Nik Kershaw

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Nik Kershaw
Nik Kershaw.jpg
Nik Kershaw performing at a concert in October 2013.
Background information
Birth name Nicholas David Kershaw
Born (1958-03-01) 1 March 1958 (age 57)
Bristol, England
Origin Ipswich, Suffolk, England
  • Musician
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • singer-songwriter
  • record producer
  • mixing engineer
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
  • guitar
  • bass
  • drums
Years active 1976–present
Associated acts

Nicholas David "Nik" Kershaw (born 1 March 1958 in Bristol, England)[1] is an English musician, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. The former jazz-funk guitarist was a 1980s teen idol.[2] His 62 weeks on the UK Singles Chart in 1984/85 beat all other solo artists.[2] Kershaw appeared at the dual-venue concert Live Aid in 1985, and has penned a number of hits for other artists, including a UK number one single in 1991 for Chesney Hawkes, "The One and Only".[2] Kershaw is best known for the tracks "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", "Wouldn't It Be Good" and "The Riddle". Elton John described Kershaw as "the best songwriter of a generation".[3] In 2015 Rick Wakeman compared Kershaw's songwriting ability to David Bowie saying "I don't know anyone else who writes songs like that."



Nicholas David Kershaw was born in Bristol and grew up in Ipswich, Suffolk. His father was a flautist and his mother was an opera singer.[4] He was educated at Northgate Grammar School for Boys where he played the guitar – he was self-taught on this instrument. He left school in the middle of his A-levels and got a job at an unemployment benefit office.[5] He also sang in a number of underground Ipswich bands. However, when the last of these, Fusion, split up in 1982, he embarked on a full-time career as a songwriter and performer.[1]


Kershaw was unemployed for a year but during this time he found a manager, Micky Modern, after placing an advertisement in the magazine Melody Maker. Modern secured a record deal for Kershaw at MCA.[5]

In September 1983, Kershaw released his first single "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"; however, it only reached Number 47 in the UK Singles Chart. It became a major hit only in Scandinavia, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

At the beginning of 1984 Kershaw released his breakthrough song "Wouldn't It Be Good",[1] which reached Number 4 in the UK, and was a big success in Europe, particularly in Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Scandinavia, and also in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The music video, featuring Kershaw as a chroma key-suited alien, received heavy rotation from MTV, helping the song reach No. 46 in the United States. He enjoyed three more Top 20 hits from his debut solo album Human Racing, including the title track and a successful re-issue of "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me".[1] This track ultimately proved his biggest hit as a performer when it reached Number 2 in the UK.[2]

Kershaw's second album was The Riddle. The title track, released in November 1984, proved to be his third international hit single, reaching Number 3 in the UK and Ireland, and Number 6 in New Zealand. The album also spawned two more UK Top 10 hits, "Wide Boy" and "Don Quixote", as it went multi-platinum. During this time, Kershaw toured extensively with his backing band The Krew, consisting of Keith Airey, Tim Moore, Mark Price and Dennis Smith.[6]

In July 1985, Kershaw was among the performers at Live Aid, held at Wembley Stadium. He has described the experience as "absolutely terrifying".[5] His stardom began to wane soon afterwards and he enjoyed only one more UK Top 40 hit. He continued to record and release records and collaborated with others on a number of projects. Also in 1985, Elton John asked Kershaw to play guitar on John's hit single, "Nikita".[6]

A cover of "Wouldn't it be Good" by the Danny Hutton Hitters appeared on the soundtrack of the 1986 teen romantic comedy-drama Pretty in Pink. Later that same year, Kershaw's third solo album, Radio Musicola, was released to critical acclaim but to little commercial success.[1] The Works was released in 1989, also to little success. Two singles were released from the album, "One Step Ahead" and "Elisabeth's Eyes".


Kershaw's prowess as a songwriter served him well in 1991, when his song "The One and Only" appeared on the soundtrack to the British film Buddy's Song, and in the American movie Doc Hollywood. "The One and Only" proved to be a UK Number 1 for the star of Buddy's Song, Chesney Hawkes. In 1993, The Hollies had a minor hit with another of Kershaw's songs, "The Woman I Love". During the mid-1990s he also wrote and produced material for the boy band Let Loose, with two of the tracks ("Seventeen" and "Everybody Say Everybody Do") achieving reasonable success.

The year 1999 saw the release of the album 15 Minutes.[1] Kershaw revealed that he decided to record the tracks himself, when he could not envisage them being recorded by other artists.[7] The album spawned two singles, "Somebody Loves You" and "What Do You Think of It So Far?", the latter a song described as "an elegant and soaring ode to the transience of time, infused with both self-doubt and an acceptance of life that can only come with maturity".[8]


The follow-up album, To Be Frank, was released in 2001. Over the years, Kershaw has collaborated on albums with artists such as Elton John, Bonnie Tyler, Tony Banks and Gary Barlow.[9]

In 2005, Kershaw released Then And Now, a collection of earlier material with four new tracks. In 2006, he completed another solo album, You've Got to Laugh, available only through his website or digitally through iTunes. This album contained twelve tracks and was released on the musician's own label, Shorthouse Records. Neither Then And Now nor You've Got To Laugh was promoted by a tour. The year also saw the digital re-release of his 1980s back catalogue including Human Racing, The Riddle, Radio Musicola and The Works.

