Ozzy Osbourne, Liam Payne, Cat Deeley and more: The Midlands stars who have conquered America

Staffordshire | Entertainment | Published:

Some are global superstars, others can walk in the street unnoticed. A number are in their prime, while one is sadly no longer with us.

But they all have one thing in common – they are from the Midlands and they have all conquered America

Liam Payne

Liam Payne

With nearly 24 million Twitter followers and four American debut number one albums, few people have taken the US by storm like Liam Payne.

As a member of One Direction, the Wolverhampton-born singer was part of the first British band in US chart history to enter at number one with their debut album Up All Night in 2011.

The group was inducted into the Guinness World Records as a result and Up All Night also became the first album by a boy band to sell 500,000 digital copies in the US.

By August 2012, it had sold more than three million copies worldwide.

The band would go on to achieve four debut number one albums – the first time it had ever happened in the history of the American chart Billboard 200.


Screaming hordes of teenage girls would gather to just get a glimpse of Liam, Harry, Niall, Louis and Zak – drawing comparisons to The Beatles.

One Direction: This Is Us, a 3D documentary and concert film about the group directed by Morgan Spurlock was released in 2013. The film features the song 'Best Song Ever', topping the UK and US box offices and grossing over $60 million worldwide.

It became the fourth highest-grossing concert movie.

The band's Where We Are Tour in support of Midnight Memories and Four, was the highest-grossing concert tour in 2014, and the highest-grossing tour ever by a vocal group, generating $282 million.


In the same year Billboard named One Direction Artist of the Year.

Liam is known as one of the principal writers in One Direction, credited for co-writing more than half of the songs on the band's third and fourth album.

And he is currently dating fellow singer Cheryl who is believed to be pregnant with their baby.

And all by the ripe old age of 23.

Peter Vaughan

Peter Vaughn

To most people on this side of the Atlantic, Shropshire-born actor Peter Vaughan is best remembered for his role as gangland boss Harry Grout in prison sitcom Porridge.

But his role as Maester Aemon in US fantasy series Game of Thrones opened his work up to a new generation of fans all over the world, making him into a global star.

Vaughan was born Peter Ohm in Wem in 1923, moving to Wellington near Telford as a child. He said it was at this time, when he recited a poem at primary school, that gave him a taste for performing in front of an audience. After leaving school he joined Wolverhampton Repertory Theatre, and made his film debut in The 39 Steps in 1959.

His aunt Iris Ohm had been a founder member of Wem Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society, and remained the society's patron until his death in December last year.

He regularly returned to Wem, even at the height of his fame in the 1970s. After Porridge, he played Charlie Johnson in Citizen Smith, and later appeared in Chancer and Our Friends in the North.

Jonathan Ive

Jonathan Ive

You may not recognise his picture or his name – but Sir Jonathan Ive has not only conquered America, but the world.

He is Apple's chief designer and was responsible for the look of the iPhone, iPad, the iPod and the iMac.

Based in Silicon Valley he is estimated to be worth more than £150 million and more than 1.3 billion products he has designed have been sold worldwide.

But Sir Jonathan, known as Jony, has humble roots in Staffordshire.

He was born in London but part of his childhood was spent in in Stafford where he went to Walton High School.

It was while in the county that he developed an interest in cars which led him to become a designer.

He graduated with a first class degree in Newcastle, spent a small time working in London before joining Apple in 1992. It was here he formed a formidable partnership with the late Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Sir Jonathan, aged 49, described Jobs as his 'closest friend'.

As well as designing the company's products he also designed the firm's Apple Stores and the company's new huge spaceship-style headquarters known as Apple Campus 2.

At Apple Sir Jonathan runs his own laboratory. Only his own team of around 15 designers and top Apple executives are allowed into the laboratory as it contains all of the concepts that the design team is working on.

Despite being one of the most influential designers in modern times, he keeps an extremely low profile.

He is married with twin boys and his family live in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco and he avoids publicity.

Cat Deeley

Cat Deeley

You know you've made it in America when they turn you yellow. And that happened to Cat Deeley in March 2015 when she starred in the 26th series of The Simpsons.

Born in West Bromwich in 1976, the 40-year-old grew up in Great Barr and Sutton Coldfield and played clarinet in the Sandwell Youth Concert Band.

After a career in modelling and presenting children's TV in Britain with Ant and Dec, she made her break over the Atlantic in 2006 by hosting the second season of American reality show So You Think You Can Dance. She has presented the show ever since.

In April 2011 she co-hosted the CNN coverage of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton which was broadcast to millions in the US and across the world. And from there her career over the pond exploded.

Later that year she hosted Live with Regis and Kelly – the American equivalent of This Morning – as a fill-in for Kelly. In March 2012 she appeared as a guest judge on Tyra Banks' show America's Next Top Model and presented Fox's celebrity dating game show The Choice.

