Alistair Griffin

Infobox musical artist 2
Name = Alistair Griffin

Img_capt =
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Alistair Richard Griffin
Alias =
Born = Birth date and age|1977|11|1|mf=y
Died =
Origin = Middlesbrough England
Instruments = Voice guitar
Genre = Pop Rock
Occupation(s) = singer-songwriter, vocalist
Years_active = 2000 - present
Label = Universal /UMTV (2003-2004)
Notable_albums =
Notable_songs =
Related_acts =
Current_members =
Past_members =

Alistair Richard Griffin, (born 1 November 1977 in Middlesbrough, England), is an English singer/songwriter and musician. Already an established songwriter, he first became famous as a solo artist through his appearances on the BBC television show Fame Academy 2 in 2003, where he was "spotted" and championed by Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees. He subsequently had two top twenty hit singles and a top twenty album in the UK. In 2007 he received worldwide press coverage for his adaptation of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as a tribute to football player, Mark Viduka.

Early career

Alistair Griffin started singing and writing songs whilst still a student at York St John College (now York St John University), playing guitar and busking on the streets of York with a small band. His wide musical influences range from classic rock and 'Britpop', to English and American folk music. After graduating with a BA(Hons) in English Literature (and following a brief stint working as a milkman around his home town, during which he crashed his milk float), he moved to London to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter.

In 2001, as vocalist with the pop/rock band 'Sugartown', he performed in front of 70,000 people at the Leeds Party in the Park. The following year, he and his sometime songwriting partner, Stuart Hanna (now part of folk duo Megson) formed the band, Pulse, and co-wrote the song 'Fade Away' (having recorded the song on an 8-track in Hanna's bedroom) and entered it for the 2002 Song for Europe competition on BBC Radio 2. The song was shortlisted, and a performance by Pulse was broadcast, but it failed to reach the finals.

Griffin was briefly a member of Ultra and spent some time working in Germany with DJ Sammy. It was widely reported that he auditioned for the boyband, Blue, only narrowly failing to make it to the final line-up, but Griffin later dismissed this as a fabrication by the press. Although signed by music publisher Trevor Horn's company, "Perfect Songs", he was unable to get a solo recording contract and in 2002, he applied to become a contestant on the first series of "Fame Academy".

Fame Academy

Griffin reached the final audition stage of Fame Academy 1 on his first attempt in 2002, but was not chosen to appear on the show. He re-applied for a place on Fame Academy 2 the following year and was voted through by the public with the highest vote of the preliminary round. Despite harsh criticism every week from ‘Headmaster’ Richard Park who called him "bland" and his voice "nasal", his dogged determination, comic impersonations and cheerful disposition behind the scenes, as well as his camaraderie and duetting with fellow student James Fox, [] attracted the attention and the votes of many viewers of the live TV streaming programmes. The vocal coaches criticised both his voice and image, calling them "unoriginal", "unidentifiable" and "boybandish"; however, guest judge, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees said Griffin had a "unique talent" as a vocalist and songwriter, an "ideal recording voice" with "an engaging vocal tone". His technically-accomplished live performances and proven songwriting ability gradually gained him the support of the public. As the final approached, he was dubbed the "dark horse" of the show by BBC Three presenter, Claudia Winkleman [] , and eventually finished in second place.

The final showdown was screened live and generated so many angry messages from viewers claiming bias that the BBC were forced to close down their "Points of View" message boards. Daniel Bedingfield, who duetted with both finalists, later made a public apology to Griffin for his behaviour, particularly for his outburst that people should "just vote for Alex".(This incident received considerable press coverage and was the subject of one of the questions in the 2003 Observer Music Monthly Magazine Christmas Quiz) [,,1106088,00.html] ) The actual voting figures have never been publicly released.

A new direction

During 2004, Griffin performed live at over 50 gigs up and down the UK and appeared on numerous television programmes, including Top of the Pops and Liquid News. In March of that year he also competed in the European 'WorldBest' competition in Cannes, singing live with Phil Collins.

The live performances of his own material that he gave throughout that year, singing acoustically and with the backing of a regular 5-piece band, Riccardi, showed a marked difference from the generic 'pop' approach of his record company. After parting from UMTV he abandoned his record company's 'pop style' backing tracks and his former 'boyband' image.

In the autumn, he supported Robin Gibb on his 'Magnet' tour of Germany, opening each concert with an acoustic set of his own songs, playing guitar and accompanied on keyboards by long-time friend and fellow musician, Simon Waggott (Waggo), as well as joining Gibb on stage to duet on 'My Lover's Prayer'. On his return he released an independent recording of his live performances in Germany, which he showcased at a series of sell-out concerts in the North of England.

