Elgar, Led Zeppelin, Harry Styles – the story of Worcestershire’s musical heritage
The composer Edwin Elgar is one of Worcestershire’s most famous sons.
Born in a cottage in Broadheath in 1857, his name remains synonymous with British patriotism, having written the music for ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.
But he is not the only musician whose origins can be traced to the county.
Dig a little deeper, and it becomes clear Worcestershire has a rich musical heritage, having produced a wide range of musical talent over the years.
Here are some of the other famous names with links to the region:
The legendary rock groupLed Zeppelinwere formed in London in 1968 – but their roots are in the Midlands. John Bonham was born in Redditch and is regarded as one of the most influential drummers in history.
He started out playing in Birmingham bands before eventually teaming up with lead singer Robert Plant in the Kidderminster outfit Crawling King Snakes. According to legend, Bonham watched the band playing at the Old Hill Plaza and approached Plant afterwards saying ‘You’re not a bad singer, but the group needs another drummer’ and put himself forward.
Sadly, Bonham died in 1980 aged just 32.
In 2017, a blue plaque in his honour was unveiled by his sister Deborah Bonham outside their childhood home in Headless Cross.
Zeppelin sold more than 200million albums and are regarded as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Duran Duran performing at the NEC Arena, 24th December 1988
Founder members John Taylor and Nick Rhodes are yet more musicians to have hailed from the Redditch area.
The pair both grew up in Hollywood village and formed arguably the biggest pop band of the 1980s when they recruited singer Simon Le Bon.
As teenagers, John and Nick would take the bus from their sleepy housing estate in the countryside into Birmingham for gigs in the city centre.
Duran Duran achieved global success with hits such as ‘Rio’, ‘Ordinary World’ and ‘Girls on Film’.
The band haven’t forgotten where they came from though, in 2018 posted a picture on Instagram from Simon Road where he grew up.
And in 2012 he was guest of honour at The Abbey High School (now Trinity High School) for the opening of a new music suite.
Michael Ball and Alfie Boe.
The singer, actor and broadcaster remains one of the nations’ favourite talents.
Although he generally regards himself as Welsh due to his mother’s nationality, Michael, 57, was born in Bromsgrove.
In fact, his family achieved a lot for the Midlands.
His father Tony worked at the car plant in Longbridge and played a pivotal role in the development of the Mini.
They later moved to the south-west where Michael went to boarding school in Plymouth.
Michael went on to become a household name for his performances in the West End in theatre shows including ‘Les Misérables’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.
Cheryl and singer Cher Lloyd on the X-Factor
(Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire)
The singer-songwriter grew up in Malvern and went to The Chase school and later Dyson Perrins Church of England Sports College.
Cher was just a teenager when she finished fourth in the seventh series of the TV talent show X-Factor in 2010, and was subsequently signed up by Simon Cowell’s record label Syco.
She has since gone on to release two albums and a number of singles including her debut ‘Swagger Jagger’ that hit number one in the UK charts.
Cher’s family including mum Dinah and dad Darren still live in Malvern and the singer has said in the past they have no plans to leave.
“I reckon my mum and dad will never leave Malvern,” she said back in 2011.
“They are in the same council house, nothing has changed.”
Sadly, Cher, 26, revealed last week her father is ‘seriously unwell’ in hospital.
The singer and actor was born at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
His mum Anne Cox and dad Des Styles were living in Evesham at the time, although they later moved to Holmes Chapel in Cheshire.
Styles, 26, has gone on to become one of the most famous pop stars in the world.
He also appeared in the seventh series of X-Factor where the group One Direction was formed from singers who failed to get through the ‘bootcamp’ phase of the competition.
They were later signed by Simon Cowell on a record deal said to be worth £2million.
Their album ‘Up All Night’ was the first debut from a UK group to become number one in the US charts.
Styles has since forged a successful career as a solo artist with his second album ‘Fine Line’ breaking records for its sales in America.
He also made his first appearance in a feature film with a part in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’.