Eric McCredie

Singer with Middle of the Road
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Eric McCredie, singer and guitarist: born Glasgow 17 July 1945; married; died Glasgow 6 October 2007.

Every year, there is a record that is so annoyingly catchy that everybody plays it constantly. Then, within a few months, they never want to hear it again. The breed includes "Y Viva España", "Agadoo", "The Birdie Song", "Sugar Sugar" and, naturally, Middle of the Road's 1971 chart-topper, "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep", on which Eric McCredie sang and played the bass guitar.

McCredie and his brother, Ian, came from Partick, Glasgow, where Eric started out as a salesman and Ian a trainee surveyor. They played beat music in local dance halls as part of the Electrons, but by 1967, they had teamed up with the vocalist Sally Carr and drummer Ken Andrew to become Part Four. They learnt some Latin-American songs and renamed themselves Los Caracas for an appearance on Hughie Green's ITV talent show, Opportunity Knocks! They won three heats, but lost in the grand final.

Two croupiers from South America offered to find the group work in Argentina, so they decided to change their name from Los Caracas to Middle of the Road. They accompanied the singer Kathie Kay on a Mediterranean cruise ship and were set to join another line in Italy. Instead they ended up in Rome, with no money and without management. They did some local bookings and quite by chance were spotted by an executive from RCA Records in Italy.

The song "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" had previously been recorded by its Liverpudlian composer, Lally Stott, as well as Mac and Katie Kissoon, without making any headway. It had an insidious chorus and an eccentric lyric: was it social comment or simply about a bird which had been abandoned? Only Sally Carr thought that the song had potential, but Middle of the Road recorded it nevertheless. It became a hit first in Spain and Belgium and then, with support from Tony Blackburn on BBC Radio 1, soared up the UK charts and went to number one in June 1971.

The group's follow-up, "Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum", also written by Stott and about warring Scottish clans, went to number two and was used in a cinema ad for Fiat cars. Middle of the Road had further hits with the Spanish song "Soley Soley" (which went to number five), "Sacramento" (number 23) and "Samson and Delilah" (number 26), before disbanding in 1976.

Ken Andrew reformed the band with its original line-up in 1991, but Eric McCredie dropped out due to ill-health.

Spencer Leigh