Biografie

On July 4th 1954,

the day Elvis Presley was rehearsing for his ground-breaking session at Sun Studios in Memphis, Julian Dawson came into the world in England. He grew up as one of seven brothers in London and then Kent. Nine misspent years at two Catholic boarding schools ended when he was expelled the day before his 17th. birthday. After a year spent working at various jobs he went on to study Fine Art and Printmaking at Exeter Art College.

With solo performances

and an increasingly popular ‘Art-School Band’, Julian soon realised that singing suited him much better than painting - this was confirmed when a professional band with work in the U.S. Army bases in Germany asked him to join them. With the example of the Beatles in Hamburg firmly in mind, he left England overnight to start rehearsals in Frankfurt, however it soon became clear that the army circuit offered no scope for original material, so Julian left to see what the rest of Germany had to offer.

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After a move back to England,

the next few years saw a lengthy period of gigging anywhere and everywhere with his various band line-ups. After a self-released tape came the first, overdue record release.

 

Realising

that the energy he was spending on keeping a Transit van alive would be better spent making better recordings, Julian began working at the Can Studio near Cologne on tracks which became ‘The Flood’ project with Rosko Gee (Traffic) and Jaki Liebezeit (from Can). An early 12? on Rough Trade was followed by two highly-acclaimed albums on Polydor - As Real As Disneyland and Luckiest Man In The Western World, with studio guests like Richard Thompson, PP Arnold and Toots Thielemans. Excellent reviews internationally and ‘album of the month’ status in Germany added to the growing interest in Europe.

America had always been a goal

and 1990 saw Julian’s first stateside release - the CD Live On The Radio on Watermelon Records of Austin, Texas. Regular song-writing trips to the US meant that when Julian signed with BMG/Ariola he used his newly-acquired contacts to record 1991’s Fragile As China in Nashville with Garry Tallent (E Street Band) producing and a host of stellar guests including Vince Gill, Michael Henderson, Jerry Douglas and Dr. Hook’s Dennis Locorriere.

The first single

How Can I Sleep Without You went straight into the German charts, helped by four months of high-profile touring as special guest of BAP, one of that country’s most popular bands.

With a new line-up featuring Rodney Crowell alumni Steuart Smith (now playing guitar for the Eagles!) and Vince Santoro, Julian had two highly successful European tours (preserved on the BMG live CD June Honeymoon) and was back in the studio in Nashville in the Autumn of 1992, again with Garry Tallent producing, for the follow-up album Headlines.

His regular band

was this time augmented by guests Duane Eddy, Jo-el Sonnier, Dan Penn, Bill Payne, Steve Forbert and vocal group 14 Karat Soul. On the back of the accapella single Sunday Into Saturday Night the album was released in the UK on Arista, with two further lengthy spells of touring.

BMG preserved 10 years of ‘turntable hits’ on the 1994 collection How Human Hearts Behave. The statutory extra tracks for the compilation were specially recorded in New York with producer Stewart Lerman. A stand-out ballad version of How Can I Sleep Without You as a duet with Lucinda Williams and two songs with the Roches accompanied the selection of singles, live tracks and re-mixes that made up the rest of the collection.

In Spring 1994

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Julian was ready with another batch of songs - this time to be recorded at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, New York. With the accent very much on his own fine group of players the album still featured co-writes and collaborations with Nicky Hopkins, Jules Shear and Willie Nile, whilst the Roches and Curtis Stigers contributed vocals. Travel On was released in the German territories and N. America in early 1995 and in the UK a year later.

Besides his own albums JD recorded three CDs with Plainsong - with Iain Matthews, Andy Roberts and Mark Griffiths to which all four members contributed material. Julian eventually left the group to concentrate on his own projects.

 

Summer 1996

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saw his first production job - with country legend Charlie Louvin’s The Longest Train, later re-issued as Echoes Of The Louvin Brothers. This CD included three of Julian’s songs, new versions of six Louvin Brothers classics and a great line-up of Nashville country rockers accompanying Charlie’s soulful voice.

