Mike Oldfield

Missing image
Cover to Mike Oldfield's 1990 album Amarok

Michael Gordon Oldfield (born May 15, 1953 in Reading, England) is a multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, working a style that blends rock or progressive rock, ethnic or world music, and classical music.



Oldfield's parents were Maureen and Raymond Oldfield. His sister Sally and brother Terry are successful musicians in their own right and have appeared on several of his albums.

(1973-1991) Virgin years

Missing image
Cover to Mike Oldfield's 1973 album Tubular Bells

Missing image
Cover to Mike Oldfield's 1974 album Hergest Ridge

Missing image
Cover to Mike Oldfield's 1975 album Ommadawn

Oldfield's most famous work is Tubular Bells, an instrumental composition recorded in 1972 and launched on May 25, 1973 as the inaugural album of Richard Branson's Virgin Records label. The album was groundbreaking, as Oldfield played more than twenty different instruments in the multi-layered recording, and its style progressed continuously, covering many diverse musical genres. The album quickly reached the top 10 in UK album sales and stayed on the chart for 247 weeks. In the US, it got attention chiefly by appearing on the soundtrack to The Exorcist. In autumn 1974, the follow-up LP, Hergest Ridge, was No 1 in the UK for three weeks and was then dethroned by Tubular Bells.

Like Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge took the form of a two-movement instrumental piece, this time evoking scenes from Oldfield's Herefordshire country retreat. This was followed in 1975 with the pioneering world music piece Ommadawn, and 1978's Incantations which introduced more diverse choral performances from Sally Oldfield, Maddy Prior and the Queen's College Girls Choir.

Around the time of Incantations, Oldfield underwent a controversial self-assertiveness therapy course known as Exegesis; no doubt as a result of this, the formerly reclusive musician staged a major European tour to promote the album, chronicled in his live album Exposed, much of which was recorded at the National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham, the first ever concert at that venue.

The early 1980s saw Oldfield make a transition to "mainstream" popular music, beginning with the inclusion of shorter instrumental tracks and contemporary cover versions on Platinum and QE2 (the latter named after the ship). Soon afterwards he turned his attention to songwriting, with a string of collaborations featuring various lead vocalists alongside Oldfield's trademark searing guitar solos. The best known of these is "Moonlight Shadow", his 1983 hit with Maggie Reilly which took John Lennon's death as one of its themes. This hit has been covered by various other artists, including Aselin Debison (Canadian folk singer) and DJ Mystic (electronic/techno). In 2002 it was a huge hit in central Europe for the German dance act Groove Coverage.

Oldfield later turned to film and video, writing the score for Roland Joffé's acclaimed film The Killing Fields and producing substantial video footage for his album Islands. This was however a time of much friction with his record label, Virgin Records reportedly insisting that any future instrumental album should be billed as Tubular Bells 2. Oldfield's rebellious response was Amarok, an hour-long work featuring rapidly changing themes (supposedly devised to make cutting a single from the album impossible), unpredictable bursts of noise, and a very cleverly-hidden Morse code insult directed at Richard Branson. Although regarded by many fans as his greatest work, it was not a commercial success. His parting shot from the Virgin label was Heaven's Open, which continued the veiled attacks on Branson but was notable for being the first time Oldfield had contributed all the lead vocals himself. Some say this was due to his anxiety to quit Virgin as soon as possible (he had previously stated that his voice did not belong on his recordings). His relationship with Richard Branson was never good, even in the beginning.

(1992-2003) Warner years

On the Warner label Oldfield continued to embrace new musical styles, with Tubular Bells II (a re-interpretation of Tubular Bells, the album that originally shot him to fame), which was premiered at a live concert at Edinburgh Castle, The Songs of Distant Earth (the latter based on Arthur C. Clarke's novel of the same name) exhibiting a softer "New Age" sound, and Tubular Bells III (also premiered at a concert, this time in Horse Guards Parade, London), drawing from the dance music scene at his new home on the island of Ibiza.

During 1999 Oldfield released two albums, the first being Guitars which used guitars as the source for all the sounds on the album, including percussion. The second, The Millennium Bell, consisted of pastiches of a number of styles of music that represented various stages in history over the past millennium, and the work was performed live in Berlin for the city's millennium celebrations in 1999-2000.

Most recently he has added to his repertoire the Music VR project, combining his music with a virtual reality-based computer game. His first work on this project is Tr3s Lunas launched in 2002, a virtual game where the player can interact with a whole world full of new music specially composed for this occasion. This project appeared as a double CD, one with some part of the music, and the other with the game.

In 2003 he released Tubular Bells 2003, a re-recording of the original Tubular Bells, on CD and DVD-Audio. This was done to fix many imperfections in the original that existed due to limitations of the recording technologies of the time and limitations in time that he could spend in the recording studio. This celebrated the 30th anniversary of Tubular Bells, and the fact that Oldfield had recently celebrated his 50th birthday. The DVD-Audio version has not only the same content as the CD version in surround, but it also has some demos of the original Tubular Bells.

(2004- . . . .) Recent years

On 12 April, 2004 Oldfield launched his next virtual reality project called Maestro which contains music from the Tubular Bells 2003 album and also some new chillout melodies. The demo versions of the games can be found on the official Mike Oldfield homepage.

Early 2005, Oldfield officially announced having signed a three-album deal with Universal on the Mercury Records label, and "putting the final touches" to his next work, a double-album possibly titled Quicksilver, and tentatively scheduled around September 2005.


Missing image
Cover to Mike Oldfield's 1978 album Incantations

Studio albums


Live albums

Compilations, remixes, etc.

See also

List of songs over fifteen minutes in length

External links

  • mikeoldfield.com (http://www.mikeoldfield.com) - The official Mike Oldfield website (requires Flash plugin)
  • mikeoldfield.org (http://www.mikeoldfield.org) - The official Mike Oldfield information service
  • tubular.net (http://www.tubular.net) - Tubular Web, the largest and most well-established Mike Oldfield website.
  • oldfield.info - a community website; home to the #mike_oldfield IRC channel.
  • musicvr.com (http://www.musicvr.com) - Official MusicVR support website (purchase and subscription required).ca:Mike Oldfield

da:mike Oldfield de:Mike Oldfield es:Mike Oldfield fr:Mike Oldfield it:Mike Oldfield nl:Mike Oldfield pl:Mike Oldfield sk:Mike Oldfield sv:Mike Oldfield


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (https://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (https://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (https://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (https://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools