Nicholas David Kershaw (born 1 March 1958) is an English singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer.
Kershaw came to prominence in the mid 1980s as a solo artist, releasing eight singles that entered the Top 40 charts in the UK during the 1980s, including “Wouldn’t It Be Good“, “Dancing Girls“, “I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me“, “Human Racing“, “The Riddle“, “Wide Boy“, “Don Quixote” and “When a Heart Beats“. His 62 weeks on the UK Singles Chart through 1984 and 1985 beat all other solo artists.
Kershaw was born on 1 March 1958 in Bristol, England, and grew up in Ipswich, Suffolk. His father was a flautist and his mother was an opera singer. He was educated at Northgate Grammar School for Boys where he played the guitar – he was self-taught on this instrument. He left school in the middle of his A-levels and got a job at an unemployment benefit office. He also sang in a number of underground Ipswich bands. However, when the last of these, Fusion, split up in 1982, he embarked on a full-time solo career as a musician and songwriter.
Kershaw was unemployed for a year after leaving Fusion, but during this time he found manager Mickey Modern after placing an advertisement in the magazine Melody Maker. Modern secured a record deal for Kershaw at MCA.
In September 1983, Kershaw released his first single “I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me“, which reached No. 47 in the UK Singles Chart. It became a major hit in Scandinavia, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
At the beginning of 1984 Kershaw released his breakthrough song “Wouldn’t It Be Good“, which reached No. 4 in the UK, and was a big success in Europe, particularly in Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Scandinavia, and also in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The music video, featuring Kershaw as a chroma key-suited alien, received heavy rotation from MTV, helping the song to reach No. 46 in the United States. He enjoyed three more Top 20 hits from his debut solo album Human Racing, including the title track and a successful re-issue of “I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”. This track ultimately proved his biggest hit as a performer when it reached No. 2 in the UK.
Kershaw’s second album was The Riddle. The title-track, released in November 1984, proved to be his third international hit single, reaching No. 3 in the UK and Ireland, and No. 6 in New Zealand. The album also spawned two more UK Top 10 hits, “Wide Boy” and “Don Quixote“, as it went multi-platinum. During this time, Kershaw toured extensively with his backing band the Krew, consisting of Keith Airey, Tim Moore, Mark Price and Dennis Smith.
In July 1985, Kershaw was among the performers at Live Aid, held at Wembley Stadium. He described the experience as “absolutely terrifying”. The concert turned out to be the peak of his career, as his stardom began to wane soon afterwards and he enjoyed only one more UK Top 40 hit. He continued to record and release records and collaborated with others on a number of projects. Also in 1985, Elton John asked Kershaw to play guitar on John’s hit single, “Nikita“. According to Kershaw, John described him as “one of the greatest songwriters” of his generation.
A cover of “Wouldn’t it be Good” by the Danny Hutton Hitters appeared on the soundtrack of the 1986 teen romantic comedy-drama Pretty in Pink. Later that same year, Kershaw’s third solo album, Radio Musicola, was released to critical acclaim but to little commercial success. The Works was released in 1989, also to little success. Two singles were released from the album, “One Step Ahead” and “Elisabeth’s Eyes“.
80s Studio Albums