Mike Oldfield

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Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield NOTP 2006.jpg
Oldfield at the Night of the Proms in 2006
Background information
Birth nameMichael Gordon Oldfield
Born (1953-05-15) 15 May 1953 (age 65)
Reading, Berkshire, England
Genres Experimental, minimalist, ambient, new-age, progressive rock, pop, folk, world, classical
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, producer, game designer
InstrumentsGuitar, bass, banjo, piano, percussion, keyboards, synthesizer, mandolin, vocals, harp, tympani, vibraphone, drums, tubular bells
Years active1967–present
Labels Virgin, Reprise/Warner Bros., Mercury/Virgin EMI/Universal
Associated acts Maggie Reilly, Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, Alex Harvey, David Bedford, Anita Hegerland, Pekka Pohjola
Website mikeoldfieldofficial.com

Michael Gordon Oldfield (born 15 May 1953) [1] is an English multi-instrumentalist and composer. His work blends progressive rock with world, folk, classical, electronic, ambient, and new-age music. His biggest commercial success is the 1973 album Tubular Bells  which launched Virgin Records and became a hit in America after its opening was used as the theme for the film The Exorcist . He recorded the 1983 hit single "Moonlight Shadow" [2] and a rendition of the Christmas piece "In Dulci Jubilo".

Progressive rock is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk, or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening, not dancing.

World music is a musical category encompassing many different styles of music from around the globe, which includes many genres including some forms of Western music represented by folk music, Jazz, as well as selected forms of ethnic music, indigenous music, neotraditional music, and music where more than one cultural tradition, such as ethnic music and Western popular music, intermingle.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.


Oldfield has released more than 20 albums with the most recent being a sequel to his 1975 album Ommadawn titled Return to Ommadawn , released on 20 January 2017.

<i>Ommadawn</i> 1975 studio album by Mike Oldfield

Ommadawn is the third studio album by English musician, songwriter, and producer Mike Oldfield, released on 28 October 1975 on Virgin Records. It peaked at No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart. The album was reissued by Mercury Records in June 2010 with additional content. A sequel album, titled Return to Ommadawn, was released on 20 January 2017.

<i>Return to Ommadawn</i> 2017 studio album by Mike Oldfield

Return to Ommadawn is the twenty-sixth studio album by Mike Oldfield. It is a sequel to his third album, Ommadawn (1975).

Early life

Oldfield was born on 15 May 1953 at Battle Hospital in Reading, Berkshire to father Raymond Oldfield, a general practitioner, and mother Maureen (née Liston), a nurse. [3] His elder siblings Sally and Terry Oldfield also became musicians who performed on several of their brother's albums. A younger brother David, who had Down syndrome, died in infancy. [4]

Battle Hospital Hospital in Reading, United Kingdom

Battle Hospital was a National Health Service hospital in the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire. The hospital was located on a large site between Oxford Road and Portman Road, in West Reading.

Sally Patricia Oldfield is a singer-songwriter, sister of composers Mike and Terry Oldfield.

Terence Oldfield is an English composer, and brother to Sally and Mike Oldfield.

Oldfield attended St Joseph's Convent School, Highlands Junior School, St Edward's Preparatory School, [5] followed by Presentation College in Reading. At thirteen, the family moved to Harold Wood, Essex and Oldfield attended Hornchurch Grammar School, where, having already displayed musical talent, he took one GCE examination in English. [5]

St Josephs College, Reading

St Joseph's College is a coeducational independent day school in Reading, Berkshire, England. In September 2010, it changed its name to St Joseph's College to reflect the move into co-education. The junior section is known as St Joseph's College Prep School. It was a member of the Girls' Schools Association until the move into coeducation. The school is now a member of the Society of Heads. It won the TES Independent School of the Year award in November 2015.

The Highlands School, Reading

The Highlands School was an independent primary school in Reading, Berkshire, England. For most of its history the school was located in Wardle Avenue, Tilehurst. Highlands admitted both boys and girls in the lower years, but the upper forms were girls only.

Elvian School

The Elvian School was an independent school in Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom run by the Licensed Trade Charity as a co-educational, non-denominational Christian school. It was previously the Catholic boys' school Presentation College, Reading, until it went into administration in 2004. In March 2010 it was announced that the school would close at the end of the academic year.

