- This page is about Malta's first Eurovision Song Contest performer. For other people called Joe Grech or Joseph Grech, see Joseph Grech (disambiguation).
Joe Grech (born 9 February 1934) is a popular Maltese singer from Bormla, who has been active in the local music scene since the 1950s. He married Josephine née' Buttigieg on 24 September 1961. They have a daughter Marcelle, also a versatile singer. At a very early stage in his life, Joe started to play the trumpet with the Żejtun Band Club, but his real love was singing, even though he featured on stage with the Stage Commandos.
He was the first singer to win the first Malta Song Festival in 1960, a festival which was organized by the Żgħażagħ Ħaddiema Nsara, the local section of the Young Christian Workers. The festival was held at the Radio City Opera House in Ħamrun, Malta. Ten songs were presented in the semi final of Thursday 3 November and another ten songs on the semi-final of Friday 4 November. Out of these twenty songs, ten made it to the final night of Saturday 5 November 1960. The Winning Song was Joe Grech's own composition "Vola Uccellino".
The festival was also transmitted on Rediffusion Malta, then a cable radio service provider in Malta since September 1935. Victor Aquilina and Marlene Lauri were the comperes of this festival. Two orchestras conducted by Prof. Giorlando Valente and Mro Dominic Vella respectively accompanied the ten songs. Eight of these songs were sung in Italian, one in English and one in Maltese, the latter being "L-Ghada tal-Festa Ma' Vitorin", sung by Frans Fenech and Terry L. Bencini. Incidentally Terry was also awarded the Best Singer Trophy of this festival.
Eleven years later, Malta took part in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time, and Joe was the Maltese chosen singer who represented Malta in the contest held in Dublin with his song Marija l-Maltija on 3 April 1971. The song was composed by Joe Grech himself with lyrics written by Charles Mifsud. The Eurovision Song Contest orchestra was conducted by Maestro Anthony Chircop, the brother of another Maltese tenor and film star Oreste Kirkop of 1956 film The Vagabond King fame.
Incidentally it was Oreste Kirkop himself who had presented the winning trophy to Joe Grech on the night of that first 1960 Malta Song Festival. The song Marija l-Maltija was translated into Swedish and was included in the repertoire of the Swedish singer Lasse Berghagen.
In 1965 the "Impresa Valente" chose Joe Grech to represent Malta in the Italian Festival of Martina Franca. Another Maltese singer, Tony Agius, participated in this festival too. In those days, it was very rare for a Maltese singer to participate in an Italian festival, let alone win a trophy as the Best Foreign Singer. Then Italian High Commissioner of Italy for Malta, Signor Antonio Spada, presented the trophy to Joe Grech.
In 1967 Joe managed to establish himself as one of Malta's most popular pop singers. His 45 rpm entitled Il-Kaċċatur (The Hunter), published on Maltadisk APL 1005 B,and recorded by Audiovision Productions, with their studios then located in Zachary Street, Valletta, and now at Mile End in Ħamrun, started selling like pastizzi (cheese-cakes) in Malta. It also made a tremendous success in countries where the Maltese and the Gozitans had a diaspora, especially Australia. Il-Kaccatur was composed by Joseph Ciappara with lyrics by Dr George Zammit. Joe Grech was accompanied by Spiro Zammit's orchestra. He also recorded Il-Festa Tagħna and Ku Klu Ku Klu on 78rpm vinyl with the Maltadisk lable in the late Sixties.
Incidentally Il-Kaccatur was designated as the "B" side of the record, with Carmen Schembri singing L-Ghanja tal-Emigranti (The Emigrants Song) being the "A" side. Again in 1967, Rediffusion Malta, published the first long playing album of Maltese compositions, entitled Malta Song Festival 1967. Joe Grech, together with Mary Rose Darmanin won this festival with the song Serenata. Roger Moore was the guest of honour in this 8th Malta Song Festival which was also held at the Radio City Opera House in Ħamrun on Saturday 8 December 1967. In this same festival, Joe Grech sang also O Carina Maddalena. The song was composed by Arthur Desira. It is included as the 2nd track on Side 1 of this album. Joe Grima and Victor Aquilina, then Head Of Programmes and Assistant Head Of Programmes respectively of Rediffusion Malta, were the producers of this first 33 rpm of Maltese songs.
Prior to the 1971 Eurovision entry he had released Il-Kaċċatur, A former popular singer in Maltese night clubs, Grech also toured the British music circuit with Bayliss Organization. He has also released a long play entitled Saħħa Malta, that was recorded with W & G Records of Melbourne, popular with Maltese emigrants in Australia, Canada and the United States. The song Evviva l-Maltin was written specifically for his audience in Australia and is still popular with the Maltese diaspora.
A former popular singer in Maltese night clubs, Grech also toured the British music circuit with Bayliss Organization. He has also released a long play entitled Saħħa Malta, recorded with W & G Records of Melbourne, popular with Maltese emigrants in Australia, Canada and the United States. The song Evviva l-Maltin was written specifically for his audience in Australia and is still popular with the Maltese diaspora.
In the early 1970s, Joe successfully toured the London, Scottish and Irish circuits. He also had many successful tours in Canada, America, Italy and Australia. It was during one of these tours in the early 1970s that Joe Grech, under the management of Joe Stafrace, recorded a Long Playing Album "Saħħa Malta With Joe Grech". The orchestra on this LP was composed mostly of members of the Sydney Opera House orchestra, under the direction of Joe Paparone. The song "Evviva l-Maltin" was composed by Joe himself, specifically for his Australian tour and was dedicated to the several thousands of Maltese living down under. In 1976, Joe performed at the Royal Ballroom of Melbourne, and on 12 March 1977, he gave a spectacular show at the Sydney Opera House.
- Saħħa Malta
- 1995: Eviva L-Maltin
- 2000: Katarin
- 1968: Il-Kaċċatur
- 1968: Ku Klu Ku Klu
- Il-Festa Tagħna
- 1969: Mananni Fl-Imnarja
- 1969: Malta Tagħna
- Saħħa Malta
- Lizew Tal-Fifra
- 1969: Il-lejl tal-Vitorja
- 1971: Marija l-Maltija
- 1971: In-Nassab
- 1972: Welcome To Malta