Chris Rea (born March 4, 1951) is an English singer, guitarist, and songwriter who released nine albums on Magnet between 1978 and 1987, followed by further titles on WEA, EastWest, and Jazzee Blue over the subsequent three decades.
In the UK, Rea had two number-one albums with The Road to Hell (1989) and Auberge (1991), each with title-tracks that hit the Top 20. Stateside, he’s best known for the soft-rock evergreen “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)” from his 1978 debut album Whatever Happened to Benny Santini?
He was born Christopher Anton Rea on March 4, 1951, in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, one of seven children in an Italian-Irish family. His father, Camillo Rea, ran an ice cream factory and café chain, where Chris worked as a teenager until he enrolled in St Mary’s College to study journalism.
Rea took up guitar in his early twenties, inspired by Charlie Patton, Muddy Waters, and Blind Willie Johnson, as well as roots rocker Ry Cooder and James Gang guitarist Joe Walsh. In 1973, he briefly joined Magdalene, an unrecorded Middlesbrough hard-rock act that once included a pre-fame David Coverdale (Deep Purple, Whitesnake). He then formed his own band, The Beautiful Losers, which won that year’s Best Newcomers honor with Melody Maker. Soon after, Rea signed as a solo artist to Magnet Records, which issued his debut single, “So Much Love” (b/w “Born to Lose”), in 1974.
(Rea’s credits over the ensuing three-year period are scant, though he’s sometimes confused with Chris Rae, a guitarist, composer, and producer who served in Ultrafunk and The Armada Orchestra and also played on albums by Dana Gillespie, Lynsey De Paul, Arbre, Tina Charles, the Biddu Orchestra, and the Hank Marvin Guitar Syndicate.)
- Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? (1978)
- Deltics (1979)
- Tennis (1980)
- Chris Rea (1982)
- Water Sign (1983)
- Wired to the Moon (1984)
- Shamrock Diaries (1985)
- On the Beach (1986)
- Dancing With Strangers (1987)
- The Road to Hell (1989)
- Auberge (1991)
- God’s Great Banana Skin (1992)
- Espresso Logic (1993)
- La Passione (OST, 1996)
- The Blue Cafe (1998)
- The Road to Hell Part 2 (1999)
- King of the Beach (2000)
- Dancing Down the Stony Road (2002)
- Blue Street (Five Guitars) (2003)
- Hofner Blue Notes (2003)
- The Blue Jukebox (2004)
- (Blue Guitars) (2005)
- The Return of the Fabulous Hofner Bluenotes (2008)
- Santo Spirito Blues (2011)
- Road Songs for Lovers (2017)
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