Mike Oldfield

Mike Oldfield

Real Name:
Michael Gordon Oldfield
Michael Gordon "Mike" Oldfield (born 15 May 1953, Reading, Berkshire) is an English multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, working a style that blends progressive rock, folk, ethnic or world music, classical music, electronic music, New Age, and more recently, dance. His music is often elaborate and complex in nature. He is best known for his hit 1973 album Tubular Bells, which launched Virgin Records, and for his 1983 hit single "Moonlight Shadow". He is also well known for his hit rendition of the Christmas piece, "In Dulci Jubilo".

Brother of Terry Oldfield and Sally Oldfield.

Oldfield's career began fairly early, playing acoustic guitar in local folk clubs. At this time, he already had two fifteen-minute instrumental pieces in which he would "go through all sorts of moods", a precursor to his landmark 1970s compositions. In his early teens, Oldfield was involved in a 'beat group' playing Shadows-style music (he has often cited Hank Marvin as a major influence, and would later cover The Shadows' song "Wonderful Land"). In 1967 he and his sister Sally formed the folk duo The Sallyangie and were signed to Transatlantic Records after exposure in the local folk scene. An album, Children of the Sun, was issued in 1968. After Sallyangie disbanded, he formed another duo with his brother Terry, called Barefoot, which took him back to rock music.

In 1970 he joined The Whole World - backing group to vocalist Kevin Ayers, formerly of the Soft Machine - playing bass guitar and occasionally lead guitar. The band also included keyboardist and composer David Bedford, who quickly befriended Oldfield, and encouraged him in his composition of an early version of Tubular Bells. Bedford would later arrange and conduct an orchestral version of that album. Oldfield is featured on two Ayers albums, Whatevershebringswesing and Shooting at the Moon.

Having recorded a demo version of Tubular Bells, Oldfield attempted to persuade record labels to take the project on. In 1972 he met the young Richard Branson who was setting up his own record label, Virgin Records, and after playing the demo to engineers Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth, he began recording the 1973 version of the album.

Tubular Bells became Oldfield's most famous work. The instrumental composition was recorded in 1972 and launched on 25 May 1973 as the inaugural album of Richard Branson's Virgin Records label. The album was groundbreaking, as Oldfield played more than twenty different instruments in the multi-layered recording made in Branson's Manor studios, and its style moved through many diverse musical genres. Its 2,630,000 UK sales put it at No.34 on the list of the best selling albums in the UK. In the US, it received attention with the opening theme appearing in the soundtrack to The Exorcist. The title track subsequently became a Top 10 hit single in the US as well and is today considered to be a forerunner of the New Age movement. In 1974, Oldfield played guitar on the critically acclaimed album Rock Bottom by Robert Wyatt. In the autumn of 1974, the follow-up LP, Hergest Ridge, was No.1 in the UK for three weeks before being dethroned by Tubular Bells. Although Hergest Ridge was released over a year after Tubular Bells, it reached No.1 first. Tubular Bells spent 11 weeks (10 of them consecutive) at No.2 before its one week at the top. In 1979, Oldfield's music was used as the musical score for The Space Movie, a Virgin movie that celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

Like Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge is a two-movement instrumental piece, this time evoking scenes from Oldfield's Herefordshire country retreat. It was followed in 1975 by the pioneering world music piece Ommadawn, and 1978's Incantations which introduced more diverse choral performances from Sally Oldfield, Maddy Prior, and the Queen's College Girls Choir. In 1975 Oldfield recorded a version of the Christmas piece "In Dulci Jubilo" which charted at number four in the UK. Oldfield's 1976 rendition of "Portsmouth" remains his highest charting single on the UK Singles Chart, reaching number three.

