Famous People from Southend

There have been many famous and accomplished people who were either born in Southend or who have lived there at some point in their lives. For some reason, the great majority of them have made a name in the arts and entertainment, including such diverse fields as music, film and television, literature and even sport.

Undoubtedly, music has been a popular route for a great many of Southend’s sons and daughters in their rise to prominence. For this main reason, our focus will largely be on the city’s musical prodigies, and there are many of them. Enough, in fact, to make one wonder. As a visitor to Southend may be wont to ask, perhaps it’s something in the water? For whatever reason, Southend’s pedigree in music is certainly well-established, as the impressive run-down that follows will surely indicate.

There have been a number of bands that originated from Southend that went on to capture national and international acclaim. These include bands like Dr Feelgood, a seventies rock band whose 1978 album 'Stupidity' (recorded live at the Kursaal) became number one in the UK and lesser known bands such as Junkboy, Lunatic High, The Horrors, The Kursaal Flyers, These New Puritans and Switches.

In addition, Southend has produced its fair share of notable solo music stars, including local legend Mickey Jupp, a musician and songwriter who played a mix of pop, rockabilly and blues with no electric instrument; former member of the popular Australia rock duo Savage Garden (and current record producer) Daniel Jones (born in Southend in 1973); rising young alternative rock artist Fly or GCWC (Get Cape. Wear Cape), born as Sam Duckworth in Southend in 1986, and a host of others.

For example, there's James Bourne, one of the lead vocalists and guitarists of Son of Dork, the pop punk band. He  was born in Southend in 1983, where he was first introduced to music at age six (through a Bart Simpson song which had the line "dancing like Michael Jackson" that prompted Bourne to find out about and later idolize Jackson) and where, by age 12, he had formed his first band called Sic Puppy. He was previously a member of Busted until the group disbanded in 2005. With Busted, Bourne helped make the group one of the biggest bands in the UK.

Tina Cousins was born in Leign-on-Sea in Southend in 1971. She specialized in electronic music and has performed many songs, either as a solo artist or in collaboration with others, that have made it as singles in the UK top 20. Her singing has also produced a large fan base in Australia, aside from the UK. Cousins actually began her career as a model.

Danielle Dax, born as Danielle Gardner in Southend in 1988, made a name for herself as an experimental musician and producer during the late-seventies and early-eighties. She started out as a member of the avant-garde punk band, The Lemon Kittens.

Another Southend native, singer and songwriter Jake Shillingford, founded the indie pop group My Life Story, which, with its popular orchestral sound, was an integral part of the Britpop movement in the mid and late-1990s.

The guitarist and vocalist of the Procol Harum band, Robin Trower and Gary Brooker, both also hail from Southend.

Aside from popular, mainstream music, Southend has also produced two leading stalwarts of classical music, opera singer Robert Lloyd and concert organist Kevin Bowyer. Lloyd. born in Southend in 1940, performed many leading roles at Glyndebourne and with other opera companies, including several major opera houses around the world. Born in Southend in 1961, Bowyer is renowned for his prolific recording and recital career where he performed modern, difficult and even unusual compositions on the organ.

In the realm of literature, Southend has produced the author and broadcaster Brian Cleeve, author Jonathan Clements and graphic novelist Warren Ellis.

On film and television, Southend counts among its distinguished sons and daughters such as actress Helen Mirren, actor and impressionist Phil Cornwell, TV presenter Dominic Littlewood (notably, To Buy or Not to Buy), broadcaster Annabel Port, actress Kara Tointon (Dawn Swann in EastEnders) and scriptwriter and actor Toby Whithouse.

In the world of sport, Southend has long been recognized for the accomplishments of its favourite son, John Lloyd, former British tennis number one. Other prominent sport figures who hail from Southend include football manager Peter Taylor; Michael Ward, founder of Nita Nitros football team; Svend Joscelyne AKA Dreadknux, owner of The Sonic Stadium; and footballer Spencer Prior, who previously suited up for Southend United and Derby County footballer
Other prominent personalities with ties to Southend include politician John Hutton, comedian Phill Jupitus, and historian Simon Schama. BBC Young Musician of the Year Finalist
Benjamin Grosvenor, famed BBC Radio Commentator Andrew Baker and musical theatre actor Lee Mead, winner of the BBC show Any Dream Will Do in June 2007

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