Steve Lillywhite

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Steve Lillywhite
Steve Lillywhite during interview.jpg
Lillywhite in 2010
Background information
Born (1955-03-15) 15 March 1955 (age 67)
Origin Egham, Surrey England
Genres Rock, post-punk, new wave
Occupation(s)Record producer
Years active1977–present

Stephen Alan Lillywhite, CBE (born 15 March 1955) is a British record producer. [1] Since he began his career in 1977, Lillywhite has been credited on over 500 records, and has collaborated with a variety of musicians including new wave acts XTC, Big Country, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Simple Minds, the Psychedelic Furs, Toyah, David Byrne, Talking Heads and Kirsty MacColl, as well as U2, the Rolling Stones, the Pogues, Blue October, Steel Pulse, the La's, Peter Gabriel, Morrissey, the Killers, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Counting Crows and Joan Armatrading. He has won six Grammy Awards, including Producer of the Year, Non-Classical in 2006. In 2012, he was made a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (CBE) for his contributions to music.



Early years

Lillywhite entered the music industry in 1972, when he worked as a tape operator for PolyGram. He produced a demo recording for Ultravox!, which led to them being offered a recording contract with Island Records. Lillywhite soon joined Island as a staff producer, where he worked with many of the leading new wave musicians, including his brother's band, The Members, and guitarist Johnny Thunders, for whom he produced a solo album, So Alone . His first commercial success came in August 1978 as the producer of "Hong Kong Garden", the debut single from Siouxsie and the Banshees which peaked at number 7 in the UK Singles chart. He was soon hired to produce Siouxsie and the Banshees' debut album The Scream which was certified silver in the UK. He also produced "Ku Klux Klan", the first single that Steel Pulse released on Island Records in 1978. In 1979, he scored two hits for Virgin Records with The Members: the Surrey anthem "Sound of the Suburbs" and protest reggae classic "Offshore Banking Business". Lillywhite along with engineer Hugh Padgham began working with the band XTC in June and July 1979 at Townhouse Studios in London for Virgin Records. The resulting album, Drums and Wires , was released on 17 August 1979 and "Making Plans for Nigel", the single taken from the album, reached #17 on the UK Singles Chart in the fall of that year.


In February 1980, the Psychedelic Furs' self-titled debut album was released, produced by Lillywhite. He also produced Peter Gabriel's critically acclaimed third solo album Peter Gabriel (also known as III or Melt), which was released in May 1980 and topped the UK album chart. It established Gabriel as "one of rock's most ambitious, innovative musicians" and "raised considerably" Lillywhite's profile. [2] [3] During the recording of the album, he pioneered (with Gabriel and engineer Hugh Padgham) the gated reverb drum sound which became a hallmark of Phil Collins' solo career. [4] Later in the year, Boy , the debut album of U2, was released, produced by Lillywhite. Lillywhite's collaboration with U2 continued with the albums October and War . He moved on to produce work by Bruce Foxton (of The Jam), Big Country, XTC, The Chameleons, Toyah, Talking Heads, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Morrissey, The Rolling Stones and the Shine album by the former ABBA vocalist Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Lillywhite was also hired by Rush to produce their 1984 album, Grace Under Pressure but, much to their frustration, withdrew from the project to work with Simple Minds. Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, and Neil Peart referred to Lillywhite as a man not of his word for not following through on what had already been scheduled. [5]

In 1987, Lillywhite worked with the Pogues, producing "Fairytale of New York". His wife, Kirsty MacColl, provided the lead female vocal for the song, which became the band's biggest hit. The single narrowly missed being the UK Christmas number one single, but was still one of the biggest selling records that year, and has frequently returned to the holiday charts. MacColl also provided additional vocals during Lillywhite's production of the Talking Heads' final album, 1988's Naked . [6]

The song "Cotton Fields", from the Pogues' 1989 album Peace and Love (also produced by Lillywhite), includes a reference to "Steve Lillywhite's drunken mix".


During the 1990s, Lillywhite produced the multi platinum albums Under the Table and Dreaming , Crash , and Before These Crowded Streets by the Dave Matthews Band. In 1991, he continued to produce Morrissey and co-produced songs from U2's Achtung Baby , working alongside Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Flood. That same year he returned to Dublin to produce Engine Alley's debut album entitled A Sonic Holiday, and Kirsty MacColl again provided additional vocals, this time for the single "Song for Someone". He also produced albums by Travis and the debut (and only album) by The La's. In 1996, he produced Phish's Billy Breathes , and he returned to produce Joy in 2009. [7]

Lilywhite was featured as the subject for a BBC Radio 1 documentary series on record producers. In 1999, he produced the US band Guster's Lost and Gone Forever .


