12-31.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums, 19th, London: Guinness World Records Limited.
  14. Jools Holland's Big Band Rhythm & Blues - Jools Holland at All Music Guide

External links

Suggs | Mike Barson | Lee Thompson | Chris Foreman | Mark Bedford | Daniel Woodgate | Chas Smash
One Step Beyond... | Absolutely | 7 | The Rise & Fall | Keep Moving | Mad Not Mad | The Madness | Wonderful | The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1
Popular songs
"One Step Beyond" | "My Girl" | "Night Boat to Cairo" | "Baggy Trousers" | "It Must Be Love" | "House of Fun" | "Our House" | "Wings of a Dove"
This page was last modified 04.08.2012 22:06:50

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