In 1975, Oldfield received a Grammy award for Best Instrumental Composition in "Tubular Bells – Theme from The Exorcist". In 1979, he recorded a version of the signature tune of the popular British Children's Television programme, Blue Peter, which was used by the show for 10 years

The early 1980s saw Oldfield make a transition to mainstream pop music, beginning with the inclusion of shorter instrumental tracks and contemporary cover versions on Platinum and QE2 (the latter named after the ocean liner). Soon afterwards he turned to songwriting, with a string of collaborations featuring various lead vocalists alongside his characteristic searing guitar solos. The best known of these is "Moonlight Shadow", his 1983 hit with Maggie Reilly. The most successful Oldfield composition on the US pop charts during this period was actually a cover version — Hall & Oates's remake of Oldfield's "Family Man" for their 1982 album H2O. Released as the album's third single, it hit the Top 10 during the spring of 1983 and was a hugely popular MTV music video.

Oldfield later turned to film and video, writing the score for Roland Joffè's acclaimed film The Killing Fields and producing substantial video footage for his album Islands. Islands continued what Oldfield had been doing on the past couple of albums, with an instrumental piece on one side and rock/pop singles on the other. Of these, "Islands", sung by Bonnie Tyler and "Magic Touch", with vocals by Max Bacon (in the U.S. version) and Glasgow vocalist Southside Jimmy (in other versions), were the major hits. In the U.S., the Virgin America airline promoted the song "Magic Touch" to a large extent, making it a success, reaching the top 10 on the Billboard album rock charts. During the 1980s, Oldfield's then-wife, Norwegian singer Anita Hegerland, contributed vocals to many songs including "Pictures in the Dark".

Earth Moving was released in July 1989, and was a moderate success. The album was the first to exclusively feature rock/pop songs, several of which were released: "Innocent" and "Holy" in Europe, and "Hostage" in the USA for album rock stations. This was, however, a time of much friction with his record label. Virgin Records reportedly insisted that any future instrumental album should be billed as Tubular Bells 2. Oldfield's rebellious response was Amarok, an hour-long work featuring rapidly changing themes (supposedly devised to make cutting a single from the album impossible), unpredictable bursts of noise, and a very cleverly hidden Morse code insult directed at Richard Branson. Although regarded by many fans as his greatest work, it was not a commercial success. His parting shot from the Virgin label was Heaven's Open, which continued the veiled attacks on Branson but was notable for being the first time Oldfield had contributed all the lead vocals himself. It was the only album he released under the name 'Michael Oldfield'.

The very first thing Oldfield did when arriving at his new label, Warner Bros., was to write and release Tubular Bells II, the sequel to his first record on Virgin, as his final insult to his former label. It was premiered at a live concert at Edinburgh Castle. He then continued to embrace new musical styles, with The Songs of Distant Earth (based on Arthur C. Clarke's novel of the same name) exhibiting a softer "New Age" sound. In 1994 he also had an asteroid named after him, 5656 Oldfield.

In 1995 Oldfield further continued to embrace new musical styles by producing a Celtic-themed album, Voyager. In 1992 Oldfield met Luar Na Lubre, a Galician Celtic-folk band (from A Coruña, Spain). The band's popularity grew after Oldfield covered their song "O son do ar" ("The sound of the air") on his Voyager album.

In 1998 he produced the third Tubular Bells album (also premiered at a concert, this time in Horse Guards Parade, London), drawing from the dance music scene at his then new home on the island of Ibiza. This album was still inspired by themes from Tubular Bells.

During 1999 Oldfield released two albums. The first, Guitars, used guitars as the source for all the sounds on the album, including percussion. The second, The Millennium Bell, consisted of pastiches of a number of styles of music that represented various historical periods over the past millennium. The work was performed live in Berlin for the city's millennium celebrations in 1999–2000.

He added to his repertoire the MusicVR project, combining his music with a virtual reality-based computer game. His first work on this project is Tr3s Lunas launched in 2002, a virtual game where the player can interact with a world full of new music. This project appeared as a double CD, one with the music, and the other with the game.