 

The following years

saw him performing all over Europe and North America - Plainsong tours in Holland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, UK tours with Fairport Convention and Dolores Keane, three weeks of duets with the wonderful Katy Moffatt and lots of solo shows everywhere.

In 1997

Julian was back in the studio in New York City to record the almost acoustic Move Over Darling (on Fledg’ling in the UK, Compass in N. America and SPV in Germany) with long-time partner Steuart Smith and with return visits from Richard Thompson, Dan Penn and the Roches.

Two years later

the next album Under The Sun was Julian’s first to be recorded on English soil. He stepped back to the beginnings of his career and called together a band comprising two of his oldest friends in the music business, ex-Soft Boys Kimberley Rew and Andy Metcalfe. The American influence of recent years was represented by drummer/multi-talent and Nashville resident Daniel Tashian. The recording reflected Dawson’s growing passion for simplicity and soulfulness in his songwriting, sounding traditional and modern at the same time. All the musicians contributed on several instruments and everybody sang. The only guests were Julian’s two children Robyn and Holly. who harmonised on We Can’t be Together and legendary piano player and Who sideman John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick who appeared on several tracks. Dawson wrote all the songs either alone or in collaboration with Nashville friends such as Dan Penn (Amazing Disappearing Daddy), Bill Lloyd or Tom Ghent.

2001 was a milestone year

when Julian celebrated 25 years on stage with a live CD, Cologne Again Or (featuring stripped-down versions of some of his favourite songs supported again by Andy Metcalfe, Kimberley Rew and Katy Moffatt) and his busiest concert schedule for years - highlighted by appearances at the Tonder Festival in Denmark and the Newport Folk Festival in the USA.

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Summer ’01 was spent in California recording tracks for a new album with ex-Byrds legend Gene Parsons playing almost all the instruments. The resulting CD Hillbilly Zen came out in the UK, Germany and N. America in Spring 2002 supported again by lots of shows.

There followed two limited release live CDs (Songs From The Red Couch and Flood Damage) featuring duet performances with Iain Matthews to benefit flood victims in Thalgau, Austria. Working with Iain again led in turn to a surprise Plainsong re-union, a new CD Pangolins and a 2003 UK tour.

 

2004

saw the release of another studio CD entitled Bedroom Suite, a loosely themed sequence of songs that mixed Julian’s trademark guitar and vocals with a backround of programmed beats and atmospheric horn arrangements.

Julian has spent some years researching and writing a biography of piano legend Nicky Hopkins, has continued working on a long promised songbook and still found time to record a one-off concept album (a man singing women’s songs) Nothing Like A Dame, which received a Spring 2006 release on his own label and was supported by 50 shows in Europe.

In 2008

he continued his own songwriting for a new CD, returning to Nashville to work with an old friend, soul legend Dan Penn, as producer and a tremendous line-up of local musicians. The resulting album, titled Deep Rain will be released in September.

He has worked on a number of other recording projects (see Discography for details) and his songs have been recorded by artists such as Rosie Flores, Charlie Louvin, Sean Keane, and Rock Salt and Nails while Julian himself has appeared as a singer or harmonica player with Gerry Rafferty, Glenn Tilbrook, Del Amitri, Dan Penn, Iain Matthews, Benny Hill(!!), Richard Thompson and many others.

He has put his ability

to speak near fluent French and German to good use as ‘master of ceremonies’ at a number of Beatles events, interviewing some fascinating guests including Cynthia Lennon, Astrid Kircherr, Pete Best, Spencer Davis and Beatles scholar Mark Lewisohn.

With steady radio airplay, a growing, highly appreciative audience in many countries, videos on rotation on the CMT Country Music channel, reviews in Q Magazine, Rolling Stone and the folk and country music press, Julian Dawson continues to chart a cheerfully eclectic course through the contemporary music scene. What spare time he has is spent with his family, collecting vinyl rarities, listening to music, walking, writing and simply enjoying life.

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