A former junior tennis champion, he played tennis and also performed with Riccardi in Sir Cliff Richard's pro/celebrity Tennis Tournament in December 2004.

During 2005 Griffin continued to perform live, both solo and with Riccardi, but split with them later that year. He moved back to York and although there were rumours of a new recording deal, nothing materialised. In November he assembled a new backing band and performed his first London gig for over a year at The Bedford, where he showcased several new compositions.

Early in 2006 he announced that he would no longer be pursuing a solo career, and would be concentrating on working and writing with his new band, Albion. For some time he performed solo only at charity events and small local venues. At the beginning of 2007 he also set up his own recording studio near York. When interviewed shortly after disbanding Albion in August 2007, he confirmed his intention to resume recording and performing as a solo artist, although he has since performed several times at society weddings and other functions as well as at charity concerts, fronting his covers band, Blue Nun.

In September 2007 Griffin joined other celebrities, fans and professional players to play for the Middlesbrough team in the week long, seven a side, charity football contest, Sky One Premier League All Stars. He scored the winning goal in the last 30 seconds of the final against West Ham, ensuring that Middlesbrough gained the trophy and two local Teesside charities benefited from the first prize of £100,000. [,,1~1124154,00.html]

As well as pursuing various other projects he is currently writing and recording material for his next solo album. He performed several of these brand new songs live with his own (unnamed) backing band in May 2008, during a short tour of smaller venues in the UK supporting recently signed indie band Ivyrise.

In August 2008 he headlined the Truck Stage at H2008:Beached festival in Scarborough and is also booked to return there for Acoustic Gathering 111 in September. New UK tour dates with Ivyrise have also been announced for September as well as an additional appearance at the Grand Opera House, York.


In April 2006, Griffin announced that he would shortly be forming a new band, Albion, which was launched in July. [] The initial lineup proved unsuccessful, with James and Tom Martin leaving a few months later to form another indie band, The Station Club. At the end of 2006, Alistair Griffin (guitar and vocals) and Walter Laybourne (drums), were joined by Paul Banks (ex Shed Seven) (guitars and keyboard) and Paul 'Foda' Fothergill (bass). Despite writing and recording numerous songs together and releasing several free download tracks, Albion split up abruptly in August 2007 for reasons which were not made public. When interviewed, Griffin commented “Things weren’t working out the way we anticipated and it seemed the right time to call it a day". []


In 1999-2000, Griffin recorded several demos of his own compositions which were made available online at [] . These have never been officially released.

In 2002 he recorded the football anthem "Stand Up" which was included in the compilation album "Boro Songs - The Sound Of The Riverside".

Several covers he recorded for the Fame Academy programme were released as download only tracks by the BBC during the course of the show in 2003. These were also included in the compilation albums "Fame Academy "Bee Gees Special" and "Fame Academy - The Finalists" also released in 2003.

In October 2003 Griffin signed a record deal with UMTV and at the end of December released his first single, "Bring It On"; a double A-side also featuring 'My Lover's Prayer', a duet with Robin Gibb. Although it received very little airplay, it was voted #1 for 6 consecutive weeks on the music TV channel 'The Box' and reached the top 5 in the UK singles chart. On January 9, 2004, he was therefore able to fulfil one of his lifetime ambitions to appear live on "Top of the Pops".

In January 2004, he released his debut album , also titled "Bring It On" , featuring mainly self-penned songs. This charted at number 12 in the UK album charts. His second single, "You and Me (Tonight)" reached the top 20 but Griffin parted with both his record company and management soon afterwards.

In late 2004 he released an independent solo CD, "Live in Germany", featuring live recordings of the acoustic set he performed in Germany while supporting Robin Gibb. This included "Bring it On", "You and Me (Tonight)", "In Your Smile" and "I Have Lived" with a cover of "I Can't Make You Love Me". The limited edition CD was only made available for a short time at his concerts.

At his Christmas concert in December 2006 he released another independently recorded, three track solo CD; "finding Boethius", consisting of one co-written song, "Let Love Speak Its Name", a cover of "Hallelujah" which he regularly sings live, and an acoustic cover of "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

In March 2007, "Mark Viduka" was released by popular demand, as a download single only, with all the proceeds going to charity.

