Born Julian David Cope on 21 October 1957 in Mid Glamorgan, the youngster who was born in south Wales and raised in Tamworth, Staffordshire soon made his way to the Liverpool College of Higher Education and was embarking on a musical and literary career lasting over 30 years.
In 1977 Cope combined with a line-up that would become musical royalty in Liverpool in the years to come (albeit seperately). Julian was bass guitar player for the aptly named Crucial Three with Ian McCulloch (later of Echo and the Bunnymen) and Pete Wylie (soon to form The Mighty Wah).
The Teardrop Explodes
However he achieved musical success and fame with The Teardrop Explodes as the group’s songwriter and bass player. However the group disbanded in 1982 after recording three albums and eleven singles, including the top ten hit Reward.
Cope then moved to the small village of Drayton Bassett near Tamworth with his wife Dorian Beslity working in 1983 on his first debut album release World Shut Your Mouth released in March 1984. The album was a commercial failure and this, added to the failure, of Cope’s subsequent release, Fried, released just six months later, drove Polygram’s decision to drop Cope from their Mercury subsidiary label.
Julian was snapped up by Chris Blackwell’s Island Records and released the album Saint Julian. The album was warmly received by critics and the single World Shut Your Mouth became Cope’s biggest selling solo release hitting #19 in the UK. However Cope’s next release My Nation Underground offered only one top-40 hit with Charlotte Anne and this was combined with disagreements with Island records. Cope’s next album was recorded in a single weekend but the resulting record Skellington was rejected by Island and they refused to release it.
As a result, he refused to record any more material while his existing work was sat on the shelf. Eventually the feud with Island records died down and in 1991 Peggy Suicide was released and saluted by critics who announced it as his best work so far.
The record was overtly political and Cope’s prominent role in the anti-Poll Tax riots made him a standard bearer against the establishment. The single Soldier Blue was an anti-police message featuring samples from the Tax riot but caused consternation with Island Records as the label judged it was too political and would not release it.
Julian has turned his attention to organised religion with the 1992 album Jehovahkill being seen as an attack on the church. Island Records subsequently dropped Cope causing a media outcry including an NME front cover featuring Cope with the headline ‘Endangered Species’.
Def American records, Rick Rubin’s label was Cope’s next port of call and he released 1994’s Autogedden and 1995’s 20 Mothers with the label but was later dropped when he refused to visit the US and Julian Cope’s relationship with his next label, Epic Records, have since led to him leaving the label and has never attached himself to another.
Preferring to promote his music himself Cope has continued to record and play live both by himself and with various collaborators. He has a heavy metal band called Brain Donor and another band called Queen Elizabeth.
Cope’s more recent performances include an appearance at Glastonbury in 2003 and several tours around Europe and was recently asked by Scottish band Belle and Sebastian to perform at their second Bowlie Weekender festival in December 2010.
Julian now lives in Wiltshire with his wife Dorian and their two daughters Avalon and Albany.
Julian Cope official website – www.headheritage.co.uk.