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SHAKIN' STEVENS

Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:55 pm

Michael Barratt, who would adopt the stage name Shakin' Stevens, was the youngest of 11 children born in Ely, a suburb on the outskirts of Cardiff in South Wales to Jack and May Barratt. His father was a First World War veteran who by 1948 was working in the building trade. The oldest of his siblings were born in the later part of the 1920s, and by the time of his birth some of them were already married and had children of their own. Jack Barratt died in 1972 at the age of 75, while May survived until 1984 and the age of 79.[1] [4]

Shaky married his wife Carole on 7 October 1967 and they have three children. At the time of their marriage, his official occupation was a milkman, and they lived in a flat which formed part of an office block in inner-city Cardiff. The office block was demolished several years later.

As a teenager in the mid 1960s Barratt formed his first amateur rock and roll band with school friends and became its vocalist and frontman. Originally named The Olympics, then The Cossacks, the short lived band finally renamed as The Denims and performed gigs in the local Cardiff and South Wales area.

In the late 1960s Stevens was associated with the Young Communist League (YCL), the youth wing of the Communist Party of Great Britain - playing at YCL events. At the time the YCL was associated with several leading music industry figures, including Pete Townshend.



Shakin' Stevens and the Sunsets

He began his professional performing career during 1968, fronting Shakin' Stevens and the Sunsets, created and managed by South Wales rock and roll promoter and impresario Paul 'Legs' Barrett (no relation as the surname is spelt differently anyway!). The Sunsets were a 1950s-influenced rock'n'roll outfit from Penarth, South Glamorgan that had evolved from a band, previously called The Backbeats since 1958,[3] who invited Stevens to join them after he had been an avid fan of the band for several years and occasionally hopped on stage to do a guest vocal.

An early break for Shaky and the band presented itself when they were given a support slot for The Rolling Stones in December 1969. Despite landing a recording contract with Parlophone Records the following year and releasing a Dave Edmunds produced album, the optimistically and prematurely titled A Legend, the band found success hard to come by, at least in their native Great Britain, though they had several hit singles in other countries. The band toured Germany and the Netherlands in between regular UK dates as the band's reputation for staging a vibrant and exciting show grew.

1977, after seven years of constant touring and recording, Shaky had been spotted during a London Sunset's gig by Jack Good who personally invited him to attend a London audition for his planned new West End "Elvis!" musical. Three actors were to portray Elvis's life during the course of the show and Shaky landed one of the lead roles, playing Elvis in his prime charting, army and movie star years, with young actor Tim Whitnall covering the earlier formative years and veteran 1960s singer P J Proby taking over the part for Elvis's 'Las Vegas' years.

The rest of the Sunsets waited in South Wales, doing occasional performances with drummer Robert 'Rockin Louis' Llewellyn taking the frontman duties, but fully expecting Shaky to return to the band and recommence touring after the show's planned short six month run. However, the expectations were overtaken by subsequent events. The media wise Good made sure that both the audition process and the early months of the show were widely and regularly covered by the British daily press and TV shows. The photogenic Shakin' Stevens came to such prominence that almost overnight all agegroups of the UK population knew who he was. During the "Elvis!" show's highly successful and then twice extended two year run Shaky made regular TV appearances, firstly on Good's revived British ITV show Oh Boy and later on his follow up 30 week long series Let's Rock that was syndicated in thirty two countries including the United States. This led almost inevitably to his first major chart success with a cleverly reworked version of a Buck Owens song "Hot Dog", which Owens would go on to re-record using Stevens's arrangement, which had been created by pedal steel guitar player B.J. Cole.

