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Mick Hucknall

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Mick Hucknall
Hucknall performing in 2009
Hucknall performing in 2009
Background information
Birth nameMichael James Hucknall
Born (1960-06-08) 8 June 1960 (age 64)
Manchester, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass
  • piano
Years active1979–present
Gabriella Wesberry
(m. 2010)

Michael James Hucknall[1] (born 8 June 1960) is an English singer and songwriter. Hucknall achieved international fame in the 1980s as the lead singer and songwriter of the soul-influenced pop band Simply Red, with whom he enjoyed a 25-year career and sold over 50 million albums. Hucknall was described by Australian music magazine Rhythms as "one of the truly great blue-eyed soul singers",[2] while Q credited him with "the most prodigious voice this side of Motown".[3]

Early life

Hucknall, born at Saint Mary's Hospital, Manchester, on 8 June 1960,[4][5][6] was an only child. His mother abandoned the family when he was three; the upheaval caused by this event inspired him to write "Holding Back the Years", which would become one of Simply Red's biggest and best-known hits. He was brought up in Denton[7] by his father, Reginald (1935–2009),[8] a barber in Stockport.[9] According to Hucknall he had a happy childhood until the age of 10, when he began to clash with his father "because there was no woman to act as referee".[7]

Hucknall attended Audenshaw School,[10] before continuing his education at Tameside College and Manchester Polytechnic's School of Art, where he was a fine art student: whilst at art school he lived in Hulme.[7][11] It would not be until the mid-1990s that he would reconnect with his mother, Maureen, who was by then living in the US city of Dallas.[12] As of a 2008 interview, he had only seen her twice since she left.[13] He is of Irish ancestry from his mother, whose father was from County Offaly, along with his paternal grandmother.[14][15] His maternal grandmother was Jewish.[16]

Music career

Hucknall in 2010

Hucknall was among the people present at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester in June 1976 where the Sex Pistols were playing.[17] His interest in the music scene led to the launch of his career in the late 1970s, when he was part of the band Frantic Elevators. The Frantic Elevators released four singles, including a version of "Holding Back the Years", which he later recorded with Simply Red.

As lead singer and core member of Simply Red, he became the identifiable face of the band. His face and long curly red hair were featured prominently on album artwork and in videos.

In 1997, Hucknall won an Outstanding Achievement award from the Music of Black Origin Awards (MOBO Awards) despite being white.[18]

Hucknall is one of the founders of the reggae label Blood and Fire.[19]

In October 2007, on David Jensen's show on the Gold network, he announced Simply Red would split in 2009.[20] In 2008, he released his first solo album Tribute to Bobby, a tribute to the blues musician Bobby "Blue" Bland.[21]

In October 2009, Hucknall appeared at a charity performance as vocalist for a re-formed version of Faces, replacing Rod Stewart. In October 2011, he was awarded with a BASCA Gold Badge award in recognition of his contribution to music.[22]

In October 2012, he released American Soul, a collection of his favourite music re-recorded with his vocals.

Political activism and views

Hucknall was active in politics as a prominent celebrity supporter of the Labour Party during the New Labour era. In 1997, he declared his support for the party at that year's general election – which it won by a landslide under the leadership of Tony Blair to return to government after 18 years in opposition.[23] In 1998, Hucknall was named in a list of those who donated more than £5,000 to the party.[24] In 2003, Hucknall backed Blair's stance on the Iraq War, stating he had "more respect for Blair than ever" and pointed out that British critics of the war were lucky to be living in a country where they could express their opinions.[12] Hucknall said in 2008 that his conscience prevented him from donating to the party again because of the war, although he would still vote for them.[25]

Hucknall has been strongly critical of more recent Labour leaders: after the 2015 general election, he said that Ed Miliband "veer(ed) close to Marxism" and that the electorate had acted "with collective wisdom" by defeating Labour in favour of electing a Conservative government, which he described as "the inheritor of the Blairite mantle".[26] The following year he described Jeremy Corbyn as a "shabby, spineless coward" for what he regarded as an insufficiently strong commitment to the Remain campaign for the 2016 Brexit referendum.[27] Hucknall publicly declared he would not vote for Labour ahead of the 2017 general election and 2019 general election, and that he had ended his longstanding support for the party, citing Corbyn's stance on antisemitism. In 2019, he described himself as "politically homeless."[28]

Hucknall has said that derogatory references to his red hair are a form of bigotry.[29]

Hucknall was a guest on the panel for the BBC's political discussion series Question Time, broadcast on 27 March 2014, and declared his support for same-sex marriage.[30]

Personal life

Hucknall and his wife Gabriella Wesberry married in 2010 at the 16th-century Forter Castle in Glenisla, Perthshire, Scotland.[31] Their daughter Romy True Hucknall was born in June 2007.[32]

Hucknall spends a considerable amount of time in Ireland, where he purchased the Glenmore Estate near the village of Cloghan, County Donegal, with bandmate Chris De Margary. Hucknall and De Margary are keen fishermen. They operate a fishing and hunting tourism business from the estate.[33][34] In March 2014, Hucknall settled a hunting and fishing rights lawsuit, ongoing for five years, with a neighbour in Ireland. As the case opened in 2009, Judge O'Hagan had instructed both sides to go away and talk about reaching an agreement or else it would drag on for years.[35]

Hucknall co-owns Ask Property Development, a company that constructs city squares and public buildings.[36]

Hucknall spends time in Catania, Sicily, where he produces wines under the label "Il Cantante" (The Singer).[37]


Hucknall is a football fan and a supporter of Manchester United.[38][39] His song "We're in This Together" was the competition anthem of the 1996 UEFA European Football Championship and he performed it at its opening and closing ceremonies.

