Mike Vickers

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Michael Graham Vickers (born 18 April 1940) is an English musician who came to prominence as guitarist, flautist and saxophonist with the 1960s band Manfred Mann. He was born in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey.[1] At the age of seven his family moved to Scotland and then at the age of eleven to Southampton, where he attended King Edward VI school.[2]

He originally played flute and saxophone but, with the increasing popularity of guitars in bands, it was decided that Manfred Mann should have a guitarist in their line-up. Vickers volunteered for this role, though he always preferred playing woodwind. His tough flute soloing on hard blues tracks such as "Without You" prefigured the work of Ian Anderson with Jethro Tull five years later. As the group were all multi-instrumentalists, multi-tracking was used to allow Vickers to perform on guitar and woodwind on the same recordings, while drummer Mike Hugg similarly doubled on vibraphone.

Vickers was credited as a co-writer on Manfred Mann's early hit singles[clarification needed] and contributed a few tracks to albums, including "The Abominable Snowmann" and "You're for Me". In 1965, his bandmate Tom McGuinness described him as "the nicest one of the group … nice nearly all the time. But when he's nasty he just can't be nice about it." McGuinness added: "He collects saxophones – which we buy for him."[3]

By 1965, according to McGuinness, Vickers was already "recording with his own orchestra and looks like becoming a definite threat to Semprini".[4] At the end of that year, he quit the band, although his first solo album, I Wish I Were a Group Again, did not appear until 1968.[5] In June 1967, he conducted the orchestra for the live recording of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love", which was shown on live TV across the world when communications satellite technology was celebrated by a worldwide link-up.

Vickers was one of the first musicians in the UK to use the Moog synthesiser. He taught The Beatles to play it, and he demonstrated it on the BBC science programme Tomorrow's World. Keith Emerson first used Vickers’ Moog (live, with Vickers patching and Emerson playing) in 1970 before Emerson got his own. Vickers recorded a number of library music records featuring the Moog through the 1970s.

Vickers persevered as a composer and arranger for records, television shows and films. He composed "Pegasus", the theme from the cult ITV series The Adventures of Don Quick in 1970. One of his most familiar TV compositions is "Jet Set", which was used as the theme music for the NBC game show Jackpot in 1974–75, and as opening music for the sports series This Week in Baseball from 1977 until the programme's end in 2011. However, he did not write TWIB's iconic closing theme, "Gathering Crowds"; that was written by John Scott.[6] His film work includes the scores to The Sandwich Man (1966), Press for Time (1966), My Lover, My Son (1970), Please Sir! (1971), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Sex Thief (1973), and the fantasy films At the Earth's Core (1976) and Warlords of Atlantis (1978).

He also founded the Baker Street Philharmonic, releasing singles, EPs and four albums between 1969 and 1972.[7] His instrumental piece "Visitation", composed and recorded in 1971, was used in the Polish television science series "Sonda", broadcast between 1977 and 1989.

From 1992 to 1999, Vickers was a member of the Manfreds, an amalgamation of 1960s Manfred Mann members and associates that featured both Paul Jones and his successor Mike d'Abo on vocals, the latter also playing keyboards. Vickers played only woodwind instruments – alto saxophone, flute and occasionally recorder – in this ensemble. In some of the later hits, such as "Semi Detached Suburban Mr James", he reproduced woodwind parts that had been performed on the original studio versions by his successor in Manfred Mann, Klaus Voormann.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A potted biography – Mike Vickers". Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  2. ^ "A potted biography – Mike Vickers". Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  3. ^ Sleeve note, Mann Made, HMV 1911, 1965
  4. ^ Sleeve note, Mann Made, HMV 1911, 1965
  5. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Sixties Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 461. ISBN 0-7535-0149-X.
  6. ^ Foster, Jason (4 August 2015). "The inside story of how 'This Week in Baseball' got its iconic theme music". Sporting News. Sporting News Media. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  7. ^ "Mike Vickers". Mike Vickers. Retrieved 21 June 2018.

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