Murray Head


With an actress mother, and father a documentary film writer/director, Murray started early in films. His father used him in various documentaries from the age of 7 onwards, because it was cheaper than using professionals. Although he continued studies through University level, when he was 12 he did radio plays for a few years.

Perhaps, feeling hemmed in by the "showbusiness" aspect of his family environment, Murray sought fresh means to express himself. He started writing songs and playing with a band in his teens. At 17 he accepted a recording contract with EMI.

In 1965 the Boulting Brothers asked him to play a lead role in their film The Family Way, alongside Hywel Bennett and Hayley Mills.

After The Family Way, Murray concentrated on acting in the theatre for three years, culminating in the West End show Hair. He left Hair to record Jesus Christ Superstar by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, in the principal role of Judas. At the same time he was chosen by John Schlesinger to play the part of the bisexual Bob Alkin with Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch in the film Sunday Bloody Sunday. For this he got Variety Club's award for most promising artiste of '71.

His next film was from France, The Mandarine, directed by Edouard Mollinaro (Cage aux Folles, with Anne Giradot and Phillipe Noiret, followed by a Spanish film The Power of a Woman with Marisol, directed by Juan Bardem.

Apart from a couple of years of television, he also played Gawain in an English film Gawain and the Green Knight.

By 1975, Murray had accumulated a number of songs written in his spare time so, when producer Paul Samwell-Smith offered him a recording deal with Island Records, he accepted. Several of the songs on the album took off in France and were covered by other recording artistes, namely Roger Daltrey of The Who, Cliff Richard, The Hollies and Gary Brooker of Proful Harum.

In 1977 he was offered the lead in the Just Jackin movie Madam Claude but he did not enjoy the experience very much. He found that the music industry was luring him through the success of his previous records and decided to concentrate wholeheartedly on recording and performing live for the next seven years--culminating in six gold and platinum records and headlining a concert tour in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, playing to five hundred thousand people in 1984.

Around this time the Swedish group ABBA asked Murray to sing a lead role on their album Chess. He took the single from Chess, "One Night in Bangkok" to No. 1 in twelve countries and No. 3 in America. To promote the successful album, he joined ABBA and the full London Symphony Orchestra on a European tour.

During 1985 Tim Rice and ABBA were planning the West End musical of Chess and asked Murray if he would be in the show. He was encouraged by the opportunity to act again and opened in Chess in May 1986 playing the lead of the American Frederick, for nine months.

Murray left Chess to play the role of Lizzie Lizard in White Mischief directed by Michael Radford.

In 1988 he played the lead role in both French and English (two versions shot at the same time) in the Mireille D'Arc film La Barbare, The Rebel and the lead in Charlotte Branstrom's film L'Ete D'Oranges (or The Uninvited Guest). He has also written the score for the latter film, and the score for a Claude Berry production A Gauche En Sortant De L'ascenseur, directed by Edouard Mollinaro in 1988.

In 1989-90, Murray played the lead in the Channel Four television series, Centrepoint.

Late last year he recorded a new album, and will tour France again this year with his band in support of that recording.

[All biographies from original Auckland souvenir brochure.]