Tag Archives: Pete Waterman

1984 ➤ How SAW pumped up the volume during the Swinging Eighties

Channel5, Mike Stock, Pete Waterman , Matt Aitken, TV, documentary

Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman and Mike Stock in their heyday. (Photo: PA)

❚ DO CATCH THE SIZZLING NEW TV DOCUMENTARY about Stock Aitken Waterman, the three musical geniuses who only had to press all the right buttons for an unknown singer, and inject a dance beat into their music to create one Top 10 hit after another. From 1984 the writing/producing team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman were to publish over 100 hit singles, producing and launching the pop careers of Hazell Dean, Dead or Alive, Bananarama, Sinitta, Princess, Mel & Kim, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. International stars such as Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Chic and Depeche Mode became external clients.

The detail of how SAW evolved their production line with Phil Harding at PWL Studios makes for awesome viewing in two programmes of 90 minutes each, the second going out on Channel 5 next Saturday. Pete Waterman compared their output to Motown in the 1960s: “Every five days we had to churn out a hit.”

➢ Stock Aitken Waterman: Legends of Pop – Catch up with the first episode on the C5 website now


➤ Index of posts for January

Boy George, John Themis, Bishop Porfyrios , icon,

Two-way exchange: Bishop Porfyrios reclaims his church’s 300-year-old icon of Christ in London, while as a thankyou, Boy George receives a modern version of Christ Pantokrator (right) from composer John Themis. Photo © AP

➢ George Michael celebrates his golden years of Faith

➢ Reliving the Blitz: two pocket fanzines and a request from Rusty Egan

➢ “Too posh for pop” — Grandpa Waterman condemns two decades of musicmakers

➢ 1981, Why naked heroes from antiquity stood in for Spandau on their first record sleeves

➢ Ferry backed by three bass players, Roxy back on the road — how cool is that?

Japan pop group, Mick Karn, Hammersmith Odeon , 1982, Sounds ,Chris Dorley-Brown

Karn onstage at Hammersmith Odeon, November 17, 1982: Japan’s final UK tour. Photographed for Sounds © by Chris Dorley-Brown

➢ 1981, The day they sold The Times, both Timeses

➢ George makes saintly gesture over stolen icon

➢ 1981, How Adam stomped his way across the charts to thwart the nascent New Romantics

➢ Life? Tough? At the Blitz reunion, Rusty delivers a message to today’s 20-year-olds (TV news video)

➢ The unknown Mr Big behind London’s landmark nightspot makes his return to the Blitz

➢ Va-va-vooom! goes the world’s smallest portable record player

➢ F-A-B! Thunderbirds stamps are go!

➢ Julia and Gaz share their secrets for ageing disgracefully

Return To The Blitz , Steve Strange, Rusty Egan, Red Rooms, Blitz Kids, New Romantics

Motormouths back in action: Strange and Egan interviewed on BBC London news in the club where they once reigned. Such were members’ powers of self-promotion at the Blitz, Egan said, that it was the 80s equivalent of Facebook Live!

➢ 2011, Strange and Egan return to the Blitz to kick off the 20-tweens

➢ 200 new acts tipped for the new year in music

➢ Most popular bits of Shapersofthe80s during 2010

➢ Farewell Mick Karn, master of the bass and harbinger for the New Romantics

➢ Prescott says Postlethwaite’s Brassed Off speech inspired New Labour in 1997

➢ Discover Ubu while Christopher Walken takes flight to Fatboy Slim

➢ Happy New Year from Frosty The Snowman and The Ronettes — and hear the smash that changed the sound of 60s pop

➢ List of posts for December 2010

The Ronettes, Phil Spector, Frosty the Snowman, Be My Baby, Wall of Sound, 1963

The Ronettes in 1963: beehive hair-dos and producer Phil Spector


➤ “Too posh for pop” — Grandpa Waterman condemns two decades of musicmakers

posh pop ,Florence Welch, Lily Allen, UK pop charts

Posh pop totty: Florence Welch and Lily Allen. Photos by Dave Hogan/Getty, and Icon/Rex

❚ HALF OF ALL PEOPLE WHO know who Pete Waterman is regard him as a genius. Or they did, until today’s outburst on BBC radio when he wrote off two decades of pop music. “It’s never been worse,” he harrumphed over breakfast on R4’s Today show, hinting at some insidious infection. His detractors have always condemned him as the schlock-meister who bulldozed the freshness of early 80s pop into oblivion by churning out some of the crassest tunes of the decade.

