Not to be mistaken for the American bluegrass guitarist of the same name, Norman Blake is best known as the guitarist, vocalist, and co-founder of the celebrated Scottish alternative rock band Teenage Fanclub, though he's also amassed an impressive resume of side projects.

Blake was born in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Scotland on October 20, 1965. His interest in music was sparked in his early teens by the rise of punk rock in the U.K. as he developed a taste for bands like the Buzzcocks and Wire. However, Blake's passion for music was eclectic, and he soon became a fan of garage rock, psychobilly, and vintage '60s rock and pop, among many other things. Blake's first band was called the Faith Healers (not to be confused with the '90s U.K. band th' Faith Healers) and also featured Sean Dickson, later of the Soup Dragons. After playing with another short-lived group, the Pretty Flowers (which also included Dickson, Duglas Stewart, Frances Mckee -- later a member of the Vaselines -- and Janice Cochrane), Blake joined the Boy Hairdressers, which also featured Dickson and Stewart and became Blake's first band to record when they cut an EP in 1986 for the Scottish indie label 53rd 3rd. Also in 1986, Duglas Stewart formed the BMX Bandits, and Blake was part of the group's early lineup, initially playing drums and then moving to guitar, as well as writing material with Stewart.

In 1989, Blake teamed with Raymond McGinley, Gerard Love, and Francis MacDonald to form Teenage Fanclub, and Blake served double duty with his new band and BMX Bandits until 1991, after the release of the Bandits' second studio album, Star Wars. By that time, Teenage Fanclub had released their debut LP, 1990's A Catholic Education, and the album's fusion of hooky melodies and thick, distorted guitar figures quickly earned them a cult following in the U.K. and the United States. As the press embraced Teenage Fanclub, they left their independent U.S. label for Geffen Records, and in 1991 released Bandwagonesque, a cleaner and more pop-influenced effort which was a hit with critics and fared well on college radio in the United States. Their next album, 1993's Thirteen, didn't please most critics and didn't sell as well in the United States, but the group maintained a deeply loyal fan base, especially in the UK. Between 1995 and 2016, Teenage Fanclub issued seven albums (one a collaboration with Jad Fair, 2002's Words of Wisdom and Hope) that cemented their reputation as one of the most consistently impressive bands in the UK.

During his downtime from Teenage Fanclub, Norman Blake often busied himself with a wide range of collaborations and side projects. In tandem with Euros Childs of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, he formed the group Jonny. With Eugene Kelly of the Vaselines and Eugenius, Blake recorded as the Famous Monsters. Francis MacDonald, Blake's BMX Bandits and Teenage Fanclub bandmate who has also worked with Belle and Sebastian, has performed with Blake under the moniker Frank Blake. After moving to Canada in 2009, Blake started writing songs with Joe Pernice of the Pernice Brothers, and the two recorded and toured as the New Mendicants. And Blake has enjoyed an especially fruitful partnership with Jad Fair of the legendary lo-fi group Half Japanese. In addition to Teenage Fanclub cutting an album with Fair, Blake and Fair teamed up for a 2015 duo album, Yes, and Fair, Blake, and the Japanese group Tenniscoats joined forces for two albums together, 2014's How Many Glasgow and 2017's Raindrops. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Norman Blake, Flatpicker
Vault Sessions: Norman Blake
Norman Blake & the Rising Fawn String Ensemble - In Concert
Norman Blake - Whiskey Before Breakfast
"Jimmy Brown the Newsboy" played by Norman Blake
Norman Blake Documentary
Tony Rice & Norman Blake - New River Train
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