How Graham Parker’s Wife Saved His Music Career
"They completely stifled what I think is my best record ever."
That was what Graham Parker, legendary English singer-songwriter, had to say about when major record labels refused to play his 1992 album, Burning Questions. The music giant that MTV was at the time refused to play his songs on their platform.
With his album stopped in its tracks to make money, he turned to his wife, photographer Jolie Parker, to help him out. He basically requested her to become his makeshift videographer, and she potentially saved his career, or at least that album.
Graham Parker's Wife Shot His Music Video
The time is around 1991. Parker had just finished his 12th studio album, Burning Questions, and approached, through his record label, Capitol Records, MTV to put it on their network. Their approach was — they were going to make a video themselves and MTV would just put them on air.
However, MTV refused. Their reasoning was, as LA Times noted in a September 1992 article, their audience, all 63 million homes of them, would not want to hear Parker's songs.
This infuriated Parker.
"I got extremely irate at the very idea that now a record company has to take the song to the video outlet--not the video," he said of the ordeal. The record labels wanted to take the audio, then ask the artist if they could make a video on them.
He wanted the control of making the video for the tunes he made. "I was deeply insulted," he added. It was as if someone had told him to not be creative, as he noted in another interview with Furious in July 2005.
Desperate, he approached a few filmmakers only to get similar responses.
So, in his rage-filled state, he thought of an idea. He was going to make his wife film videos for him.
"I got hopping mad and went and bought a camera for 1,400 bucks and pressed my wife into service as the camera person," Parker recalled. "Learn how to use this," he told her.
For Jolie, however, it wasn't that big an ask. She had been her husband's photographer for his album covers since the 1980s, mostly because he hated professional photography sessions.
Graham Parker. (Photo: Twitter)
So, they set out to make a video for 'Release Me,' the lead single of the album in the backyard of their New York home. They completed the video for around $4,000 to $5,000, including the editing.
"It was a lot of fun," Parker recalled. He handed the video over to Capitol again.
Nothing came of the hand-over, but he made a statement. He also became a hero to many people in the music industry and outside for his guts to try and pull something like that off.
Graham Parker's Life with Wife and Children
Parker had been with his wife since long before she had to work as a makeshift videographer for him in 1991. They started going out before 1980, and he even sang praises of her in 'Jolie Jolie,' a song from his 1980 album The Up Escalator.
After the release of Steady Nerves in 1985, Parker fell into a huge debt because the record didn't do great. So, he took some time off and instead focused on his personal life.
Mark he’s a few photos of the Bench in Perivale Park , Graham Parker , his wife , Manager , few punters etc ..Best Steve pic.twitter.com/xHX8qqXM28 — ChelseaDagger (@MrChelseaDagger) November 16, 2020
The English singer brought up his family in Woodstock, New York, and still lives there with his wife.