In 2003 he released Tubular Bells 2003, a re-recording of the original Tubular Bells, on CD, and DVD-Audio. This was done to "fix" many "imperfections" in the original due to the recording technologies of the early 1970s and limitations in time that he could spend in the recording studio. It celebrated the 30th anniversary of Tubular Bells, Oldfield's 50th birthday and his marriage to Fanny in the same year. At around the same time Virgin released an SACD version containing both the original stereo album and the 1975 quadraphonic mix by Phil Newell. In the 2003 version, the original voice of the 'Master of Ceremonies' (Vivian Stanshall) was replaced by the voice of John Cleese.

His autobiography Changeling was published in May 2007 by Virgin Books. In March 2008 Oldfield released his first classical album, Music of the Spheres; Karl Jenkins assisted with the orchestration. In the first week of release the album topped the UK Classical chart and reached number 9 on the main UK Album Chart. A single, "Spheres", featuring a demo version of pieces from the album was released digitally. The album was nominated for a Classical Brit Award, the NS&I Best Album of 2009.

In 2008 when Oldfield's original 35-year deal with Virgin Records ended, the rights to Tubular Bells and his other Virgin releases were returned to him, and then they were transferred to Mercury Records. Mercury issued a press release on 15 April 2009, noting that Oldfield's Virgin albums would be re-released, starting 8 June 2009. These releases include special features from the archives. On 6 June 2009, an International Bell Ringing day took place, to promote the reissue of his first album, Tubular Bells. The next two albums were reissued in June 2010 along with the launch of a new official web site.
In Groups:

Mike Oldfield Discography


87 541 XOT Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells (Album) Virgin 87 541 XOT Austria 1973 Sell This Version
VR 13-109 Mike Oldfield Hergest Ridge (Album) Virgin VR 13-109 US 1974 Sell This Version
89 552 XOT Mike Oldfield Ommadawn (Album) Virgin, Virgin 89 552 XOT Austria 1975 Sell This Version
VI863154 The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra With Mike Oldfield The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra With Mike Oldfield - The Orchestral Tubular Bells (Album) Virgin, Virgin VI863154 Netherlands 1975 Sell This Version
811 924-1 The Sallyangie Featuring Sally* And Mike Oldfield The Sallyangie Featuring Sally* And Mike Oldfield - Children Of The Sun (Album) Transatlantic Records 811 924-1 Germany 1978 Sell This Version
L 70111/2, L-70,111, L-70,112, VDT 101 Mike Oldfield Incantations (Album, Comp) Virgin, Virgin L 70111/2, L-70,111, L-70,112, VDT 101 Australia 1978 Sell This Version
201 206 Mike Oldfield Platinum (Album) Virgin 201 206 Austria 1979 Sell This Version
L 70127/8 Mike Oldfield Exposed (Album) Virgin L 70127/8 Australia 1979 Sell This Version
V2153/2 Mike Oldfield Airborn (Album) Virgin V2153/2 Canada 1980 Sell This Version
VIP-6971 Mike Oldfield QE2 (Album) Virgin VIP-6971 Japan 1980 Sell This Version
90 096, 90133 Mike Oldfield The Consequences Of Indecisions (Album) Happy Bird, Happy Bird 90 096, 90133 Germany 1981 Sell This Version
TCV 2222 Mike Oldfield Five Miles Out (Album) Virgin, Virgin TCV 2222 UK 1982 Sell This Version
49 532 5 Mike Oldfield Crises (Album) Virgin, Virgin 49 532 5 Germany 1983 Sell This Version
70259 Mike Oldfield Discovery (Album) Virgin 70259 France 1984 Sell This Version
90591-4 Mike Oldfield The Killing Fields (Original Film Soundtrack) (Album) Virgin, Virgin 90591-4 US 1984 Sell This Version
VJD-32006 Mike Oldfield Islands (Album) Virgin VJD-32006 Japan 1987 Sell This Version
CDV 2610 Mike Oldfield Earth Moving (Album) Virgin CDV 2610 UK 1989 Sell This Version
V 2640, 210 707 Mike Oldfield Amarok (Album) Virgin, Virgin V 2640, 210 707 Europe 1990 Sell This Version
TC-VG 50537 Michael Oldfield* Heaven's Open (Album) Virgin, Virgin TC-VG 50537 Greece 1991 Sell This Version
4509-90618-4 Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells II (Album) WEA 4509-90618-4 Europe 1992 Sell This Version
4509-98542-2 Mike Oldfield The Songs Of Distant Earth (Album) WEA 4509-98542-2 Europe 1994 Sell This Version
VP191CD David Bedford, Tom Newman (2) & Mike Oldfield David Bedford, Tom Newman (2) & Mike Oldfield - Variations On A Rhythm Of Mike Oldfield(CD, Album) Voiceprint VP191CD UK 1995 Sell This Version
0630 15896-2 Mike Oldfield Voyager (Album) WEA 0630 15896-2 Australia 1996 Sell This Version
VP180CD Kevin Ayers, Mike Oldfield, Robert Wyatt, David Bedford, Lol Coxhill, Six Beautiful Girls Kevin Ayers, Mike Oldfield, Robert Wyatt, David Bedford, Lol Coxhill, Six Beautiful Girls - The Garden Of Love (MiniAlbum) Voiceprint VP180CD UK 1997 Sell This Version
639842434942 Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells III (Album) WEA 639842434942 South Korea 1998 Sell This Version