In late 1979, Shaky signed what was to be his most successful management deal with music industry doyenne Freya Miller, who immediately advised Stevens to sever his association with The Sunsets and continue developing a more lucrative solo career. Under Miller's deft hand, in 1981, Shaky scored his first UK chart topping number 1 with "This Ole House" and would follow up with ten more songs reaching the top five, including three number 1 hits with "Green Door", "Oh Julie" and "Merry Christmas Everyone", while "You Drive Me Crazy" and "A Love Worth Waiting For" reached number 2 in 1981 and 1984 respectively. His 1984 hit "Teardrops", which reached #5 in the UK, featured Hank B. Marvin on guitar and Stevens has often featured famous musicians such as Albert Lee, Roger Taylor, Bonnie Tyler and more recently Tony Joe White on his recordings. Chart successes also included his album Shaky reaching number 1 in the album charts. In the mid 1980s, Stevens reunited with former producer Dave Edmunds to record an album Lipstick, Powder and Paint and the Christmas smash Merry Christmas Everyone, which was a number 1 hit over Christmas 1985. Its original planned release was put back by a year to avoid clashing with the runaway success of Band Aid's charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?", to which he did not contribute, having been out of the country touring at the time of recording. Despite Stevens's chart domination over the previous few years, he was not invited to perform at Live Aid on 13 July 1985.[1] That year he became the first artist to appear 50 times on Top of the Pops.

In a Record Collector magazine feature, writer Kris Griffiths wrote: "This was Shaky at the very zenith of his powers and, perhaps, the breaking-point of marketing overload from which there is only decline. Such concentrated commercial success and ubiquity came with a price." [5] The hits continued but chart placings declined throughout the later 1980s and early 1990s. It was in the 1990s that Stevens took a lengthy break from recording and was stung by a court ruling, relating to unpaid royalties from the Legend album which had been re-released to some commercial success, requiring a substantial payout to former band members of the Sunsets. In 1999, Shaky returned to performing live and undertook tours all that year and the following year.

Stevens hit a low point in January 2002 when he was very publicly convicted of a drink-driving charge and banned from driving for two years, but in 2004 things started to look up again when he had a further platinum CD / DVD album in Denmark and a gold album in South Africa.

In the sitcom I'm Alan Partridge, Stevens's fictional endorsement of Partridge's book Bouncing Back - in which he described it as "lovely stuff" - was supposedly critical to its success.

In 2005, he returned once again to the charts in the United Kingdom, with his greatest hits album The Collection, which reached the UK top 5. That year, he also appeared in the video to Tony Christie's and Peter Kay's #1 hit single "Is This the Way to Amarillo", alongside many other UK stars, including Ronnie Corbett, Jim Bowen, Michael Parkinson and Geoffrey Hayes. He was the winner on the reality television show, Hit Me Baby One More Time. This was quickly followed by a re-release of his cover and his own biggest hit sung in the show, ("Trouble" covering Pink's version) / "This Ole House"), which reached #20 on the UK Singles Chart in June 2005, his 33rd Top 40 hit in the United Kingdom.

In May 2007, Stevens released a new album entitled Now Listen with the album being released first in Denmark. In December 2007, Stevens re-entered the UK charts with a re-issue of "Merry Christmas Everyone" twenty two years after its original launch, reaching a UK chart position of 22.

Chris Evans featured a special Shaky Week on his Radio 2 show during early March 2008 to celebrate Stevens's 60th birthday and later in 2008, despite his aging years, Shaky embarked on a string of major concerts in the UK and Europe that started at Lulworth Castle on 4 July. On 24 August 2008 Shakin' Stevens performed at a major concert in Poland featuring many European pop stars of the 1980s, including Kim Wilde, Thomas Anders (ex-Modern Talking), Samantha Fox, Sandra Cretu, Sabrina Salerno and Limahl. The concert formed a part of the Sopot International Song Festival 2008 and was presented live on the Polish television channel TVN. To wind up 2008 Stevens followed his European tour with a short tour of Ireland and an appearance at London's O2 Arena, supported by a ten-piece band. His appearances in 2009 opened with a tour of Poland to coincide with the Polish release of the Now Listen album.

In mid July 2006, Shaky took to the stage at an open air concert 'The Big Buzz' in Swansea, Wales. He was top of the bill, and performed a repertoire of his hits, including "Oh Julie", "Marie Marie" and "Turning Away". He also performed two songs from his most recent album, Now Listen ("Now Listen" and "Baby It's You"). The concert also featured Dave Edmunds and was broadcast live on BBC Radio Wales.

