Chris Rea

English singer and guitarist

Christopher Anton Rea (born 4 March 1951) is an English singer-songwriter, guitarist and record producer.

Chris Rea, Concert at Sala Kongresowa, Warsaw, Poland on February 5, 2012 during Santo Spirito Tour




  • On media consideration to be a reluctant rock star: I'm not a reluctant rock star, I am not one at all. I haven't an ounce of rock star in me. [...] What I despise about the rock star lifestyle is the lack of music in it. The average day is spent travelling to hotels, giving interviews, being nice to people you're told to be nice to, and maybe if you're lucky you might squeeze a bit of music in. The musician's day is music. [...] I am in that unique little club, where I went into music because I love music, not because I wanted to be rich and famous. I've always knocked on the door of the musicians' room, not the rock stars' room. The British press refuses to see the difference between them, mainly because of the capers of people like Phil Collins, a musician who behaves like a rock star. But there are people who love music and have no interest in being a rock star at all.


  • On working at La Passione (1996): Day one, the damage was done. All it was meant to be was one hour of a little boy’s dreams. And I had things I wanted to do with the guitar that hadn’t been done before. Like, there’s one number called "Olive Oil", where I was actually playing slide guitar in the same scale as a saxophone. [...] But then in came millions of executives from America. So in the end, it fell flat on its arse. And it came out the same week that Britpop took off. Blair had just won the election. Oasis. Spice Girls. So something a bit Fellini-ish – about a little boy who loved red cars – went straight over the top. It was like, ‘Well, don’t you have a 335 guitar with a Union Jack on it?’
  • On Charley Patton's voice and music style: I heard this fella, and his voice sounded like my voice. I’d always thought, ‘Well, I could never be a singer with this horrible voice’. I hated it. Absolutely hated it. Still do. But he sounded like the same kind of thing. I didn’t know black American terms: a boll weevil or turnpike blues. But there was an emotion that clicked with me. I became fascinated with gospel blues. I still play more gospel than Chicago. I very rarely go anywhere near that speed, aggression, Clapton thing. Someone once reviewed me, saying the testosterone was missing from my blues solos, because I don’t do Chicago. It’s just alien to me.
  • On blues in the music industry: You say that word ‘blues’ to anybody in the business – and they fucking run a mile. It’s unbelievable. I had a lot of trouble with Road To Hell. We’d actually recorded the next album – Auberge – before, as an agreement with Warner Brothers. So if Road To Hell didn’t work – and they said it won’t – we would jump straight away to Auberge and forget about it. Of course, the beginning to Road To Hell is a gospel-blues thing. Warner Brothers went, ‘This is going to be over in five minutes’. But I did stand me ground, and it went No.1.
  • On modern blues: Me and the modern blues scene, we have difficulty getting on. I sometimes get the feeling that it’s all sixth-form college: ‘Oh, you shouldn’t do that.’ A lot of modern blues is academic. It’s what someone else did. But the blues is one of the biggest examples of evolution. It’s in constant change. You can’t document it and say ‘stop’. It should be free. [...] And has become some kind of technical thing. I’m fed up now of seeing, ‘Oh, this guitarist is faster than that guitarist’ – that’s got nothing to do with the fucking blues. Then you get guys who come along like Allman’s nephew (Derek Trucks): now that’s good. Fuck me. That’s what blues should be: something you haven’t heard before. The other stuff can get a bit like... you know when you fart in the bath? These scales get so fucking fast. Musically, emotionally, it ceases to do anything.
  • On his refusal of a set for MTV Unplugged: It’s one of the biggest career mistakes I’ve ever made. I’d be so much more wealthy, because of America. I was offered one of the first ones. But I saw Eric Clapton on it, and it reminded me of Pebble Mill At One. I thought, ‘Oh my God, I don’t want anything to do with this’. Because he’s like God to me. [...] So I turned it down. I should have had an older brother who said, ‘Fucking do it’.
  • On his first Ferrari: Yeah. It was instant disappointment. (Pink Floyd drummer) Nick Mason said to me once, ‘Chris, do yourself a favour. Stop trying to make excuses about all this. You’re a sad bastard. It could have been heroin. But it’s red cars.’ And he was right. There was nowhere to drive the fucking thing. Y’know, you put it in your garage. You didn’t want anyone to know you had it. Then you take it out, and you couldn’t find anywhere you could do more than 40 miles an hour. I’m a competent driver. I’ve raced at Monza. But it’s a terrible thing. Blues guitar and motor racing bring out real testosterone in some guys.
  • On his neglect of being a rock star: There’s a certain discipline about being a rock star, and I don’t have it. If I was a rock star, I wouldn’t have let a photographer in here, dressed like this. I’d have been down the hairdressers. You try and get Sting to do something without 15 advisors. These boys are like Russian princes...
  • On the disappearance of "rock star" hysteria surrounding him: I took it rather better than some of them I could tell you about, who had nervous breakdowns because they’re not the king any more. I found fame really annoying. Anything to do with ‘celebrity’, I just don’t get.
  • On the rock stars: Rock stars don’t talk to each other. They’re too important to talk to another one. They’ve all got their own little palace, their own universe, of which they are the head. So how can they possibly go to somebody else’s universe? They can’t handle it. I will one day write the book that shows just how massive some of these egos are. Because I was a slow success, I was meeting people socially whose records I had at home, who were now talking to me on a what-strings-do-you-use level. And very few of them have not disappointed. [Pink Floyd’s] Dave Gilmour is the only one that [hasn’t disappointed]. That paints everyone else as a cunt. Which they are. But Gilmour is fabulous.


