1980's pop sensation Nik Kershaw - from Bristol to Stardom


Nik Kershaw is an English singer-songwriter. A former jazz-funk guitarist, he was a 1980s teen idol; his 62 weeks on the UK Singles Chart in 1984-5 beat all other solo artists at the time. He appeared at 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”.

Nik Kershaw: the Rising Star

"Wouldn't It Be Good" - A Meteoric Breakthrough

Kershaw played guitar and sang in a number of underground bands from about 1976 before deciding on a career as a songwriter. However, he ended up performing his own songs rather than giving them to others, and signed a deal with MCA Records in 1983, which spawned a debut single, “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, which just missed out on the UK Top 40. At the beginning of 1984, he made his breakthrough when “Wouldn’t It Be Good”, featuring a video of Kershaw as a chromakey-suited alien, reached Number 4 in the UK charts. He enjoyed three more Top 20 hits from debut album Human Racing , including the title track and a successful re-issue of his debut single, which ultimately proved his biggest hit as a performer when it got to Number 2 in the UK.

Despite winning awards, attracting admirers for his writing such as Elton John & Eric Clapton. He gainied a huge teenage fanbase, Kershaw was not without his critics. Some complained that he did too much onstage when he had a competent backing band called the Krew to play all the required guitar and keyboard parts of his songs.

The Enigma of "The Riddle"

Kershaw, who was married to long-time love and backing singer Sheri, then released a single called “The Riddle”, which would send fans, journalists and linguists into overdrive, as each tried to establish what the meaning was behind the strange set of circumstances and clues which Kershaw put in the verses and chorus (though it in fact later turned out to be hastily created nonsense). Another major hit, it was also the title track of his second album, which also spawned two more UK Top 10 hits, Wide Boy” and “Don Quixote”.

In July 1985 Kershaw was among performers at Live Aid, Wembley Stadium. His star began to wane soon afterwards and he enjoyed only one more UK Top 40 hit, the debut single from his third album, Radio Musicola. Radio Musicola, despite receiving critical acclaim, was a flop in the UK charts. After this, Kershaw teamed up with ‘We Built This City’ producer Peter Wolf for his fourth album, The Works. After neither Kershaw or Wolf were happy with the results, Kershaw re-recorded the album with producer Julian Mendelsohn. The Works failed to chart in the UK, but it’s debut single, One Step Ahead, charted at No. 55. The albums failure led to him being dropped by MCA Records.

A Masterful Songsmith

After The Works, Kershaw retired from recording music in favour of his original career path as a songwriter. His prowess as a songwriter served him well in 1991 when his song The One And Only, appeared on the soundtrack to the Brittish movie Buddy’s Song and in the American film “Doc Hollywood”, and provided a UK Number 1 single for the star of the film, Chesney Hawkes (son of the Tremeloes’ Chip Hawkes). In 1993 The Hollies had a minor hit with another of his songs, The Woman I Love. Kershaw featured prominently as a vocalist on Tony Banks’ album Still, along with penning some of the tracks.

Musical Evolution and Collaboration

1999 saw the release of the Britpop-styled 15 Minutes, a collection of songs that are generally more personal and mature, and that he could not envisage being recorded by other artists. Both this and the more commercial To Be Frank (2001) are stylistically different from his earlier work by being underpinned by acoustic guitar rather than synthesiser.

Next came ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’, another collection of acoustic-led songs and ‘EI8HT’, a commercial MOR pop album brought on by the 80s revival and also led to the return of synthesisers in his music. Kershaw released his latest album, Oxymoron, in 2020 and is in the process of releasing a series of EPs, Songs from a Shelf. Nik still performs regularly.For more information visit the official site at http://www.nikkershaw.net

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