Mike Stevens (saxophonist)
Stevens performing with 10cc in 2013
|Birth name||Michael William Stevens|
|Born||26 January 1957|
Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England
|Instruments||Saxophone, keyboards, guitar, vocals|
|Years active||1980s – present|
|Associated acts||Take That, Annie Lennox, Jeff Lynne, Bill Withers, 10cc|
Born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, Stevens began music lessons on the clarinet and piano and was encouraged by his father, a professional drummer. Stevens studied composing and conducting at the Birmingham School of Music between 1975 and 1979 before working on cruise ships as a "performer". In the 1980s he moved to London and became a sought-after saxophonist; he was signed to RCA Records in the United States and began touring with artists such as Barry White, Brenda Russell, Dionne Warwick and The Temptations. In 1988 he toured with Bill Withers, eventually becoming Withers's musical director.
In 1992, Stevens was hired to work with newly formed pop group Take That, becoming their musical director the following year. He toured with the group until their split in 1996, playing keyboards, saxophone and guitar as well as backing vocals. His work with Take That made him an in-demand musical director for other touring pop groups; he subsequently directed Eurythmics, Mika, Sugababes, James Morrison, Will Young, Geri Halliwell, Boyzone, B*Witched, 911 and Five. Upon Take That's reformation in 2006, Stevens was re-hired as their musical director, employing musicians such as Milton McDonald, Lee Pomeroy, Donovan Hepburn, Bernie Smith, and Marcus Byrne to create the live band. Stevens has supervised or performed at events such as Live 8 in London, The Nelson Mandela 90th Birthday Tribute Concert, and concerts for The Prince's Trust.
Stevens has been Annie Lennox's musical director and producer since 2002, producing the gold-certified albums A Christmas Cornucopia (2010) and Nostalgia (2014), both of which charted in the top ten in the UK and US album charts. Nostalgia was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in 2014.
In 2012, Stevens led the house band and was musical director for the Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace, and two years later directed Jeff Lynne's ELO at BBC Radio 2's Hyde Park festival in 2014, using the Take That/Gary Barlow band and the BBC Concert Orchestra to accompany Lynne and Richard Tandy. Stevens had previously worked with Lynne at the Children in Need Rocks 2013 concert, where Lynne and Tandy performed "Livin' Thing" and "Mr. Blue Sky" accompanied by Stevens and the Take That/Gary Barlow band.
- 1988—Light Up the Night
- 1990—Set the Spirit Free
- 1992—Blowing Up a Storm
- 1995—The World Is Only Air
- Gregory (ed.), Andy (2002). International who's who in popular music (4th ed.). London: Europa. p. 485. ISBN 1857431618.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- "Mike Stevens". BBC Online. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- Frost, Matt. "Royal Appointment—Mike Stevens: Musical Director For The Queen's Jubilee Concert". Sound on Sound. SOS Publications Group. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Take That Progress Tour". Roland. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- Smith, Jeff. "Mr Blue Sky thinking: How Radio 2 persuaded Jeff Lynne's ELO to play Hyde Park". BBC Online. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "10cc biography". 10cc. Archived from the original on 1 August 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- Chadbourne, Eugene. "Mike Stevens biography". All Music. Retrieved 23 January 2015.