Prior to starting her music career in 1972, Joan Armatrading was originally born on December 9, 1950, within the St. Kitts community, Basseterre. At the time, it was a British colony known as Saint Christopher and Nevis. However, while Joan was still just a toddler, her parents and her two older brothers moved to Birmingham, England. Instead of accompanying them, she was sent to live with her grandmother in Antigua until she was seven years old. The rest of Joan’s childhood did have her live with the rest of her family in suburbian Birmingham. At the age of fifteen, she dropped out of school and took up a job so she could help support them as they struggled. That first job didn’t last very long as her employer didn’t appreciate the young Joan Armatrading’s guitaring whenever she was on break.
Let the Music Play
When Joan Armatrading was sixteen years old, she performed at a university concert for her brother to perform Simon & Garfunkel’s classic “The Sound of Silence.” This, along with playing at a variety of local clubs, served as a roadmap that would have Armatrading release her debut album, “Whatever’s for Us,” in 1972. From that point forward, the star material quality the label, Cube Records, saw in Armatrading began to shine bright enough to earn her global recognition as an award-winning talent. While she was nominated without any wins with the Grammy Awards, she did win the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection in 1996 for her album, “What’s Inside.” She was also given the Ivor’s Academy Gold Badge Award in 2011 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 by the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Joan Armatrading’s discography features twenty studio albums, thirteen compilation albums, four live albums, two extended plays (EPs), two box sets, and fifty-seven singles.
Top 10 Joan Armatrading Songs
#10 – No Love
On the UK Singles Chart, “No Love” peaked at number fifty in 1982. It was the fourth out of five singles released from the album, “Walk Under Ladders,” and the second that would realize charting success. The album was released in September 1981 and had since become certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
#9 – Wrapped Around Her
In 1992, the single, “Wrapped Around Her,” would be charted at number fifty-six on the UK Singles Chart. Armatrading’s thirteenth studio album, “Square the Circle,” was the final she’d record through the label, A&M Records after enjoying a twenty-year run with them before signing up with RCA Records.
#8 – Temptation
The first of two singles that would realize chart success for Joan Armatrading in 1985 was “Temptation,” which comes from the album, “Secret Secrets.” On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked at number sixty-five while on Australia’s Kent Music Report at number seventy-two. As a whole, the album was commercially successful for Armatrading where the organizers from Live Aid did ask her to perform for its big benefit concert in 1985. However, due to booking issues, Armatrading was unable to showcase her talent before the worldwide audience. The album itself became certified Silver by the BPI for having over 60,000 copies sold.
#7 – (I Love it When You) Call Me Names
Coming from the BPI Gold Certified album, “The Key,” “(I Love it When You) Call Me Names” became the second of two chart-hitting singles after it was released in 1981. On Australia’s Kent Music Report, the song reached number twenty while on the Official New Zealand Music Chart at number forty-three.
#6 – I’m Lucky
From the seventh studio album, “Walking Under Ladders,” the single, “I’m Lucky,” peaked at number forty-eight on the UK Singles Chart in 1981. It also appeared at number forty-six on the Netherlands’ Dutch GfK Chart at number forty-two, as well as on Australia’s Kent Music Report at number seventy-seven.
#5 – Love and Affection
“Love and Affection,” which comes from her third studio album, “Joan Armatrading,” would be marked as her first official hit that would realize chart success. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked at number ten while on the Irish Recording Music Association’s chart at number sixteen. Singing in the background, American actor and singer, Clarke Peters, who added a honeyed baritone flair to one of Armatrading’s best-known singles. This self-named album was also the first of five studio albums that would earn Gold certification from the BPI.
#4 – Kind Words (And a Real Good Heart)
Of the four singles that came from the 1986 BPI certified Silver album, “Sleight of Hand,” “Kind Words (And a Real Good Heart)” was the first and only track to become classified as a chart-hitting success. For the second time in Armatrading’s career, Kind Words would be charted on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock as it peaked at number thirty-seven. On the UK Singles Chart, the song charted at number eighty-one. This song would also be the first of two times Canada’s RPM would chart her music as it appeared at number ninety-seven.
#3 – Rosie
Coming from the 1979 EP, “How Cruel,” the single, “Rosie,” was the first time Joan Armatrading realized a multi-chart hit as it peaked at its highest on the Dutch Charts of the Netherlands at number nineteen. It also appeared on Belgium’s Ultratop chart at number twenty-seven, at number thirty-three on New Zealand’s Official Singles Chart, at number forty-nine on the UK Singles Chart, and at number fifty-two on Australia’s Kent Music Report. The EP, How Cruel, was released in the US, but not in the UK. In 1981, the EP was nominated for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance by the Grammy Awards, but the win went to Pat Benatar for “Crimes of Passion” instead.
#2 – Me Myself I
Sharing the same name as album and single, 1980’s “Me Myself I” became the second song for Joan Armatrading that appeared on more than one music chart. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked at number twenty-one, and on Australia’s Kent Music Report at number twenty-four. On the Irish Singles Chart and on the Springbok chart in South Africa, they both ranked the song at number thirteen. In New Zealand, the song peaked at number fourteen and in the Netherlands, at number thirty-eight. This album also became certified Gold by the BPI for having over 100,000 copies sold.
#1 – Drop the Pilot
“Drop the Pilot” was the first single released from her 1983 album, “The Key,” which became the third time Armatrading would realize a top forty hit within the UK. It peaked on the UK Singles Chart at number eleven. On South Africa’s Springbok Radio chart, it reached number one. Australia and New Zealand had the song peaked at number six on their charts while the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart at number thirty-three. On the US Billboard Hot 100, Drop the Pilot appeared at number seventy-eight, which was the first and only time a song from her discography would appear on this chart.
Top 10 Joan Armatrading Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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