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Mike Oldfield

Composer Mike Oldfield rose to fame on the success of Tubular Bells, an eerie, album-length conceptual piece employed to stunning effect in the film The Exorcist. Born May 15, 1953, in Reading, England, Oldfield began his professional career at the age of 14, forming the Sallyangie folk duo with his sister Sally; a year later, the siblings issued their debut LP, Children of the Sun. By the age of 16, he was playing bass with Soft Machine founder Kevin Ayers' group the Whole World alongside experimental classical arranger David Bedford and avant-garde jazz saxophonist Lol Coxhill; within months, Oldfield was tapped to become the band's lead guitarist prior to recording the 1971 LP Shooting at the Moon.

Tubular Bells, originally dubbed Opus 1, grew out of studio time gifted by Richard Branson, who at the time was running a mail-order record retail service. After its completion, Oldfield shopped the record to a series of labels, only to meet with rejection; frustrated, Branson decided to found his own label, and in 1973 Tubular Bells became the inaugural release of Virgin Records. An atmospheric, intricate composition that fused rock and folk motifs with the structures of minimalist composition, the 49-minute instrumental piece (performed on close to 30 different instruments, virtually all of them played by Oldfield himself) spent months in the number one spot on the U.K. charts, and eventually sold over 16 million copies globally. In addition to almost single-handedly establishing Virgin as one of the most important labels in the record industry, Tubular Bells also created a market for what would later be dubbed new age music, and won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition in 1974.

The follow-up, 1974's Hergest Ridge (named after Oldfield's retreat in a remote area of Herefordshire) also proved phenomenally successful, and dislodged Tubular Bells at the top of the British chart. With 1975's Ommadawn, he explored ambient textures and world music; however, the emergence of punk left Oldfield baffled, and he retreated from sight for three years following the LP's release. He resurfaced with 1978's Incantations. Platinum, issued a year later, kept its eye on the clubs, and featured a dance version of the Philip Glass composition "North Star." With 1980's QE2, Oldfield moved completely away from his epic-length pieces and traveled into pop territory, a shift typified by the album's cover of ABBA's "Arrival." He continued in a pop vein for much of the 1980s, as albums like 1983's Crises, 1984's Discovery, and 1987's Islands encroached further and further upon mainstream accessibility.

In 1992, Oldfield teamed with producer Trevor Horn for Tubular Bells II, which returned him to the top of the U.K. charts. The Songs of Distant Earth appeared two years later, followed by a third Tubular Bells update in 1998. In 2003, Oldfield re-recorded Tubular Bells in celebration of its 30th anniversary, with John Cleese as master of ceremonies replacing the late Vivian Stanshall; the album was issued as a two-disc set including a video disc.

Light + Shade, a double-disc conceptual work of new studio material, appeared in 2006. An album-length classically influenced piece, Music of the Spheres, appeared in 2008, followed by a live offering. After a four-year break from his own work, Oldfield reentered the studio and began working on a return to pop/rock-influenced music. In early 2014 he emerged with Man on the Rocks. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

diffusio
Ca NYC. Love to take you for dinner IN Williamsbour g Brooklyn
With respect & admiration CA
Wrong Mike Oldfield revolving doorcelot
I'M NUCLEAR
I'M WILD
togrady15
I can't seem to find a copy of the original Tubular Bells for sale. Did it not get digitized?
This sounds good when your realy stoned!
Ommadawn and Platinum are some of my favorites by him. Huge influence on me as guitarist.
sc_by_the_c
After all this time, it's great to see that so many of us still enjoy Mike's work. I had a friend that lived in England for a couple of years who turned me onto MO. Soon after that I acquired the Boxed set. I've never seen The Exorcist, so I don't have that connection with Tubular Bells. Then I purchased Five Miles Out; which to my surprise no one mentions...a m a z i n g LP. I also have The Complete LP and one of Sally's. But still, Ommadawn and Hergest Ridge are some of the best.
Always great to know, and hear from Oldfield fans. my bro, who no longer resides on earth, turned me on to him way back in the 70's when I was early teens. My brothers last sounds of music on earth was MO's album Voyager. I'm sure he is still listening! Never forget>
I wore out my T.Bells, Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn LP's listening until I knew every note. 70's were an amazind decade for music..there just aren't any new artists like Oldfield (& Alan Parsons) any more..
First time hearing this one -nice melody-love mike oldfield.
Fantastic variation on an already brilliant tune - mike oldfield is one of the best guitarist on the planet -+ an excellent musician. - I remember going to see Genesis in 1974 -wth peter gabriel and steve hackett - and they played the original tubular bells over the pa before the show - it just added to the overall mystical quality of the show -really far out vibes.
Heard Mike Oldfield for the first time while watching the Exorcist. Later that year, the submarine I was on visited England I was able to pick up one of his early albums. I've been a fan of his ever since.
I was 12 years old, going through my mom's LPs looking for something interesting to listen to and found Tubular Bells and gave it a listen.