  • On the artist, Charley Patton, who changed him: What happened was I was going out on a Saturday night, so I went into my mam’s bedroom, she’s got a double mirror, really kitsch 50s. So I’m in there, doing that, and she’s got an old alarm clock where the radio comes on, but she never learned how to do it properly. And it came on. [...] I remember it was ten past three in the afternoon and it was winter, it was getting dark, and it was when the BBC had just started doing Telstar live things from America. It was some station in Memphis - one of those classic names, ‘RK 51’ or whatever. [...] On it came and there’s this record. The satellite thing was a bit cloudy and it was a 78 record and there was compression on the radio, so it was this strange kind of musical blur with this voice coming through: Charley Patton. [...] On that night I told the bass player of one of the local bands that I’d heard this record and it sounded weird, it sounded like a violin. He said, ‘No, it’s not a violin, it’s a slide guitar.’ I thought, ‘What’s one of them?’
  • On the change of the original version of La Passione (1996) by Warner Vision: ...they thought it was a great idea and we started - and more and more people were turning up and I didn’t know who the fuck they were. ‘Oh, that’s Arty somebody, he’s from Warner Vision, he’s flown over from…’ and they’re all yapping away and none of them could get their heads round the idea that it wasn’t meant to be a story. [...] Anyway, egos went all over the place and I lost complete control of it and what I intended it to be hardly went in to the terrible, boring film. And the other thing that really hurt was I did three tracks - which sadly we lost - where, if something mischievous happened, the original idea was to bring in the slide guitar that would start playing a Count Basie routine. All that never happened, it was a shame. [...] They didn’t understand at all, especially the Americans, I mean… I got permission at Ferrari to have their place for a day and there was no film stock left - and I think that sums up the project.
  • On his experience with streaming, illegal downloading: Every Christmas we got a nice little present off God, you know, with sales of The Best Of… and since it’s gone in to YouTube the shortfall is over 90 per cent because people don’t need to buy the record. They would but you’re offering them Driving Home For Christmas for 32p. [...] You see, I’m lucky - we did very well. I feel sorry for the young Chris Reas who aren’t pop stars but love music, but they don’t have anywhere to go with the music, you know? I mean Derek Trucks, it’s just criminal what’s happened to his potential sales because of what’s happened to the business.

Song lyrics

  • Fool if you think it's over
    'Cause you said goodbye
    Fool if you think it's over
    I'll tell you why
    New born eyes always cry with pain
    At the first look at the mornin' sun
    Fool if you think it's over
    It's just begun
  • There's rain on my window
    But I'm thinking of you
    Tears on my pillow
    But I will come through
    I'll send you all my love
    And every single step, I'll take
    I'll take for you
  • Driving in my car
    I'm driving home for Christmas
    With a thousand memories
    I take look at the driver next to me
    He's just the same
    Just the same
  • Look out world take a good look
    What comes down here
    You must learn this lesson fast
    And learn it well
    This ain't no upwardly mobile freeway
    Oh no, this is the road to Hell
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