Another day, another 71st birthday greeting…this time, it’s Nick Lowe we’re wishing a happy birthday to. The English singer/songwriter/producer/bassist/guitarist is one of those enigmatic musicians critics adore and whose name is well-known, but for whom bigtime success seems to have been elusive.
Which probably sits fine with Nick, he once told scribe Melinda Newman that he “never had great desire to be stars,” and that he and his buddy Dave Edmunds “liked being the opening act.” Allmusic peg him as a “singular figure in British rock whose songwriting fostered a love for pop conventions, but with a sardonic wit and off-kilter perspectives.” Lowe’s best known for his work with Edmunds and with Elvis Costello, two other “singular figures in British rock with sardonic wit”, we might add. He wrote the latter’s song “Peace, Love and Understanding” and produced half a dozen of Elvis C’s records, including his most successful run of albums at the end of the ’70s and early ’80s.
He’s worked often with Edmunds, creating memorable power pop/rockabilly hits under the name Rockpile as well as their own names… contractual problems led them to each release their most successful records (in Lowe’s case Labour of Lust which had the hit “Cruel to Be Kind” which curiously hit #12 in each of the U.S., UK and Canada) as solos even though they were, in their minds, collaborative Rockpile records. Lowe began his career in a noteworthy way; his first single, 1976’s “So It Goes” was the very first release on the famous Stiff Records.
Lowe was married to Carlene Carter for some years, which made Johnny Cash his step-dad! Cash recorded Lowe’s song “The Beast in Me” and the two were friends up until Cash’s death. Lowe says of the Man In Black, “he was a lovely bloke…he was kind.”
Lowe is still writing, and performing at times. He played last year’s Glastonbury Festival, something it’s looking like no one at all will do this year. Thanks Corona virus.