Artist Profile: Nick Lowe

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By Kenneth Cox

The UK is home to countless artists that have changed the world of music. From The Beatles to Adele, the region has produced musicians that found listeners across the world. However, not many of these artists have had such a hand in making boundary-pushing music as Nick Lowe. Born in 1949, the singer/songwriter got his start in the UK before impacting the world with his lyrics, production, and frequent collaborations. You can buy tickets see Lowe perform a special live set at WERS' 70th Birthday Party on November 2nd at the Paramount Center in Boston's historic theatre district.

Lowe’s career began almost 50 years ago when he joined the band Brinsley Schwarz.

In his school days in Suffolk, Lowe met Schwarz and began playing music with him, along with several other members of the band. Brinsley Schwarz started off by playing bars around Suffolk, where buzz about the band began growing. From there, the group played shows across Britain and amassed a fanbase that loved the band’s “pub-rock” sound. The group released six albums over the span of four years, and famously played England's Glastonbury festival in 1971. During this time, Lowe wrote the original versions of songs like “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” which would go on to become famously covered by Elvis Costello years later. Eventually, the band split, leading to Lowe’s solo career. Lowe's collaborative spirit never let up, as he also became part of bands like Rockpile and Little Village throughout the multiple decades of his career.

In 1978, Lowe released his first solo album, Jesus of Cool.

Inspired by the New Wave scene of the time, the record featured energetic, innovative songs that sounded unlike anything else. Lowe combined the catchiness of pop music, the rebellious spirit of punk, and lyrics that were simultaneously clever and subversive. Tracks like “I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass” became hit singles in the UK, and others like “So It Goes” are remembered as fan favorites today. From the critical and commercial success of this album, Lowe saw the beginning of a career that has lasted for decades. With later albums like Labour of Love and The Rose of England, Lowe’s music has been loved by countless fans, and still continues to get played and enjoyed in 2019.

In addition to his prolific solo career, Lowe is also known for his work as a record producer.

Most famously, Lowe produced several albums for the new-wave star Elvis Costello. Starting with Costello’s debut album My Aim is True, Lowe produced eight of Costello’s albums over the span of almost ten years. Their collaborations resulted in some of Costello’s most beloved songs, like “Alison,” “Pump It Up,” and “Oliver’s Army.” Lowe also contributed to the Pretenders’ debut album, which became one of the most famous albums of the New Wave era of the early-'80s. His legacy also lies in the country music world. After marrying country musician Carlene Carter in 1979, Lowe produced two of Carter's albums, and worked with his then father-in-law, Johnny Cash, throughout the '80s and '90s.

Nick Lowe has amassed an artistic legacy that lives on today.

Artists regularly cite Lowe as being an influence on their work. Alex Turner, the lead singer of Arctic Monkeys, is a great admirer of Lowe's work. Roxette member Per Gessle also is a fan, referring to Lowe as his "musical hero" in 2018. In addition, artists like Tom Petty, Marshall Crenshaw, and Lori McKenna have all contributed to tribute albums dedicated to Lowe’s career. Lowe continues to work more than 50 years into his career, with Lowe releasing an album and touring with Nashville-based band Los Straitjackets this year. 

Don't forget to buy tickets to see Nick Lowe at our 70th Birthday Party!

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