Oldfield began to play the guitar at age ten, learning technique by copying instrumentals by Bert Jansch and John Renbourn that he played on a portable record player. He once attempted to learn musical notation and became a "very, very slow" learner; "If I have to, I can write things down. But I don't like to". [6] By the time he was twelve, Oldfield was performing in local folk clubs, earning as much as £4 per gig. [7] [6] In his early teens Oldfield joined a beat group, performing music influenced by The Shadows.

Bert Jansch Scottish folk musician

Herbert Jansch was a Scottish folk musician and founding member of the band Pentangle. He was born in Glasgow and came to prominence in London in the 1960s, as an acoustic guitarist, as well as a singer-songwriter. He recorded at least 25 albums and toured extensively from the 1960s to the 21st century.

John Renbourn English guitarist and songwriter

John Renbourn was an English guitarist and songwriter. He was best known for his collaboration with guitarist Bert Jansch as well as his work with the folk group Pentangle, although he maintained a solo career before, during and after that band's existence (1967–1973).

The Shadows British rock group

The Shadows were an English instrumental rock group, and were Cliff Richard's backing band from 1958 to 1968 and have also collaborated again on numerous reunion tours. The Shadows have placed 69 UK charted singles from the 1950s to the 2000s, 35 credited to the Shadows and 34 to Cliff Richard and the Shadows. The group, who were in the forefront of the UK beat-group boom, were the first backing band to emerge as stars. As pioneers of the four-member instrumental format, the band consisted of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Their range covers pop, rock, surf rock and ballads with a jazz influence.


1967–1972: Early career

In 1967, Oldfield and his sister Sally formed the folk duo The Sallyangie and, after exposure in the local folk scene, signed to Transatlantic Records. Their only album, Children of the Sun , was released in 1969. After they split in the following year, Oldfield formed a rock duo with his brother named Barefoot. [8] This was followed by Oldfield joining The Whole World, the backing band for Soft Machine vocalist Kevin Ayers, playing bass and occasional lead guitar. [6] He and Ayers shared a flat for a time at the northern end of the Seven Sisters Road in north London. Oldfield went on to play on Ayers's albums Shooting at the Moon and Whatevershebringswesing , both of which were recorded at Abbey Road Studios where Oldfield familiarised himself with various instruments in the studio such as orchestral percussion, piano, Mellotron, and harpsichord. [6] The band also included keyboardist and composer David Bedford, who quickly befriended Oldfield and offered encouragement to complete Tubular Bells. Oldfield was also the reserve guitarist for a production of the rock musical Hair at the Shaftesbury Theatre, playing with Alex Harvey. Oldfield grew bored of the job after ten performances in and was fired after he decided to play his part for "Let the Sunshine In" in a 7/8 time. [6] [7]

The Sallyangie were a 1960s folk duo consisting of siblings Mike and Sally Oldfield. In 1969 they released their first and only album Children of the Sun. The duo split in late 1969 after limited success and a national tour. Both members have released albums since to greater success.

Transatlantic Records was a British independent record label. The company was established in 1961, primarily as an importer of American folk, blues and jazz records by many of the artists who influenced the burgeoning British folk and blues boom. Within a few years, the company had started recording British artists. The company's philosophy was intentionally eclectic.

<i>Children of the Sun</i> (The Sallyangie album) 1969 studio album by The Sallyangie

Children of the Sun is the 1969 album by British folk duo The Sallyangie; siblings Mike and Sally Oldfield. The album was produced by Nathan Joseph, founder of the record label Transatlantic Records. The album was reissued in 2002, with bonus tracks and a second disc, and again reissued on 26 September 2011 by Esoteric Recordings.