Stevens's original band The Sunsets have continued to perform regularly over the years without him and still tour annually in the UK, Europe and Australia with a show of authentic vintage rock and roll. In recent years the band has been fronted by Shaky's younger nephew, Levi Barrett.

In April 2008, it was announced that Shakin' Stevens would be performing at 2008's Glastonbury Festival as the opening act on the Pyramid stage on Saturday 28 June, which he did, opening the day at 11am to a capacity crowd - several hours before the BBC started to film the day's performers for broadcast, although Stevens' performance still received media attention.[8] On 8 December 2009 Shaky played a one - off gig at the O2 Academy Islington to promote the release of the "The Epic Masters Box Set" (released 16 November 2009) which marks the thirtieth anniversary of his first hit "Hot Dog".

On 10 December 2009, Stevens appeared in court in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, charged with assaulting photographer Hugo McNiece at the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena on 3 December.[9] In January 2010 he was convicted of the assault and criminal damage in the case. He was fined a total of £300 and ordered to pay McNeice £479 to compensate for the damage to his camera lens.[10]

Stevens was rushed to hospital after he collapsed at his home in Windsor in July 2010. This resulted from exhaustion brought on by the stress of working on a new album.[11] It was later revealed that Stevens suffered a major heart attack which caused him to be hospitalised for two months after strenuous work gardening in his home, in Windsor.[12] He fully recovered and in 2011 embarks on a 19-date 30th Anniversary Tour, backed by a 10-piece band, celebrating his success in the UK and Europe.
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Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:39 pm

When did he become a "classic artist"?

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:02 pm

midnightx wrote:When did he become a "classic artist"?


As the best selling artist of the 1980s in the UK he is in a way 'a classic artist' for many people who grew up with his music.
But ofcourse, you didn't read his full biography, did you?

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:06 pm

MORERO wrote:
midnightx wrote:When did he become a "classic artist"?


As the best selling artist of the 1980s in the UK he is in a way 'a classic artist' for many people who grew up with his music.
But ofcourse, you didn't read his full biography, did you?

I read what you posted. I don't consider him a "classic artist" alongside the greats in music, but I'm glad you do.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Wed Apr 27, 2011 12:37 am

Shakin' Stevens is certainly a classic artist in the UK.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:39 am

Good Time Charlie wrote:Shakin' Stevens is certainly a classic artist in the UK.

Is he bigger than Spandau Ballet?

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:07 am

to alot of ppl Shaky was the biggest male artists of the 80's and to compare him with spandau Ballet is a joke. He had more top 10 hits than most ppl in the 80's and that includes spandau ballet so yes he was bigger and he was very big in other places in Europe. Im proud to say ive seen him a few times live and the first time was when he played middle Elvis in the musical Elvis at the apollo in london.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:09 pm

xmascarrol wrote:to alot of ppl Shaky was the biggest male artists of the 80's and to compare him with spandau Ballet is a joke.

Whooosh!

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:28 pm

midnightx wrote:
xmascarrol wrote:to alot of ppl Shaky was the biggest male artists of the 80's and to compare him with spandau Ballet is a joke.

Whooosh!


LOL.

In all seriousness though, I would say both Spandau Ballet and Shakin' Stevens are worthy of being in a Classic Artists thread. Spandau Ballet are certainly a more credible artistic group than the old Elvis-a-like that is shaky boy.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Wed May 04, 2011 1:09 pm

Shaky was very popular among the teenyboppers in the early 80's. I know he has shown a lot of them the way to become an Elvis fan (me included). So, you'll have to give him some credit there ! Without Shaky I may never have become an Elvis fan, or maybe I would, it's something I'll never know.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Wed May 04, 2011 1:28 pm

Shakin48 wrote:Shaky was very popular among the teenyboppers in the early 80's. I know he has shown a lot of them the way to become an Elvis fan (me included). So, you'll have to give him some credit there ! Without Shaky I may never have become an Elvis fan, or maybe I would, it's something I'll never know.

