May 28, 1951 |
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
|Genres||Jazz, pop, classic|
|Occupations||Composer, arranger, record producer, guitarist, broadcaster, journalist|
Richard Niles is an American composer, arranger, producer, guitarist, broadcaster and journalist. He has lived in London since 1975. Because of his extensive work across many genres, Sound on Sound magazine referred to him as "one of the most versatile men in modern music".
Niles was born May 28, 1951, in Hollywood. He is the son of Tony Romano, a composer, singer and guitarist who worked with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Ray Heindorf, Joe Venuti and Cole Porter, and Pat Silver-Lasky, who writes films, books, plays, and lectures in screenwriting. His parents divorced in 1959 and three years later the 8-year-old Niles moved with his mother to London. He grew up in the care of his mother and stepfather, the poet, playwright and screenwriter Jesse Lasky Jr.. According to Niles in an interview with HitQuarters, they were very negative about him becoming a musician, saying, "They didn't want me to be anything like my father."
Returning to London in 1975, he signed to Essex Music as a writer, eventually becoming staff arranger/producer of songwriter demos for Essex and EMI Music. This indirectly led to becoming Musical Director and Arranger for Cat Stevens. On British television series for David Essex and Leo Sayer he arranged and conducted for many guest artists including Ronnie Spector, Twiggy, Kate Bush and Denny Laine. In 1978 as staff arranger for Hansa Records he discovered Sarah Brightman (then with dance troupe Hot Gossip) and arranged both his and her first hit I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper.
Since then he has composed, arranged and produced music for some of the world’s most creative and successful artists. Niles has arranged for great female stars Pet Clark, Cilla Black, Kim Wilde, Lulu, Randy Crawford, Anita Baker, Deniece Williams, Gloria Gaynor, Heather Small and Samantha Mumba. He arranged the legendary Grace Jones album Slave to the Rhythm and a swinging big band version of Better the Devil You Know for Kylie Minogue’s 2001 tour. Niles also scored and conducted strings on Depeche Mode tracks "Home", "Only When I Lose Myself" and "Surrender".
He appeared as the leader of the house band, Bandzilla, in Ruby Wax's series Don't Miss Wax. Bandzilla released an album of big band instrumentals (including versions of his own arrangements for "Slave to the Rhythm" and Swing Out Sister's "Breakout" alongside original tracks).
His arrangements helped define the sound of the 80s for groups like Pet Shop Boys, Swing Out Sister, Living in a Box, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Was (Not Was). His pen has also gone to work with many male stars including Cliff Richard, James Brown, Barry Manilow, Ray Charles, Stephen Gately, Ronan Keating, and contributed to hits for many boy bands including Wet Wet Wet, ABC, Damage, O-Town, OTT, Take That, Boyzone, and many number one hits by Westlife including their duet Against All Odds with Mariah Carey.
Niles has released 2 CDs as guitarist/composer, Santa Rita (Sanctuary) and Club Deranged (Nucool). They feature players including Nelson Rangell, Hamish Stuart, Danny Gottlieb, Kid Creole, Nigel Hitchcock and Chris Hunter.
As a journalist, Niles has been a regular contributor to Making Music since 1994. His radio career began presenting Jazz Notes and Adventures in Jazz on BBC Radio 3 in 1996. Since 1998 he wrote and presented his own highly acclaimed BBC Radio 2 programme New Jazz Standards, which The Guardian says has "changed the tenor of jazz broadcasting."
In the 1980s, Niles was married to vocalist Tessa Niles, though the couple were later divorced. Niles married Aylin Marquez in 1999 and they have one child, Alexander, born in 2002.
Articles in Making Music magazine:
- Alto Image - Nigel Hitchcock (May 1994)
- James Brown - Interview (July 1994)
- Let's Come To An Arrangement (July 1994)
- So You Want To Be A Star? (October 1994)
- So You Want To Be A Session Musician? (January 1995)
- The Production Line (April 1995)
- Drum Hum - Danny Gottlieb (May 1995)
- Tape Monitor - Engineering (July 1995)
- Bebop to Hip-Hop - Branford Marsalis (September 1995)
- What is a Musician Anyway? (June 1996)
- Air - Wayne Shorter Interview (October 1997)
- Don't Get Mad... (May 1999)
- Are You Getting Ripped Off? (August 1999)
Articles about Niles:
- Richard Niles - The Producer by Chas De Whalley, Musician & Recording World (October 1987)
- England's Jazz Crusader by Mark Small, Berklee Today (Spring 2000)
- Richard Niles - The Professional Touch by Mike Senior, Sound On Sound (June 2000)