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David Bowie, Bob Geldof and Fleetwood Mac among Kent stars to win at the Brit Awards

By Chris Britcher

The Brit Awards has become the annual knees up for the music world - a back-slapping extravaganza for an industry still struggling to adjust to a very different landscape.

Where once upon a time a record was released on a Monday and fans could snap up the seven or 12-inch version before awaiting the sales chart on a Sunday, and stars toured to promote sales of their latest albums, things are today very different.

Streaming music services mean everyone has access to everything from the second it is released - all for the monthly cost of what, once upon a time, would have got you one CD.

Jack Whitehall will present the Brit Awards 2019. Picture: JMEnternational/ITV (7055136)
Jack Whitehall will present the Brit Awards 2019. Picture: JMEnternational/ITV (7055136)

Artists, meanwhile, earn just a fraction of a penny for every song streamed.

The result? Live shows are now seen as the big money earners - and the big stars charge serious money for tickets.

All of which has diluted, somewhat, the clout of the Brit Awards.

Listen to Brit 2019 nominee Mabel who had a chat with Glenn on the Hit List

Today the focus tends to be on the live performances – frequently overshadowing the winners themselves.

But over the years, success at the Brits - or the BPI Awards as they were once known - has defined a career. And Kent has been well represented.

We take a look back at the big winners...

When David Bowie spent some of his formative years living and performing in and around Maidstone, he could have little imagined that he would eventually become the county's most successful artist at the nation's premier music awards.

Plaque in tribute to David Bowie - multiple Brit Awards winner - in Maidstone
Plaque in tribute to David Bowie - multiple Brit Awards winner - in Maidstone

But since the show began its annual outing, in 1982, he has won no fewer than five awards - which includes two posthumous gongs for his Blackstar album at the 2017 event and the 'icon' award in 2016, at a ceremony held just a month after his death.

His first success was in 1984 at an event staged at the Grosvenor House Hotel and hosted by a youthful Noel Edmonds - the last not to be televised.

There he beat off competition from the likes of Elton John, Cliff Richard and Sir Paul McCartney to be named the best male solo artist on the back of the huge commercial success of his Let's Dance album and slew of singles.

He would, however, have a 12 year wait for his next prize - that of outstanding contribution to music – collecting his prize from then-prime minister, Tony Blair.

Remarkably, in 2014 he reclaimed his best male crown courtesy of his The Next Day album - sending Kate Moss to collect the award on his behalf. He was, at 67, the oldest to win the title.

Faversham's Bob Geldof has won two previous awards
Faversham's Bob Geldof has won two previous awards

The success would have been applauded by his long-time chum Bob Geldof. The Live Aid star, who for many years has had a home in Faversham, has twice been on stage to collect an award - but not for any of his efforts as frontman of his band The Boomtown Rats.

Instead, in 1985, his efforts organising the Band Aid record saw him, along with Midge Ure, receive the special award. In 2005, the year of Live8, he would receive an outstanding contribution award.

Fleetwood's Mac Christine McVie
Fleetwood's Mac Christine McVie

Another winner of the outstanding contribution gong was Fleetwood Mac in 1998. Collecting their prize from Beatles producer George Martin, the line-up included Christine McVie who, between 1990 to 2016, lived in a huge mansion in Wickhambreaux, near Canterbury.

Hot on the heels of Bowie in terms of Brit Awards success is Graham Coxon from Blur. The guitarist, who now lives in Ramsgate, was up and down like a yo-yo at the 1995 event as his band spearheaded the explosion of Britpop courtesy of the band's Parklife album.

Blur, featuring Graham Coxon, second right, won big in 1995
Blur, featuring Graham Coxon, second right, won big in 1995

It saw them win best album, best single (for the title track) and best group too. They'd be back in 2012 to pick up the outstanding contribution award.

Another Thanet winner in the past is DJ and producer Adamski. He, along with singer Seal, won the best video category in 1992 for the number one hit Killer.

Moving around the coast and Sheppey got its moment in the sun - or at least a little bit of it.

Adamski, who now lives in Thanet, won a Brit for his work with Seal
Adamski, who now lives in Thanet, won a Brit for his work with Seal

In 1988, when the pop charts could be invaded by a variety of genres, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera musical was selling tickets by the bucketload and albums at an even greater rate. And it was that which won the best soundtrack/cast recording category at the Brits.

Appearing as the Phantom was, of course, Michael Crawford. Best known as the hapless Frank Spencer in the apostrophe-heavy classic comedy Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, he had been born on Sheppey and spent much of his childhood there before embarking on a glorious career on both stage and screen.

It's not very rock 'n' roll band mates meeting at one of the county's top public schools, but chances are the band Keane don't care too much as they sit and count their earnings from their 10 million record sales worldwide.

Keane collecting their Brit Award in 2005. Picture: John Marshall - JM Enternational (7065719)
Keane collecting their Brit Award in 2005. Picture: John Marshall - JM Enternational (7065719)

Tom Chaplin and Tim Rice-Oxley - pals since childhood from just across the border in East Sussex - met future band mates Dominic Scott and Richard Hughes in the plush surrounds of Tonbridge School.

They would go on to win both best album, for Hopes and Fears, and breakthrough act at the 2005 awards ceremony.

During that same event, soul singer Joss Stone was crowned best female act. She was born in Dover and spent much of her childhood in the town before moving to Devon.

Talking of top female singers, five years later Ellie Goulding's decision to pull the plug early on her time at the University of Kent in Canterbury in order to seek fame and fortune proved to be a rather fine one as she collected the critics' choice award.

Ellie Goulding picking up her Brit in 2014. Picture: John Marshall - JM Enternational (7065715)
Ellie Goulding picking up her Brit in 2014. Picture: John Marshall - JM Enternational (7065715)

She'd leave it another four years before collecting the best female prize - collecting the award from the late, great Prince.

Good old fashioned pop is often overlooked, but not when boy band Blue achieved back-to-back wins.

Featuring Chatham's very own Lee Ryan, the group won the breakthrough title in 2002 and a year later won the best pop act title - another in the ever-evolving names of trophies dished out on the night.

Blue in 2003. John Marshall - JM Enternational (7065717)
Blue in 2003. John Marshall - JM Enternational (7065717)

And let us not forget, in 2010, JLS' double. Beat Again won best single and they picked up the breakthrough act title. The band's JB Gill used some of his royalties to buy a smallholding in Westerham, near Sevenoaks, which he continues to farm in addition to his TV work.

Last, but not least, raise a glass to Charlie Andrew. He won the best producer title in 2016. Having grown up in Hawkhurst, he went on to work at the legendary Abbey Road studios, working on a host of projects including the soundtracks to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. But he enjoyed fame - and received his award as a result - courtesy of his work with the band Alt J.

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