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The Many Muses of Mike Oldfield

Dec 11, 2007
Mike Oldfield has, you could say, been around the block a few times. The British-born, sometimes Spaniard artist seems to have done it all in his life and career. The now 54 year old Mike Oldfield not only did it, but lived to tell about it; from his earliest of musical ventures, to his inter-continental homes, to his family life.

Oldfield's earliest muse may have come at tremendous personal cost. Having left home at the tender age of 14 over differences with his parents, Oldfield struggled to make a name for himself in the entertainment business, performing in folk clubs in his native Reading and later in Essex. Despite his slightly dysfunctional upbringing, Oldfield was a tremendously talented musician and enjoyed limited success in his debut venture, a brother/sister folk duo act, The Sallyangie. One critic described the music on Sallyangie's one and only album "oversaturated with fairy tale imagery - hormonally-charged rhapsodies of a teenage girl." The lack of lyrical depth may have contributed to the band's quick demise, but by this time Oldfield had nevertheless grazed the radar of the entertainment industry, making his mark as a noteworthy guitarist, despite his immaturity.

Undaunted by the apparent lack of success of his first real musical venture or perhaps buoyed by his brief exposure to fame, Oldfield instead took his experiences and directed them toward his subsequent venture; a stint in the band The Whole World. Although this gig, like his first, eventually folded too, it inspired Oldfield to begin his solo career. Even as he worked with The Whole World, he was planning what would become, in 1972, his first solo demo: Tubular Bells, which, incidentally, became the work that is now most commonly associated with Oldfield's name.

Tubular Bells was unique in its very nature, since Oldfield himself played almost every instrument on the album himself, laying track upon track to achieve the final product. Although this technique is more common today, it was virtually unheard of in 1972. So it came as some surprise to Oldfield that, after peddling his demo for a year, the only company to take an interest in it was too broke to sign him. He took a job in 1973 playing guitar in a stage production in his despair.

It was here that that same formerly destitute music producer found Oldfield a year after their initial meeting. Perhaps it was fate: the producer, who was preparing to launch a new record label, signed Oldfield immediately (with great wonder as to why no one else had snatched him up during the previous 12 months). The rest, as they say, is history.

Oldfield's Tubular Bells became the first release of a company whose name would later become almost synonymous with the music industry itself: Virgin Records. Incidentally, Tubular Bells is still the most successful instrumental album to date, putting both Virgin and Oldfield on the map as powerful forces in the industry.

Oldfield went on to release several more albums over the course of the next 30 plus years, and even re-released Tubular Bells in 2003. Something else that Oldfield did in those 30 years: travel. It was likely his travels about Europe and especially Spain that provided muse for many of Oldfield's latest works.

Oldfield has admittedly always been fond of Spain's Balearic Islands, having visited there often since the 1970's. Oldfield actually left his native England for a period of time to live in Ibiza. Inspired by the music and party-like atmosphere of the island and its famous night clubs, he began work on his album Tubular Bells III.

But perhaps the bigger role that Ibiza played in Oldfield's life was providing the backdrop for the introduction to his wife, Fanny, more than 20 years his junior. Despite their age difference, the couple got on well and eventually moved back to England and began a family.

Oldfield considers himself a true family man and looks forward to the birth of a second son in early 2008.

Oldfield's wife and children seem to be his current muses. Oldfield is just as happy to stay at home with his little clan and tend to yard work as he is to be on stage performing.

Oldfield is also planning yet another major relocation; speculation is that he will return to Ibiza. Oldfield wants to raise his sons in a warmer climate and in a place that he feels will be safer for them than Britain. So what this move may do in terms of Oldfield's future and career remains to be seen.

But Mike Oldfield fans seem pretty certain that the world has not yet heard the last of Oldfield, whose new perspective on life, thanks to his young family, may be the best source yet for his artistic inspiration, whether it be from Britain or Spain.
About the Author
For holiday information about the Balearic Islands including Majorca visit YourMajorca.net

Holiday information includes Mallorca holiday villas with today's Majorca weather and a five day Majorca weather forecast
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