Nick Lowe

Nick Lowe
Nick Lowe

Lowe performing at the Kursaal in November 2008
Background information
Birth name Nicholas Drain Lowe
Born 24 March 1949 (1949-03-24) (age 62)
Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England
Genres Rock, pub rock, New Wave,[1] Power Pop[1]
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano/keyboards, bass
Years active 1966–present
Labels Columbia Records, Demon Records, F-Beat Records, Radar Records, Reprise Records, Upstart Records, Yep Roc Records, Stiff Records, Proper Records (current).
Associated acts Brinsley Schwarz, Rockpile, Elvis Costello, The Attractions, The Imposters, Huey Lewis and the News, Noise To Go, The Cowboy Outfit, Johnny Cash, Little Village

Nicholas Drain "Nick" Lowe (born 24 March 1949), is an English singer-songwriter, musician and producer.

A pivotal figure in UK pub rock, punk rock and new wave,[1][2] Lowe has recorded a string of well-reviewed solo albums. Along with vocals, Lowe plays guitar, bass guitar, piano and harmonica. He is best known for his songs "Cruel to Be Kind" (a US Top 40 single), and "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" (a top 10 UK hit), as well as his production work with Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and others. Lowe also wrote "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding", a hit for Costello.[3] He currently lives in Brentford, London, England.


Career History


Nick's best-known songs (mostly known for cover versions) include:

  • "(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding"
  • "The Beast in Me"
  • "I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass"
  • "All Men Are Liars"
  • "Cruel to Be Kind"
  • "So It Goes"
  • "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll)"


Lowe produced Elvis Costello's first five albums, including My Aim Is True, This Year's Model, and Armed Forces. He also produced The Damned's first single, "New Rose", considered the first English punk single, as well as the group's debut album, Damned Damned Damned.

His early 'rough and ready' production style earned him the nickname Basher (as in 'bash it out now, tart it up later'). Upon moving from Stiff to Jake Riviera's Radar and F-Beat labels, Lowe became selective in his choice of production tasks.


Musical styles

Influence in Music Industry

A 2011 article in the New York Times starts "The 40-year career of the English singer-songwriter Nick Lowe constitutes a paradox: the songs he has written are better known than he is."[3]


Lowe began his musical career in 1967, when he joined the band Kippington Lodge, with his friend Brinsley Schwarz. They released a few singles on the Parlophone record label as Kippington Lodge before they re-named the band Brinsley Schwarz in late 1969, and began performing country and blues-rock. Lowe wrote some of his best-known compositions while a member of Brinsley Schwarz, including "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding", a hit for Elvis Costello in 1979, and "Cruel to Be Kind", a solo hit for Lowe in 1979.[4]

After leaving Brinsley Schwarz in 1975, Lowe began playing in Rockpile with Dave Edmunds. In August 1976, Lowe released "So It Goes" b/w "Heart of the City", the first single on the Stiff Records label where he was an in-house producer.[4] The single and thus the label was funded by a loan of £400 from Dr. Feelgood's Lee Brilleaux. The label's first EP was Lowe's 1977 four-track release Bowi, apparently named in response to David Bowie's contemporaneous LP Low. (The joke was repeated when Lowe produced The Rumour's album Max as an 'answer' to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours). Lowe continued producing albums on Stiff and other labels. In 1977 he produced Dr. Feelgood's album, Be Seeing You, which included his own song, "That's It, I Quit". The following year's Dr. Feelgood album, Private Practice, contained a song Lowe jointly penned with Gypie Mayo – "Milk and Alcohol". Along with "I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass", "Milk and Alcohol" is one of only two Lowe compositions to ever reach the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart.[5]

Because the two main singers in Rockpile had recording contracts with different record labels and managers, albums were always credited to either Lowe or Edmunds, so there is only one official Rockpile album, which was not released until the waning days of the collaboration: 1980's Seconds of Pleasure, featuring the Lowe songs "When I Write The Book" and "Heart". However, two of the pair's most significant solo albums from the period; Lowe's Labour of Lust and Edmunds' Repeat When Necessary, were effectively Rockpile albums (as was Carlene Carter's Lowe-produced Musical Shapes album).

Lowe was quoted as saying that he had "escaped from the tyranny of the snare drum" in No Depression, (September–October 2001) when explaining his move away from regular pop music that would get played on mainstream radio.[citation needed]

Other well-known Lowe songs include "I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass," "All Men Are Liars," and Cruel to Be Kind, co-written with Ian Gomm and originally recorded with Brinsley Schwarz, a re-recording of which was his only US Top 40 hit, reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1979.[4]

In 1979, Lowe married country singer Carlene Carter, daughter of fellow country singers Carl Smith and June Carter Cash and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash.[6] He adopted her daughter, Tiffany Anastasia Lowe. The marriage ended in 1990, but they remained friends, and Lowe remained close to the Carter/Cash family. He played and recorded with Johnny Cash, and Cash recorded several of Lowe's songs.