Waterman’s personal claim is to have created 22 UK number one singles, but the former apprentice electrician and club deejay is best-known as the founder of SAW, the Stock Aitken Waterman songwriting and production hit factory that put 100 singles into the UK top 40 chart and sold 40m records in a formulaic mix of Hi-NRG and Eurobeat (think Rick Astley, Jason Donovan, Hazell Dean, Mel & Kim, not forgetting Kylie). Immediately before impresario Simon Cowell stepped fully formed from the egg, Waterman left no less of an imprint on the British music scene through a strategy that skilfully avoided overestimating public taste.

➢ Hear the extended Waterman interview:
“It’s a totally different industry today — it’s all about job protection. It’s not what music is about”

What detonated 64-year-old, father-of-four Waterman this morning was the Today show. For no obvious reason it exhumed a survey from last month’s issue of The Word music magazine which had generated newspaper headlines in December by calculating that 60 per cent of current chart pop and rock acts must be middle class because they went to what we Brits paradoxically term “public” schools (meaning posh fee-paying private schools), compared with 20 per cent ten years ago. On average, fewer than a tenth of Brits attend fee-paying schools.

Examples cited were Lily Allen who boarded at Bedales, Grammy nominee Florence Welch from Alleyn’s School, the Nu-Folkies Mumford & Sons from King’s College School, and the not exactly current Coldplay’s Chris Martin from Sherborne, and Radiohead all ex-Abingdon.

Pete Waterman, Today programme,posh pop, The Word,

Pete Waterman: “pop has become snobbish”. Photograph © by Andrew Crowley

Bah humbug. Light blue touchpaper and off Pete goes, whizz-bang. “This has been a gripe I’ve had for over 20 years, and particularly right now. It’s never been worse,” he blasted.

“The major companies dominate and they see a CV and if you haven’t got 96 O-levels you ain’t getting a job. When all the A&R people wear Jack Wills clothes [slogan: Fabulously British clothes for the university crowd”] it tells you where they’re going. It’s become snobbish. It’s become a snobbish culture.”

Click through to the iPlayer to hear Pete in full spate on Today today. What he’s lamenting really is an end to John Lennon’s Working Class Hero who made British pop great in the swinging 60s — because he’d known what it was to live a hard life. “You’ve got to have lived the life to have sung the life.” Despite his honorary doctorate in music from University College Chester, Dr Waterman OBE concludes: “There’s no university in the world, ever, that has given you a degree in a hit record.”

➢ Read Has pop become posh? — Today reporter Tom Bateman at BBC News online

➢ How pop went posh — Will Hodgkinson front-paged the topic on the arts section of The Times, August 13, 2010 … Adds the ex-Rugby Horrors to the list of public-school suspects, along with Foals (Abingdon). “One of the reasons all these bands are emerging is because public schools have such great facilities,” says old Etonian Tom Bridgewater, MD at Loose Music. The Times tenuously lists the “Top schools of rock” as Abingdon (Radiohead), Bedales (Patrick Wolf), Eton (James Blunt), Marlborough (Chris de Burgh — Is he the latest Marlborough can offer?), Westminster (Mika), plus the free state-funded city college, The Brit School in Croydon (Amy Winehouse).


❚ Pete Waterman made one of the most inspirational guests on Desert Island Discs in 1995 by expressing real erudition about his industry and popular culture. In a model lesson that was worthy of the Open University, he explained how pop music worked. And he identified the three best groups in music history who defined the essence of pop: The Beatles, The Beach Boys and, unexpectedly but rightly, Abba.


For one year only, £75m deal reunites Take That dormice with mega-millionaire Robbie Williams

Take That and Party, Shame,Gary Barlow,£25m deal,Daily Mirror, 2010,Sunday Times Rich List, Nigel Martin Smith,Robbie Williams, reunions, Take That

First album: 1992, phew

❚ RUMOUR CONFIRMED & NOW UPDATED – Thank heavens they had nowt to do with the 80s, though what talent Take That possessed did define Britain’s archetypal squeaky-clean boyband of the 90s . . . Robbie Williams – the youngest of them at 36 – is of course the daddy financially, worth £80m at No 28 in The Sunday Times Rich List of Top 50 Musicians, 2010. Songwriter Gary Barlow, 39, languishes at No 48 on a mere £30m.

Thursday’s Daily Mirror was first to nail the potential rewards. It claimed that a new album, plus merchandise and 50-date tour next summer promoted by their pals at SJM will net £6m apiece for both Williams and Barlow as main songwriters, with £4.2m each to the three dormice, Mark Owen, 38, Jason Orange, 40, and Howard Donald, 42. So it’s trebles all round.

