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MusicNotes


Hal Leonard


Biography

One of the most acclaimed singer-songwriters of the modern rock era, Elvis Costello has written classics like “Alison,” “Watching the Detectives,” “Pump It Up” and “Veronica,” and has been covered hundreds of times by the varied likes of Linda Ronstadt, George Jones, Chet Baker, Bette Midler, Johnny Cash, Rod Steward, Rosanne Cash, Ute Lemper, Nick Lowe and Carlene Carter.


While he’s written most of his songs by himself, he has also collaborated with some of the greatest pop music songwriters of his time, including Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney and Allen Toussaint—all of whom he has recorded with. He has also recorded album projects with jazz pianist Marian McParland and The Roots band, and has sung with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Daryl Hall, Annie Lennox, Tony Bennett, George Jones, Roy Orbison, Billie Joe Armstrong and his wife Diana Krall. Additionally, he has appeared on such special projects as Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes—an album of new music set to lyrics by Bob Dylan—and Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a musical theater collaboration between John Mellencamp and Stephen King.


Born Declan Patrick MacManus in London on August 25, 1954, Costello honed his songwriting and performing skills in London’s pub rock scene of the early 1970s. He burst into major recognition on both sides of the Atlantic at in 1977 with the release of his debut album My Aim is True at the height of England’s New Wave movement, supporting it via thrilling performances with his band The Attractions. His first three albums have all placed on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and he’s been writing full throttle ever since—with rock being only one of the many genres he has conquered: He’s written and recorded country songs, and composed and performed classical music with British string ensemble the Brodsky Quartet and Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter--as well as a ballet based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Italian dance troupe Aterballeto and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.


Costello’s musical success has brought him opportunities in television and film. He filled in as host in 2003 on Late Show with David Letterman when Letterman was recovering from an eye infection, and from 2008 began a two-season stint as host of a music/interview series entitled Spectacle. He has appeared on TV episodes of shows including The Simpsons, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Frasier, Two and a Half Men and The Larry Sanders Show, as well as the movies 200 Cigarettes, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Spice World and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.


He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 along with The Attractions, and was nominated for a 2004 Academy Award for the song “Scarlet Tide” from Cold Mountain, which he co-wrote with T-Bone Burnett. In 2015 he published an acclaimed memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink.