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English singer-songwriter Richard Ashcroft was the lead vocalist for the Verve. After the band broke up, Ashcroft started a new band, RPA & The United Nations of Sound, in 2010.
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Richard Ashcroft was born in Wigan, England, on September 11, 1971. The singer-songwriter is known as the lead vocalist and occasional guitarist for the alternative rock band the Verve. The band split up three times throughout the 1990s and 2000s, breaking up for good in 2009. Ashcroft then embarked on a solo career before starting a new band, RPA & The United Nations of Sound, in 2010.
"I believe that you can do anything. I believe you can fly and I believe in astral travel, because, if I thought I was just going to walk around this place for the next 50 years, I don't think I could exist."
"Since I was a kid, I've wanted to be in the best rock 'n' roll band in the world."
"... While the other kids played with Action Man, I was questioning life. I decided I was never going to be locked into a predictable existence. From that moment, I felt it was set in stone that when I left school, I'd be in a band and would make it."
Musician Richard Ashcroft was born in Wigan, England, on September 11, 1971. He was the only son to father Frank, an office clerk, and mother Louise, a hairdresser. He has two younger siblings, Victoria and Laura.
In 1982, when Ashcroft was 11 years old, his father suddenly died due to a brain hemorrhage. His father's passing affected him deeply, causing great emotional turmoil in the young lad. He was considered an outsider in school, and expressed himself by experimenting with different haircuts and hair colors. After his mother remarried, Ashcroft fell under the influence of his stepfather, a member of the Rosicrucian ancient secret society.
At age 13, Ashcroft knew he wanted to be a singer in a band, later stating, "Since I was a kid, I've wanted to be in the best rock 'n' roll band in the world. But I wouldn't be here now if my father hadn't died. Death makes you re-evaluate life. I was 11, and while the other kids played with Action Man, I was questioning life. I decided I was never going to be locked into a predictable existence. From that moment, I felt it was set in stone that when I left school, I'd be in a band and would make it."
Outside of school, Ashcroft was an avid football player and fan of the team Manchester United, but over time he lost interest and turned to music instead.
While a student at Upholland High School, in 1989, Ashcroft founded a band called Verve. The band included fellow classmates Simon Jones, Simon Tong and Pete Salisbury. Later, at Winstanley College, classmate Nick McCabe joined the band. The English alternative rock band eventually changed its name to "the Verve" due to a copyright infringement lawsuit by a Jazz label under the name "Verve."
The band's public debut took place in August 1990 at The Honeysuckle Pub, located outside of Wigan. With Ashcroft as lead vocalist and songwriter, Hut Records signed the band a year later. In 1992, the band released its first album, Verve EP, to positive reviews. In the meantime, the British press dubbed Ashcroft "Mad Richard" for his drug-fueled partying, egocentric confidence and quotable outbursts.
The Verve's first full-length album, A Storm in Heaven, debuted in 1993 to critical acclaim in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Fans especially praised Ashcroft's songwriting and McCabe's guitar work. The next year, the band was invited to join the alternative rock festival, Lollapalooza, where they played as the only British band. It was there that Ashcroft collapsed and convulsed due to dehydration, following an intense bout of drinking.
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In the 1990s, London's artists and cultural tastemakers embraced their British roots. Pop acts like Oasis, Elastica and the Spice Girls dominated 90's music, and reinforced British pride with symbolic use of the Union Flag—Oasis member Noel Gallagher famously used a Union Jack guitar while "Ginger Spice" Geri Halliwell wore the symbol on her trademark, flashy dress. The period was also marked by influential designers like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, whose unique designs established numerous fashion trends for the decade. Biography.com celebrates these prominent figures, and the many others who led the way for "Cool Britannia."
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