Born in Tel Aviv in 1946, he began performing in night clubs in the late 1960s and in 1972, having already gained a huge following in Israel, he moved first to Europe and then to America where his act soon garnered coverage in the national media. By 1973 he was a household name in Britain, with TV and radio appearances by the bucket load, and major articles about him in the press.
Little more than a year after he first came to prominence he was propelled into the recording studio to cut his first (and thankfully only) pop album. Uri Geller features Uri’s own pretentious poetry put to music by pianist (and personal friend) Byron Janis. The result is a unique trip inside the mind of a notorious personality which will probably remain unmatched until turquoise jumpsuited New Age nutcase David Icke decides to commit his crazed beliefs about lizards running the world to vinyl.
Uri is rather proud of his album: “By talking over Byron’s beautiful music, putting all the passion and meaning I could into the lyrics which I had seemed to channel from above, I recorded an album that became a sensation. I truly believe nothing like it has ever been made.” You're not kidding. Featuring a brace of duets with British soul singer Maxine Nightingale, Beck is a huge fan: “The combination of surging romantic strings and mind over matter (and forks) poetry is a potent one. I picked this up on vinyl in the early 90's and it was a favourite to listen to while we were recording Odelay.” Allmusic.com’s Matt Collar describes it as ‘something like Peter Lorre doing a spoken-word album backed by the Carpenters’.
In his 1975 autobiography My Story, Geller writes that ‘When the record did appear in Europe in 1974, it was played over the radio in Switzerland. Sure enough, the station received hundreds of phone calls from people reporting that cutlery and keys were bending in their homes.’
Interestingly, around the time that Polydor were readying the Uri Geller album for release, Geller was to have appeared in a movie based on his life. The Geller Effect was to be produced by Aussie impresario Robert Stigwood with songs and incidental music by the Bee Gees. The project, which Maurice Gibb later described as “a sort of Star Wars-cum-Love Story” was abandoned, but 20 years later the legendary Ken Russell was behind the direct-to-video Mindbender, a film about Geller which co-incidentally did feature the Bee Gees on the soundtrack.
Uri Geller was reissued on CD in the UK in 1999. In recent years he has released several self-help and meditation CDs; thankfully none of them including material from Uri Geller. In 2007 Uri hosted a TV series in Israel on which he attempted to find his psychic successor: the show went on to be picked up by TV networks in America, Sweden, Turkey, Hungary, the Netherlands and Russia. Who could have predicted that one?