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July 16, 2015
Brilliant! Simply Brilliant!


August 28, 2014
How brilliant is Mike Oldfield!
How relevant is his early discography to this day and age.
all 3 Tubular Bells albums are of major significance in music.
My personal favourite is The Songs of Distant Earth, an incredible journey into the world of the metaphysical and the unreal.

Brought back to the world spotlight during the 2012 Olypmics reignited his career and a new generation has started to follow.



January 25, 2013

Everybody knows Mike Oldfield from his soundtrack:: Exorcist (Tubular bells) & his latest presence at the Olympic Games in London 2012.

I bought Amarok when I was 15 years of age. Now I'm 38 years old.
Amarok is one of the albums that I listen so once in a while and that for the last 23 years...

The CD cover has a little story inside about 2 men who are walking to a huge 'Golden statue' that's making a noise or sound witch can be felt and heard. But you can't explain it to someone else.

Yesterday when I cleaned up a secondhand Denon Micro set AMP. I first listened to Amarok to test the system.

I truly believe that Mike Oldfield made a Masterpiece with this.
Throughout the Musical sound scape, Mike uses all kinds of techniques & sounds in such a way, that the most stupid listener is forced to finds the zero point of truthfully knowing how Sounds, Instruments, Harmonie, Rhythm & Natural structures are blend together.
If you hear the Golden Statue? Then Mike has penetrated your brain and has given you the most beautiful gesture you can get.

:: Natural connection between brain and ear ::

Musical shock therapia I want to call it.
I still can enjoy the programming of different styles and there blending.

I've been a Studio Amateur DJ who was keen on a proper, tight, smooth blending mix.
Amarok was my foundation to find other great music.


Marcel S


June 13, 2008
I really started dig Oldfield after his well documented crazy excursions to Ibiza, however that all came surprisingly after he had laid down FOREIGN AFFAIR his sunset masterpiece. Never released on its own, it was hidden away on his CRISES LP way back in the melted roads of 1983. And yeah you’ve probably walked past it in charity shops a thousand times thinking it was an intense one note with bongos collection but I tell you it’s a tune to behold. Also forget about those beard heads that babble on about Tubular Bells, because we all know that only sounds good when you’re sat in a field in Dorset, cranking a giant cone as you tuck into mummy’s fresh salmon hamper. However, Mike’s redemption can be found in this elegant chill out anthem. The aching dream like vocals of Maggie Reilly set you in a perfect mood and transport you elsewhere. While the whistling synths and oceanic sweeps create a sun bleached backdrop to die for…. Just close your eyes and its instant beach action! Get your trip in now and register at beach music time travel dot COM !



April 14, 2004
Personally, as much as I feel respect for Oldfield (mostly because of his earlier work), his current adventures in new age or whatever that's called seem more like a big fart - too ambitious and lush orchestrations but no particular direction... and sometimes it's just too serious to be taken seriously...

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