Mike Oldfield - ten years of success
Mike Oldfield was just 17 years old when he wrote the music for an album on which he also performed all the instrumental work. The record was called Tubular Bells, and it sold more than five million copies, one and a half million of them in Britain alone.
That was ten years ago. Today, as he releases his eighth studio album, now in compact disc form, and prepares to move into film score writing, Oldfield at 29 has endured as one of Britain's most restlessly creative and respected musicians.
Who would have expected the quiet personality of Oldfield to adopt and embrace heavy metal music? Yet that's one of the sounds on his surprising new album, CRISES.
"I've always liked what they now call heavy metal" says Mike Oldfield. "We used to simply call it rock. To me it's just very exciting music and I really enjoy playing it."
And this new album - featuring such powerful vocal guests as Roger Chapman, Jon Anderson and Maggie Reilly - is bound to raise many eyebrows because of the style.
Ten years of making successful music have not blunted the ambition or the dry sense of humour of Mike Oldfield. After Tubular Bells came Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, the double album Incantations, Platinum, QE2 and Five Miles Out - but Mike is realistic enough to know that Tubular Bells is the title for which he is most famous. Accordingly, he opens his new album CRISES with a reprise of the Tubular Bells theme.
"I'm very proud of it as a piece of music and always will be," he says. "Recently, I was talking to well known producers like Martin Rushent, Trevor Horn and Tony Mansfield, and it was a surprise and a pleasure to me that 'Tubular Bells' was such an influential sound to them. Trevor told me that 'Incantations' was something he had played in his car on the way to work. It's good to feel that the record made an impact on contemporary musicians and producers." Tubular Bells, which crossed all the musical barriers to appeal to young and adult audiences alike, still sells between 50,000 and 100,000 copies a year internationally.
For his new album, Mike Oldfield has enlisted the production help of Simon Phillips, the brilliant drummer, who acts with Mike as co-producer "and he's really superb at both roles," says Oldfield.
All the songs are Oldfield's. "One side is very commercial, full of singles, while the other is more the material I want to do for personal satisfaction," says Mike. "It's a case of keeping everybody happy." Three tracks which are bound to attract attention are 'Moonlight Shadow,' sung by Maggie Reilly, 'In High Places' with Jon Anderson and 'Shadow On The Wall,' inspired by the plight of the people of Poland and sung with the great passion of Roger Chapman.
Contrary to the impression of the title of his new album, Oldfield does not feel in any crisis whatsoever. "I'm happy - better than ever, in fact," says the man who lives in a house which has its own recording studio in Buckinghamshire. Mike and his lady handle all his business affairs. "Ten years in the music business have educated me well! I used to think that music was precious. Now I'm more inclined to think that it's something you can either do or you can't. I used to be arrogant and conceited. Not now...I just get on with my work..."
Back to Crises page