Steve Abbott (musician)

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Steven Paul "Abbo" Abbott[1] (born January 1960 in Luton)[2] is an English producer, A&R executive, artist manager, concert promoter and media consultant. Formerly a singer/songwriter, Abbott was lead singer of the band UK Decay from 1979 to 1983.

Steve "Abbo" Abbott

Punk career[edit]

UK Decay[edit]

Moving to vocals and guitar, Abbott renamed the Rezistors 'UK Decay' in 1979 after a front-page headline in the Daily Mirror. The band's music was far from the proto-punk of 1977, instead inspiring bands of the early 80s with their deep, dark imagery and slow grinding rhythms. In an interview with Steve Keaton for Sounds music paper, Abbott described the band as "Goth" and has since been credited with the first usage of the term that became a notable music and fashion movement.[3] The band toured extensively around Europe on the rock and art circuits. Having supported the Dead Kennedys on their debut UK tour, the band were invited to play with them in the US and toured for 5 weeks in March/April 1981, playing on bills with the fledgling West Coast scene bands like Black Flag, DOA, Circle Jerks, Subhumans, Flipper and Social Unrest. The band were outspoken against racism and discrimination and were often targeted by right wing political groups.[4] They made one album, entitled For Madmen Only and 5 singles between 1979 and 1983, spending months in the UK Independent Charts, including the punk standard For My Country.[5] Abbott split from UK Decay in 1983 and formed Furyo, an experimental 4-piece band, releasing a mini-album and EP in the UK and a full-length album in Japan.

Return to UK Decay[edit]

In 2008 the band reformed to perform at a number of festivals across Europe including Berlin, Lisbon, Whitby, London, Leipzig, Rimini, Rome, Milan, Bologna and Paris. In 2012 they recorded a new album New Hope for the Dead, produced by Chris Tsangarides. The band also released the Wonderful Town EP in partnership with Luton Town Football Club and Luton Foodbank, all proceeds going to the latter charity.[6]

Record and managerial career[edit]

Big Cat Records UK 1989–[edit]

In 1989 Abbott worked as an office equipment delivery van driver to fund starting the record label known as Big Cat, named after a line in the Big Youth song Lightning Flash. His first signing was Carter USM's album 101 Damnations which spawned the singles Sherriff Fatman and Rubbish. The label grew quickly after discovering acts such as Pavement, Jeff Buckley, Luscious Jackson, Will Oldham (Palace Brothers), Heather Nova, E.A.R., One Minute Silence, Blumfeld, as well as releases by Harry Crews, Foetus, Shudder To Think, Lydia Lunch, Mercury Rev, Keiji Heino, Pauline Oliveros, Paul Schutze, Thomas Koner, Augustus Pablo, Junior Delgado, Big Youth and Mikey Dread.

Arc of Light Classical Recordings[edit]

Abbott started this classical label by signing John Tavener, and its debut release was the first recording of his Akathist of Thanksgiving with the Westminster Abbey Choir, James Bowman and Martin Neary. After this recording, Arc of Light signed a worldwide distribution deal with Sony Classical NY. Further recordings included a Grammy nomination of Henry Purcell's Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, recorded at Westminster Abbey as a replica of her original funeral service on its 300th anniversary, featuring soloists Emma Kirkby and Ian Bostridge. Its most successful release was Tavener's Innocence, commissioned by Big Cat, which included the renowned Song For Athene (performed at Princess Diana's funeral service) which went on to sell three-quarters of a million copies. It was Abbott's suggestion and approach to Elton John that lead to Elton singing Candle in the Wind at Diana's funeral. He also compiled and recorded the subsequent tribute record Diana, Princess of Wales – Tribute,[7] which included new recordings by Aretha Franklin, Bryan Ferry and Peter Gabriel.


Album Name Album Details Featuring/Notes
Adeste Fidelis Sony/Arc of Light SK62688 Christmas Collection with Emma Kirkby
Miserere Sony/Arc of Light SK666IS A Sequence for Holy Week, including two settings of the Miserere by Gregorio Allegri and Tommaso Bai
John Tavener – Innocence Sony/Arc of Light B000002AUN "There is no finer disc than this to represent John Tavener as choral composer – with Martin Neary drawing incandescent singing from Westminster Abbey Choir" The Guardian
John Tavener – Akathast of Thanksgiving Sony/Arc of Light B000002A7G "The performances of the soloists and Choir are immaculate and beautifully balanced" Grammaphone[8]
A Millennium of Music from Westminster Abbey Sony/Arc of Light SK666l4 11th Century plainchant, Gibbons, Purcell, Blow, Handel, Howells and Grier's Missa Trinitatis Sanctae. "An interesting and rewarding disk" Grammaphone[8]
Purcell – Music for Queen Mary Sony/Arc of Light SK66243 Including the Funeral Music. "The best Purcell yet" Classic CD[8]
Benjamin Britten – A Ceremony of Carols Sony/Arc of Light 62615 Including Rejoice in the Lamb, A Ceremony of Carols, and Abraham and Isaac. "First-rate Britten in first-rate performances"[8] Sunday Telegraph

