Neil Tennant

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This article is about the musician. For the philosopher, see Neil Tennant (philosopher).
Neil Tennant
Petshopboys-13 (cropped).jpg
Tennant singing in a Pet Shop Boys concert in at the 2013 Berlin Festival
Background information
Birth name Neil Francis Tennant
Born (1954-07-10) 10 July 1954 (age 61)
North Shields, Tyneside,
Genres Synthpop, dance, electropop, electronica, alternative dance
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, music journalist
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, synthesizer, guitar
Years active 1981–present
Labels EMI, Parlophone, Spaghetti
Associated acts Pet Shop Boys, Electronic

Neil Francis Tennant (born 10 July 1954) is an English musician, singer and songwriter and co-founder of the synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys, which he formed with Chris Lowe in 1981. He also was a journalist for Smash Hits, and was assistant editor for the magazine for a period in the mid-1980s.


Early life[edit]

Tennant was born in North Shields, a fishing port near Newcastle upon Tyne to William W. Tennant (1923–2009), a sales representative, and Sheila M. (Watson) Tennant (1923–2008).[1] He has an elder sister, Susan, and two younger brothers, Simon and Philip.[2] The family moved to a semi-detached house in Greenfield Road (opposite the corner of South Bend), Brunton Park, a relatively affluent suburb in Newcastle, shortly after Neil was born.

As a child, Tennant attended St. Cuthbert's Grammar School, an all-boys' Catholic school in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Tennant's songs "This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave" and "It's a Sin" refer to his early life in Catholic school and the strict upbringing there.[citation needed]

While at school, Tennant played guitar and cello. At age sixteen, he played in a folk music group called Dust, whose most popular song was called "Can You Hear the Dawn Break?". They were heavily influenced by The Incredible String Band. During his teenage years, he was a member of the youth theatre at the People's Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Early career[edit]

In 1975, having completed a degree in history at North London Polytechnic (now London Metropolitan University), Tennant worked for two years as London editor for Marvel UK, the UK branch of Marvel Comics. He was responsible for anglicising the dialogue of Marvel's catalogue to suit British readers, and for indicating where women needed to be redrawn more decently for the British editions.[3] He also wrote occasional features for the comics, including interviews with pop stars Marc Bolan and Alex Harvey. In 1977, he moved to Macdonald Educational Publishing where he edited The Dairy Book Of Home Management and various illustrated books about cookery, playing the guitar, and other home interests. Then he moved to ITV Books where he edited TV tie-in books. After having commissioned Steve Bush, then the designer of Smash Hits and The Face, to design a book about the group Madness, he was offered a job at Smash Hits as news editor of the British teen pop magazine in 1982. The following year he became Assistant Editor. He also edited the 1982, 1983 and 1984 editions of The Smash Hits Yearbook.

At Smash Hits, an opportunity arose for him to go to New York to interview The Police. While there, Tennant arranged to meet Bobby Orlando, a producer whom both he and Lowe admired. Tennant mentioned that he was writing songs in his spare time and Orlando agreed to record some tracks with him and Lowe at a later date. Orlando subsequently produced the Pet Shop Boys' first single, "West End Girls".

Pet Shop Boys[edit]

Main article: Pet Shop Boys

Solo appearances[edit]

Alongside his work with Chris Lowe as Pet Shop Boys, Tennant has worked on several side projects including:

Personal life[edit]

Tennant neither denied nor confirmed rumours of his sexuality throughout the 1980s, before "coming out" in a 1994 interview for Attitude, a UK gay lifestyle magazine.[4][5][6]

In 1998, Tennant was named in a list of the biggest private financial donors to the Labour Party.[7] He has since switched allegiance to the Liberal Democrats, citing disillusionment with Labour's ID card scheme.[8]

He is a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[9]

He maintains a house in London and a house in the North East countryside.[10]


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Literally" by Chris Heath, published 1990
  3. ^ 'Pet Shop Boys, annually (1989). 1989. 
  4. ^ Richard Smith (October 1994). "3 Little Words". Outrage. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  5. ^ Daniel Aberg: To Face the Truth at the Wayback Machine (archived 6 February 2005). August 2003
  6. ^ Eugenio Filice (20 September 2008). "arts: Pet Shop Boys". Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "'Luvvies' for Labour". BBC News. 30 August 1998. 
  8. ^ "Pet Shop Boys protest at ID cards". BBC News. 1 March 2006. 
  9. ^ "Elton John AIDS Foundation patrons". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  10. ^ Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, Kirsty Young.

External links[edit]