Mom was happy to listen to it with me on a daily basis for about a week and then made me copy it to a cassette tape (mid-'80s piracy, gasp) and conduct any further Tubular Bells marathons in my room. When I got my first CD player in high school, Tubular Bells was one of the first discs I got. This album has been part of my life for a very long time.
curtnsea
Anything you want to do or want to dream you can do or want to be inspired of the beauty in this world's life once again... this, and Hergest Ridge... I've listened to them a thousand times. Now mix in a little Vangelis and Loreena McKennitt and you're on a mystical journey that never ends....
Bloomington Indiana - circa 72-73. Along with Yes, MO got me through some pretty difficult times. . . thanks again MIke! Arthur
discovered M.O on reel to reel that had spent time in Viet Nam. OMFG!
32 years later... Still OMFG
Is this where the expression totally tubular stems from? :*)
When TB came out on vinyl I had just graduated HS and my main mission in life was just to keep a steady high. Simple days. Brilliant music.
I first discovered Mike Oldfield in 1975. I was reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time and for some reason Ommadawn seemed to be the perfect complement to the Tolkien classic. I have played Ommadawn and Songs of Distant Earth more than any other albums I own. Thank you Mike!
I had heard the theme in the exorcist and liked it, but really didn't know who it was that composed it. Then, years later, I was serving aboard a US Submarine. One of my friends, by accident, played it over the sub's main speakers. No one spoke, no one MOVED! it was awesome, and I became a New Age fan that night! I listen to Arkenstone, Kitaro, J.M. Jarre, but Mr. OLdfield's music is what I take with me on trips, flights, anywhere I go, it goes.
magellan is awesome!!
For the last 20 years or so I have also felt that Oldfield has composed the soundtrack of my life. Truly a brilliant composer and artist and yes, those of us who enjoy are clearly more intelligent than the common rabble!
I would like to agree with the people here who say that Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn are awesome albums. It's totally true! I think Hergest Ridge is my favorite. I just got them both (and TB) on vinyl and I can't stop playing Hergest Ridge!
Having read the comments from many contributors about Mike Oldfield, my guess is, those of us who enjoy and adore his work have IQs that tend to be vastly superior to most people. Michael, please keep those Tubular Bells ringing. For you there is no equal.
tubular pure
Right on rockenm: Ommadawn and Hergest Ridge are AWESOME!
logon-42
Till my all favourite live concert: Mike Oldfield at Hohentwiel festival in Germany. On the old ruin of castle "Festung Hohentwiel" he played into the sunset. A great moment for all visitors.
rockkenm
Mike is one of the most under-rated musicians of the past 40 years. TB,Ommadawn, and Hergest Ridge are among the best modern classical compositions . I'd Rather Be On Horseback!
wingedliones s
My first intro to Mike Oldfield's music was back when the first "Pure Moods" album came out on cassette...i n subsequent years I discovered his "Voyager" album, his tip of the hat to the Celtic genre, and it's become my favorite Oldfield album for that very reason, though his Tubular Bells compositions rock! I wish the writer for this bio had said something about the song Oldfield wrote with Jon Anderson, a lovely pop-style tune called "Shine." Jon's lyrics + Mike's instrumental s = Genius. (IMO!)
The day I heard the "Theme from The Exorcist" single on the radio, I went out and bought the 45, then immediately began scouring every store that sold record albums for the source material, "Tubular Bells"... which I found the next day, one single copy, at a Walmart. I've been an avid listener, often to the exclusion of all others, ever since. The best concert I've been to was Oldfield, the Five Miles Out tour at the Santa Monica Civic Center. Oldfield has truly been the soundtrack to my life.
One of the best concerts I've ever attended was by Mike Oldfield (with a small band) in the late 1970's.
shadow3284
MOFAN4VR!
So "Zesty", why do you feel Mike is a "chump"? I suppose you have accomplished as much, eh? “When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.”

