|Birth name||Michael Roland Ratledge|
|Born||6 May 1943|
|Origin||Maidstone, Kent, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|Genres||psychedelic rock, progressive rock, Canterbury scene, jazz, free jazz, jazz fusion, music for commercials, New Age|
|Instruments||piano, organ, electric piano, synthesizers, flute|
|Years active||early 1960s – c. 1995|
|Labels||ABC Probe, Columbia, Harvest|
|Associated acts||Soft Machine, Karl Jenkins|
|Lowrey Holiday De Luxe organ, Hohner Pianet, Wurlitzer piano, Fender Rhodes piano|
Biography and career
Mike Ratledge was born in Maidstone, Kent. As a child he was educated in classical music, the only kind of music played in his parents' home. He learned to play the piano, and with his friend Brian Hopper, whom he had met at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury, played classical piano and clarinet pieces.
Ratledge also met Brian's younger brother Hugh, and Robert Wyatt. In 1961 he met Daevid Allen, who interested them in playing jazz. Through Cecil Taylor's piano pieces Ratledge became familiar with the music of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. In 1963 he played in the Daevid Allen Trio.
Unlike his friends, Ratledge wanted to further his education, and studied at University College, Oxford, where he earned a degree in psychology and philosophy. At the same time he attended music lessons, and was educated by avant-garde musicians Mal Dean and Rab Spall. After his graduation Ratledge intended to go to a university in the United States, but his application for a scholarship was filed too late.
In 1966 his friends were forming a new band and asked Ratledge to join. Soft Machine featured among others Robert Wyatt, Daevid Allen and Kevin Ayers. In the years to follow there were many personnel changes and by 1973 Ratledge was the only remaining member of the original lineup. Ratledge married Marsha Hunt on 15 April 1967.
In 1976 Ratledge decided to leave Soft Machine to build a solo career, leaving the band under the supervision of Karl Jenkins. He built himself a studio, but a solo album was never released. Ratledge did however provide film scores for Riddles of the Sphinx (1977), Crystal Gazing (1982). and The Bad Sister (1983). for director Laura Mulvey.
Ratledge was a seminal figure on the Canterbury music scene. As Soft Machine's longest-lasting member, he was a part of the band's changes in musical direction from psychedelic music to jazz-rock. In the 1980s Ratledge was active as a composer and musical producer for commercials and the theatre. In 1995, Adiemus (Karl Jenkins, Mike Ratledge, Miriam Stockley), released Songs of Sanctuary, which Ratledge co-produced with Karl Jenkins and for which he also programmed the electronic percussion. The album featured Miriam Stockley on vocals.