Elvis Costello
Rock n Roll

August 25th 1954

Born in St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London.

Baptized in Holy Cross Church, Birkenhead.


Family lives in basement flat in Avonmore Road, Olympia, London.


Having begun as a trumpet player leading his own Modern Jazz ensemble in Birkenhead, his father, Ross MacManus, becomes one of three vocalists with The Joe Loss Orchestra.

This highly successful dance band is resident at the Hammersmith Palais for most of the late 50's and through the 1960s and frequently featured on the "Come Dancing" BBC television show.

Most of the successful beat groups and solo singers of the 1960s feature as guests on the long-running, Friday lunchtime BBC radio show, "The Joe Loss Pop Show".

The three band vocalist have to learn a number of current songs every week, performing material ranging from Kathy Kirby's "Secret Love" to "See Emily Play" by the Pink Floyd.

There is a constant stream from "A" label advance 45rpm singles and publisher's acetate dubs coming into the household to augment a small but varied family record collection.

The albums include those by Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Nat Cole, Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie as well as a number of classical titles and Irish folk music collections but no rock and roll music.


The Joe Loss Orchestra shares the bill of the Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium with The Beatles and Marlene Dietrich, featuring her musical director, Burt Bacharach


Family lives in East Twickenham.

Local newspapers report on dates at Eel Pie Island and the Station Hotel, Richmond that stage early shows by The Who and The Rolling Stones but licensing restrictions prevent attendance at such events.

Local residents include, Pete Townshend and members of the Yardbirds.


First public performance, as an unpaid floor singer", at the Lamplight Folk Club, Richmond in the basement of St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church.

Former Red Megaphone stalwart and composer of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", falls asleep during "Winter Song".


Resident in Liverpool during senior school years before taking employment as a computer operator in 1972.


First paid public performance at St. Georges Project, Liverpool. Short solo set is rewarded with a fee of 50 pence.


Various appearances, both solo and in the duo, Rusty with Allan Mayes at the Yankee Clipper nightclub and local contemporary folk clubs and poetry readings.


Meets Nick Lowe in The Grapes public house, Mathew Street, Liverpool prior to a Brinsley Schwarz gig at The Cavern.


First recording sessions - both solo and with semi-professional band, "Flip City" - at an eight-track studio at the Hope and Anchor pub in Islington, London.

Abandoned plan by future Stiff Records founder, Dave Robinson, for a single release of Flip City's cover version of "Third Rate Romance", after Jesse Winchester's recording of the song achieves cult status on BBC Radio London.


Last Flip City appearances at the Red Cow, Hammersmith. A venue also played by The 101s, featuring Joe Strummer.

First solo public appearances billed as "D.P. Costello", joining given initials to great-grandmother's maiden name.


Home-recorded tape of "Wave A White Flag", "Poison Moon", "Jump Up" and "Mystery Dance" aired on the BBC Radio London show, "Honky Tonk" by D.J. Charlie Gillett.

Stiff Records founded by Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson.

Personal delivery of demo tape to Stiff Records' offices in Alexander St., London, results in them planning a recording session produced by Nick Lowe.

"Radio Sweetheart" and "Mystery Dance" are selected as the first songs to be recorded. The second song is regarded as a demo for Dave Edmunds, as Stiff initially identify Costello as a songwriter rather than recording artist.

Indeed most U.K. publishing houses and several record labels had already passed on a series of home produced demo recordings.

Nevertheless, rehearsals take place with members Marin County band, Clover, then resident at Headley Grange, country house and former album preparation location for Led Zeppelin and Bad Company.


Elvis Costello is the first new artist signed to Stiff Records but has to wait until their eleventh single release (BUY 11), before being heard by the public and continues to work as a computer operator for the Elizabeth Arden cosmetics company, recording during "sick days".

"Less Than Zero b/w "Radio Sweetheart" is followed up by "Alison" b/w "Welcome To The Working Week".

Both are met with almost total commercial indifference.

Nevertheless, Stiff Records compile the results of six, four-hour sessions at the eight-track, Pathway Studios, Islington, London into an album, "My Aim Is True"

The album features with bassist, John Ciambotti, drummer, Mickey Shine, keyboardist, Sean Hopper and the guitar and pedal steel of John McFee, all the members of Clover apart from their singers, Alex Call and Huey Lewis.

July 1977

Elvis Costello and the Attractions are formed after auditions recruit 19 year old, Royal Academy of Music student and organist Steve Nason (later re-named, "Nieve") and late 60s and early 70s, "veteran" bassist, Bruce Thomas.

Accompaniment at auditions provided by Andrew Bodnar and Steve Golding from The Rumour.

This line-up records "Watching The Detectives" at Pathway Studios and the song is later added to the U.S. edition of "My Aim Is True".

It also features the first recorded appearance of Steve Nieve.

The Attractions line-up is completed by drummer Pete Thomas, who returns from several years working California, much of it with working with, John Stewart, the composer of The Monkees hit, "Daydream Believer".

July 14th 1977

Following a week of rehearsals in Davidstowe Town Hall, Elvis Costello and the Attractions make their first public appearance in Penzance, Cornwall, supporting Wayne County and the Electric Chairs.

July 16th 1977

Elvis Costello and the Attractions re-record "My Aim Is True" in one day at a small studio in Cornwall.

The intention is for Stiff Records to substitute the recording by the new group for the original takes after the initial pressing is sold out.

July 26th 1977

First London appearance at Dingwall's is preceded by the arrest of the singer outside at the Park Lane Hilton, while making an impromptu kerbside audition for record company executives breaking for lunch at a Columbia Records convention.

August-September 1977

First national club dates take place between a month-long, Monday-night residency at the Nashville Rooms, West Kensington.

Dire Straits are among the opening acts.

By the final week, the show is threatened with police closure when crowds become too big for the tiny venue.

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