Mike Oldfield's hooked me when I first heard Ommadawn, back in 1975. The style, composition etc. made such an impression that for years I looked for all of his albums. I was very glad that in the 90's most of his work has been made available, world wide. His talent is endless, with his music running from classical, to rock, to house, to new age. Great music from a world-class artist.
Mike oldfield is one of those musicians that is for one, one of the best guitarist on the planet and what to speak of his compositiona l skills - I remember getting his first 3 albums right when they came out - ommadawn is one of those records that is just timeless - of course tubular bells and hergest ridge are now classics too - I just watched several videos of mike oldfields on you tube - live music that I had never heard before and it was brilliant- the guy is still making really good music.
Wow! I heard "Clear Light" and said to myself ... man, if I was a betting woman I would bet that is Mike Oldfield .... listening to Opus 1 so long ago changed my music listening habits ... Thanks to Mike for never stopping!
pattas4
I own almost all of Mike's material. I first heard his guitar playing on David Bedford's Instructions for Angels in the 70s. There are the inevitable pieces that shouldn't have been released, but much of his material (Crises, Discovery, and Platinum especially) have so much genius that leaves me wondering how would someone discover this music? It has never fit in the playlist of any radio station I have ever heard.
raymondklimk o
I am a hard core fan of Mike since his Opus 1 release. Few people realize the exceptional ability of his guitar work. I am less appreciative of his "new age" influenced compositions of the 90's, but Mike is still one of my favorites of all time.
Best listened to with your eyes closed.....
I listen to Mike Oldfield since he first appeared on the music horizon. I absolutely enjoy his works and only can say. I first heard his music in Germany, influenced by my Dad listening to Jean-Michael Jarre and Pink Floyd as well as Jon and Vangelis. Everyone needs to listen to his art. Keep it up Mike, Your music is so easy to listen to ...
jimsdottir
I have loved the music of Mike Oldfield for more than 30 years. I am so grateful for its intricate beauty and his incredible talent. Thank you, Mike, and please keep it coming.
A musical genius of the XX-XXI century, particularly in his earlier work. Largerly unknown in the US, unfortunatel y , but known to those of us who explore the hyperspace from time to time. Cheers Mike, we need more of your music.
My middle name is Chime, after Mike Oldfield's songs "The Wind Chimes, Parts I & II" on Islands. My dad's a hardcore fan, and I've grown up with Mike Oldfield's music. <3
kvaughan54
I was 7 but i think I saw Mike play at Disney in Orlando in Tommorowland in 1976. He was amazing!
TUBULAR BELLS has been and always will be in my Top Ten Albums Of All TIme List, but the pre-remaster e d version of HERGEST RIDGE is Mike at is most masterful. IMNSHO, he will never surpass that masterpiece.
I had the opportunity too see him on his five miles out tour!Love it thanks mike!!!
cambriaz
I've been listening to Mike Oldfield now for over 20 years. He's still my number one all-time favorite musician. I find something to like about every piece he does, but Ommadawn is probably one of my favorites.
godscon
Songs of Distant Earth is easily the best piece of music around!
This man is as close to God as you can get.
I wonder why mike old fields (OMMADAWN ) albume is not mentioned any where that is his best work
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