Having recorded sections of this early version of Tubular Bells as demo pieces, Oldfield attempted to persuade record labels to take on the Tubular Bells project. Nothing came of his efforts until September 1971, when as a session musician and bass guitarist for the Arthur Louis Band, he attended recording sessions at The Manor Studio near Kidlington, Oxfordshire, owned by a young Richard Branson and run by engineers Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth. [7] Branson already had several business ventures and was about to start his own record label, Virgin Records, together with Simon Draper. Newman and Heyworth heard some of Oldfield's demo music and took it to Branson and Draper, who eventually gave Oldfield one week's worth of recording time at The Manor. During this week, he completed "Part One" of Tubular Bells; "Part Two" was compiled over a number of months. [9]

1972–1991: Solo career and Virgin years

At nineteen Oldfield signed a six-album deal with Virgin Records, a new label established by Richard Branson and Simon Draper, with an additional four as optional. [10] Tubular Bells is Oldfield's most famous work. The instrumental composition was recorded in 1972 and released on 25 May 1973 as the inaugural album on Virgin. Oldfield played more than twenty different instruments in the multi-layered recording, and its style moved through diverse musical genres. Its 2,630,000 UK sales puts it at No. 34 on the list of the best-selling albums in the country. The title track became a top 10 hit single in the US after the opening was used in The Exorcist film in 1973. It is today considered to be a forerunner of the new-age music movement. [11]

In 1974, Oldfield played the guitar on the critically acclaimed album Rock Bottom by Robert Wyatt.

In late 1974, his 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. 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 released after the death of his mother Maureen. [12] [7]

In 1975, Oldfield recorded a version of the Christmas piece "In Dulci Jubilo" which charted at No. 4 in the UK.

In 1975, Oldfield received a Grammy award for Best Instrumental Composition in "Tubular Bells – Theme from The Exorcist".

In 1976, Oldfield and his sister joined his friend and band member Pekka Pohjola to play on his album Mathematician's Air Display , which was released in 1977. The album was recorded and edited at Oldfield's Througham Slad Manor in Gloucestershire by Oldfield and Paul Lindsay. [13] Oldfield's 1976 rendition of "Portsmouth" remains his best-performing single on the UK Singles Chart, reaching No. 3. [14]

In 1978, Incantations introduced more diverse choral performances from Sally Oldfield, Maddy Prior, and the Queen's College Girls Choir.

In June 1978, during the recording of Incantations, Oldfield completed a three-day seminar in Exegesis, a controversial self-assertiveness program founded by Robert D'Aubigny and based on Werner Erhard's EST training program. Oldfield used it to "cement the change" which had a significant effect on his personality, becoming more confident and outgoing, "to be myself, without all the bullshit". [15] Possibly as a result, the formerly reclusive musician staged his first major concert tour, the 1979 European tour, to promote the album that is chronicled in his first live release Exposed .

In 1979, Oldfield's music was used as the musical score for The Space Movie , a Virgin movie that celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. [16] Also in 1979, he recorded a version of the signature tune for the BBC children's television programme Blue Peter , which was used by the show for 10 years. [17] In 1981, Oldfield was asked to compose a piece for the Royal Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer, titled "Royal Wedding Anthem". [18]

The early 1980s saw Oldfield make the 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 Hall & Oates's cover 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 Joffé'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 US version) and Glasgow vocalist Jim Price (Southside Jimmy) in the rest of the world, [19] were the major hits. In the US "Magic Touch" reached the top 10 on the Billboard album rock charts in 1988. 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 consist solely of rock/pop songs, several of which were released as singles: "Innocent" and "Holy" in Europe, and "Hostage" in the US for album rock stations. This was a time of much friction with his record label. Virgin Records insisted that Oldfield use the title Tubular Bells 2 for his next instrumental album.[ citation needed ] Oldfield's rebellious response was Amarok , an hour-long work featuring rapidly changing themes, unpredictable bursts of noise and a hidden Morse code insult, stating "Fuck off RB", allegedly directed at Richard Branson. [20] [21] It was not a commercial success. His last album for the Virgin label was Heaven's Open , released under the name 'Michael Oldfield'. The album, notable for being the first time Oldfield had contributed all the lead vocals himself, consisted of songs and the rapidly changing instrumental piece "Music from the Balcony". However the rift with Virgin was healed some years later. In 2013 Oldfield invited Sir Richard to preside over the opening of the new school hall at St.Andrew's International School of The Bahamas, where two of Oldfield's children were pupils. This was the occasion of the debut of Tubular Bells for Schools, a piano solo adaptation of Oldfield's work. [22]