Brand new versions of four of the songs which were originally recorded with his former band Albion, but never released, are included on his most recent solo CD "Alistair Griffin" (May 2008), again produced independently and only available to buy at live concerts during the Ivyrise tour. These are "Blown Away", "I Have Lived", "Silent Suicide" and "Is It Me".

Unreleased demos of his own compositions are regularly previewed on his official Myspace. []


Alistair Griffin's songs cover a wide range of genres, from light pop and romantic ballads to anthemic rock. After recording several demos, he obtained a publishing deal with Trevor Horn's Perfect Songs. He has also co-written songs with a number of other artists, including James Hearn, Michael Harwood, Nick Keynes and Jon O'Mahony of Ultra, Robin Gibb, singer/songwriter Richard Chance, Liverpudlian songwriting duo, Chris and Tony Griffiths (ex Britpop band The Real People) and Paul Banks, (ex Shed Seven).

In 2002, "Fade Away", one of several songs co-written with Stuart Hanna, was shortlisted for the Song for Europe competition. That year Griffin also co-wrote the football anthem "England Crazy" which was recorded by Rider and Terry Venables. He also recorded his own version of the Boro anthem "Stand Up", which was included in the compilation album "Boro Songs - The Sound Of The Riverside".

Although largely ignored as a singer/songwriter by the British music establishment since his appearance on Fame Academy (that he now describes as a 'double-edged sword'), several covers of his earlier songs have achieved notable chart success in The Netherlands. "You and Me" appears on the #1 album "Impressed" released in 2003 by Jim Bakkum, runner-up in the Dutch series of Pop Idol; Do’s ballad “Angel By My Side” (co-written with James and Tom Martin} reached the Dutch top 10 in 2004 and "Hungry For Love" (co-written with Greg Fitzgerald and Tom Nichols) was covered by rock band Di-rect, getting to number 3 early in 2005.

Griffin's debut album, "Bring It On" consisted mainly of songs that he wrote or co-wrote before being signed. During his time in Fame Academy he also co-wrote several new songs with the students and the songwriters on the show. "Painkiller", (co-written with Greg Fitzgerald and Tom Nichols) along with " A Heart Can't Lie", co-written with fellow student, Louise Griffiths both appeared on his debut album.

He has also written and co-written songs for albums by Phixx (2004), Ultra (2006) and Bel's Boys (2007).

In 2005 he resumed his writing partnership with James and Tom Martin. He has since recorded new versions of several of these songs with Albion, which were made available as free downloads on MySpace in 2007.

Hallelujah Mark Viduka

Alistair Griffin is notorious for performing his own comedy versions of well known songs in his live concerts. These have included songs by George Formby, Wham, Johnny Mathis, Ronan Keating and Robin Gibb.

In February 2007 Griffin sang at a charity event at the Riverside Stadium, home of Middlesbrough Football Club. After his performance of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah", he asked the audience if they would like to hear an alternative version, based on Cohen’s song, but with new words dedicated to the Boro hero at that time, Australian striker Mark Viduka. Keeping faithfully to Cohen's melody, Griffin's almost plaintive vocals are sung to a simple acoustic backing, forming a contrast to the altered lyrics which reference the particular skills of Viduka and several other popular players in the team, as well as some of their opponents, in a sharply observed and witty commentary. [] After hearing the tongue-in-cheek tribute, Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate was so taken with it he asked Griffin to make a special recording to play at the following day’s match. It was played to the crowd at half-time and to the players in the dressing room after the game.In an interview with the Daily Mail, Boro’s Aussie international keeper Mark Schwarzer said:

“It’s a great song. He (Mark Viduka) is already copping some stick about it and I’m going to make sure he gets some more from the Australia camp — I’m going to make sure they get to hear it as well. We played it in the dressing room afterwards and were a bit unsure about it to begin with but the chorus is pretty good. We all sang and I think Mark was a little bit embarrassed by it but I think he enjoyed it” []

The incident received global press coverage, most of it positive. (although The Times was uncomplimentary and dubbed Leonard Cohen "the cheesiest of crooners [] ) It was immediately picked up by hundreds of online sports pages and blogs. The Mark Viduka song was added to Griffin’s MySpace page the following day and clocked up over 75,000 plays by football fans worldwide. [] .

The BBC Sports Review described the song as the "football anthem of the week, year, decade and possibly all time" [] , and the Irish Times called it "a bit on the excellent side". [] TV and Radio coverage followed. A film of Griffin performing the song with other young Middlesbrough supporters appeared on Sky Sports News, and he also appeared on the BBC's and ITV's regional news programmes. In addition to interviews on local radio stations, Griffin was also interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live The song was also broadcast on several channels in Australia and on the BBC World Service.

