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"Its just my first love. You know if you take music as romance, then blues was my first love you know, it?s my wife. And it?s with me all the time, and I just adore it." comments Christopher Anton Rea for his love for blues. He was born on 4 March 1951, a singer-songwriter, from Middlesbrough, England. He had an exceptionally blessed voice that could mesmerize the audience in the very first encounter.
Rea is the son of Camillo Rea, an immigrant from Italy and Winifred, of Irish descent. He is married to wife Joan, with whom he has two daughters. He used to live at Sol Mill in Cookham, Berkshire. This property also contained the Sol Mill Recording Studios where he produced some of his later albums. He also produced albums for other artists such as Sylvin Marc, and Robert Ahwai on his Jazeeblue label. The property was sold in 2006.
Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? was Rea's debut album, released in 1978. The first single lifted from the album, "Fool (if You Think It's Over)", is his biggest hit in the United States, peaking at number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching number one on the Adult Contemporary Singles chart. "Fool (if You Think It's Over)" was nominated for a "Song of the Year" Grammy, losing out to Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are". Unlike most of Rea's other singles, "Fool..." was not a great success on the UK Singles Chart, failing to chart on its first release and only reaching number thirty when re-released in late 1978 to capitalize on its U.S. success. A cover of "Fool..." by Kenny Craddock was used as the theme for BBC sitcom Joking Apart.
Rea began to focus his attention on continental Europe, releasing eight albums in the 1980s. It wasn't until 1985's Shamrock Diaries and the songs "Stainsby Girls" and "Josephine" that UK audiences began to take notice of him. On 5 July 1986 Rea played in front of 95000 people at Slane Castle, Ireland, as a supporting act of band Queen on their "Magic Tour". Follow-up albums On The Beach and Dancing With Strangers became big UK hits before the New Light Through Old Windows compilation album in 1988 brought Rea success.
Following a severe bout of pancreatitis and a predicted 50% chance of survival after an operation called a Whipple procedure, Rea promised himself that if he recovered, he would be returning to his blues roots. In an interview with the Britsound Radio Show, Rea revealed that "it?s not until you become seriously ill and you nearly die? that you suddenly stop to realize that this isn?t the way I intended it to be in the beginning. Everything that you?ve done falls away and starts wondering why you went through all that rock business stuff." So, in 2002, Rea returned to his blues roots, releasing the album Dancing Down The Stony Road following recording sessions in France and the UK.
Chris Rea released his final box-set album, "Blue Guitars" in 2005. Consisting of 11 CDs and 1 DVD (Dancing Down The Stony Road), the album is Rea's testament to blues. Each album contains self-compositions, played and performed in a specific genre of the blues. The box-set includes a book containing reproductions of colorful paintings by Rea. This album closes the final chapter of Chris Rea's solo career as he does not intend to make any further solo records. He has stated that he will continue to make records with some of his favorite players under the name "The Memphis Fireflies". Rea has sold 30 million albums worldwide.
Rea has also been an actor, playing lead in the 1999 comedy Parting Shots opposite such notables as John Cleese, Bob Hoskins and Joanna Lumley. Somewhat ironically, Rea plays a man who is told that cancer gives him six weeks to live, and decides to kill off the people who've done him wrong in life. He also had a 'walk on' role in the 1996 Film 'La Passione' for which he wrote the soundtrack music.
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