Mystery of the missing nominee for the Mercury
Glasvegas frontman leaves bandmates in the lurch – then turns up in New York
Thursday 10 September 2009
For a short time, it looked like joining the list of great rock'n'roll mysteries: the sudden and unexplained disappearance of a singer whose band's debut album was in the running for a major award.
But the concerns surrounding the whereabouts of Glasvegas frontman James Allan – who had not been seen or heard from for five days – were finally allayed yesterday when it emerged he was in fact safe and well in New York.
Concerns for the singer's safety had grown after he failed to arrive for the Mercury Music Prize awards ceremony in London on Tuesday, forcing his bandmates to cancel their performance.
But Dean Cunning, the Glasgow band's manager, told The Independent yesterday that the singer had telephoned him on Tuesday afternoon after discovering his bandmates were concerned for his safety. "James is not missing, he's in New York," he said. "He got in touch with me yesterday around 1.45pm because he knew people were worried. The last time I saw James was at the gig in Cardiff [on 22 August]. I don't even know exactly when he went missing."
The band were due to fly to Boston yesterday to join Kings of Leon on their US tour. When asked whether the singer would be able to join them, Mr Cunning said grimly: "I fucking hope so."
Columbia Records, the band's label, released a statement yesterday confirming that Allan was safe. "James is not missing and he's very much looking forward to the Kings of Leon tour dates, which start on the 11 September in Bristol, Massachusetts," it read.
When Allan failed to turn up for the Mercury awards – for which his group had been nominated for their self-titled debut album – the audience were informed that he had been unable to play because he had a "fever". But Rab Allan, Glasvegas's guitarist and cousin of James, later admitted he had not been seen since Friday, when the band flew to Glasgow from Italy.
"Everyone was panicking," he said. "We're not supposed to talk about it. He has been working really, really hard and probably needs a break. If he doesn't turn up for Kings of Leon, we will be really worried."
Allan's absence from the awards ceremony meant Glasvegas were the only one of the 12 nominees not to perform.
Guitarist Paul Donoghue said: "He thinks music should be its own reward and he doesn't like bands competing [for awards]. I don't mind James missing it – I'd rather he didn't turn up, than turn up and sing badly if he's not into it."
Allan wrote all the songs on the band's debut album, which the Mercury judges described as a collection of "gloriously elegiac anthems of contemporary life". The award was won by Speech Debelle for her album Speech Therapy.
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