Skip to main content

Julie Felix - An Obituary

Julie Felix – Singer

Born, June 14, 1938; died, March 22, 2020

Julie Felix, who has died aged 81, was once described as Britain’s first lady of folk. This was despite the fact that Felix was an American who had played in Los Angeles coffee bars and hit the hippy trail before landing in swinging London. It was in England, however, where Felix’s career blossomed, moving through the burgeoning folk club scene to a record contract with Decca, then into the mainstream as a regular on David Frost’s TV satire show, The Frost Report, and on her own show, Once More with Felix.

The latter first appeared on BBC 2 in 1967, and was the first TV series to be broadcast in colour. Running until 1969, the show was also notable for its run of guests, who included Dusty Springfield, Donovan, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Spike Milligan and Leonard Cohen. Felix had met Cohen while back-packing around Europe, and on the programme duetted on his song, Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, which she recorded as a single. Felix went on to play the Isle of Wight Festival in 1969, sharing a bill with Bob Dylan, whose songs she frequently covered.

Despite her mainstream high profile in the ‘60s, Felix didn’t have a hit single until 1970, with If I Could (El Condor Pasa). For generations of school-children she will forever be known for her version of Tom Paxton’s song, Going to the Zoo, on an album of children’s songs. This was despite her record company cultivated innocent image being shattered somewhat for being arrested for marijuana possession in 1968. She was defended in court by novelist John Mortimer QC.

Having taken time out from music at various points over the last fifty years, Felix was latterly taken up by a new generation looking to more organic sounds, and identifying with the sense of social justice that fired her new work.    

Julie Ann Felix was born in Santa Barbara, California to Lorenzo Felix, a mariachi musician of Mexican origin, and Doris Felix (nee Roderhaver), of Native American and Welsh descent. Felix grew up surrounded by music, with her mother introducing her to the work of Burl Ives, while her father taught her to play guitar. She attended Westchester high school in Los Angeles, then went to the University of California, where she graduated in speech and drama.

Catching the beatnik zeitgeist, Felix played and sang in California coffee houses before travelling to Europe with her father’s guitar in tow. She met Cohen on the Greek island of Hydra, where he wrote poetry and novels prior to moving into song. Felix didn’t hang around for long, and arrived in London in 1964, just as the UK’s artistic underground was breaking cover.

Without any real drive to be a professional singer, Felix played the burgeoning folk club circuit. Despite her free and easy attitude to ambition, she was signed to Decca Records. While living in a flat in Chelsea, she met fellow resident David Frost in the lift on the way to the launch of her single eponymous debut album. Frost tagged along, and she eventually became resident singer on The Frost Report, which also featured the likes of John Cleese and Ronnie Barker. By that time, appearances on other TV shows saw Felix’s popularity rise, to the extent that she sold out the Royal Albert Hall.

Two more albums on Decca followed. In 1966, she married David Evans, with whom she wrote The Ones I Love the Most, which appeared on her album, Changes (1966), her first for the Fontana label. Other albums followed, though it wasn’t until she moved to Mickie Most’s RAK Records, a label more associated with bubblegum glam bands, that she made the pop charts. Felix followed the success of If I Could (El Condor Pasa) on RAK with Heaven is Here, penned by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson of Hot Chocolate.

Having been in the midst of the ‘60s social whirl, Felix ducked out of view, and in the late 1970s moved to Norway, where she released two albums, and scored a number 1 hit single with Hota Chocolata (1977). Moving back to California, Felix took time out from music, and studied yoga, meditation and healing, and became politically active. Fired by a peace march in Central America, she began to perform again, initially at benefit shows for the peace movement and refugees.

After returning to England in 1994, she set up her own Remarkable Records, and released Branches in the Mist, her first album for over a decade. She set up New Age folk club, The Magic Messenger, and became involved in the Goddess movement, dedicated to female spiritual deities.

Throughout the 2000s struck up a particular relationship with the Wynd Theatre, Melrose in the Scottish Borders, and in 2018, released what turned out to be her final album, Rock Me Goddess. While her own material was awash with New Age references, she also showed her political colours with a pro Jeremy Corbyn song, Corbynista. It was the last great protest song by a singer whose wayward musical path might have been forged in the ‘60s, but who kept the faith right to the end.

Felix is survived by her daughter, Tanit, and her sister, Elena.

The Herald, April 6h 2020



Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Edinburgh Rocks – The Capital's Music Scene in the 1950s and Early 1960s

Edinburgh has always been a vintage city. Yet, for youngsters growing up in the shadow of World War Two as well as a pervading air of tight-lipped Calvinism, they were dreich times indeed. The founding of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the subsequent Fringe it spawned may have livened up the city for a couple of weeks in August as long as you were fans of theatre, opera and classical music, but the pubs still shut early, and on Sundays weren't open at all. But Edinburgh too has always had a flipside beyond such official channels, and, in a twitch-hipped expression of the sort of cultural duality Robert Louis Stevenson recognised in his novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a vibrant dance-hall scene grew up across the city. Audiences flocked to emporiums such as the Cavendish in Tollcross, the Eldorado in Leith, The Plaza in Morningside and, most glamorous of all due to its revolving stage, the Palais in Fountainbridge. Here the likes of Joe Loss and Ted Heath broug