In 2000, Lillywhite was fired from the fourth album by the Dave Matthews Band after band members cited creative differences. In 2001, a number of their recordings emerged on a bootleg album, known now as The Lillywhite Sessions ; many of the songs from those recordings followed later, on the Dave Matthews Band's album Busted Stuff . The unfinished tracks appeared online, and the majority of the tracks were re-recorded, without Lillywhite, with Stephen Harris as the preferred choice by the band. [8]

In 2002, Universal Music Group head Lucian Grainge invited Lillywhite to become managing director. Lillywhite signed singer-songwriter Darius Danesh and served as executive producer for his debut album Dive In , which spawned three Top 10 hits, and Mercury Records' first number one in eighteen years. He also signed Razorlight, and also produced Jason Mraz's Mr. A-Z .

In September 2005, Lillywhite joined Columbia Records as a Senior Vice-president of A&R. During his tenure he signed MGMT. He left the label at the end of 2006. Lillywhite collected consecutive Grammy Awards for Record of the Year with U2's "Beautiful Day" and "Walk On". In 2006, Lillywhite won three more Grammys: Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), Best Rock Album also with U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb ; and a partial win for Album of the Year, also for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

In late 2006, he worked with Chris Cornell on his album Carry On , and also produced two songs on Switchfoot's album, Oh! Gravity. . In February 2007, Lillywhite began work with Crowded House on tracks for Time on Earth , the band's first studio album in fourteen years. The majority of the album was produced by Ethan Johns, but Lillywhite produced four songs with the full touring line-up, including new drummer Matt Sherrod as well as studio guest guitarist Johnny Marr. Lillywhite's next project was working with Matchbox Twenty on an EP that comprised a portion of Exile on Mainstream , a two-disc album that entered the US charts at No. 3 and Australian charts at No. 1. In 2008, Lillywhite again worked alongside Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois on U2's No Line on the Horizon . He also worked on Blue October's Approaching Normal , and rejoined Flood to work with Thirty Seconds to Mars on This Is War .

In 2008, Lillywhite produced a number of recordings for the World Cafe radio show on NPR. This included sessions at Avatar Studios in New York with Fleet Foxes, She & Him, Bell X1, Dr. Dog, and Mercury Rev.

In November 2009, he began presenting his own weekly radio show on East Village Radio called "The Lillywhite Sessions". [9]


On 25 May 2010, the official Oasis website announced that Lillywhite was working with Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock on material for their new band Beady Eye. Lillywhite produced an album for Evanescence at MSR Studios from February 2010 to April that year, [10] [11] but was scrapped in early 2011. [12] On his work with Evanescence, Lillywhite said: "what happened was a few people lost their nerve. I don't even think it was her [ Amy Lee]. It was people at the record company who really had no other band. They were thinking more in terms of the commerce rather than the art." [13]

In 2011, Bono and the Edge brought Lillywhite in to produce the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark cast recording for Interscope.

In 2012, Lillywhite was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to music. [14]

On 16 July 2012, the Irish Examiner reported that Lillywhite was attached to a new television show entitled ’'The Hit . [15]

Lillywhite reunited with Thirty Seconds to Mars in 2012, co-producing the band's fourth studio album Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams , alongside Jared Leto.

In 2015, at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Lillywhite was awarded his sixth Grammy Award for his work on Juanes's album Loco De Amor . That same year, he was credited as a producer on Amy Lee's cover of Chris Isaak's "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing" for her Recover, Vol. 1 EP. The track was originally recorded for Evanescence's original third album produced by Lillywhite in 2010 but it was rejected by their label. [16]

In 2016, Lillywhite produced an album by Thai rock band Slot Machine.

