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Neil Conti (born 12 February 1959) is an English drummer and music producer who was an integral member of the pop/rock band Prefab Sprout, while continuing to be in demand as a session drummer for artists and bands such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Annie Lennox, Cher, Level 42, Laurie Anderson, Steve Winwood, Paul Young, Youssou N'dour, Brian Eno, Robert Palmer, Deep Forest, Will Young and many more.
The son of musically-oriented parents who encouraged him to train as a classical pianist, Neil Conti discovered another musical inspiration upon seeing his cousin Morgan Fisher perform onstage as keyboardist for the very popular 1970s band Mott the Hoople. Twelve years old at the time and inspired by Mott the Hoople's drummer, Dale Griffin, he started playing drums and, over the next few years, gained some drumming experience with numerous local rock bands while showing an interest in jazz and soul music. After completing a diploma in graphic design, he moved to London, where his musical apprenticeship included a range of styles such as reggae, calypso and funk. Among the early bands in which he drummed were Linx, Tropicana Steel Band, Kokomo and Combo Passe as well as various recording sessions with such artists such as Pauline Black.
In late 1983, he joined Prefab Sprout after hearing the band playing on the Richard Skinner show and calling the office of Kitchenware Records to offer his services. He became an integral member of the band, recording numerous silver, gold and platinum albums and touring UK/Europe. During his tenure with Prefab Sprout, he also became a first-call session musician, playing on records by many well known artists, including David Bowie singles "Dancing in the Street" and "Absolute Beginners", as well as playing in Bowie's band for his Live Aid set in 1985. Due to band inactivity, he left Prefab Sprout in 1993 while continuing to tour and record as a session musician.
In 1989 Neil Conti and Raye Cosbert (who later become promoter of Massive Attack and manager of Amy Winehouse) started "Backstage", a live bi-weekly music club for artists to meet and jam together. Neil's motivation was the closing of the famous Speakeasy Club - a popular watering hole for London musicians to meet up. The club was based at the Borderline in Charing Cross Road, later moving to the Jazz Café in Camden. The club spawned many imitations in the Soho area and became a hotbed of talent and A+R men, launching the careers of Ronnie Jordan, Seal, Keziah Jones, Juliet Roberts and D-Influence among others. The club was featured in an MTV documentary and recorded a live CD, sponsored by Levi's. Neil terminated the club in 1992 due to time constraints and conflicts with his session work.
Following a move to France in 2001, Neil Conti opened a recording studio in Montpellier, where he produces artists. Still an active drummer, he frequently travels to London to work or, alternatively, provides drum tracks by internet from his studio in France. The studio, Minimoon, is staffed by him and recording engineer Jeff Fernandez.
- Findlay, Graham. "Neil Conti Interview by Graham Findlay". mikedolbear.com. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
- Prefab Sprout
- Minimoon Recording Studio on Facebook
- Neil Conti on Discogs.com
- Prefab Sprout FAQ: A Life of Surprises
- Heaven Can Wait - Record Producer Stories on YouTube
- Neil Conti photograph and profile at AlbumCredits.com