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Nolan Porter

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was born Nolan Frederick Porter II in Los Angeles in 1949 and studied classical music before developing his very own brand of music - an earthy soul blended with elements of rock and reggae. His style isn't very easily defined because it doesn't fit neatly into the genre categories the music business likes to use.

Instead of taking the traditional soul route chosen by most black artists, Porter worked with Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention and Little Feat. Internationally, however, he is best known for two solo tracks which have earned him a place in the underground soul hall of fame.

Ironically, his most famous song - "If I Could Only Be Sure" - was written for rock group Steppenwolf who recorded it in 1969. Thankfully, Porter's own version was issued in 1972. It was produced by Gabriel Mekler who owned the Lizard and Vulture labels in Los Angeles.

Variously known as Nolan, N.F. Porter, Nolan Porter and Frederick II, he recorded "Keep On Keeping On" for Lizard Records in 1971. It quickly became a 'northern soul' favourite and the infectious riff was copied by UK indie group Joy Division for "Interzone" in 1978. The reggae-flavoured "Groovin' Out On Life", credited to Frederick II, was a number 25 R&B hit for Vulture Records in 1971.

Porter's second album,
, was picked up by ABC Records in 1972 and from it came the single "If I Could Only Be Sure", a self-penned number with a moody organ and a hooky guitar line courtesy of Johnny 'Guitar' Watson. Twenty five years later it became an anthem on the rare soul scenes in the UK and Europe - and is so popular that is has been bootlegged twice (in 1999 and again in 2006) to satisfy the demand. "If I Could Only Be Sure" received a new lease of life when UK pop star Paul Weller covered it on his
Studio 150
album (V2 Music) in 2004.

Nolan Porter is scheduled to visit the UK in March 2006 to perform at a weekend soul festival in Prestatyn. He will be accompanied by his wonderful partner Patrice, also known as Candy Zappa - a respected artist in her own right and sister of the late Frank Zappa.

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