Robyn Hitchcock

British folk singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock had a busy year in 1998. In addition to

promoting the Jonathan Demme-directed film, "Storefront Hitchcock," he began

recording a new LP with the help of R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck.

Hitchcock also found time to participate in a tribute concert, at a Brooklyn, N.Y., church, to

the late Fairport Convention singer Sandy Denny, along with such artists as R.E.M.'s

Mike Mills and Peter Holsapple.

Hitchcock was born 46 years ago today in London. He attended art school, but dropped

out and moved to Cambridge in 1974. There, he began performing quirky folk songs and

played in many bands before forming the Soft Boys, a bizarre progressive rock band with

such songs as "(I Want to Be an) Anglepoise Lamp," in 1976. The group issued such cult

LPs as Underwater Moonlight (1980) and Two Halves for the Price of One

in 1981, the same year it disbanded.

Black Snake Diamond Role (1981) was Hitchcock's first solo LP. After issuing

Groovy Decay the following year, Hitchcock took a performing hiatus and wrote

songs for the Damned's Captain Sensible. On I Often Dream of This (1984),

Hitchcock focused on sensitive, acoustic songs such as "Sometimes I Wish I Was a

Pretty Girl" and "Cathedral." Also in 1984, Hitchcock formed the Egyptians with members

of the Soft Boys (bassist Andy Metcalfe and drummer Morris Windsor), as well as other

musicians.

The Egyptians achieved a cult success, not unlike the solo Hitchcock. Buck helped the

band secure a deal with A&M Records and the Egyptians scored such college-radio hits

as "Balloon Man" and "So You Think You're In Love." Egyptians' LPs include 1985's

Fegmania!, 1988's Globe of Frogs and 1991's Perspex Island.

Hitchcock's most recent CD is 1996's Moss Elixir, featuring such tracks as "Devil's

Radio" and "Sinister But She Was Happy." Uncorrected Personality Traits (1997)

was a retrospective, while last year saw the release of the soundtrack to "Storefront

Hitchcock," the Demme-directed documentary about the singer that included such tracks

as

"Beautiful Queen"

(RealAudio excerpt). Hitchcock's next album, Jewels for Sophia, is due this year and will

include Buck. "We've played with each other for 13 years," Hitchcock said of Buck last

year.

Hitchcock is also writing a novel, "The Ballad of Jacob Lurch." "It has elements of things

that will be familiar to people who have heard my songs," Hitchcock said of the book.

Other birthdays: Willie Chambers (Chambers Brothers), 61; Mike Pender (Searchers),

57; Jance Garfat (Dr. Hook), 55; Chris Hughes (Adam & the Ants), 45; and Tone-Loc, 33.