Southgate embraced the tune as a way of raising money for his chosen charity, Macmillan Cancer Support. Leonard Cohen was approached and gave permission for the song to be released as a charity download []

Personal life

Griffin was brought up in Castleton, a small moorland village near Whitby, North Yorkshire. He has two older sisters. He has retained strong links with his family and his local community and often performs at local events to raise money for good causes. In 2003, without his knowledge, his mother, Barbara Griffin, offered a date with him as a prize in a charity raffle for the Whitby Christmas Lights Appeal. Enough money was raised to light the town for the next three years. []

He is an expert at making lemon curd, which he regularly enters in the annual Danby Show. Despite donating a trophy for this category, [] although he has been awarded second and third prize he has never won. []

He is passionate about football and is a qualified referee. He has also written songs for his home team, Middlesbrough Football Club, and former England manager, Terry Venables. He played Junior Tennis at regional level, and is a member of the Bunbury Cricket Club. His other hobbies include Crazy golf and Pub quizzing.



"Bring It On/My Lover's Prayer"CD1 (UMTV) December 2003 (# 5 UK official singles charts)

"Bring It On/A Lover's Prayer" CD2 (Universal) Limited Edition Single, December 2003

"You and Me (Tonight)"(UMTV) March 2004 (# 18 UK official singles chart)

"You and Me (Tonight)" (UMTV) March 2004 (extended edition)

"Mark Viduka" (Indiestore/Digital 7) [] March 2007 Charity single (download only)


"finding Boethius" (Dream Factory) (Released independently December 2006)

#"Let Love Speak Its Name (Griffin/Bell)
#Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
#"Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Joy Division)


"Bring It On" (UMTV) January 12 2004 (#12 UK official album chart).

"‘Alistair Griffin Live in Germany’" Limited Edition CD (Released independently November 2004).

#You and Me (Tonight)*
#Feeling Alive*
#I Have Lived*
#I Can't Make You Love Me
#Bring It On*(acoustic)


"‘Boro Songs - The Sound Of The Riverside’" Middlesbrough Football Club December 2002

10. Stand Up*

"‘”Fame AcademyBee Gees Special’ (Polydor) August 2003

3. To Love Somebody.

"‘Fame Academy - The Finalists’" (Polydor) October 2003

:5. Wherever You Will Go:6. Lately:7. Truly Madly Deeply:8. It Must Be Love

Original Compositions *

(Griffin's hit singles have also appeared in a number of compilation albums including "Now That's What I Call Music! 57 (U.K. series)" ; "I Love Smash Hits"; "Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs"; and "Just For You").

An extended dance version of 'You and Me (Tonight)', which was included on the enhanced single, also appears on the 2004 "Floorfillers" compilation album as "You & Me (Tonight) (Clubstar Remix)" under the name "AG vs Clubstar".


Fame Academy - Class of 2003 (Universal-Island, 2002)

External links

Official websites

* [ Official fansite]
* [ Alistair Griffin online]


* [ Middlesbrough Evening Gazette 19.10.04] Gig Review

Other links and information sources

* [ "Fame Academy" Final, BBC News report.]
* [ Cultural Foundation Interview] In depth interview with Pete Bell of the Cultural Foundation, 19.6.2004
* [ Perfect Songs] Music Publisher
* [ IMDB] TV Appearances
* [ Fame Academy Supporters Club]
* [ Press interview October 5, 2006]
* [ Press report of Charity Event, 23 February, 2007]
* [,,2021214,00.html Southgate serenade stirs Viduka's home thoughts, The Guardian, February 26,2007]
* [ Hallelujah Mark Viduka, Sydney Morning Herald Feb 27, 2007]
* [,,1~987906,00.html Fans Flock to Hear Viduka Tribute - Middlesbrough Football Club, February 26, 2007]
* [ Press report, August 2007]
* [ Sky One Premier League Allstars]


* [ Last Dance, unreleased demo,c2000] (Quicktime)
* [ Kiss and Tell, unreleased demo, c2000] (Quicktime)
* [ Radio Interview BBC Radio January 2004 (Realplayer)]
* [] – comprehensive multimedia archive of live performances, 2004 - 2007, recorded by fans.
* [ Video clips of live performances] Middlesbrough Gazette.
* [ Alistair Griffin produces tribute song for Middlesbrough star] Broadband tv channel (video podcast), March 1, 2007

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