1992–2003: Warner years

The 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, in what appeared to be a final insult to his former label. It was premiered at a live concert at Edinburgh Castle. He 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, 5656 Oldfield, named after him. [23] [24]

In 1995, Oldfield continued to embrace new musical styles by producing the Celtic-themed album Voyager . In 1992, Oldfield met Luar na Lubre, a Galician Celtic-folk band (from A Coruña, Spain), with the singer Rosa Cedrón. 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, Oldfield produced the third Tubular Bells album (also premiered at a concert, this time in Horse Guards Parade, London), drawing on the dance music scene at his then new home on the island of Ibiza. This album was inspired by themes from Tubular Bells, but differed in lacking a clear two-part layout.

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, Oldfield 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' (Viv Stanshall) was replaced with the voice of John Cleese, Stanshall having died in the interim.

2004–present: Mercury years

On 12 April 2004 Oldfield launched his next virtual reality project, Maestro , which contains music from the Tubular Bells 2003 album and some new chillout melodies. The games have since been made available free of charge on Tubular.net. [25] A double album, Light + Shade , was released on Mercury Records in 2005, with whom Mike had recently signed a three-album deal. The two discs contain music of contrasting moods, one relaxed (Light) and the other more edgy and moody (Shade). Oldfield headlined the pan-European Night of the Proms tour, consisting of 21 concerts in 2006 and 2007. [26]

His autobiography Changeling was published in May 2007 by Virgin Books. [27] In March 2008 Oldfield released his first classical album, Music of the Spheres ; Karl Jenkins assisted with the orchestration. [28] 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, [29] and were then transferred to Mercury Records. [25] 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. [30] As of 2013 a further seven albums have been reissued and compilation albums have been released such as Two Sides . [31] [32]

In March 2010, Music Week reported that publishing company Stage Three Music had acquired a 50% stake in the songs of Oldfield's entire recorded output in a seven-figure deal. [33] [34] [35]

In 2008, Oldfield contributed an exclusive song ("Song for Survival") to a charity album called Songs for Survival , in support of the Survival International. [36] Oldfield's daughter, Molly, played a large part in the project. [37] In 2010 lyricist Don Black said in an interview with Music Week that he had been working with Oldfield. [38] In 2012, Oldfield was featured on Terry Oldfield's Journey into Space album and on a track called "Islanders" by German producer Torsten Stenzel's York project. In 2013 Oldfield and York released a remix album titled Tubular Beats .

At the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, Oldfield performed renditions of Tubular Bells, "Far Above the Clouds" and "In Dulci Jubilo" during a segment about the National Health Service. [7] This track appears on the Isles of Wonder album which contains music from the Danny Boyle-directed show.

In October 2013, the BBC broadcast Tubular Bells: The Mike Oldfield Story, an hour-long appreciation of Oldfield's life and musical career, filmed on location at his home recording studio in Nassau. [4]

Oldfield's latest rock-themed album of songs, titled Man on the Rocks , was released on 3 March 2014 by Virgin EMI. The album was produced by Steve Lipson. The album marks a return of Oldfield to a Virgin branded label, through the merger of Mercury Records UK and Virgin Records after Universal Music's purchase of EMI. The track "Nuclear" was used for the E3 trailer of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain .

Interviewed by Steve Wright in May 2015 for his BBC Radio 2 show, Oldfield said that he was currently working on a "prequel to Tubular Bells" which was being recorded using analogue equipment as much as possible. He suggested that the album might only be released on vinyl. The project is in its infancy and would follow his current reissue campaign. Oldfield suggested that it would be released "in a couple of years". [39]

On 16 October 2015 Oldfield tweeted, via his official Twitter account "I am continuing to work on ideas for "A New Ommadawn" for the last week or so to see if [...] the idea actually works. [40] " On 8 May 2016, Oldfield announced via his Facebook group page that the new Ommadawn project with the tentative title of Return to Ommadawn is finished, and he is awaiting a release date from the record company. He also suggested that he may soon be starting work on a possible fourth Tubular Bells album. [7]