After the demise of Rockpile, Lowe toured for a period with his band Noise To Go and later with The Cowboy Outfit, which also included the noted keyboard player Paul Carrack. Lowe was also a member of the short-lived mainly studio project Little Village with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner, who originally got together to record Hiatt's 1987 album Bring the Family.[4]

In 1992, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" was covered by Curtis Stigers on the soundtrack album to The Bodyguard, an album that sold about 44 million copies world-wide.[3]

A New York Daily News article[7] quoted Lowe as saying his greatest fear in recent years was "sticking with what you did when you were famous". "I didn't want to become one of those thinning-haired, jowly old geezers who still does the same shtick they did when they were young, slim and beautiful," he said. "That's revolting and rather tragic." Rock critic Jim Farber observed: "Lowe's recent albums, epitomised by the new At My Age, moved him out of the realms of ironic pop and animated rock and into the role of a worldly balladeer, specialising in grave vocals and graceful tunes. Lowe's four most recent solo albums mine the wealth of American roots music, drawing on vintage country, soul and R&B to create an elegant mix of his own."

In 2008, Yep Roc and Proper Records released a thirtieth anniversary edition of Lowe's first solo album Jesus of Cool (entitled Pure Pop for Now People in the US with a slightly different track listing). The re-issue includes tracks from the British and American releases in addition to several bonus tracks. In March 2009, he released a 49 track CD/DVD compilation of songs which spanned his entire career. Proper Records released it in the UK and Europe, entitled Quiet Please... The New Best of Nick Lowe.

In September 2010 Yep Roc issued The Impossible Bird, Dig My Mood and The Convincer on vinyl for the first time, and after a one-night reunion concert with Elvis Costello in October in San Francisco,[8] Lowe embarked on his first non-solo United States tour "this millennium." His backing band comprised Geraint Watkins (keyboards), Robert Treherne (drums), Johnny Scott (guitar) and Matt Radford (bass). In March 2011, Yep Roc reissued Lowe's 1979 solo album Labour of Lust.[9]

Lowe played Glastonbury 2011, performing a short solo set of Brinsley Schwarz tracks on The Spirit Of 71 stage, where they played back in 1971, before heading to the Acoustic Stage for a full band show.

Lowe performed as an opening act for Wilco in their North American tour, September 2011. He performed solo with acoustic guitar.

Lowe is married to Peta Waddington, a designer and DJ. The couple have a son, Roy Lowe, who was born in 2005.


Lowe performing with Rockpile in 1980

Studio albums

Live albums


Release date Title Chart Positions Notes
UK Singles Chart[10] Australia Canada US Hot 100
1976 "So It Goes" The first ever Stiff Records label single. The song was featured in the movies Rock 'n' Roll High School and Adventureland.
1976 "Keep It Out of Sight" Holland-only release, b/w "(I've Been Taking the) Truth Drug."
1977 "The Bowi EP" 7" EP. Tracks: "Born a Woman" / "Shake that Rat" / "Marie Provost" / "Endless Sleep"
1977 "Halfway to Paradise"
1978 "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" 7 The first ever Radar Records label single
1978 "Little Hitler"
1978 "American Squirm" B-side featured the Elvis Costello and the Attractions version of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding"
1979 "Crackin' Up" 34
1979 "Cruel to Be Kind" 12 12 12 12 - 1979 "Switch Board Susan" 81 North American-only release.
1980 Rockpile:
"Teacher Teacher"
83 31 51
1982 "Stick It Where the Sun Don't Shine" 35
1982 "Burning"
1982 "My Heart Hurts"
1983 "Ragin' Eyes"
1983 "Wish You Were Here" US-only release.
1984 "Half a Boy and Half a Man" 53 66
1984 "L.A.F.S"
1985 "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll)" 26 77
1987 "Lovers Jamboree" US-only release.
1990 "All Men Are Liars" 76
1994 "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road"
1993 "I Live on a Battlefield"
1997 "You Inspire Me"
2001 "She's Got Soul"



  • Bowi, 7" 45 rpm (Stiff 1977)
  • Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds Sing the Everly Brothers, 7" 33⅓ rpm (F-Beat/Columbia 1980)[4]

Compilation albums

  • A Bunch of Stiff Records (One track, "I Love My Label")
  • Live Stiffs Live (1978) (Nick Lowe's Last Chicken In The Shop got two tracks, "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll)" and "Let's Eat", on this live compilation of the first Stiff Records' tour.)
  • 16 All Time Lowes (1984)
  • Nick's Knack (1986)
  • Basher: The Best of Nick Lowe (1989)
  • The Wilderness Years (1991)
  • The Doings (1999)
  • Quiet Please... The New Best of Nick Lowe (2009)[4]


  • Labour of Love: The Music of Nick Lowe (Telarc, 2001) (features Dar Williams, Tom Petty, and Elvis Costello, among others).
  • Lowe Profile: A Tribute To Nick Lowe (Brewery, 2005) (two-disc, 30 song collection featuring Dave Alvin, Foster & Lloyd, Ian Gomm, among others).

Uses in media


  1. ^ a b c Cruel to be kind of old "The man originally known as one of the architects of the new wave sound of the '70s – having served as house producer for the legendary Stiff Records, as a pioneer of neo-power pop in his solo albums" New York Daily News 17 June 2007
  2. ^ Allmusic genre New Wave
  3. ^ a b c Larry Rohter (14 September 2011). "Return of the Man Who Used to Rock". New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 588–589. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 162. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 329. CN 5585. 
  7. ^ "Cruel to be kind of old" by Jim Farber, New York Daily News, 17 June 2007
  8. ^ "Nick Lowe: the true blue Basher shows up for a friend". The Fortnightly Review. 18 December 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Nick Lowe touring w/ full band, playing 4 NY shows (dates)". Brooklyn Vegan. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 332. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links

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