In August 2009, Kershaw performed at Fairports Cropredy Convention and the Rewind Festival on Temple Island Meadows at Henley-on-Thames.[10]

On 13 May 2010, Kershaw appeared on stage and hosted 'Our Friends Acoustic' in aid of Mencap. He performed "The Riddle", "Wouldn't It Be Good", "Dancing Girls" and "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Other 1980s performers joined him and performed their own songs, including Andy Bell, Carol Decker, Howard Jones, Jimmy Somerville, China Crisis and Steve Strange at The O2 in London.

Kershaw wrote songs and performed for the soundtrack of the 2010 film, Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks. He wrote and sang the theme song, "If It Gets Much Better Than This". He also appeared as an extra in the penultimate scene, presenting a copy of the book to Hawks for signing in the book shop.[11]

Following the release of his eighth studio album in 2012 (Ei8ht), Kershaw undertook a small tour of the UK, with some European dates. As part of each show he played the entirety of his debut album, which had been re-mastered and re-released in March 2012.[12]

In 2012, Kershaw was featured as the lead singer on a new recording of "The Lamia", originally recorded by Genesis for their 1974 album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, with Steve Hackett for the latter's Genesis Revisited II album.[13] He also is featured as a guest performer on the same song on Hackett's Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith CD and DVD, released November 2013.[14]

Kershaw performed a solo acoustic set at Fairport's Cropredy Convention in August 2013.

He was on tour in the UK and Ireland in Autumn 2014.[15] He continues to perform at 80's revival events and festivals each year <>.

In the latter part of 2015 he performed a 31-date tour of the UK, on a double bill with Go West, supported by Carol Decker.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Kershaw's first wife was Canadian-born Sheri, herself a musician who featured on several of Kershaw's early albums.[17] The couple married in June 1983, had three children together, and divorced in 2003. His second son was born with Down syndrome.[17] Kershaw re-married in 2009 and has also had a child with his second wife Sarah.[18]


Studio albums[edit]

Year of release Album title
1984 Human Racing
1984 The Riddle
1986 Radio Musicola
1989 The Works
1999 15 Minutes
2001 To Be Frank
2006 You've Got to Laugh
2010 No Frills
2012 Ei8ht


  • 1985: "Nikita" by Elton John – Kershaw on electric guitar and backing vocals with George Michael.
  • 1985: "Act of War" by Elton John – Kershaw on electric guitar
  • 1991: Still by Tony Banks – Kershaw on lead vocals on "Red Day on Blue Street", "I Wanna Change the Score" and "The Final Curtain". "Red Day on Blue Street" and "I Wanna Change the Score" co-written by Banks and Kershaw.
  • 1993: Duets by Elton John – "Old Friend" written by Kershaw. All instruments by Kershaw. Vocals by Kershaw and John.
  • 1996: "Walls of Sound" (single) from Strictly IncB-side "Back to You" was co-written by Banks and Kershaw.
  • 1998: Live the Life by Michael W. Smith – "Let Me Show You The Way" co-written by Kershaw, Smith and producer Stephen Lipson. Also featured Smith and Kershaw on guitar.
  • 1999: Darkdancer by Les Rythmes Digitales – "Sometimes" co-written by Jacques Lu Cont and Kershaw. Lead vocals by Kershaw.
  • 1999: This Is Your Time by Michael W. Smith – "Hey You It's Me" – co-written by Kershaw and Smith. Backing vocals by Kershaw.
  • 2001: "Island" by Orinoko – co-written by Kershaw.
  • 2010: "Come Out and Play" by Kim Wilde – duet with Wilde on the track "Love Conquers All".
  • 2012: The King of Number 33 by DeeExpus, song "Memo" – lead vocals Kershaw.
  • 2012: Genesis Revisited 2 by Steve Hackett, song "The Lamia" – lead vocals Kershaw.
  • 2015: "Lonely Robot" Guitar on "Humans Being"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". Retrieved 23 March 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 299. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ "Eighties icons Kim Wilde + Nik Kershaw to tour Oz.". Cream magazine. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "NIK KERSHAW INTERVIEW [2012] • THIS IS NOT RETRO – 80s Music. All Grown Up". 9 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "Nik Kershaw: 'I made millions from four songs'". Telegraph. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Nik Kershaw. (11 February 1999). Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
  7. ^ Archived copy of Dark Glasses article. (21 October 2001). Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
  8. ^ Record Mart & Buyer, Issue 12, July 1999, p.71
  9. ^ "80s popstar Nik Kershaw to play special acoustic show at the Regent". Bournemouth Echo. 15 September 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2015. 
  10. ^ Linda Serck Back to the 80s for Rewind Festival. last updated: 21 August 2009. Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Interview: 10 Questions for Nik Kershaw | New music reviews, news & interviews". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "Human Racing – Nik Kershaw | Release Information, Reviews and Credits". AllMusic. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Genesis Revisited II – Steve Hackett | Credits". AllMusic. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  14. ^ "Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith – Steve Hackett | Credits". AllMusic. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "Nik Kershaw to hit the road in the autumn – IRELAND ADDED". 5 February 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "Nik Kershaw, Go West and T'Pau hit the road!". 2 April 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Kershaw, Sheri. "". Web. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  18. ^ "How Nik Kershaw didn't let the sun go down on his career". 23 May 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 

External links[edit]