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New Year's Honours: Trevor Horn and Annie Lennox recognised

Trevor Horn

Story by Jack Foley

TREVOR Horn, one of the most influential record producers of the last 30 years, and ex-Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox lead the list of figures from the music industry to be recognised with a New Year Honour.

Horn has been made a CBE in the New Year Honours for services to music, while Lennox is appointed an OBE for work fighting Aids and poverty in Africa.

They join actors Sheila Hancock and David Suchet on the honours list, as well as stage star Harriet Walter, who is appointed a dame.

Trevor Horn

During his career, Horn has provided hits for the likes of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Seal and Robbie Williams.

A classically trained musician, Horn began his diverse career as a session musician and played in the house band at the Hammersmith Palais nightclub in London – a gig that he claims taught him “the dynamics of the dance floor”.

But he had to wait until he was 30 for his career to really take off, when he donned a giant pair of spectacles, formed The Buggles and wrote Video Killed The Radio Star – the hit that transformed his profile.

Recorded in 1979, the track reached No1 in 16 countries and, two years later, achieved immortality as the first track played on MTV.

After that, Horn briefly fronted the progressive rock band Yes but soon shifted his talents to behind the mixing desk, embarking on the next stage of his career as a producer with girl-boy duo Dollar.

He then masterminded ABC’s ’80s pop hit The Lexicon of Love and continued to be a magnet for some of the biggest bands of that decade thanks to his ability to combine the emerging synthesiser and sampling technology with rhythm.

During a particularly prolific period, he collaborated with punk maestro Malcolm McLaren on the Duck Rock album, worked with innovative electronic group The Art of Noise, and returned to his own group Yes in 1983 for the album 90125, which spawned the chart-topping hit Owner of a Lonely Heart.

In the same year, he signed Liverpudlian group Frankie Goes to Hollywood to his new label, ZTT, and helped them to deliver the anthemic – and controversial – hits Relax, which topped the charts in January 1984 (despite being banned from Radio 1), and Two Tribes, which stayed at No.1 for nine weeks that same summer.

Horn also scored hits with the Pet Shop Boys, Tina Turner, Simple Minds and Grace Jones, who enjoyed the biggest hit of her career with Slave To The Rhythm.

He was named best producer at the Brits in 1983, 1985 and 1992, and won a Grammy in 1995 when Seal’s Kiss From A Rose was named record of the year.

Over the past decade, the hits have continued with the likes of X-Factor runners-up G4 and Robbie Williams on Reality Killed The Video Star, an album that was named in honour of the producer’s breakthrough hit, as well as indie stalwarts such as Belle & Sebastian and Delays.

Most recently, he reunited with Robbie Williams to produceShame, his duet with Gary Barlow, which was recorded, along with part of Take That’s reunion album Progress, at his Sarm West studios in west London.

He was also at the controls for guitar legend Jeff Beck’s album Emotion and Commotion, which is up for seven Grammy awards in February (2011).

Such is the esteem with which the industry holds him in that Horn received a standing ovation when he received an outstanding contribution honour at the Ivor Novello songwriting awards in London last May.

Ever prolific, he also reformed The Buggles earlier this year to perform a one-off gig to raise money for the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London – a charity that remains close to his heart.

Commenting on his honour, Horn said he was “completely taken by surprise”, adding: “I wondered what it was and thought it was tax.”

Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox

Despite being best known for her work in the music industry – as part of the Eurythmics and as a solo singer in her own right – Annie Lennox is appointed an OBE for her tireless work fighting Aids and poverty in Africa.

The Aberdeen-born Lennox, 56, is an Oxfam ambassador and founded her Sing campaign to raise awareness of Aids in Africa.

She was also appointed as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for AIDS and has worked with ex-PM Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah on several initiatives.

Commenting on her honour, she said was “genuinely honoured” to be made an OBE, adding: “As somewhat of a renegade, it either means I’ve done something terribly right – or they’ve done something terribly wrong!

“In any case, whatever powers-that-be have deemed me worthy of such a recognition, I’m getting my fake leopard pillbox hat dusted and ready.”

As a singer, Lennox’s hits include Sweet Dreams, Thorn in My Side and Walking on Broken Glass.

Other music honours

Folk musician Richard Thompson and Les Miserables lyricist Herbert Kretzmer are appointed OBEs.

Thompson was a founding member of Fairport Convention and went on to critical acclaim, both as a solo performer and with his ex-wife Linda, as a superb guitarist and songwriter.

His songwriting has earned him an Ivor Novello Award and, in 2006, a lifetime achievement award from BBC Radio.

Artists who have recorded Thompson’s compositions include Robert Plant, REM, Bonnie Raitt, David Gilmour, Elvis Costello, The Corrs, Maria McKee, Los Lobos, Loudon Wainwright III and The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Kretzmer, meanwhile, started out as a writer and journalist, going from being a featurea writer on the London Daily Sketch, to a profile writer on the Sunday Dispatch and The Daily Express, interviewing such notables as John Steinbeck, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Sugar Ray Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Henry Miller, Cary Grant and Duke Ellington.

Upon branching into songwriting and composing, Kretzmer won an Ivor Novello Award for the Peter Sellers-Sophia Loren comedy hit Goodness Gracious Me (composed byDavid Lee), as well as awards for penning the lyrics to Yesterday When I Was Young and the chart-topping She, both written with, and for, the French singer Charles Aznavour.

In 1985, however, Kretzmer’s talent came to the attention of producer Cameron Mackintosh, who invited him to write an English version of the French musical Les Misérables.

His lyrics extended the two-hour Paris original into a three-hour show and the all-sung version of the show opened at the Barbican Theatre on October 8 1985 and is still running in the West End.

The score includes such well-covered ballads as I Dreamed A Dream, Bring Him Home, On My Own and Empty Chairs At Empty Tables and has also been recognised with both Tony and Grammy awards.

David Suchet and Sheila Hancock lead acting honours