In April 2017, musician and writer Jon Regen wrote an article for The New York Times profiling Lillywhite and his work bundling recorded CDs with fried chicken in Indonesian KFC restaurants. [17]

Lillywhite worked with a Japanese act for the first time when he co-produced Luna Sea's 2019 album Cross . In interviews about the album, the producer has stated that he is semi-retired living in Jakarta for the past five years and now only works with select artists. [18]

Personal life

Lillywhite was born in Surrey, England. From 1984 to 1994, he was married to Kirsty MacColl; they had two sons, Jamie and Louis. (MacColl died in 2000.) [19] He married Patricia Louise Galluzzi on 29 May 2004; they divorced ten years later. He has lived in Indonesia since 2014, where he also produces records for local artists. He was made a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (CBE) in 2012 for his contributions to music. [20]

Selected works

Related Research Articles

Siouxsie and the Banshees English rock band

Siouxsie and the Banshees were a British rock band, formed in London in 1976 by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and bass guitarist Steven Severin. They have been widely influential, both over their contemporaries and with later acts. Q magazine included John McKay's guitar playing on "Hong Kong Garden" in their list of "100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever", while Mojo rated guitarist John McGeoch in their list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" for his work on "Spellbound". The Times called the group “one of the most audacious and uncompromising musical adventurers of the post-punk era".

<i>Billy Breathes</i> 1996 studio album by Phish

Billy Breathes is the sixth studio album by American rock band Phish, released by Elektra Records on October 15, 1996. The album was credited with connecting the band, known for its jam band concerts and devoted cult following, with a more mainstream audience. The first single, "Free", was the band's most successful song on two Billboard rock charts, peaking at #11 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart and at #24 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart. The album itself became the band's highest-charting album on the Billboard 200, where it peaked at number seven.

<i>Black Sea</i> (XTC album) 1980 studio album by XTC

Black Sea is the fourth studio album by the English rock band XTC, released 12 September 1980 on Virgin Records. It is the follow-up to the previous year's Drums and Wires, building upon its focus on guitars and expansive-sounding drums, but with more economical arrangements written with the band's subsequent concert performances in mind, avoiding overdubs unless they could be performed live.

Hugh Charles Padgham is an English record producer and audio engineer. He has won four Grammy Awards, for Producer of the Year and Album of the Year for 1985, Record of the Year for 1990, and Engineer of the Year for 1993. A 1992 poll in Mix magazine voted him one of the world's "Top Ten Most Influential Producers". Padgham's co-productions include hits by Phil Collins, XTC, Genesis, the Human League, Sting, and the Police. He pioneered the "gated reverb" drum sound used most famously in Collins' song "In the Air Tonight".

<i>Busted Stuff</i> 2002 studio album by Dave Matthews Band

Busted Stuff is the fifth studio album by Dave Matthews Band, released on July 16, 2002 by RCA Records. Produced by Stephen Harris, it was the band's second album not to feature longtime producer Steve Lillywhite.

<i>The Lillywhite Sessions</i> 2001 studio album (bootleg) by Dave Matthews Band

The Lillywhite Sessions (tLWS) is a collection of songs recorded by Dave Matthews Band in 1999 and 2000 and produced by Steve Lillywhite. The songs, recorded by the band as a follow-up to their 1998 album Before These Crowded Streets, were ultimately scrapped by the band's label. Upon being forced by the label to abandon the album-in-progress, Dave Matthews was assigned to work with producer Glen Ballard who, in association with Matthews, wrote the album Everyday in just ten days. This contrasted with the band's prior style of writing, which included significant collaboration between the band members in the studio. The recordings later emerged on the Internet shortly after the release of Everyday, and created controversy among fans as well as the music industry, which was early in its campaign to curb illegal file downloads. The Lillywhite Sessions were never officially released, but most of the songs were later recorded for their 2002 album Busted Stuff.

Fairytale of New York 1987 single by the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl

"Fairytale of New York" is a song written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan and recorded by their London-based band the Pogues, featuring singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl on vocals. The song is an Irish folk-style ballad and was written as a duet, with the Pogues' singer MacGowan taking the role of the male character and MacColl the female character. It was originally released as a single on 23 November 1987 and later featured on the Pogues' 1988 album If I Should Fall from Grace with God.

<i>Drums and Wires</i> 1979 studio album by XTC

Drums and Wires is the third studio album by the English rock band XTC, released in 1979 on Virgin Records. It is a more pop-oriented affair than the band's previous, Go 2 (1978), and was named for its emphasis on guitars ("wires") and expansive-sounding drums. The album was their first issued in the United States and their first recorded with guitarist Dave Gregory, who had replaced keyboardist Barry Andrews earlier in 1979. It features a mix of pop, art rock, new wave and punk styles with much rhythmic interplay between XTC's two guitarists.

<i>The Rapture</i> (album) 1995 studio album by Siouxsie and the Banshees

The Rapture is the 11th and final studio album by English alternative rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees. The songs with cello arrangements, including the title track as well as "Fall from Grace" and "Not Forgotten", were produced by the band on their own in 1993. John Cale later produced the remaining songs in mid-1994.

