1978 – Present
Fine Young Cannibals
Roland Gift was born in Birmingham but moved to Hull aged 11, attending Kelvin Hall School. He cut his early musical chops with ska revivalists The Akrylykz, initially playing saxophone before moving on to take over vocal duties. The Akrylykz split in 1981 after two outstanding singles and a studio session with ska legend Desmond Dekker (they backed Dekker on his 1980 album Black And Dekker, though for reasons unknown they were not invited to appear on Top Of The Pops when Dekker did) and Gift, as everyone surely knows, went on to form Fine Young Cannibals with Andy Cox and David Steele of The Beat.
Gift also found work as an actor, most famously appearing as Danny in Stephen Frears’ Sammy And Rosie Get Laid – he also appeared closer to home on stage at Hull Truck Theatre in 1990, taking the male lead in Romeo And Juliet.
Since the demise of Fine Young Cannibals, Gift’s solo career has been sporadic but nonetheless interesting. His first solo appearance was on the soundtrack to the movie Beautiful Girls (with a commendable cover of “That’s How Strong My Love Is”) but it would take until 2002 before a solo (self titled) album finally appeared. It was not commercially successful, which seems a shame as the material is, on the whole, strong. It remains Gift’s only solo album to date (though work on a follow up has been rumoured in recent years).
He has since appeared live from time to time, most notably a homecoming gig at The Welly in 2016 and again in 2017. He also continues to appear on occasion with Jools Holland’s Rhythm And Blues Orchestra, both on television (he sang with the band on the 2012 New Year’s Eve show) and on tour.
Roland Gift (CD) – MCA, 2002
It’s Only Money (CD) – MCA, 2002
She Drives Me Crazy (Rewix) (Promo Only 12″) – MCA, 2001
Beautiful Girls (CD) – Elektra, 1996 (track: That’s How Strong My Love Is)