The guy should be knighted simply for recording the likes of Hot Dog, Lovestruck, Hey Mae and Marie Marie !
You can't knock Shaky.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 6:30 am

elvisalisellers wrote:The guy should be knighted simply for recording the likes of Hot Dog, Lovestruck, Hey Mae and Marie Marie !
You can't knock Shaky.


Not sure about the knighthood :) He did have a really good rock 'n' roll band early on though and yes "Hey Mae" was a great cover:

phpBB [video]

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 10:32 am

I.m.o. He did some 'definitive' versions on songs, he knocks ALL of the Twitty covers out of the water (f.i. Lonely Blue Boy and Make Me Know You're Mine) they are fantastic and I play them -loud- on many days ... Shaky is great and his second Epic album, Marie, Marie (or This Ole House) is a classic !!
Last edited by memphisflash on Tue May 17, 2011 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 12:20 pm

memphisflash wrote:I.m.o. He did some 'definitive' versions on songs, he knocks ALL of the Twitty covers out of the water (f.i. Lonely Blue Boy and Make Me Know You're Mine) they are fantastic and I play them -loud- on many days ... Shaky is great and his first Epic album, Marie, Marie (or This Ole House) is a classic !!

Yes that first epic album is a true classic - There is hardly a dud on it. Brings back so many great memories.
Can't believe i picked up the Epic Masters box-set brand new for a little over £8.00 not so long back - What a bargain !
I have noticed though that some of his pre-epic releases can be very expensive to obtain, i'm guessing it's because they were produced in limited amounts. Which are the rarest ?

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 12:30 pm

elvisalisellers wrote:
memphisflash wrote:I.m.o. He did some 'definitive' versions on songs, he knocks ALL of the Twitty covers out of the water (f.i. Lonely Blue Boy and Make Me Know You're Mine) they are fantastic and I play them -loud- on many days ... Shaky is great and his first Epic album, Marie, Marie (or This Ole House) is a classic !!

Yes that first epic album is a true classic - There is hardly a dud on it. Brings back so many great memories.
Can't believe i picked up the Epic Masters box-set brand new for a little over £8.00 not so long back - What a bargain !
I have noticed though that some of his pre-epic releases can be very expensive to obtain, i'm guessing it's because they were produced in limited amounts. Which are the rarest ?



His first album with the sunsets (1969 or 1970) is pretty rare and hard to obtain. Also his first solo album (1979), 'Play Loud', has a very rare variation with count-off's and false starts, this is a German pressing and is difficult to identify ... For more info, see shaky's MB http://www.shakynow.com/ That Epic box-set is great, and excellent value for money ... for all of you 'don't believers' here's the link http://www.amazon.co.uk/Epic-Masters-Box-Set/dp/B001RTYL4E/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1304587932&sr=1-3

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 12:45 pm

memphisflash wrote:Shaky is great and his first Epic album, Marie, Marie (or This Ole House) is a classic !!


To be correct, it his first Epic album was 'Take One!', a fabulous rock 'n' roll album with a country flavour. Shaky was accompanied by the likes of the great Albert Lee and B.J. Cole.

His first album with The Sunsets, 'A Legend', on the Parlophone label from 1970 is rare indeed, but just as rare is his 10" rockabilly album from 1976 'C'mon Memphis', on the Dynamite label.
True, they were pressed in limited amounts.
Last edited by Shakin48 on Thu May 05, 2011 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 12:50 pm

Shakin48 wrote:
memphisflash wrote:Shaky is great and his first Epic album, Marie, Marie (or This Ole House) is a classic !!


To be correct, it his first Epic album was 'Take One!', a fabulous rock 'n' roll album with a country favour. Shaky was accompanied by the likes of the great Albert Lee and B.J. Cole.

His first album with The Sunsets, 'A Legend', on the Parlophone label from 1970 is rare indeed, but just as rare is his 10" rockabilly album from 1976 'C'mon Memphis', on the Dynamite label.
True, they were pressed in limited amounts.



That's right!, I always forget about that album because it was released over here after the 'Shaky' LP, titled 'Hot Dog', with a different cover and a few track changes, but the original was indeed his first (flopped) Epic album...

