Mike Ratledge

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Mike Ratledge
Birth nameMichael Roland Ratledge
Born (1943-05-06) 6 May 1943 (age 76)
OriginMaidstone, Kent, England, U.K.
GenresPsychedelic rock, progressive rock, Canterbury scene, jazz, free jazz, jazz fusion, music for commercials, new-age
Instrumentspiano, organ, electric piano, synthesizers, flute
Years activeearly 1960s – c. 1995
LabelsABC Probe, Columbia, Harvest
Associated actsSoft Machine, Karl Jenkins

Michael Roland "Mike" Ratledge (born 6 May 1943) is a British musician. A part of the Canterbury scene, he was a long-time member of Soft Machine.[1]

Biography and career[edit]

Ratledge was born in Maidstone, Kent. As a child, he was educated in classical music, the only kind of music played in his parents' home. He learned to play the piano, and with his friend Brian Hopper, whom he had met at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury, played classical piano and clarinet pieces.[2]

Ratledge also met Brian's younger brother Hugh, and Robert Wyatt. In 1961, he met Daevid Allen, who interested them in playing jazz. Through Cecil Taylor's piano pieces Ratledge became familiar with the music of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. In 1963, he played in the Daevid Allen Trio. Unlike his friends, Ratledge wanted to further his education, and studied at University College, Oxford, where he earned a degree in psychology and philosophy.[2] [3]

At the same time, he attended music lessons, and was educated by avant-garde musicians Mal Dean and Rab Spall. After his graduation, Ratledge intended to go to a university in the United States, but his application for a scholarship was filed too late.[3]

In 1966, his friends were forming a new band and asked Ratledge to join. Soft Machine featured among others Robert Wyatt, Daevid Allen and Kevin Ayers. In the years to follow, there were many personnel changes, and by 1973, Ratledge was the only remaining member of the original lineup.[3]

In November 1973, Ratledge participated in a live performance of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells for the BBC.[4] In 1976, Ratledge decided to leave Soft Machine to build a solo career, leaving the band under Karl Jenkins' management. Ratledge built himself a studio, but a solo album was never released. He provided film scores for Riddles of the Sphinx (1977),[5] "Crystal Gazing" (1982).[6] and "The Bad Sister" (1983).[7] for director Laura Mulvey.

As Soft Machine's longest-lasting member, he was a part of the band's changes in musical direction from psychedelic music to jazz-rock. In the 1980s, Ratledge was active as a composer and musical producer for commercials and the theatre. In 1995, Adiemus (Ratledge, Karl Jenkins and Miriam Stockley) released Songs of Sanctuary, which Ratledge co-produced with Karl Jenkins and for which he programmed the electronic percussion.[2]

In 2010, the Mike Ratledge and Karl Jenkins stock music library albums "Some Shufflin'" and "Movement" originally issued in the early 1980s were reissued on cd.

Personal life[edit]

Ratledge married Marsha Hunt on 15 April 1967.[3]


See also: Soft Machine discography

Year Album Artist
1963 Live 1963 Daevid Allen Trio
1964-68 Canterburied Sounds Vols. 1-3 Various artists
1967-68 The Wilde Flowers Wilde Flowers
1969 Joy of a Toy Kevin Ayers
1970 The Madcap Laughs Syd Barrett
1971 Just Us Elton Dean & Just Us
1972 Bananamour Kevin Ayers
1974 The Confessions of Dr. Dream and Other Stories Kevin Ayers
1977 Instructions For Angels David Bedford
1978 Planet Earth Planet Earth
1978 Star Clusters Nebulae & Places In Devon / The Song Of The White Horse David Bedford
1979 Push Button Rubba
1980 Wonderin' Rollercoaster
1981 Cuts for Commercials Vol. 3 Karl Jenkins & Mike Ratledge
1981 For Christmas, For Children Karl Jenkins & Mike Ratledge
1982 Crystal Gazing (unreleased soundtrack) Mike Ratledge
1983 The Bad Sister (unreleased soundtrack) Mike Ratledge
1995 Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary Karl Jenkins
2010 Movement Karl Jenkins & Mike Ratledge
2010 Some Shufflin' Karl Jenkins & Mike Ratledge
2013 Riddles Of The Sphinx (recorded in 1977) Mike Ratledge

Tribute album[edit]

Year Album Artist
2010 What's Rattlin' On The Moon? Beppe Crovella


  1. ^ AllMusic full biography
  2. ^ a b c Biography, hulloder.nl; accessed 25 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Biography, calyx.club.fr; accessed 25 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Mike Oldfield (with Mick Taylor, Steve Hillage and members of Henry Cow, Gong and Soft Machine) - Tubular Bells (Live BBC Video 1973)". MOG. Archived from the original on 23 August 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  5. ^ "Riddles of the Sphinx (1977)", IMDB.
  6. ^ "Crystal Gazing (1782)", IMDB.
  7. ^ "The Bad Sister (1983)", IMDB.