Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


FELIX, Julie

(b June '41, Santa Barbara CA) Singer/ songwriter, guitarist; better known in Britain than in her homeland. In the mid-'60s there was British phenomenon that might have been called "television folk' and Julie Felix was its best example, a sort of televisual Joan Baez. Felix studied drama and speech in California but found she could make money singing on the beach or at local haunts; she saved enough to get to Europe '62; From Greek islands she gravitated to Ibiza and then to Munich, then made her way to England '64, when the British folk scene was on hormone alert. She secured a contract with Decca recording Julie Felix that year and Second Album the next. Changes followed on Fontana '66; on this album she was backed by John Renbourn and on one track, "Geordie' by Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick. She was a familiar figure on prime time television singing folk songs or topical songs such as "`We're All Going To The Zoo Tomorrow', songs as familiar as nursery rhymes to children who grew up in that era. In '67 with Georgie Fame and others she was part of Brian Epstein's package show at London's Saville Theatre. As the Melody Maker said in its review that January: "The only thing against Epstein establishing a West End pop theatre seems to be West End audiences.' It flopped. In March Felix recorded Frost Over England, with presenter and journalist David Frost; it was BBC TV's entry for the Montreux and won the top prize. Her media profile was extraordinarily high; she made regular appearances on radio (Saturday Club) and television (e.g. Anglia TV's About Anglia). Songs From The Frost Programme, a transparent cash-in EP - and none the worse for that - in the wake of Frost's winning ways, and Colours, both on Fontana, helped raised her profile still more. Her Julie Felix Show gave her a unique showcase, prime time slots to guests as diverse as Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick, the Bee Gees, Spike Milligan and Tom Paxton. The World of Julie Felix on Decca '69, in a series of compilations, incl. tracks such as Tom Paxton's "Going To The Zoo', "Guantanamara' (a Cuban song that had been an international hit for a male trio called the Sandpipers in the mid '60s and an international conspiracy as far as royalty payments to its author was concerned), Woody Guthrie's "Plane Crash At Los Gatos' and Dylan's "Masters of War'. She signed to Mickie Most's RAK label in early '70 and had some chart success with a cover of Paul Simon's "If I Could (El Condor Pasa)' and "Heaven Is Here' written by Tony Wilson and Errol Wilson from Hot Chocolate. A succession of albums for RAK, EMI, RCA and Scranta Grammofon followed over the next decade. She worked with Marianne Segal in early '90s as a duo. Although her repertoire had grown with the years and she was singing feminist, politically conscious material, her past continued to haunt her. Retreads have always been a record company fixation; typical was the double-CD El Condor Pasa on Start Entertainments '95, reissuing two Swedish albums from '80 and '82 by Scranta Grammofon, predictably incl. "Blowing In The Wind', Don McLean's "Vincent', "Going To The Zoo' and "Scarborough Fair' alongside her own songs such as "Where You Are', "I Miss You' and "My Preservation Kit'. Some dismiss her as an entertainer who sang folk, but she gave a platform to folk on TV and introduced a wider audience to singer/ songwriters and soft protest, while her subsequent work gracefully moved towards social concerns and women's rights.