Bedlam Management 1979–2007[edit]

Bedlam Management was started with Abbott's business partner Linda Obadiah. Management clients in popular music included EMF (including their number one US single Unbelievable and their album Schubert Dip which sold in excess of four million copies), Claytown Troupe, Mercury Rev, and Heather Nova, while classical artists managed included Hayley Westenra (2003–09), Nicola Benedetti (2005–09), and Aled Jones (2004–05). During this time Abbott created and produced two groups, The Choirboys and All Angels, both of which released records on Decca Records, each passing the quarter of a million sales mark. He also wrote and co-produced two albums for Westenra based on Japanese songs which both broke into the top 10 album charts when released by Universal Japan.

V2 Records 1998–2002[edit]

Abbott joined Richard Branson's new V2 Records as Head of International,[9] helping to set the company up worldwide, moving to Head of A&R North America, where he lived in America from 1999 until 2002. Associated acts during this time include Moby, The Black Crowes, RZA, The Jungle Brothers and The White Stripes.

Artist Manager, consultant, Promoter 2007–[edit]

Abbott's company Harmonic Artists Ltd., is an artist management and concert agency for a number of artists including Max Richter, Guy Chambers, Cerys Matthews, Lang Lang (UK and Ireland), Jules Buckley, and Zara McFarlane.

He is on The Advisory Board at The Arts Club Dover Street, London, and is a board member for Tido Music. He is Cultural Ambassador for the city of Luton. Abbott promotes and co-promotes live concerts at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall, Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, the Birmingham Symphony Hall and many theatres around the UK.

The Good Life Experience Festival, Hawarden[edit]

This festival, focusing on the 'great outdoors'; quality food, artisan-brewed drinks, bushcraft and a diverse range of live music, was started and is owned by Steve Abbott, Cerys Matthews, and Charlie & Caroline Gladstone in 2014. The first year drew over 2,000 people and increased to 5000 for the 2017 festival on 15–17 September.[10][11]

Public appearances[edit]

In 2007 Abbott was a judge on the BBC2 television reality show Classical Star.[12]

In 2011 Abbott was an on screen mentor for the BBC 2 series titled ‘Goldie’s Band: By Royal Appointment’. With the help of expert mentors composer Guy Chambers, jazz artist Soweto Kinch, MC/songwriter Ms Dynamite, broadcaster/singer/songwriter Cerys Matthews, and Abbott, a band of musicians with 'challenges' in life work through the series towards a live performance at Buckingham Palace in front of Prince Harry and an invited audience.[13]

In 2016, he appeared on an episode of the Sky Arts TV Series Trailblazers: Gothic Rock (S1, Ep 12).

Personal life[edit]

Abbott married Cerys Matthews in January 2012.[14]


  1. ^ "BMI – Repertoire Search".
  2. ^ "RAINBOW CITY BROADCASTING LIMITED - Officers (free information from Companies House)".
  3. ^ Issitt, Micah Lee (2 February 2011). "Goths: A Guide to an American Subculture: A Guide to an American Subculture". ABC-CLIO.
  4. ^ "UKDecay-1981.jpg (image)".
  5. ^ "Uk Decay – For Madmen Only CD Album".
  7. ^ "Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  8. ^ a b c d, PixelToCode. "Recordings". Westminster Abbey.
  9. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (14 December 1996). "Branson Readies V2 for the Runway". Billboard.
  10. ^ Hodgson, Sarah (22 September 2014). "LOOK: The Good Life Experience is hailed a massive success".
  11. ^ "The Good Life Experience". The Good Life Experience.
  12. ^ "BBC - Press Office - Classical Star: The judges".
  13. ^ "BBC Two - Goldie's Band: By Royal Appointment". BBC.
  14. ^ WalesOnline (8 January 2011). "Cerys Matthews marries her manager in style in Cardiff". walesonline. Retrieved 20 October 2017.