Shakin' Stevens: Wikis


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Shakin' Stevens

Background information
Also known as Michael Barrett
Born 4 March 1948 (1948-03-04) (age 61)
Origin Ely, Cardiff, Wales
Genres Rock 'n' roll
Years active 1968 - present
Labels Epic
Associated acts The Sunsets
Notable instruments

Shakin' Stevens, also known as "Shaky" (born Michael Barrett, 4 March 1948) is a platinum selling Welsh rock and roll singer and songwriter, who has the distinction of being the top selling male UK singles artist of the 1980s. His recording and performing career began in the late 1960s, although it was not until 1980 that he saw commercial success in his native land. In the UK alone, Stevens has charted no fewer than 33 top 40 hit singles in the sales charts, making him one of the most charted (and biggest selling) acts of all-time.




Early days

Michael Barrett, who would adopt the stage name Shakin' Stevens, was the youngest of 11 children born in Ely, a suburb on the outskirts of Cardiff in South Wales to Jack and May Barrett. His father was a First World War veteran who by 1948 was working in the building trade. The oldest of his siblings were born in the later part of the 1920s, and by the time of his birth some of them were already married and had children of their own. Jack Barrett died in 1972 at the age of 75, while May survived until 1984 and the age of 79.[1] [3]

Shaky married his wife Carole on 7 October 1967 and they have three children. At the time of their marriage, his official occupation was a milkman, and they lived in a flat which formed part of an office block in inner-city Cardiff. The office block was demolished several years later.[1]

As a teenager in the mid 1960s Barrett formed his first amateur rock and roll band with school friends and became its vocalist and frontman. Originally named The Olympics, then The Cossacks, the short lived band finally renamed as The Denims and performed gigs in the local Cardiff and South Wales area.

In the late 1960s Stevens was associated with the Young Communist League (YCL), the youth wing of the Communist Party of Great Britain - playing at YCL events. At the time the YCL was associated with several leading music industry figures, including Pete Townshend.[2]

The Sunsets

Shakin' Stevens in 1976

He began his professional performing career during 1968, fronting Shakin' Stevens and the Sunsets, created and managed by South Wales rock and roll promoter and impresario Paul 'Legs' Barrett (no relation). The Sunsets were a 1950s-influenced rock'n'roll outfit from Penarth, South Glamorgan that had evolved from a band, previously called The Backbeats since 1958,[3] who invited Stevens to join them after he had been an avid fan of the band for several years and occasionally hopped on stage to do a guest vocal.

An early break for Shaky and the band presented itself when they were given a support slot for The Rolling Stones in December 1969. Despite landing a recording contract with Parlophone Records the following year and releasing a Dave Edmunds produced album, the optimistically and prematurely titled A Legend, the band found success hard to come by, at least in their native Great Britain, though they had several hit singles in other countries. The band toured Germany and the Netherlands in between regular UK dates as the band's reputation for staging a vibrant and exciting show grew.

"Elvis!" and a hit record

In 1977, after seven years of constant touring and recording, Shaky had been spotted during a London Sunset's gig by Jack Good who personally invited him to attend a London audition for his planned new West End "Elvis!" musical. Three actors were to portray Elvis's life during the course of the show and Shaky landed one of the lead roles, playing Elvis in his prime charting, army and movie star years, with young actor Tim Whitnall covering the earlier formative years and veteran 1960s singer P J Proby taking over the part for Elvis's 'Las Vegas' years.[4]

The rest of the Sunsets waited in South Wales, doing occasional performances with drummer Robert 'Rockin Louis' Llewellyn taking the frontman duties, but fully expecting Shaky to return to the band and recommence touring after the show's planned short six month run. However, the expectations were overtaken by subsequent events. The media wise Good made sure that both the audition process and the early months of the show were widely and regularly covered by the British daily press and TV shows. The photogenic Shakin' Stevens came to such prominence that almost overnight all agegroups of the UK population knew who he was. During the "Elvis!" show's highly successful and then twice extended two year run Shaky made regular TV appearances, firstly on Good's revived British ITV show Oh Boy and later on his follow up 30 week long series Let's Rock that was syndicated in thirty two countries including the United States. This led almost inevitably to his first major chart success with a cleverly reworked version of a Buck Owens song "Hot Dog", which Owens would go on to re-record using Stevens's arrangement, which had been created by pedal steel guitar player B.J. Cole.[1]

The 1980s and 1990s

In late 1979, Shaky signed what was to be his most successful management deal with music industry doyenne Freya Miller, who immediately advised Stevens to sever his association with The Sunsets and continue developing a more lucrative solo career. Under Miller's deft hand, in 1981, Shaky scored his first UK chart topping number 1 with "This Ole House" and would follow up with ten more songs reaching the top five, including three number 1 hits with "Green Door", "Oh Julie" and "Merry Christmas Everyone", while "You Drive Me Crazy" and "A Love Worth Waiting For" reached number 2 in 1981 and 1984 respectively. His 1984 hit "Teardrops", which reached #5 in the UK, featured Hank B. Marvin on guitar and Stevens has often featured famous musicians such as Albert Lee, Roger Taylor, Bonnie Tyler and more recently Tony Joe White on his recordings. In the mid 1980s, Stevens reunited with former producer Dave Edmunds to record an album Lipstick, Powder and Paint and the Christmas smash Merry Christmas Everyone, which was a number 1 hit over Christmas 1985. Its original planned release was put back by a year to avoid clashing with the runaway success of Band Aid's charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?", to which he did not contribute, having been out of the country touring at the time of recording. Despite Stevens's chart domination over the previous few years, he was not invited to perform at Live Aid on 13 July 1985.[1]

The hits continued throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s. Chart successes also included his album Shaky reaching number 1 in the album charts.

