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Born in 1966, Chris Murray is a singer and songwriter from Canada. The musician first made his name in professional music-making when he performed with a ska band known as King Apparatus. Formed in 1987, the group were active throughout the 1990s from their base in London, Ontario. Murray contributed the vocals and much of the songwriting to the group's four studio albums, which included Loud Party of 1989 and Hospital Waiting Room, which came out in 1993. Heavily influenced by the so-called second wave of ska that was epitomised by British bands such as The Selector and The Specials, Murray’s style continued after the members of King Apparatus finally went their separate ways. Murray went on to forge a solo career as a ska performer, from his new home in Los Angeles. He frequently performs as a solo artist, as well as with a group of session musicians known as the Chris Murray Combo.
Chris Murray's solo work
After switching from a band setup to performing as a lone artist, Murray created an acoustic style of ska, which meant he would often accompany himself playing an acoustic guitar, providing the offbeat rhythms that the style of music is known for, while singing. Such was his early success in the United States that Murray went on to run a ska club night and live show in Hollywood. Using the Knitting Factory club as its home, Murray ran and hosted the Bluebeat Lounge from 2003 until the venue closed down six years later. He would often perform, as well as book the many ska-influenced acts that performed there.
Murray is well known on the ska circuit as a reliable solo performer who has opened shows for many of the more established bands around the world. He has performed all over Europe, Korea, Japan and South America, as well as in the United States and Canada as a support act for groups such as The Specials, Laurel Aitken and The Slackers, among others. Murray is known for taking requests from audience members for songs he will play, rather than relying on a predetermined set list.
In 2005, Murray released Slackness, an LP he had recorded over the course of the few years prior to it coming out. The 11-track work featured Murray’s vocals, with The Slackers acting as his backing band. The New York-based ska troupe provided the rhythms for a number of original songs as well as cover versions, such as “Janie Jones”, a Clash track. Murray has also made a number of other solo releases, many of them recorded on nothing more complex than a four-track tape recorder. He says that this gives his sound a distinctively lo-fi audio quality, which, to many fans, is reminiscent of the early days of Jamaican-made ska music.
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