|Also known as||Mister T. Being|
27 April 1950 |
|Genres||Progressive rock, New Wave|
|Associated acts||The Affair, Gong, Strontium 90|
In the late 1960s Howlett was the bassist in Sydney pop band The Affair, which included, vocalist Kerrie Biddell. The group travelled to England after winning a prize in the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds band competition. Howlett settled in London and in 1973 joined renowned British progressive rock group Gong, which had been founded by an Australian expatriate, Daevid Allen. He remained with Gong until 1977, recording several albums with them and co-writing much of their material later in this period with drummer Pierre Moerlen.
After leaving Gong, Howlett formed the short-lived band Strontium 90, which consisted of himself, Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Summers. In addition to being the band's lead bassist and chief songwriter, Howlett performed most of the lead vocals at live performances. The band recorded several demos and played at a Paris Gong reunion concert in May 1977, but disbanded when Summers left to join Copeland and Sting's other project, The Police. An archival collection of Strontium 90 material was released two decades later as Strontium 90: Police Academy.
A few months after the breakup of Strontium 90, Howlett served as bassist for the one-off studio band The Radio Actors, which also included Gong bandmate Steve Hillage on lead guitar and Strontium 90 bandmate Sting (who came to the group by way of Howlett's recommendation) on lead vocals. The band's single, "Nuclear Waste" b/w "Digital Love", was reissued on CD in 1995 with liner notes and three bonus tracks, though none of the bonus tracks involved Howlett.
In the 1980s Howlett became an in-demand producer, with a string of notable credits. He produced many hit singles and albums for leading New Wave music acts including A Flock of Seagulls (Grammy winner), Martha & The Muffins, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Gang of Four and Comsat Angels. He also produced the album Secret Secrets for Joan Armatrading in 1985.
Gong performs occasional reunion gigs around the world, and Howlett usually joins them. In 1993 he launched a record label, Mauve, which released albums by singer-songwriters Rafa Russo, Debbie Cassell and Jay Fisher. From 2005 to 2009 Howlett was chairman of the Music Producers Guild (MPG).
Howlett was awarded a PhD on the subject of record production in 2009 and has lectured in music technology at several universities, including the University of Glamorgan (Pontypridd, Wales) and Thames Valley University (Ealing, England). Since 2009 he has been Head of Music at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.
Howlett is married and has three adult children.
- "Planet Gong: Tribal: Maze: Mike Howlett". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Williamson, Harry (1994). "Earthdate Summer 1977". In Nuclear Waste (pp.7) [CD booklet]. Durham: Voiceprint.
- "Music Producers Guild - Members Directory - Mike Howlett". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "Calyx - The Canterbury Website: Mike Howlett biography". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Official website
- 1997 interview on Calyx: the Canterbury website
- Biography on Calyx: the Canterbury website
- Mike Howlett discography at Discogs