Nigel Wright (record producer)
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Nigel Wright (born 13 June 1955, Bristol) is a record producer from England. His career as music producer, orchestrator and songwriter has scored five Number one singles, 31 Top 20 singles and a string of platinum albums with recording artists as diverse as Madonna, Shakatak, Mezzoforte, Barbra Streisand, Boyzone, Sonia, Take That, Sinitta, José Carreras, Robson & Jerome, Michael Ball, Sarah Brightman, Cliff Richard, Connie Fisher, Paul Potts, Andy Abraham and Ray Quinn.
Wright's career in theatre and film include serving as the music producer for Andrew Lloyd Webber, in a successful partnership that had, as of May 2009, lasted more than eighteen years.
Wright first rose to prominence as producer of the jazz-funk group Shakatak. During the 1980s he also produced medleys under various names. In 1981 Wright created "Ain't No Stopping", a rapid response to the success of Stars on 45 consisting of parts of recent disco hits and taking its name from McFadden and Whitehead's "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" which began and ended the medley. Released under the group name Enigma, it reached number 11 in the UK singles chart and was followed by "I Love Music" which reached number 25.
Through the 1980s Wright continued to produce medleys under other names including Mojo and Mirage. Under the latter name, he created the popular "Jack Mix" series of medleys which included the 1987 top ten hit singles "Jack Mix II" (#4) and "Jack Mix IV" (#8) and albums Jack Mix '88 and Jack Mix in Full Effect (both #7).
He continued to create medleys into the early 1990s, now under the name UK Mixmasters. Under this title he produced three UK hit singles, the biggest of these being "The Bare Necessities Megamix", which peaked at No. 14 in 1991.
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Mirage was a British pop music group active in the 1980s and specializing in medleys. It achieved particular success in 1987-8 with the "Jack Mix" series of singles and LPs.
Mirage had its origins in Enigma, a 1981 project created Nigel Wright to cash in on the success of Dutch medley group Stars on 45. Enigma's "Ain't No Stopping", a medley of disco hits played by session musicians, was released while Stars on 45 was still climbing the charts. "Ain't No Stopping" peaked at number 11 in the UK singles chart and was followed up with "I Love Music", which peaked at number 25.
Although the medley craze faded quickly, Wright continued to produce medleys, first under the name Mojo, before settling on Mirage.
The first Mirage medley to make an impact was the 1984 release "Give Me The Night", a medley of George Benson songs sung by Leroy Osbourne (of Sade) under the guise of Roy Gayle. Other single-artist medleys followed: "Let's Groove" (Earth, Wind and Fire), "Get Down on It" (Kool and the Gang) and the Tracey Ackerman-fronted "Into The Groove Medley" (Madonna). Though popular in UK clubs, only "Give Me The Night" crossed over into the mainstream charts.
Mirage came to much greater prominence in 1987 when Wright spotted an opportunity in the new house music style which was beginning to enter the mainstream. In January 1987, Steve "Silk" Hurley achieved the first house music number one hit in the UK with "Jack Your Body". Wright quickly responded by releasing the 12" single "Jack Mix" under the Mirage name – a medley/montage of "Jack Your Body", "Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)" and "Axel F". Following positive response from the clubs, an expanded version was released, titled "Jack Mix II". This became the first UK-produced house record to reach the British top ten, peaking at number 4.
Unlike most medleys, which typically used sections of individual songs presented sequentially with brief transitions between them, the "Jack Mix" series took a different approach, layering elements of different songs to produce a dense montage effect similar to a mashup.
Despite being reliant entirely on medleys of other people's material, Mirage was one of the most successful house acts in 1987-8, placing several more singles on the charts, including the number eight hit "Jack Mix IV". Several TV advertised albums also charted, with the most successful being Jack Mix '88 (actually released in 1987) and Jack Mix in Full Effect, both of which reached number 7.
Mirage's popularity faded in 1988, as a large number of British house music acts started to produce original material and sample-based records using the original recordings rather than session remakes.
Wright has produced a number of cast recordings.
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: London Revival Cast Recording featuring Jason Donovan and Linzi Hateley (1991)
- The New Starlight Express featuring Greg Ellis and Reva Rice (1993)
- Sunset Boulevard: World Premiere Recording featuring Patti LuPone and Kevin Anderson (1993)
- Sunset Boulevard: American Premiere Recording featuring Glenn Close and Alan Campbell (1994)
- Jesus Christ Superstar (1996)
- By Jeeves: Original Cast Recording (1996)
- Whistle Down the Wind: Original Cast Recording featuring Lottie Mayor and Marcus Lovett (1998)
- Saturday Night Fever featuring Adam Garcia and Anita Louise Coombe (1998)
- The Beautiful Game: Original Cast Recording featuring Josie Walker, David Shannon and Hannah Waddingham (2000)
- The Sound of Music featuring Connie Fisher (2006)
- Grease (2007)
Produced the soundtrack recordings for a number of films.
- Alan Parker's Evita featuring Madonna and Antonio Banderas (1996) with BAFTA and Oscar nominations for Best Sound
- Cats (Really Useful Films) featuring Elaine Paige, Ken Page and John Mills (1998)
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Really Useful Films) featuring Donny Osmond and Maria Friedman (1999)
- Jesus Christ Superstar (Really Useful Films, DVD) starring Jerome Pradon, Glenn Carter, Renee Castle, Peter Gallagher (2000)
- The Phantom of the Opera featuring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum (2004)
In 2006, Wright was the musical director and arranger for the hit BBC TV show, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? as well as the NBC version, Grease: You're the One that I Want!. In 2007, he served as musical director for the follow-up to How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do. In 2008 he was also the musical director for the TV program where a Nancy and Oliver were selected I'd Do Anything and conducted the Orchestra on BBC's Your Country Needs You. He is the musical director of the live heats of The X Factor (ITV), since it began in 2004. He has also worked on many hit American shows, with the latest being America's Got Talent.
Wright worked on Over the Rainbow as the musical director.
- Nigel Wright Official Website
- Nigel Wright at the Internet Movie Database
- Mini Nigel Wright biography at www.nightfever.co.uk
- Nigel Wright at Really Useful
- Interview with Nigel Wright