Staffordshire might not have the same musical status as counties like Merseyside and Greater Manchester, but it has certainly seen its fair share of talent emerge over the years. Here’s a look at some of the most famous bands and artists from Staffordshire.
One of the most famous musicians from Staffordshire is the man who helped to found the heavy metal genre, Lemmy. The lead singer, songwriter, and bassist of the band Motörhead, whose real name is Ian Fraser Kilmister, was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1945. He grew up there and in the nearby towns of Madeley and Newcastle-under-Lyme. Although he’s most famous for leading Motörhead, Lemmy first started his professional music career with the space rock band Hawkwind, as a bassist and vocalist. Lemmy’s gravelly voice is one of the most recognisable in modern music. But he is just as well known for his unique bass-playing style that created an overpowering, distorted rhythm. Classic Motörhead songs like Ace of Spades will never be forgotten.
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The Climax Blues Band
Although the band was formed in Stafford, The Climax Blues Band was originally called The Climax Chicago Blues Band. The group was established in 1967. It featured Colin Cooper as vocalist and harmonica player, Pete Haycock as vocalist and guitarist, Derek Holt as the guitarist, Richard Jones as keyboardist and bassist, and George Newsome as the drummer. The band released a number of memorable albums and singles over the years. But their biggest success came with their UK top-ten hit I Couldn’t Get It Right. That song, and the track I Love You, were also massive hits in the US.
If you were raving in the 1990s, you’re sure to remember the mightily influential rave duo Altern-8, who were known for their loud electronic songs with heavy-basslines. Mark Archer and Chris Peat, both from Stafford, were already successful artists with their techno group Nexus 21, which had formed in 1989. In 1990, they began Altern-8 as a side project and it turned out to be even more successful than their other band. Altern-8’s 1992 album Full On… Mask Hysteria reached number 11 in the UK charts. With their mixture of keyboards, break-beats and samples, the duo led the rave scene by defining harder house tracks that relied more on the heavy bass sound. Back when unofficial raves were legal in the UK, Altern-8 were often the duo that got the party going.
Formed in Stafford in 1989, Bizarre Inc. was a dance-pop and house band that got people moving on their feet to legendary tracks like Playing with Knives and I’m Gonna Let You. The latter reached number three in the UK singles chart, and it was number one in the US. And Bizarre Inc. scored another US number one with their hit Took My Love. The band was formed by Dean Meredith and Altern-8’s Mark Archer. However, Archer left the band in 1990, before Bizarre Inc. had their biggest hits. Meredith began working with engineer Andy Meacham, and they then hired Carl Turner, who was a DJ at the Coliseum Club in Stafford. Bizarre Inc. released seven albums between 1989 and 1999.
National treasure Robbie Williams is just as well known for his solo career as for his time in one of the world’s greatest boybands of modern times, Take That. He has had phenomenal success as a solo artist, having released seven UK number one singles, and scoring eleven UK number one albums out of the twelve he has released. Six of his albums are on the list of the top 100 biggest-selling albums of all time in the UK. And in 2006, Robbie entered the Guinness Book of World Records for selling 1.6 million tickets for his Close Encounters Tour in just one day. Williams comes from humble beginnings, though. He was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1974. His parents ran a Burslem pub called the Red Lion, before his father took over the license at the Port Vale FC Social Club.