Pioneering rock musician/producer Nick Lowe was the featured guest for a recent installment of the GRAMMY Museum's An Evening With series. Before an intimate audience, Lowe discussed becoming a musician, his early musical influences and working with GRAMMY winner Elvis Costello. Following the interview, Lowe performed a brief set, including "Heart," a song from his 1982 album Nick The Knife.
"I figured out pretty quickly that if you want to have any kind of long-term career, you have to figure out [how] to write your own song[s]," said Lowe. "Lots of things have changed in the pop business, but that is still true."
Born the son of a British Royal Air Force officer, Lowe was raised in the Middle East until his family relocated to the UK. He began playing bass guitar while at boarding school and as a teenager performed in a variety of bands, including Three's A Crowd and Sounds 4 Plus 1 with his friend, guitarist Brinsley Schwarz. In 1965 Lowe joined Schwarz's pop act Kippington Lodge. Four years later, Kippington Lodge morphed into a country rock act under the name Brinsley Schwarz and landed a recording contract with United Artists. Brinsley Schwarz released their self-titled debut in 1970. The band slowly built a following on the pub rock scene, and their under-the-radar approach helped set the stage for the breakthrough of punk rock in the late '70s.
Brinsley Schwarz severed ties in 1975, but by then Lowe had established himself as a significant figure in the development of punk rock. With a reputation as a talented songwriter, he began working as producer for artists including Dr. Feelgood, Graham Parker and the Kursaal Flyers. Lowe eventually became the first artist signed to independent label Stiff Records, where he also worked as an in-house producer. Lowe was credited for producing arguably the first British punk album, the Damned's Damned Damned, as well as Costello's 1977 release, My Aim Is True. His rough, DIY producing style earned him the moniker "Basher."
In 1978 Lowe released his debut solo album, Jesus Of Cool, which was later renamed Pure Pop For Now People for its release in the United States. Labour Of Lust was released in 1979 with Lowe's backing band, Rockpile, and featured the Billboard Hot 100 Top 20 hit "Cruel To Be Kind." Lowe shifted his music toward roots rock for his 1984 release And His Cowboy Outfit, and 1985's Rose Of England, featuring "I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock & Roll)," his second and last Billboard Hot 100 hit to date.
Lowe formed Little Village in 1986, a supergroup featuring multigenre musicians Ry Cooder and John Hiatt and percussionist Jim Keltner. The group earned a GRAMMY nomination in 1992 for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for their self-titled release. Lowe released several more solo albums throughout the '90s and 2000s, including 2001's The Convincer and 2007's At My Age, both of which made the Top 40 on Billboard's Independent Albums chart. His most recent release, The Old Magic, was released in September and peaked at No. 25 on Billboard's Rock Albums chart.
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include An Evening With Judy Collins (Nov. 1), An Evening With LeAnn Rimes (Nov. 2), Spotlight: Colbie Caillat (Nov. 3), and An Evening With America (Nov. 4).
For more information on the GRAMMY Museum, visit www.grammymuseum.org.
Click on the "GRAMMY Museum events" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.