Oldfield's latest album, Return to Ommadawn was released on 20 January 2017 and reached #4 in the UK Album Chart. [41] On 29 January 2017, Oldfield again hinted at a Tubular Bells 4 album via his official Facebook fan page; he uploaded photos of new equipment and a new Fender Telecaster guitar with the caption "New sounds for TB4!" [42]

Multi-instrumentalism and instrument choices

Although Oldfield considers himself primarily a guitarist, he is also one of popular music's most skilled and diverse multi-instrumentalists. [43] His 1970s recordings were characterised by a very broad variety of instrumentation predominantly played by himself, plus assorted guitar sound treatments to suggest other instrumental timbres (such as the bagpipe, mandolin, "Glorfindel" and varispeed guitars on the original Tubular Bells). During the 1980s Oldfield became expert in the use of digital synthesizer and sequencers (notably the Fairlight CMI) which began to dominate the sound of his recordings: from the late 1990s onwards, he became a keen user of software synthesizers. He has, however, regularly returned to projects emphasising detailed, manually played and part-acoustic instrumentation (such as 1990's Amarok, 1996's Voyager and 1999's Guitars).

Oldfield has played over forty distinct and different instruments on record, including:

While generally preferring the sound of guest vocalists, Oldfield has frequently sung both lead and backup parts for his songs and compositions. He has also contributed experimental vocal effects such as fake choirs and the notorious "Piltdown Man" impression on Tubular Bells.

Although recognised as a highly skilled guitarist, Oldfield is self-deprecating about his other instrumental skills, citing them as having been developed out of necessity to perform and record the music he composes. He has been particularly dismissive of his violin-playing and singing abilities.


Over the years, Oldfield has used a range of guitars. Among the more notable of these are:

1963 [Notes 1] Fender Stratocaster  
Serial no. L08044, in salmon pink (fiesta red). Used by Oldfield from 1984 (the Discovery album) until 2006 (Night of the Proms, rehearsals in Antwerp). Subsequently, sold for £30,000 at Chandler Guitars.
1989 PRS Artist Custom 24 
In amber, used by Oldfield from the late 1980s to the present day.
1966 Fender Telecaster  
Serial no. 180728, in blonde. Previously owned by Marc Bolan, this was the only electric guitar used on Tubular Bells. [44] The guitar was unsold at auction by Bonhams in 2007, 2008 and 2009 at estimated values of, respectively, £25,000–35,000, £10,000–15,000 and £8,000–12,000; [45] [46] [47] Oldfield has since sold it and donated the £6500 received to the charity SANE. [48]
Various Gibson Les Paul, Zemaitis and SG guitars 
Used extensively by Oldfield in the 1970s and 80s. The most notable Gibson guitar Oldfield favoured in this time period was a 1962 Les Paul/SG Junior model, which was his primary guitar for the recording of Ommadawn, among other works. Oldfield is also known to have owned and used an L6-S during that model's production run in the mid-1970s. On occasion, Oldfield was also seen playing a black Les Paul Custom, an early reissue model built around 1968.

Oldfield used a modified Roland GP8 effects processor in conjunction with his PRS Artist to get many of his heavily overdriven guitar sounds from the Earth Moving album onwards. [44] Oldfield has also been using guitar synthesizers since the mid-1980s, using a 1980s Roland GR-300/G-808 type system, then a 1990s Roland GK2 equipped red PRS Custom 24 (sold in 2006) with a Roland VG8, [44] and most recently a Line 6 Variax.

Oldfield has an unusual playing style, using fingers and long right-hand fingernails and different ways of creating vibrato: a "very fast side-to-side vibrato" and "violinist's vibrato". [49] Oldfield has stated that his playing style originates from his musical roots playing folk music and the bass guitar. [5]


Over the years, Oldfield has owned and used a vast number of synthesizers and other keyboard instruments. In the 1980s, he composed the score for the film The Killing Fields on a Fairlight CMI. [44] Some examples of keyboard and synthesised instruments which Oldfield has made use of include Sequential Circuits Prophet-5s (notably on Platinum and The Killing Fields), Roland JV-1080/JV-2080 units (1990s), a Korg M1 (as seen in the "Innocent" video), a Clavia Nord Lead and Steinway pianos. In recent years, he has also made use of software synthesis products, such as Native Instruments. [50]