<i>Shine</i> (Frida album) 1984 studio album by Frida

Shine is the fourth studio album by Swedish singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and her second international solo album as Frida. It was first released in September 1984 and has since been re-released several times, mainly in the digitally remastered form in 2005 with bonus tracks. Shine, alongside the accompanying promotional videos and clips, is included in Frida – 4xCD 1xDVD. This album has never been officially released in the United States, but was issued in Canada by WEA. This is Lyngstad's last solo English language studio album to date.

<i>Titanic Days</i> Album by Kirsty MacColl

Titanic Days is Kirsty MacColl's fourth studio album, released in 1993. Containing eleven tracks, Titanic Days was sometimes hard to get in years after its release, but it was remastered and re-released in 2005 by ZTT with a second CD of non-album tracks and some live recordings, including a version of "Miss Otis Regrets". In 2012, another remastered re-issue of the album was released by Salvo/ZTT, which again featured a second disc of bonus tracks.

"A New England" is a song written and recorded by Billy Bragg, included on his album Life's a Riot with Spy Vs Spy, released in 1983. It remains a signature song from the early years of Bragg's recording career.

Dont Come the Cowboy with Me Sonny Jim! 1990 single by Kirsty MacColl

"Don't Come the Cowboy with Me Sonny Jim!" is a song by British singer and songwriter Kirsty MacColl, which was released in 1990 as the fourth and final single from her second studio album Kite. It was written by MacColl and produced by Steve Lillywhite. The song reached No. 82 in the UK and remained in the charts for four weeks. A music video was filmed to promote the single, directed by Sarah Tuft.

Kenny Morris (musician) Musical artist

Kenny Morris is an English drummer, songwriter and visual artist. He was the first studio drummer of Siouxsie and the Banshees. He joined the band in January 1977; he had attended their first live appearance at the 100 Club a few months earlier and had been impressed by their performance. Morris's first studio recording with the group was in November 1977 when they recorded their first John Peel session for BBC radio. Music journalist Kris Needs said : "Like as a rhythm machine for feet and guts Kenny Morris' drumming is unorthodox, primitive and far removed from the clicking hi-hats of the fly-strength paradiddle merchants".

Kirsty MacColl English singer and songwriter (1959–2000)

Kirsty Anna MacColl was a British singer and songwriter, daughter of folk singer Ewan MacColl. She recorded several pop hits in the 1980s and 1990s, including "There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis" and cover versions of Billy Bragg's "A New England" and The Kinks' "Days." Her song "They Don't Know" was covered with great success by Tracey Ullman. MacColl also sang on recordings produced by her then-husband Steve Lillywhite, most notably "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues. Her death in 2000 has led to the Justice for Kirsty campaign.

<i>Evanescence</i> (Evanescence album) 2011 studio album by Evanescence

Evanescence is the third studio album by American rock band Evanescence. It was released on October 7, 2011, by Wind-up Records. The band began writing the album in June 2009. Its release was delayed several times; on February 22, 2010, the band entered the studio with producer Steve Lillywhite but later stopped working with him because he "wasn't the right fit". At the time the album was scheduled for an August or September 2010 release, but Lee later announced that Evanescence had suspended recording to write more material. On April 11, 2011, the band returned to the studio with producer Nick Raskulinecz. It is also the second and final studio album to feature guitarist Terry Balsamo who departed from the band in August 2015.

<i>Away from the World</i> 2012 studio album by Dave Matthews Band

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Innocence (Kirsty MacColl song) 1989 single by Kirsty MacColl

"Innocence" is a song by British singer and songwriter Kirsty MacColl, which was released in 1989 as the third single from her second studio album Kite. It was written by MacColl and Pete Glenister, and produced by Steve Lillywhite. "Innocence" reached No. 80 in the UK and remained in the charts for four weeks. The song's music video was filmed in the back garden of MacColl's home in Ealing. It was directed by Sarah Tuft and features a cameo appearance from Edward Tudor-Pole.

Hes on the Beach 1985 single by Kirsty MacColl

"He's on the Beach" is a song by British singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl, which was released in 1985 as a non-album single by Stiff Records. It was written by MacColl and Gavin Povey, and produced by Steve Lillywhite.

All I Ever Wanted (Kirsty MacColl song) 1991 single by Kirsty MacColl

"All I Ever Wanted" is a song by British singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl, which was released in 1991 as the third and final single from her third studio album Electric Landlady. It was written by MacColl and Marshall Crenshaw, and produced by Steve Lillywhite.


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