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 1:13 pm

Thanks for all the great info on Shaky. Yes 'Take One!' was the album to which i was refering. It and 'Marie Marie' [This Ole House'] could very well be Vol's 1& 2 - They are both very tight and closely knitted albums and as you say very well produced.
Have any of the expensive pre-epic releases ever been issued on legit cd's ?

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 1:24 pm

elvisalisellers wrote:Thanks for all the great info on Shaky. Yes 'Take One!' was the album to which i was refering. It and 'Marie Marie' [This Ole House'] could very well be Vol's 1& 2 - They are both very tight and closely knitted albums and as you say very well produced.
Have any of the expensive pre-epic releases ever been issued on legit cd's ?


No.. Play loud has still no cd debut, and there are no plans to release it eventualy ....

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 1:36 pm

Another big Shakin' Stevens fan here. And like others, was turned on to Elvis via Shaky.
I'd love to see the Sunsets' material released officially on CD.. there are some greats, such as 'You Mostest Girl', 'Jungle Rock' to name but 2..

I travelled to London a couple of years back to see him live in the O2. It was something I never thought I'd get to do - see the man in concert, but I did, and it was everything I hoped it would be.

To me, he's a legend.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu May 05, 2011 6:38 pm

All of Shakys solo albums are released on the EPIC boxset ( except his first album Play Loud or re-titled Shakin Stevens), but if you are a collector ( like me) its great to have the rare Australian Pickwick albums of This Ole House, Shaky ( re-titled as Green Door) and Give Me Your Heart Tonight. Also the first CD pressing of The Bop Won't Stop is pretty rare these days.
I do, however, have a bootleg CD with the full Play Loud and bonus tracks on it ( no vinyl reproduction, but the real stuff) and its great. It was supposed to be released a few years ago as Got A Lot O' Living To Do, but the CD was never officialy released, due to Shakys' management.
Most of his Sunsets recordings are released on official Polish cds ( 2 on 1 album) except the first 'A LEGEND'.
The C' ommon Memphis 10'' has some real classic rock and roll tracks, but some tracks are never released on, official, cds.
I met Shaky a few years ago, and sad to say, i was not impressed. I treasure the memories of the good ole 1980s when he was really rockin' !

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Fri May 06, 2011 4:09 am

I have that first album from 1970 on vinyl somewhere. It was produced by Dave Edmunds and in all honestly not very well. "Spirit of Woodstock" was a catchy tune.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Fri May 06, 2011 10:07 am

TJ wrote:I have that first album from 1970 on vinyl somewhere. It was produced by Dave Edmunds and in all honestly not very well. "Spirit of Woodstock" was a catchy tune.


Agree. The Sunsets were an explosive live act but sadly that was never captured on any of their studio albums.

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:11 pm

MORERO wrote:
TJ wrote:I have that first album from 1970 on vinyl somewhere. It was produced by Dave Edmunds and in all honestly not very well. "Spirit of Woodstock" was a catchy tune.


Agree. The Sunsets were an explosive live act but sadly that was never captured on any of their studio albums.


If it hadn't have been for Shaky and decent bands such as Iron Maiden in the 1980's a lot of people would have had to suffer such dross as Culture Club, Tight Fit, Bucks Fizz.
This is a good one from Shaky; a bit of grit and a rockin' piano solo.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihTIb0xA_FQ

Re: SHAKIN' STEVENS

Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:26 pm

TONY wrote:
MORERO wrote:
TJ wrote:I have that first album from 1970 on vinyl somewhere. It was produced by Dave Edmunds and in all honestly not very well. "Spirit of Woodstock" was a catchy tune.


Agree. The Sunsets were an explosive live act but sadly that was never captured on any of their studio albums.


If it hadn't have been for Shaky and decent bands such as Iron Maiden in the 1980's a lot of people would have had to suffer such dross as Culture Club, Tight Fit, Bucks Fizz.
This is a good one from Shaky; a bit of grit and a rockin' piano solo.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihTIb0xA_FQ


From the album 'Give Me Your Heart Tonight'.. which I've just thrown on the CD player now thanks to you Tony! Haven't listened to it in ages!