Murray Head with his daughter Sophie
Murray Head was born on the 5th of March 1946 in London. His father, Seafield Head, now retired, was a documentary film writer, director and producer, his mother, Helen Shingler, was a successful actress. He was sent to the Lycée français in London at the age of 4 and remained there till he was 10 years old.
After signing his first record deal at 17 with EMI, Murray began his film carreer in 1965 in Roy Boulting's "The Family Way" playing the role of Hywell Bennett’s brother. The film also starred Hayley Mills. After a film with Brigitte Bardot and "Romeo & Juliette" in 1968, he was in "Hair" at the same time as recording the role of Judas in "Jesus Christ Superstar". He left Hair to film John Schlesinger’s "Sunday Bloody Sunday" with Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson.
In 1972 he was signed by John Hammond Snr to CBS records and made his first solo album entitled "Nigel Lived" which at the time was called a concept album. Immediately after its release he went to France to be filmed in Edouard Molinaro's "La Mandarine" with Annie Girardot and Philippe Noiret.
In 1975 producer Paul Samwell-Smith (ex-yardbirds & Cat Stevens' producer) made a record of Murray's songs for Islands Records. The album "Say it ain't so" became a cult album in France, and by now has sold over a million copies.
Throughout the late seventies and the eighties Murray concentrated on making records, namely "Between Us" (1979), "Voices" (1981), "Shade" (1983), "Restless" (1984) and "Sooner or Later" (1987), all of which have "gone gold". He followed these up by touring with his band around europe with increasingly elaborate shows. It was at one such a show in the Dominion in London that Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaes of ABBA saw Murray and asked him to perform in their forthcoming musical "Chess" that they were recording in Polar studios in Sweden. This led to the single "One night in Bangkok" which was no.1 in 12 countries, and got to no.3 in America. He played the lead role of Freddie Trumper for 9 months on stage with Elaine Page.
His performance in "Chess" led to him being offered a role in Michael Radford’s "White Mischief". Shortly afterwards Charlotte Brandstrom asked him to play a leading role in her film "Un été d’orages" as well as composing the filmscore. This was based on the music he had written for 3 other french films, namely "Cocktail Molotov", "A gauche en sortant de l'ascenseur" and "Pour 100 briques t'as plus rien". He finished off the eighties with a lead in another french film called "La Barbare".
In the nineties he started writing new songs and made his first album in 6 years called "Wave". As usual he followed this up with a tour. He took the record to Canada, did some remixes, and added 2 tracks with french lyrics"Comme Des Enfants Qui Jouent" et "Une Femme, un Homme" written by Luc Plamondon (Starmania, Tycoon, Notre Dame de Paris) and renamed the album "Innocence". These gave him two no.1's and he went on to play the lead in a Canadian film by Yves Dion " Le Grand Serpent du Monde".
In 1994, he started work on new songs for his 9th album "Pipe Dreams". His record company at the time put out a compilation of greatest hits first, to be followed by "Pipe Dreams" a year later. The album was a mixture of roots' songs, celtic and blues.
In 1996 the day after mastering the album, Murray went off to play an english lord in Mollinaro’s film, "Beaumarchais l’Insolent".
In 1997, a french director friend of Murray's, Diane Kurys, approached him to share the writing of a film script about the lives and love story of two of France's most famous romantic writers, George Sand et Alfred de Musset. This took two solid years of research, a lot of writing, and an English adaptation, which was needed to sell the movie. Juliette Binoche agreed to play the role of Sand, and Benoit Magimel played Musset. The film was called " Les enfants du siècle" and came out in 1999.
From the year 2000 onwards Murray focused his attentions on his home market, by concentrating on television roles : "The Knock", "Casualty" and a series called "North Square" in 2001, a series called "Asbestos" in Canada followed immediately after by another series in 200½002 called "Music Hall". In 2003 he returned to Canada to shoot "Music Hall 2" and back to England to be in " The Vice". In 2004 he guested in "Rosemary and Thyme", "The Bill" and "D-Day, the longest day". In 2005 he was a Royal Navy captain in "Slave Trader".
In April 2005 he was cast in the role of Jack Hollins art teacher and landscape painter in the nostalgic drama series Heartbeat. Set in the sixties, it revolves around life in a police station, in the village of Aidensfield, nestling in the Yorkshire moors, Gina, the barmaid in the Aidensfield Arms, has decided to broaden her horizons by going to art classes. Initially Jack her art tutor gives her a hard time, questioning her level of commitment and explaining how art should be a passion and not a pastime. She walks out, but he comes to her pub and persuades her to return to the class, They soon become "an item" and throughout the year (26 episodes) they are seen together as a couple.
Quite often after filming in Goathland village (Aidensfield) the actors and crew would end up having a sing-song in one of the local pubs. Murray found himself singing old sixties songs beside Tricia Penrose (Gina). Charmed by her voice he suggested that they record a duet. Tricia gracefully accepted, and the result, which echoes their somewhat fragile relationship is a re-recording of "Will you still love me tomorrow?" by Carole King & Gerry Goffin. This has led to the song being used in an episode, and a single being released in June by EMI, to be followed by an album called "Emotions", a collection of hits and self-penned songs.
In 2008 French Television who had bought the English series ‘New Tricks’ asked Murray to sing in French a new song over the opening titles. They re-named the series “Un flick toujours” and the song was called “Rien est ecrit”. The producer liked the song enough to suggest that Murray record an album of French songs with the same title as the song which means “Nothing is written in stone”. While he was recording and promoting this album he managed to take on leading roles in a French comedy film “No Passaran” and a period telefilm called “Revivre” about Morrocan Jews returning to the then Palestine in 1947. He also toured a fair amount with his band, either as a five piece or a trio.
2010 saw the release of a double live album “Collection Live” recorded during the previous year’s touring. In parallel he compiled a “Scrapbook” encompassing the two live CDs plus a third with blues and other songs recorded with the trio. To this he added a fourth disc, a DVD compilation of 3hrs of live footage taken from concerts in the seventies up to the present day. This booklet was sold as a limited edition and was meant purely for his most ardent of fans.
During 2010 and 2011, he played differing roles in various BBC television series, “Casualty”, “Holby City”, and “Doctors” and a murdering University proffesor in ITV’s “Vera”. At the same time Editions Fetjaine with the La Martiniere publishing group asked Murray for an autobiography, giving him 5months to complete. This was accomplished and was released at the end of May 2011, under the title “Autobiography en passant”. One of the by-products of going back over his past in detail was the realisation that a whole bunch of old songs (by other people) acted as signposts and flags for different eras in his life. At the end of 2011 he decided to take on the challenge of celebrating these songs by recording his versions with his musician friends, paying homage to their authors, and building a fresh repertoire for 2013 when he will be playing at the Paris Olympia among other concerts before an oncoming tour in the Autumn.