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Mike Oldfield

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Mike Oldfield

Mike Oldfield
Oldfield at the Night of the Proms in 2006
Background information
Birth name Michael Gordon Oldfield
Born (1953-05-15) 15 May 1953
Reading, Berkshire, England
Genres Progressive rock, world, folk, pop, classical, new-age, ambient, experimental, minimalist
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, producer, game designer
Instruments Guitar, bass, banjo, piano, percussion, keyboards, synthesizer, mandolin, vocals, harp, tympani, vibraphone, drums
Years active 1967–present
Labels Virgin, Reprise/Warner Bros., Mercury/Virgin EMI/Universal
Associated acts Maggie Reilly, Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, Alex Harvey, David Bedford, Anita Hegerland, Pekka Pohjola
Website .com.mikeoldfieldofficialwww

Michael Gordon "Mike" Oldfield (born 15 May 1953) is an English musician and composer. His work blends progressive rock with world, folk, classical, electronic, ambient, and new-age. He is best known for his 1973 album Tubular Bells – which launched Virgin Records and became a hit after its opening was used as the theme for the film The Exorcist – and for his 1983 hit single "Moonlight Shadow".[1] He is also known for his hit rendition of the Christmas piece "In Dulci Jubilo".

Oldfield has released more than 20 albums with the most recent being a rock themed album titled Man on the Rocks, released in 2014.

Biography

Early life

Oldfield's parents are Raymond Oldfield, a general practitioner, and Maureen Liston, an Irish nurse.[2] His sister Sally and brother Terry are also successful musicians and have appeared on several of Mike's albums. He also had a younger brother, David, who had Down's syndrome and died in infancy.[3] Mike Oldfield was born in the Battle Hospital in Reading, Berkshire, and he attended St. Joseph's Convent School, Highlands Junior School, St. Edward's preparatory school,[4] and Presentation College in Reading. When he was 13, he moved with his parents to Harold Wood in Essex and attended Hornchurch Grammar School, where, having already begun his career in music, he took just one GCE examination, in English.[4]

Early career

Oldfield's career began fairly early, playing acoustic guitar in local folk clubs. At this time, he already had two 15-minute instrumental pieces in which he would "go through all sorts of moods", precursors to his landmark 1970s compositions. In his early teens, Oldfield was involved in a beat group playing The Shadows-style music (he has often cited Hank Marvin as a major influence, and would later cover The Shadows' song "Wonderful Land"). In 1967, Oldfield and his sister formed the folk duo The Sallyangie and were signed to Transatlantic Records after exposure in the local folk scene. An album, Children of the Sun, was issued in 1968. After The Sallyangie disbanded, he formed another duo, called Barefoot, with his brother, which took him back to rock music.[5]

In 1970, Oldfield joined The Whole World – former Soft Machine vocalist Kevin Ayers's backing group – playing bass and occasionally lead guitar. He is featured on two Ayers albums, Whatevershebringswesing and Shooting at the Moon. The band also included keyboardist and composer David Bedford, who quickly befriended Oldfield, encouraged him in his composition of an early version of Tubular Bells and later arranged and conducted an orchestral version of the Tubular Bells album. Oldfield was also the reserve guitarist for the musical Hair and played with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.[6]

Having recorded sections of this early version of Tubular Bells as demo pieces, Oldfield attempted to persuade record labels to take on the Tubular Bells project. Nothing came of his efforts until September 1971, when he attended recording sessions at The Manor Studio – owned by a young Richard Branson and run by engineers Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth – as bass guitarist for the Arthur Louis Band. Branson already had a number of business ventures and was about to start his own record label, Virgin Records. Newman and Heyworth heard some of Oldfield's demo music and took it to Branson and Simon Draper, who eventually gave Oldfield one week's worth of recording at The Manor. During this time, he completed "Part One" of Tubular Bells; "Part Two" was then compiled over a number of months.[7]

Virgin years (1973–1991)

Tubular Bells became Oldfield's most famous work. The instrumental composition was recorded in 1972 and launched on 25 May 1973 as the inaugural album of Richard Branson's label Virgin Records. The album was groundbreaking, as Oldfield played more than twenty different instruments in the multi-layered recording made in Branson's Manor Studio, and its style moved through many diverse musical genres. Its 2,630,000 UK sales put it at No. 34 on the list of the best-selling albums in the country. In the US, it received attention with the opening theme appearing on the soundtrack of The Exorcist film. The title track subsequently became a top 10 hit single in the US as well and is today considered to be a forerunner of the new-age movement.[8] In 1974, Oldfield played guitar on the critically acclaimed album Rock Bottom by Robert Wyatt. In the autumn of 1974, the follow-up LP, Hergest Ridge, was No. 1 in the UK for three weeks before being dethroned by Tubular Bells. Although Hergest Ridge was released over a year after Tubular Bells, it reached No. 1 first. Tubular Bells spent 11 weeks (10 of them consecutive) at No. 2 before its one week at the top. In 1979, Oldfield's music was used as the musical score for The Space Movie, a Virgin movie that celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.[9]

Like Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge is a two-movement instrumental piece, this time evoking scenes from Oldfield's Herefordshire country retreat. It was followed in 1975 by the pioneering world music piece Ommadawn and, in 1978, Incantations, which introduced more diverse choral performances from Sally Oldfield, Maddy Prior, and the Queen's College Girls Choir. In 1975, Oldfield recorded a version of the Christmas piece "In Dulci Jubilo" which charted at No. 4 in the UK. Oldfield's 1976 rendition of "Portsmouth" remains his best-performing single on the UK Singles Chart, reaching No. 3.[10]

In 1975, Oldfield received a Grammy award for Best Instrumental Composition in "Tubular Bells – Theme from The Exorcist". In 1976, Oldfield and his sister joined his friend and band member Pekka Pohjola to play on his album Mathematician's Air Display, which was released in 1977. The album was recorded and edited at Oldfield's Througham Slad Manor ==Taxonavigation==

Selected references

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