PJ Harvey (born Polly Jean Harvey, 9.10.1969)
PJ Harvey is an English singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the 1990s, gaining adulation from the alternative music press for her caustic and emotive performances.
Childhood: PJ Harvey was born and raised in Dorset, where she grew up on a small farm. She is daughter to a stonemason and a sculptor. It was her parents that introduced her to music, listening to blues and jazz, such as Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker, as well as rock music such as Captain Beefheart and Jimi Hendrix.
As she grew up, Harvey would listen to bands such as Soft Cell and Spandau Ballet, moving on to US guitar bands such as Television and The Pixies. PJ Harvey has been frequently compared to Patti Smith, though she has never claimed her as an influence.
When she was growing up, PJ Harvey learned to play saxophone and guitar, frequently contributing to bands such as The Stoned Weaklings, the Polekats and one of John Parish's early bands, Automatic Dlamini.
Musical Career: In 1991, PJ Harvey formed an eponymous 3-piece band. The other two members of the band were Rob Ellis on drums and Ian Olliver on bass (later, Olliver was replaced by Steve Vaughan), while Harvey sang and played guitar. Their debut gig resulted in them being asked to stop, as all the customers at the Antelope Hotel in Sherborne had left.
PJ Harvey's debut single, 'Dress' was released on the Too Pure label. John Peel was the guest reviewer of Melody Maker that week and made it Single of the Week.
Harvey's second single was 'Sheela Na Gig.' It was quickly followed by her debut album, Dry, in 1992. Kurt Cobain once claimed that Dry was one of his favourite albums. Rolling Stone magazine named Harvey as Best Songwriter and Best New Female Singer that year - she was still only 22 years old.
In April 1992, PJ Harvey created a stir when she appeared topless on the cover of NME.
PJ Harvey went on to sign to Island Records and quickly released another two albums. Rid Of Me was engineered by Steve Albini and was followed by some of the demo tapes made for the songs on Rid of Me, entitled simply 4-Track Demos.
When Rob Ellis, Steve Vaughan and PJ Harvey parted ways in August 1993, PJ Harvey embarked on a solo career. Her first solo album was To Bring You My Love, Released in 1995, it was produced by John Parish and Flood and sold over 1 million units. The track 'Down By the Water' became a surprise radio hit, as Harvey's previous music had never really had a radio-friendly sound to it. Harvey's performance at Glastonbury, in a pink catsuit, remains one of the most iconic performances in the festival's history.
PJ Harvey's next studio album was entitled Is This Desire? The album was a departure from her trademark guitar sound, relying more heavily on keyboards, piano and bass guitar. The album was released in 1996, to a mixed response.
In 2000, PJ Harvey released the Mercury Music Prize winning Stories From the City, Stories From The Sea. Rob Ellis was back on board for the album, which also featured Mick Harvey, a highly respected multi-instrumentalist. The album was written in Paris, Dorset and New York. The album also featured vocals from Thom Yorke, of Radiohead.
In 2004, PJ Harvey released Uh-Huh Her. Harvey produced the album herself, and played almost all of the instruments (except for the drums). Two years later, Harvey's first live performance DVD was released, entitled Please Leave Quietly. The DVD also featured behind-the-scenes footage. In October 2006, PJ Harvey's sessions on John Peel's radio program were collected together and released as The Peel Sessions 1991-2004.
Harvey's eighth studio album, White Chalk, was released in November 2006. Eric Drew Feldman, John Parish and Flood all worked on the album with her. The album was comprised mainly of piano ballads.
Early in 2009, Harvey contributed some original incidental music to a Broadway production of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, starring Mary Louise Parker.
In March 2009, PJ Harvey and John Parish released a collaborative album entitled A Woman A Man Walked By. In 1996, the pair had released Dance Hall at Louse Point together.
Side Projects and Collaborations: PJ Harvey has contributed to Josh Homme's Desert Sessions series. She also appeared on Nick Cave's Murder Ballads album, as well as Tricky's Angels With Dirty Faces.
The highly acclaimed musician will make the recording of her ninth studio album an art exhibition in central London.
Two-time Mercury Music Prize winner PJ Harvey has announced plans to make her ninth album, which include one rather eye-catching detail: she will be recording it in public.
Having turned a room at Somerset House in central London into a recording studio, the star will invite members of the public to watch her work in the studio over a four week period beginning on January 16th.
PJ Harvey is set to turn herself into an art exhibit when she records her ninth album later this month
Continue reading: PJ Harvey To Record Her New Album In Public
Other honorees include Rowan Atkinson, Clare Balding, Tony Robinson and Rob Brydon
Adele has yet another award to stick on the mantlepiece; this time the singer has been awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II as part of the royal's annual Birthday Honours List. Fellow female singer PJ Harvey has also been recognised with an MBE, with sports broadcaster Clare Balding being handed an OBE, capping off a successful honours list for women, in which 47% of the list were female.
After winning yet another arm-full of Grammys and her first ever Oscar (not to mention giving birth to her first child), Adele has had yet another remarkable year in her career, with 2012 becoming the second year in a row that the singer became the highest-selling artist for the year. Harvey meanwhile has been a darling in alternative circles for most of her career and her last album, Let England Shake, even won the singer the coveted Mercury Music Prize. Thanks to her appearance throughout the Olympics, Balding endured herself to the British public even more and after a triumphant year of British sport she has emerged as one of the main stars of the year, with her royal honour no doubt being the icing on the cake of what has been a glorious twelve months.
There were of course decorations being handed out for the men too, with Welsh comic Rob Brydon being handed a MBE for his services to entertainment. In a rather unusual turn-up for the book, Blackadder star Tony Robinson has been knighted, whilst his co-star Rowan Atkinson - who has achieved worldwide fame for his roles in various movies and for his portrayal as Mr Bean - was only given a CBE. Robinson told the press upon the news that he is to be made a sir that he is "thrilled, flattered and a little gob-smacked" to get the honour, pledging, "that from this day on I'll slaughter all unruly dragons, and rescue any damsels in distress who request my help."
Dave Grohl reveals how Harvey nearly performed with the surviving members of Nirvana
PJ Harvey very nearly collaborated with the remaining members of Nirvana, for a special one-off performance of the band’s song ‘Milk It,’ earlier this year. In an interview with NME, Dave Grohl, now the frontman of Foo Fighters, revealed that he asked the British songwriter to perform with him and Krist Novoselic because she was of Kurt Cobain’s favourite songwriters. Kurt was the singer and guitarist of Nirvana until he took his own life in 1994.
The performance in question would have taken place on February 19, Grohl revealed. He was planning for a concert with the Sound City Players and realised that Stevie Nicks and John Fogerty weren’t going to be able to make it, so started to think about alternative additions to the evening’s performance. “Someone came up with the idea of doing a Nirvana song with PJ Harvey. Kurt loved her and we love her and we thought, 'Yeah, what would we do?' I said: 'God, what if we were to do 'Milk It' from 'In Utero' with Polly singing?' We all looked at each other like, 'Woah, that would be amazing…' and then she couldn't do it!"
It’s been 19 years since Kurt’s death and the remaining members of Nirvana have never performed any of the band’s songs in public, since. “It's sacred ground,” said Grohl. If we were ever to do something like that it would have to be right because you want to pay tribute. There's a reason Foo Fighters don't do Nirvana songs, and it's a good reason." If the PJ Harvey collaboration had come off, it would have been a momentous occasion for fans of the band.
Date of birth
9th October, 1969