In 2014, she took to sitcom, playing Camomile White in Deadbeat, an original comedy series. Then in March 2015, she joined the ranks of Michael Jackson, Ringo Starr, and Stephen Hawking when The Simpsons came calling. She played herself as the host of a reality competition series which looks to find the new 'Duffman'.

Quite a rise for the girl from Great Barr.

Clint Mansell

Clint Mansell

Clint Mansell made his name as the dreadlocked frontman of Stourbridge alternative rock band Pop Will Eat Itself.

But, more than 20 years after hanging up his leather slacks, 54-year-old Mansell has reinvented himself as one of Hollywood's foremost composers of movie soundtracks.

His career in the movies industry began in 1996, when film director Darren Aronofsky commissioned him to write the score for his film Pi.

Aronofsky hired him again for his next film Requiem for a Dream, and his music has been used in every single one of Aronofsky's films since.

Today he is so highly regarded in the US that Madonna invited him round to her place to talk about possible collaborations.

Mansell received a hero's welcome when he played at Birmingham's Symphony Hall last year with a string group.

Playing songs from his most notable film scores, he moved an audience that seemed to comprise anyone who had ever met him, been in a band, promoted a gig or written about his career.

He probably won't be dusting down his leather trousers anytime soon.

Ozzy Osbourne

He became as renowned for his dysfunctional home life as he did his music but the name Ozzy Osbourne is instantly recognisable in virtually every American home.

The Osbournes ran for 52 episodes and four series and in 2002 became MTV's most watched programme ever – bringing the heavy metal singer to a whole new audience and generation.

But Ozzy had long since conquered the States.

Born in Birmingham, he lived in the village of Ranton Green between Stafford and Newport, while in the group Black Sabbath.

Despite only a modest investment from their US record label Warner Bros Records, Black Sabbath met with swift and enduring success with early records such as their debut album Black Sabbath and then Paranoid selling huge numbers.

Just five months after the release of Paranoid the band released Master of Reality. The album reached the top 10 in both the United States and the UK. Volume 4 was released in September 1972. It achieved gold status in less than a month.

Ozzy was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979 yet went on to have a successful solo career, releasing 11 studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certification over the Atlantic.

Osbourne's total album sales from his years in Black Sabbath, combined with his solo work, is over 100 million. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2006.

In the 90s he even ran his own heavy metal festival in the US, Ozzfest, which has attracted more than five million people. And in 2012, Ozzy was given a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ben Lambert

Ben Lambert

A special talent for special effects has taken Ben Lambert from the Mid Wales town of Newtown in Powys to the bright lights of Los Angeles, where he has rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Probably the pinnacle of the 38-year-old's career came with the 2013 sci-fi film Gravity, which won the Bafta award for best visual effects.

Four days before picking up the Bafta in February 2015, Ben and three colleagues, had scooped another prestigious honour for the film with the Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture award at the Visual Effects Society (VES) awards in LA.

Ben is a visual effects artist for Framestore, one of Europe's largest visual effects and animation studios.

Before his success with Gravity, he had previously worked as a modelling supervisor on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One.

Ben and his team were responsible for digitally modelling and animating Dobby in the film – a task which also earned him and three other Framestore employees first place in the Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture section at the 2011 Visual Effects Society awards. His credits list some of the largest films of recent years including Avatar, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Tale of Despereaux, Superman Returns, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Troy.

K K Downing

K K Downing

As a teenager growing up in West Bromwich in the mid-1960s, Ken Downing scraped together £10 to buy his first guitar.

"Once I got that I managed to get a chord book," he says.

"At the time, I used to knock around with a few friends who were basically doing the same as me. We'd all sit around somebody's house in the evenings and there would be a bit of rivalry as to who could remember the most chords.

"It wasn't long before I wanted to get an electric guitar, because that's what all these guys were playing on the records.

"So, because I couldn't afford a proper one, I made my own out of few bits and pieces."

Today, the former bass player with heavy metal band Judas Priest is unlikely to find himself short of the funds for a new axe.

He has lived in Los Angeles and Florida and still owns a home in Spain, but for the past 31 years his main home as been the stunning Astbury Hall in Chelmarsh, near Bridgnorth.

While his love of rock music did not go down especially well with his family – he was ordered to leave the family home at 15, and dropped out of school soon after – his partnership with singer Rob Halford and guitarist Glenn Tipton made Judas Priest a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, having sold more than 45 million albums.

While on tour in Denmark, a girl was unable to pronounce Ken's name, and decided to call him "K K" instead, and the moniker stuck.

It was the 1982 album Screaming For Vengeance which broke the band in the US, with sales reaching double platinum.

The video for "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" was in constant rotation on the new music channel MTV, and the single itself reached No 6 in the US charts.

The World Vengeance tour continued their upsurge and by 1983 the band had conquered every corner of America.

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