Chris Birkett did not have a safe home growing up in England so he found himself on the streets. “I made my first guitar with a box and added some strings when I was eight” Says Chris,” I have always been quite handy and quick to think on my feet.”

Learning to play the guitar and jamming at local clubs at the age of fourteen, gave Chris a solid reputation as a great musician. It also helped him to eat. Birkett landed a night job pumping gas.  It was a decision that changed his life.

“This van pulls in.” explains Chris. “One of the guys asked if I was Chris and they needed a guitar player to go on tour. They were leaving in two hours. So I hopped in the van.”

Chris Birkett

Chris has produced performers such as Quincy Jones, Steve Earle, The Talking Heads and the late Sinead O’Connor

That decision led to Chris playing with people such as Rufus Thomas, Ann Peebles and King Floyd. It led to Chris joining the band Love Affair along with their hit Everlasting Love. The next band was Omaha Sherif who were signed to Tony Visconti‘s label.

“In those days, English bands under contract were sent to France to save taxes. Led Zeppelin was on the same label. They put us in a hotel that had a club. Every night we jammed and one night – Zeppelin were sitting at a table. I invited them on stage and I jammed with Zeppelin for the next three weeks”

Birkett decided to go into producing. Tony Visconti (David Bowie) took Chris under his wing. Sinead O’Connor called. “I picked Sinead up; she placed a cassette in the car player. Prince’s song Nothing Compares 2 U played and Sinead said she wanted to record it. I told her it was not a good idea, but she was persistent. We went into the studio and I changed the feeling and Sinead sang. The version everyone knows was done in one vocal take. I duplicated her vocals and added them as a background.”

The song hit the charts but within a week – it fell quickly. Sinead did the video. “Sinead’s Grandmother had passed away. When she sang and those tears came down her face – they were authentic. That video shot the song to the top of the charts.”

Chris BirkettHave the Song Of The Year at the Grammys gave Chris instant credibility. The Talking Heads, The Pogues, Steve Earle and Quincy Jones were knocking on Chris’ door for hm to produce their records. It was Buffy Sainte –Marie with whom Chris connected the most. Twenty years and three JUNO Awards later – the relationship is stronger than ever.

Birkett has always written his own songs. Thirty years are being unleashed. “I realized money and fame were not human’. I write songs with an ear to society. Tweet Me Right tackles the pandemic of phone use. Wake Up is trying to educate people of the gap taking place between the rich and the middle class.” His song Everyone Needs a Home – won a community award in Toronto. ”Affordable housing is a real problem. People have jobs and are living on the street. If someone learns to play the guitar – they won’t be able to afford a home like I did. “

Chris Birkett will be in performing August 11 at The Blvd in Chateauguay 5-8pm; August 12 at The Wheel Club with opening act Montreal band Old Soul 8pm; August 17; for a producing workshop at Kosa Music 7pm; August 18 at Texas Tavern in Brockville 8pm; August 19 3-5 pm at Giggz Music in the Eastern Townships and at 9pm at Chateau du Lac in Hudson, with opening act Tatum Quinn from Montreal.

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