Chris Lowe

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Chris Lowe
Lowe performing in Sydney, Australia, 2011
Lowe performing in Sydney, Australia, 2011
Background information
Birth nameChristopher Sean Lowe
Born (1959-10-04) 4 October 1959 (age 62)
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
GenresSynthpop, dance, IDM, pop, electropop, electronic
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, songwriter, producer
InstrumentsSynthesizer, piano, electronic drums, vocals, keyboards, trombone, organ
Years active1981–present
LabelsEMI, Parlophone, Spaghetti

Christopher Sean Lowe (born 4 October 1959)[1] is an English musician, singer and songwriter, and co-founder of the synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys, which he formed with Neil Tennant in 1981.[2]


Lowe attended Arnold School,[3] an independent school in his home town Blackpool, Lancashire. Whilst at school, he played trombone in a seven-piece dance band called One Under the Eight that played old-time favourites like "Hello Dolly", "La Bamba" and "Moon River".[4] Lowe's grandfather had been a trombonist and was a member of comedy jazz troupe The Nitwits.[citation needed] Lowe also learned to play the piano.[citation needed]

Lowe studied architecture at the University of Liverpool from 1978 but, as he stated on television appearances and in the Life in Pop documentary, never graduated, due to the formation of Pet Shop Boys. During a work placement in 1981 at a London architectural practice, he designed a staircase for an industrial estate in Milton Keynes. It was at this time that he met Neil Tennant in a hi-fi shop on King's Road in London.

Musical career[edit]

Pet Shop Boys[edit]

Lowe (left) with Neil Tennant in a Pet Shop Boys concert, Boston, 2006
Lowe performing at Pori Jazz 2014 in Pori, Finland

Lowe generally performs as the Pet Shop Boys' keyboardist; he occasionally provides spoken-word vocals.

On the songs "I Want A Lover" and "What Have I Done to Deserve This?," Lowe played trombone, which he studied at school.[2][a]

Solo appearances[edit]

In 1993 he wrote and produced the track "Do the Right Thing" for the footballer Ian Wright (Lowe is a passionate Arsenal F.C. fan).[6] The song featured backing vocals by the long-time Pet Shop Boys' backing singer, Sylvia Mason-James, and the single featured remixes by Rollo.

Two years later, Lowe had a cameo in the Australian soap opera Neighbours.[7] His appearance was filmed whilst Pet Shop Boys were touring that country.

In 2004, he was commissioned to do music for an advertisement for the sunscreen brand Blockhead. The song ended up in a remixed version on a "Café Mambo" chill-out compilation.[8]

Two years later, he wrote the music for the song "Streets of Berlin", featured in the revival of Bent at the Trafalgar Studios in Whitehall.[9]

In 2011, Lowe appeared as featured vocalist on Stop Modernists's cover version of the New Order song "Subculture". This was the first time he had appeared as vocals on a non-Pet Shop Boys' project.[10]

Public image[edit]

Lowe adopts an understated public presence, often wearing sportswear and with his eyes hidden behind sunglasses. In Pet Shop Boys videos and photoshoots he is often seen looking on as a spectator standing slightly behind Tennant. In live performances he rarely interacts with the audience and often stands still while playing keyboards.[11] In 1995, The Guardian commented that he was "possibly more famous for not doing anything than almost anyone else in the history of popular entertainment."[12]

A Guardian profile of the group from 1993 noted that Lowe's image of "silent Chris walking two steps behind singing Neil" was an intentional choice, developed in discussion with photographer and music video director Eric Watson; Watson has commented that "Chris didn't want to be seen playing keyboards or anything. We realised there was something about somebody singing and somebody else doing nothing – just looking, then looking away – that adds a hideous tension."[13][14]


  1. ^ In the notes to the album Please, Tennant and Lowe commented: "T: Chris brought his trombone into the studio. He wasn't very keen on doing it." L: "[Producer] Blue Weaver insisted. I learned the trombone when I was about ten. My grandfather played the trombone."[5]


  1. ^ "Pet Shop Boys Official Site, History Section". Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b Harrison, Andrew. "Pop Kid - Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Arnold School website, Distinguished pupils". 1 June 2008. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Pet Shop Boys Official Site, History Section". Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  5. ^ "Lazlo's Pet Shop Boys Discography". Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Absolutely Pet Shop Boys Unofficial web site – RADIO 2 CONCERT Literally 30". 7 May 2006. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  7. ^ "Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys) in Neighbours". YouTube. 2 January 2007. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  8. ^ "Chris Lowe: 'Blockhead' – Pet Shop Boys – News". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Bent – Pet Shop Boys – Theatre & Film". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Stop Modernists Official Facebook Page". 12 May 2011. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  11. ^ Harrison, Andrew (April 2006), "The Pet Shop Boys talk for Britain", The Word, no. 38, pp. 98–106
  12. ^ Bracewell, Michael (15 July 1995), "Pop perfection", The Guardian, pp. T012
  13. ^ Perrone, Pierre (6 April 2012). "Eric Watson: Photographer who worked with the Pet Shop Boys and for pop bible Smash Hits". The Independent. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  14. ^ Hoare, Philip (23 March 2012). "Eric Watson obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 July 2015.

External links[edit]