It was in the 1990s, however, that Stevens took a lengthy break from recording and was stung by a court ruling, relating to unpaid royalties from the Legend album which had been re-released to some commercial success, requiring a substantial payout to former band members of the Sunsets although the final settlement was significantly less than Stevens had offered the band before litigation began sixteen years earlier. In 1999, Shaky returned to performing live and undertook tours all that year and the following year.

The 2000s

Stevens hit a low point in January 2002 when he was very publicly convicted of a drink-driving charge and banned from driving for two years,[5] but in 2004 things started to look up again when he had a further platinum CD / DVD album in Denmark and a gold album in South Africa.

In the sitcom I'm Alan Partridge, Stevens's fictional endorsement of Partridge's book Bouncing Back - in which he described it as "lovely stuff" - was supposedly critical to its success.

In 2005, he returned once again to the charts in the United Kingdom, with his greatest hits album The Collection, which reached the UK top 5. That year, he also appeared in the video to Tony Christie's and Peter Kay's #1 hit single "Is This the Way to Amarillo", alongside many other UK stars, including Ronnie Corbett, Jim Bowen, Michael Parkinson and Geoffrey Hayes. He was the winner on the reality television show, Hit Me Baby One More Time. This was quickly followed by a re-release of his cover and his own biggest hit sung in the show, ("Trouble" covering Pink's version) / "This Ole House"), which reached #20 on the UK Singles Chart in June 2005, his 33rd Top 40 hit in the United Kingdom.[1]

Present day

In May 2007, Stevens released a new album entitled Now Listen with the album being released first in Denmark. In December 2007, Stevens re-entered the UK charts with a re-issue of "Merry Christmas Everyone" twenty two years after its original launch, reaching a UK chart position of 22.

Chris Evans featured a special Shaky Week on his Radio 2 show during early March 2008 to celebrate Stevens's 60th birthday and later in 2008, despite his aging years, Shaky embarked on a string of major concerts in the UK and Europe that started at Lulworth Castle on 4 July. On 24 August 2008 Shakin' Stevens performed at a major concert in Poland featuring many European pop stars of the 1980s, including Kim Wilde, Modern Talking, Samantha Fox, Sandra Cretu, Sabrina Salerno and Limahl. The concert formed a part of the Sopot International Song Festival 2008 and was presented live on the Polish television channel TVN. To wind up 2008 Stevens followed his European tour with a short tour of Ireland and an appearance at London's O2 Arena, supported by a ten-piece band. His appearances in 2009 will open with a tour of Poland to coincide with the Polish release of the Now Listen album.

In mid July 2006, Shaky took to the stage at an open air concert 'The Big Buzz' in Swansea, Wales. He was top of the bill, and performed a repertoire of his hits, including "Oh Julie", "Marie Marie" and "Turning Away". He also performed two songs from his most recent album, Now Listen ("Now Listen" and "Baby It's You"). The concert also featured Dave Edmunds and was broadcast live on BBC Radio Wales.

Stevens's original band The Sunsets have continued to perform regularly over the years without him and still tour annually in the UK, Europe and Australia with a show of authentic vintage rock and roll. In recent years the band has been fronted by Shaky's younger nephew, Levi Barrett.[6]

In April 2008, it was announced that Shakin' Stevens would be performing at 2008's Glastonbury Festival as the opening act on the Pyramid stage on Saturday 28 June, which he did, opening the day at 11am to a capacity crowd - several hours before the BBC started to film the day's performers for broadcast, although Stevens' performance still received media attention. [7] On 8 December 2009 Shaky played a one - off gig at the O2 academy Islington to promote the release of the "The Epic Masters Box Set" (released 16 November 2009) which marks the thirtieth anniversary of his first hit "Hot Dog".

On 10 December 2009, Stevens appeared in court in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, charged with assaulting photographer Hugo McNiece at the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena on 3 December.[8] In January 2010 he was convicted of the assault and criminal damage in the case. He was fined a total of £300 and ordered to pay McNeice £479 to compensate for the damage to his camera lens.[9]



  1. ^ a b c d e Heatley, Michael. Shaky - The Biography of Shakin' Stevens. Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. p. 240pages. ISBN 1843171775.  
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Sunsets Biog
  4. ^ Elvis lead roles
  5. ^ BBC - Drink driving conviction
  6. ^ The Sunsets homepage
  7. ^ Stevens at Glastonbury 2008
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ [2]

External links


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