However, by Friday July 16, The Sun’s Bizarre editor Gordon Smart was upping the ante: “If you thought the boys were rich now, next Christmas is going to see them served up with a whole new level of wealth.”

The five men stand to make £15m each from an album deal, arena tour, royalties and other projects which have been lined up. Smart reported in detail: “A music industry expert explained how reformed Take That are set for a mega payday. The band will trouser £5m each from record sales, royalties, TV rights and endorsements – plus another £10m from their tour, which will reach out to a world record 3m people. He said: ‘One sold-out stadium will gross £2m for the band. Costs will swallow £1m per show, but after fifty dates the lads will be left with at least £50m.’ ”

Despite the smiles in pictures and news video this week, the group’s body language is stiff and unconvincing, especially in the sofa shots. Fans have been noting the cursory hugs and lack of eye contact. Orange looks conspicously sidelined. Upmarket papers have done little more than regurgitate the already well-worn publicity guff. Only the tabloids offer any inside info. Although a Sun headline on Thursday claimed Williams is “officially back for good”, there has been no such supporting claim in its extensive live online coverage. On July 16 Smart stated unequivocally: “There are no plans beyond this tour and album.”


Orange on Williams’s departure “When Robbie left I didn’t feel that much. For whatever reason, Robbie and I didn’t get on that well in the band”
Owen on Williams’s departure “I didn’t really think about it that much. I just know that I had two weeks to learn how to rap”
Williams on Barlow’s songwriting “I remember genuinely thinking he’s a genuinely crap songwriter”
Barlow on the success of Williams’s 1997 single Angels “I’ve never laid in bed wishing I was Robbie Williams, but I guess I lay in bed wishing I had his career”

Williams this week described the reunion as like “coming home” from a solo career that has lurched between brilliance and despair. He was speaking at a studio in West London where the new Take That were finishing the as yet unnamed CD, their first full album since the release of Nobody Else in 1995.

First, Barlow and Williams will release a jointly written duet, appropriately called Shame. The video for this song has a Brokeback Mountain theme, according to The Sun. The pair have been inseparable recently, and it pokes fun at the close and cathartic relationship they are said to have rekindled.

All five singers have written songs for the album, due out in November and produced by Stuart Price who is admired for his work with Madonna and Kylie. It is the first time the group has worked together since Williams walked out amid acrimony 15 years ago and went on to launch a successful solo career. The remaining members disbanded a year later but reformed in 2005. Williams went into rehab three years ago battling with addiction. Owen has also admitted to struggling with alcoholism in the past.

Hit Man and Her, UK, TV shows,pop, discotheques,Pete Waterman, Michaela Strachan, Take That, Manchester

The Hit Man and Her: Michaela Strachan and Pete Waterman presented the Saturday night dance show on British TV 1988-1992. Picture © Granada TV

Manchester manager Nigel Martin Smith brought the lads together when most were in their late teens. He hoped to emulate the success of US boyband New Kids On The Block, but only when he added 16-year-old body-popping Robbie Williams from Stoke-on-Trent did the magic kick in.

During their five-year boyband career, Take That produced one of the decade’s bestselling albums in Everything Changes. Between them, Take That and Williams have sold more than 80m albums, played to more than 14.5m people live, won 19 Brit Awards and had 13 No1 albums, 17 No1 singles, eight MTV awards and five Ivor Novello awards.

Take That first sang live as a group 20 years ago on the cringemaking television show The Hit Man and Her which stands today as an authentic slice of provincial social history. Fronted by the now legendary record producer Pete Waterman (him) and TV presenter Michaela Strachan (her), the show was recorded on Saturdays at “a disco somewhere in the North of England” and broadcast early on Sunday mornings in the local Granada region, then again three hours later to the South-East where more liberal licensing laws meant clubbers got home that much later.

Over four years the show became compulsive viewing for its uninhibited antics by crowd members participating in dance-offs and other embarrassing party games. Resident dancers included a black exhibitionist called Clive who habitually wore little more than a blond wig – another was Jason Orange himself, a member of the Manchester-based crew, Street Machine.

➢➢ Take That’s second appearance on the Hit Man and Her in 1990 was this hideously uncoordinated effort at The Discothèque Royale in Manchester, performing Waiting Around which sounds as if it were written for the dreary Rick Astley, yet became the B-side for their first single, Do What U Like. Predictably, their first three singles went nowhere . . .