Solo discography


Year Album Chart positions Certifications
2008 Tribute to Bobby
  • Released: 19 May 2008
18 39 37 25 23 29
2012 American Soul
  • Released: 29 October 2012
6 11 12 22 15 18 Gold (BPI)


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
2008 "Poverty" Tribute to Bobby
"Farther Up the Road"
2011 "Happy This Christmas" Non-album single
2012 "That's How Strong My Love Is" 118 American Soul

Other appearances

In 1986, he provided backup vocals for the musical film Little Shop of Horrors.

Year Song Album
1999 "Ain't That a Lot of Love" Reload (with Simply Red and Tom Jones)
2002 "T-Bone Shuffle" Jools Holland's Big Band Rhythm & Blues[42]
2012 "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues OrchestraThe Golden Age Of Song
Year Song Album
1997 "Someday in my Life" Leggera (Mina)
2012 "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International
2015 "Streets of Arklow" Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue (Van Morrison)

See also


  1. ^ "Hucknall Michael James". Broadcast Music, Inc. Retrieved 14 November 2014.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Leeden, Trevor J. "Mick Hucknall – American Soul". Rhythms. Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  3. ^ Duerden, Nick (April 1996). "Simply Red: Picture Book". Q. p. 132.
  4. ^ "BIOGRAPHY: Mick Hucknall". Lifetime. Archived from the original on 18 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Michael Hucknall". Findmypast. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Mick Hucknall FAQ". Simply Red. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Wintle, Angela (23 February 2013). "Mick Hucknall on his daily routine, going solo and etching". telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Reginald Hucknall 1935–2009 R.I.P." Mick Hucknall – Simply Red – Official Site. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
  9. ^ Davies, Hugh (19 June 2001). "Simply Red star cleared after arrest for rape". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  10. ^ Cassidy, Sarah (9 August 2008). "Traditional values pay off for school with best results". The Independent. UK. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 5 October 2008.
  11. ^ "Mick Hucknall thanks Manchester for 'amazing start'". BBC News. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  12. ^ a b Ellen, Barbara (23 March 2003). "The mother of all bachelors". The Observer. London.
  13. ^ "Simply Red star Mick Hucknall exclusive: Day one". Mirror.co.uk. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  14. ^ "'I felt ugly, I was an easy target to be bullied' – Mick Hucknall reveals negative impact of being abandoned by Irish mother at 3". Irish Independent. 24 May 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  15. ^ Wayman, Sheila (27 January 1996). "Seeing Red". The Irish Times. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  16. ^ Soloman, Josh (14 June 2016). "Something got him started". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  17. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (21 March 2003). "What thrills me". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 5 October 2008.
  18. ^ Staff writer (20 September 2006). "Are the Mobos good for black music?". BBC News. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  19. ^ Bennun, David (13 November 2019). "Something Got Him Started: Mick Hucknall's Favourite Albums". The Quietus. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  20. ^ "Pop group Simply Red to split up". BBC News. 24 October 2007.
  21. ^ "BBC music review of Tribute to Bobby". 20 May 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  22. ^ "Gold Badge Awards in pictures". M Magazine. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2018./
  23. ^ Matthews, Jenny (21 April 2005). "Who's backing whom at the election?". BBC News. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  24. ^ "'Luvvies' for Labour". BBC News. 30 August 1998. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  25. ^ Hastings, Chris (20 April 2008). "Mick Hucknall has nothing to hide any more". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  26. ^ Bennett, Owen (1 June 2015). "Simply Red Singer Mick Hucknall Praises Electorate For Keeping Out 'Marxist' Labour". HuffPost. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  27. ^ Schofield, Kevin; Casalicchio, Emilio; Chambre, Agnes; Ashmore, John (6 June 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn in bizarre Simply Red bust-up". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  28. ^ Simpson, Will (15 August 2022). "Mick Hucknall interview: "I feel politically homeless at the moment"". Classic Pop. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  29. ^ Richard Jinman, 5 July 2003, "Taking the Mick" , Sydney Morning Herald, Archived 8 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "BBC hears how over 600,000 ignored on gay marriage". The Christian Institute. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  31. ^ "Mick Hucknall facts: Simply Red singer's age, wife, children and more revealed". Smooth Radio. 17 June 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  32. ^ "Mick Hucknall and Gabriella Westberry Are Having a Baby". dotspotter.com. Archived from the original on 19 March 2007.
  33. ^ "Mick Hucknall in dispute over rights on Donegal estate" (requires paid subscription to view the full article). The Irish Times. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  34. ^ Rawlinson, Kevin (5 December 2009). "Something got him started: Hucknall takes neighbour to court". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  35. ^ "Simply Red duo settle hunting and fishing rights case". The Irish Times. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  36. ^ Boulos, Nick (20 December 2009). "Fame & Fortune: Mick Hucknall". The Sunday Times. UK. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
  37. ^ "Mick's red is not so simple". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 April 2004. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  38. ^ Jacques, Adam (30 November 2008). "How We Met: Mick Hucknall & Sir Alex Ferguson". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  39. ^ Macaskill, Sandy (20 May 2008). "Champions League final: It simply must be United, says frontman Mick Hucknall". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  40. ^ a b c d e f Mick Hucknall at acharts.us acharts.us
  41. ^ Peak chart positions for singles in the United Kingdom:
  42. ^ Koda, Cub. Jools Holland's Big Band Rhythm & Blues – Jools Holland at AllMusic. Retrieved 25 November 2011.