Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crispian St. Peters - "The Pied Piper" -Has Died At Age 71

Crispian St. Peters, who took "The Pied Piper" to #4 in 1966, died Tuesday (June 8) after a series of debilitating illnesses that left him in a wheelchair. He was 71 and still lived in the Swanley, Kent, England home where he was born Robin Peter Smith in 1939. Crispian played guitar and sang in a number of local bands, while working as a librarian, movie projectionist and potato picker, among other jobs. He made his first recording with Peter and the Wolves in 1964. The following year he went solo and signed with England's Decca Records. While his first two singles did not chart, his third, "You Were On My Mind" (already a U.S. hit for the We Five), reached #2 in the U.K. (it was released on Jamie Records in the U.S., but failed to chart until its re-release in 1967 when it made #36). His next single was the career-defining "Pied Piper," which topped out on the British charts at #5 in the Spring of 1966. The follow-up, "Changes," failed to make the top 40 in either country, however and other than "You Were On My Mind," his only chart appearances in either country were two songs that "bubbled-under" in America-- "Your Ever Changin' Mind" and "Look Into My Teardrops." The blame might be placed on his PR, which portrayed him as arrogant and cocky. He claimed to have written 80 songs that were better than the Beatles', said he was more exciting than Tom Jones and would make Elvis Presley "look like the Statue of Liberty." He kept on recording and performing until his health forced his retirement in 2001 (his last public performance had been two years earlier). He had suffered a stroke in 1995 that left him partially paralyzed in his right arm, caught pneumonia in 2003 and admitted to three nervous breakdowns-- the first in 1970 after being dropped by Decca. He also suffered from emphysema.