Lead vocalists

Oldfield has occasionally sung himself on his records and live performances, sometimes using a vocoder as a resource. It is not unusual for him to collaborate with diverse singers and to hold auditions before deciding the most appropriate for a particular song or album. Featured lead vocalists who have collaborated with him include:


Oldfield has self-recorded and produced many of his albums, and played the majority of the featured instruments, largely at his home studios. In the 1990s and 2000s he mainly used DAWs such as Apple Logic, Avid Pro Tools and Steinberg Nuendo as recording suites. [51] For composing classical music Oldfield has been quoted as using the software notation program Sibelius [27] running on Apple Macintoshes. [52] He also used the FL Studio DAW on his 2005 double album Light + Shade . [53] Among the mixing consoles Oldfield has owned are an AMS Neve Capricorn 33238, a Harrison Series X, [54] and a Euphonix System 5-MC. [55]

Personal life

Oldfield and his siblings were raised as Roman Catholics, their mother's faith. [56] In his early life, Oldfield used drugs including LSD, whose effects on his mental health he discussed in his autobiography. [5] In the early 1990s, he underwent a course on mental health problems and subsequently set up a foundation called Tonic, which sponsored people to have counselling and therapy. The trustee was the Professor of Psychiatry at Guy's Hospital, London. [5]

In the late 1970s, Oldfield was briefly married to Diana D'Aubigny (the sister of the Exegesis group leader), but this lasted just a few weeks. Oldfield has had seven children with his partners. In the early 1980s, he had three children with Sally Cooper: Molly, Dougal (who died aged 33 in May 2015) [57] and Luke. In the late 1980s, he had two children (Greta and Noah) with Norwegian singer Anita Hegerland. In the 2000s, he married Fanny Vandekerckhove (born 1977), whom he met during his time in Ibiza; they have two sons together (Jake and Eugene). [58] Oldfield and Fanny separated in 2013.

Oldfield is a motorcycle fan and has five bikes. These include a BMW R1200GS, a Suzuki GSX-R750, a Suzuki GSX-R1000, and a Yamaha R1. He says that some of his inspiration for composing comes from riding them. [59] Throughout his life Oldfield has also had a passion for aircraft and building model aircraft. [3] Since 1980, he has been a licensed pilot [60] and has flown fixed wing aircraft (the first of which was a Beechcraft Sierra) and helicopters (including the Agusta Bell 47G, which featured on the sleeve of his cover version of the ABBA song "Arrival" as a pastiche of their album artwork). He is also interested in cars and has owned a Ferrari and a Bentley which was a gift from Richard Branson as an incentive for him to give his first live performance of Tubular Bells. [61] He has endorsed the Mercedes-Benz S-Class in the Mercedes UK magazine. Oldfield also considers himself to be a Trekkie. [62] He noted in an interview in 2008 that he had two boats. [62]

In 2007, Oldfield criticised Britain for being too controlling and protective, specifically concentrating on the smoking ban which England and Wales had introduced that year. Oldfield then moved from his South Gloucestershire home to Palma de Mallorca, Spain and then to Monaco. [63] [64] [65] He has lived outside the UK in the past, including in Los Angeles and Ibiza in the 1990s and, for tax reasons, Switzerland in the mid-1980s. In 2009, he moved to the Bahamas and put his home in Mallorca up for sale. [66] [67]

Awards and Nominations

Grammy Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1975 "Tubular Bells" (Theme from The Exorcist ) Best Instrumental Composition Won
1998 Voyager Best New Age Album Nominated

Ivor Novello Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1984"Moonlight Shadow"Most Performed WorkNominated

NME Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1975HimselfBest Miscellaneous InstrumentalistWon


Studio albums


Musical scores


  1. Also quoted as 1961 and 1962.

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Hergest Ridge is the second studio album by English musician and songwriter Mike Oldfield, released on 28 August 1974 by Virgin Records. The unexpected commercial and critical success of his debut album Tubular Bells (1973) affected Oldfield, who decided against touring and avoided the press with his newfound fame. Instead, he retreated to Hergest Ridge on the England–Wales border, near where he was living at the time, to write a follow-up which he recorded in 1974 at The Manor in Oxfordshire with Tom Newman returning as co-producer. Similar to Oldfield's first, the album is a single composition split into two parts covering different moods and musical styles.

