Mike Barson

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Mike Barson
Mike Barson with Madness..JPG
Barson performing live with Madness at Manchester Arena in 2014
Background information
Birth name Michael Barson
Born (1958-04-21) 21 April 1958 (age 58)
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • Multi-instrumentalist
  • songwriter
  • composer
  • Keyboards
  • piano
  • organ
  • harmonica
  • vibraphone
  • guitar
  • saxophone
Years active
  • 1976–1984
  • 1992–present
Associated acts
Website www.madness.co.uk

Michael "Mike" "Monsieur Barso" Barson (born 21 April 1958) is a Scottish-born English multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and composer. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Barson came to prominence in the late 1970s as the keyboardist for the English ska band Madness.

Early years[edit]

Michael Barson was born on 21 April 1958, in Edinburgh, Scotland. He grew up in North London with his two brothers Dan and Ben. He is often known by the nicknames "Monsieur Barso" or "Barzo".[1]

Prior to forming Madness, Barson and fellow future Madness member Lee Thompson gained some notoriety as graffiti artists in the mid-1970s. After reading about the emerging New York graffiti scene, they spray-painted their nicknames ("Mr B" and "Kix") along with two friends' names "Cat" and "Columbo" around north London. 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".[2]

Barson co-founded a band called The Invaders in 1976.[3] The band later changed their name to Madness after the song by Prince Buster.[4]

Music career[edit]

Main article: Madness (band)

Madness became one of the popular bands in Two Tone of the 1980s. Barson was one of the main songwriters and effectively the musical director for the band.[5] He left in 1984 after the recording of their fifth studio album Keep Moving and appearing in the promotional music videos for the two singles from that album – "Michael Caine", and "One Better Day." Two years later Madness disbanded, but Barson did join them for the recording of their final single, "(Waiting For) The Ghost Train."

Madness reunited in their original line-up in 1992,[3] and Barson 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,[6] 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". In 2014, Barson was working on a new album with Madness.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 1981, Barson married his first wife Sandra and the couple separated in 2008. He has three sons, Jamie, Timothy and Joey with his first wife. In May 2012, Barson married his long-term girlfriend.


  1. ^ Augustyn, Heather (2010). Ska: An Oral History. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Petridis, Alexis (3 February 2015). "Spraying the 70s: the pioneers of British graffiti". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b BBC Top of the Pops 2 Top 5, accessed 12 August 2006
  4. ^ "Madness". Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Everything in Time (London)". Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Suggs writing new Madness album, 22 March 2014, retrieved 10 November 2015 

External links[edit]