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Barson performing live with Madness at Manchester Arena in 2014
|Birth name||Michael Barson|
21 April 1958 |
Born in Edinburgh, Barson grew up in North London with his two brothers Dan and Ben. He is often known by the nicknames 'Monsieur Barso or Barzo'.
Prior to forming Madness, Barson and fellow future Madness member Lee Thompson gained some notoriety as graffiti artists in the mid-1970s, when they spray-painted their nicknames ("Mr B" and "Kix") along with two friends known as "Cat" and "Columbo" around north London after reading about the emerging New York graffiti scene. They managed to spray their nicknames on George Melly's garage door, prompting Melly to write a newspaper article declaring: "If I ever catch that Mr B, Kix and Columbo, I’m going to kick their arses".
Barson co-founded a band called "The Invaders" in 1976. Soon, they changed their name to Madness after the song by Prince Buster and became one of the popular bands in Two Tone, and of the 1980s. In 1984 after the recording of the album Keep Moving and appearing in the promo clips for the two singles from that album – "Michael Caine" and "One Better Day" – Barson, who was one of the main songwriters and effectively the musical director, left the band to spend more time with his now ex-wife Sandra in Amsterdam. Two years later Madness disbanded, but Barson did join them for the recording of their final single, "(Waiting For) The Ghost Train."
They reunited in their original line-up in 1992, and he still plays with them. In 1995, he co-wrote and produced a number of songs for Suggs' first solo album The Lone Ranger. When No Doubt were recording songs for their fifth studio album Rock Steady, Barson was asked to play piano on the London version of the song "Everything in Time". Barson obliged and the track was produced by Madness producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. The track never made it onto the album, but was released a year later in 2003 on the compilation album B-sides, Remixes and Rarities.
Both Barson and his bandmate, Suggs, have contributed to Audio Bullys' album Higher Than The Eiffel. They both appear on the tracks "Twist Me Up" and "Goodbye".
He has three sons, Jamie, Timothy and Joey.
Mike Barson is currently recording a new album with Madness and in May 2012 married his long-term girlfriend.
- Petridis, Alexis (3 February 2015). "Spraying the 70s: the pioneers of British graffiti". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- BBC Top of the Pops 2 Top 5, accessed 12 August 2006
- BBC Top of the Pops 2 Muze Biography, accessed 12 August 2006