<i>Platinum</i> (Mike Oldfield album) 1979 studio album by Mike Oldfield

Platinum is the fifth record album by Mike Oldfield, released in 1979 on Virgin Records. It was Oldfield's first album to include shorter songs and music written by others. A modified version of the album was released in the United States and Canada and titled Airborn.

<i>Amarok</i> (Mike Oldfield album) 1990 studio album by Mike Oldfield

Amarok is Mike Oldfield's 13th album, and was released in 1990. Oldfield originally conceived it as an "angry, protest album", showcasing his musical technique. It is presented as a single sixty-minute track of continuous, uninterrupted but constantly changing music.

<i>Heavens Open</i> 1991 album by Michael Oldfield

Heaven's Open is the 14th record album performed by Mike Oldfield, released in 1991. It was his last album on Virgin, and also the only album he released under the name Michael Oldfield, instead of Mike Oldfield. The producer of the album, Tom Newman's name is also spelled out in a similar manner, as Thom Newman.

<i>Tubular Bells III</i> 1998 studio album by Mike Oldfield

Tubular Bells III is the 18th album by Mike Oldfield, released in 1998 by Warner Music UK. A sequel to Oldfield's 1973 Tubular Bells and his 1992 Tubular Bells II albums, it was released on the 25th anniversary of the first Tubular Bells album.

<i>Elements – The Best of Mike Oldfield</i> 1993 greatest hits album by Mike Oldfield

Elements – The Best of Mike Oldfield is a compilation album by Mike Oldfield, released in 1993 by Virgin Records.

<i>The Orchestral Tubular Bells</i> 1975 live album by Mike Oldfield

The Orchestral Tubular Bells is an orchestral version of Mike Oldfield's album Tubular Bells, arranged by David Bedford and recorded in 1974 by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, featuring Oldfield himself playing the guitar. Excerpts from the album were featured in the 1979 NASA film, The Space Movie. It peaked at #17 on the UK Albums Chart in 1975.

This page is a discography for the musician Mike Oldfield.

Guilty (Mike Oldfield instrumental) single by Mike Oldfield

"Guilty" is a single by musician Mike Oldfield, released in 1979 on Virgin Records. It reached number 22 in the UK Singles Chart. It is notable for being Oldfield's first obvious attempt to capitalise on a current musical trend, in this case disco/dance music. The UK 12" edition was originally issued on pale blue vinyl.

In Dulci Jubilo / On Horseback 1975 single by Mike Oldfield

"In Dulci Jubilo/On Horseback" is a single by musician Mike Oldfield, released in 1975. The festive song features an instrumental version of a Christmas carol, "In dulci jubilo", as well as the final song from Oldfield's Ommadawn album, "On Horseback".

Mike Oldfields Single 1974 single by Mike Oldfield

"Mike Oldfield's Single" is the debut authorised single by musician Mike Oldfield, released in 1974. The A-side is a variation of one of the themes from Oldfield's 1973 debut album, Tubular Bells, and was made in response to an American single containing an excerpt from Tubular Bells which Oldfield did not authorise. After its use in the box office success The Exorcist, "Tubular Bells" reached #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

<i>The Space Movie</i> 1979 film by Tony Palmer

The Space Movie is a documentary film produced in 1979 by Tony Palmer at the request of NASA, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

<i>Elements – The Best of Mike Oldfield</i> (video) 1993 video by Mike Oldfield

Elements - The Best of Mike Oldfield is a video collection by Mike Oldfield released in October 1993. It was released by Virgin Records on VHS and Laser disc. A DVD edition of the video release, including additional extras, was produced in 2004.

<i>The Mike Oldfield Collection 1974–1983</i> 2009 compilation album by Mike Oldfield

The Mike Oldfield Collection 1974–1983 is a compilation album by Mike Oldfield, released in 2009, to coincide with the reissue of Oldfield's debut album, Tubular Bells, by Mercury Records.


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