When sixteen-years-old he, with his older brother Mick, started the band The Luddites, with himself on drums and Mark Fell (1962-1984) on bass. The band released two singles, "Doppelganger" and "Altered States" on Eccentric Records. After The Luddites, Stead joined the band Vicious Circle. In August 1988 he joined The Beautiful South, playing on thirteen albums with the band.
Stead took over the Boars Nest restaurant in Princes Avenue, west Hull, converting it to the 'Union Mash Up' venue and restaurant. Following a July 2012 planning committee failure to add a bar licence for the venue Stead announced that he was closing the business. He promoted a proposed music festival in Huddersfield, 'Song 07', which was cancelled.