Howlett is Fiji’s first Grammy winner
23 August, 2018, 9:29 am
WORLD renowned musician and music producer Mike Howlett is a Grammy award winner.
He has also rubbed shoulders with the best in the business.
As a producer he has worked with some of the biggest English pop groups including Tears for Fears, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and the Thompson Twins.
As a bass guitarist he has performed with Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland in a band called Strontium 90.
After Mike left the group, the remaining trio formed The Police and went on to worldwide fame with songs like Roxanne, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic and Every Breath You Take.
What many would not know was the fact that the west London resident was born in Lautoka in April 1950.
And while he left Fiji at a very early age and grew up in Singapore and then Australia before moving to England, music pundits and the media still refer to Mike as a “Fijian musician”.
In effect, he is the first Fiji-born producer to have won a Grammy. He scooped the award in 1983 for his work on British pop band A Flock of Seagulls single DNA.
Mike developed a keen interest in music as a child and experimented with the xylophone and ukulele before saving up enough money to buy a guitar in 1961.
In the late ’60s, while living in Sydney, he played bass for a pop band called The Affair — a three-piece group fronted by female jazz vocalist Kerrie Biddell.
The Affair played to about 2000 partygoers every night at Whisky-A-GoGo, the largest nightclub in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Affair won a national band competition called hoadley’s Battle of the Souths band competition and their prize was a free trip to England.
In June 1970, Mike left Australia for London with The Affair.
In 1973, he joined an English progressive rock group called Gong and co-wrote most of the material on several albums from 1973 to 1977.
It was after leaving Gong that he formed Strontium 90 with English teacher-turned-musician Sting, drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers.
The band was unique in that it featured two bass guitarists in Mike and Sting.
Despite Stings vocal prowess, Mike also took on the role of lead singer in the group until the group disbanded in 1977.
A few months after the breakup of Strontium 90, Mike played bass guitar for a one-off studio band known as The Radio Actors.
The group also included Gong bandmate Steve Hillage on lead guitar and Strontium 90 bandmate Sting on lead vocals. The Radio Actor’s single, Nuclear Waste made some noise on the charts.
However, it was in the 1980s that Mike came into his forte as a music producer with a string of notable credits.
He gained renown in leading new wave music acts including A Flock of Seagulls, The Alarm, China Crisis, Martha & the Muffins, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Stephen Duffy, Gang of Four and Comsat Angels. He also produced the album Secret Secrets for Joan Armatrading in 1985.
Today, he performs reunion gigs with Gong around the world.
He was awarded a PhD in record production in 2009 and teaches music to the next generation of producers.