You can edit almost every page by Creating an account. Otherwise, see the FAQ.

Mykaell Riley

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Mykaell Riley
Background information
Birth nameMichael Riley
Also known asM.Riley, Mikaell S.Riley, MSR, Mykael Reilly, Mykael Riley, Mykael S. Riley, Mykaell S. Riley, Mykaell S Riley, Riley
BornBirmingham, United Kingdom
GenresRoots Reggae, Ska, Pop, Classical, Jazz, Synth-pop, Rock, Experimental
Occupation(s)Musician, producer, songwriter, music consultant, PI, educator, researcher
Years active1975-present
LabelsIsland, Virgin, EMI, Universal
Associated actsSteel Pulse, The Headline, Bumble and the Beez, Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, East 17, Peter Andre, Gabrielle, Soul II Soul, Mark Morrison, China Black, Bjork, Jamairoqui

Mykaell Riley is a British singer-songwriter, producer, arranger and educator. In 1975 he became one the founding members of British roots reggae group Steel Pulse who were signed to Island Records in 1978. Their album Handsworth Revolution is viewed as an important milestone in the growth of British Reggae..[1] He would become the first member to go solo and in 1980 started the British Ska band Headline, which signed to EMI Records Ltd. They comprised of bass player Winston Blissett and members of the South London Funk band Raaw. The band, being mostly of Jamaican origin, promoted an original ska sound.

In the late 80s, whilst working for London Weekend television (LWT) as music researcher, Riley also undertook freelance song writing, arranging and production. It was at this point that he formed the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), Britain’s first black pop orchestra. They were soon signed to Island Records Mango label. The RPO toured extensively gaining fans from Japan to Jamaica, where they were sponsored by the Princes Trust to fundraise in Hong Kong, and then by Prime Minister Micheal Manley for two years to carry out educational work in Jamaica. Channel 4 captured this work in a 90-minute documentary. Following this, Riley moved to Z Management where he worked on a number of high-profile production jobs, many of which involved his string section, which had an easily identifiable sound. Credits include Soul 2 Soul, Mark Morrison, China Black, Jamiroquai, Bjork, Wet,Wet,Wet, Peter Andre, Gabrielle, Maxi Priest and more.

In 1994 Riley entered academia as a music consultant to the first commercial music course in higher education, before fully joining the faculty some time later.[1] Riley’s presently head of music production, and director of the Black Music Research Unit, at the University of Westminster, where he’s also Principal Investigator on the first major Arts and Humanities Research Council award for black British music.[2]

Riley’s had over eleven top 20 positions and three number ones in the UK charts, but he still continues to be involved in numerous projects, where there’s an opportunity to further the development of black British music.

Early Life[edit]

Apart from a passion for music, Riley was interested in the Air Force, leading him to join The Air Training Corps (ATC) with a view to becoming a pilot. After leaving school at the request of his parents, he completed an electrical apprenticeship.[citation needed]

Musical career[edit]

Steel Pulse[edit]

In 1975 Riley was one of the founder members of British roots reggae group Steel Pulse where he was a vocalist and percussionist.[3][4][5] The group, which formed in Handsworth in Birmingham, was signed to Island Records in 1978 which resulted in the release of their first album Handsworth Revolution.[6] Group members included David Hinds (Lead vocals/guitar), Basil Gabbidon (lead guitar/vocals), Ronald McQueen (bass), Mykaell Riley (vocals/percussion), Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown (keyboards), Steve ‘Grizzly’ Nisbett (drums) and Alphonso Martin (vocals/percussion).[citation needed]

Their first release was "Kibudu, Mansetta And Abuku" with a small independent label called Dip. They worked extensively on the Punk circuit with bands such as ‘The Stranglers’ and ‘XTC’, championing the notion of punk and reggae from the midlands to Edinburgh. In London they played at the 110 Club, the Vortex and Dingwalls, the first of their major support slots was for Burning Spear where they attracted attention from Island Records. Their first single release for Island was the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ 45 which acted as a call for resistance against the widespread racism of the time; it was released in 1978 and a few months later the album Handsworth Revolution was released. The album was awarded a Grammy award for the Best Reggae Album, an award usually received by Jamaican acts; Steel Pulse was the first non-Jamaican band to receive the prestigious award. Following the release of the album the group toured Europe with Bob Marley and the Wailers. Unexpected circumstances led to Riley’s departure from the band, an unfortunate turn of event which brought a new-found direction in Riley’s career.[citation needed]

The Headline[edit]

Since leaving Steel Pulse in 1978, Riley remained in the music and creative industries as a performer, songwriter, and producer.[citation needed]

In 1980, Riley collaborated with South London Funk band Raaw, and together formed the Ska group, Headline. Ska music was popular at this time, as British punk bands were frequently playing this style of music. The band was made up of brothers Lascelles Forrest (Guitarist), Tony Martin (Drummer), Richard Reid (keyboardist/vocalist), Paul Pryce (Guitarist/vocalist) and Winston Blissett (Bassist). Songs included "Don’t Knock The Baldheads" and they toured with The Stranglers and Bad Manners.[citation needed]

A memorable aspect of Headline was their on-stage appearance, which alluded to the Clockwork Orange image, with white boiler-suits, Bovver boots and “skin head” haircuts.[citation needed]

Their unique shows gained national acclaim as they toured the UK with The Stranglers, although they still faced the hardship of racism throughout. In light of this, man of their performances on tour ended in conflicts between the band and audience members. A gig in Middlesborough, where they were supporting the English band Bad Manners, escalated into a riot in. Headline were eventually escorted away from the venue by police, leading to gunshots being fire at the band's tour bus, an event covered in the newspapers of the time. Soon after these events their music got the attention of businessman Richard Branson who offered them a deal with Virgin Records.[citation needed]

After member Paul Pryce left, the band continued recording, with Riley taking on the role of vocalist alongside writing for the band. The band split as a result of set backs arising from not being able to perform their single “Don’t Knock The Baldheads” on Top Of The Pops. In 2016 work on a film about the bands experiences was initiated by RSA films.[citation needed]

Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra and further ventures[edit]

After the Headline split in 1981, Riley and Winston Blissett joined Nick Page to form a synth pop group, Bumble and the Beez. The group was signed to EMI records[7]

In 1989, Riley formed the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, the first orchestra that consisted of classical, urban and Caribbean music performed on classical instruments.[8][9] The intention of this project was based on Riley’s observation while working for London Weekend television -- he noticed the absence of British African and Caribbean classically trained musicians on TV. The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra were known for their alternative classical musical sounds blended with jazz, pop and reggae. They featured on albums by artists including Soul II Soul, Maxi Priest and Gabrielle. Riley produced three albums with the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra.[10] They were often controversially referred to as the ‘RPO’, an abbreviation normally reserved for The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and they regularly performed on national chart television programme Top of The Pops.[11]

He has also mixed and produced music for East 17, Bjork, Peter Andre, China Black, Mark Morrison and Jamairoqui.[12][13]


The Jamaican High Commissioner speaking at the launch of the Bass Culture Expo 70/50 at Ambika P3, University Of Westminster

In 1994, Riley designed and led the Music Production degree programme, and became Director of the Black Music Research Unit, at the University of Westminster in London. Riley has also contributed to the development of the Center for Commercial Music course. The Black Music Research Unit is certified as the UK’s HE forum for Black British music at the University of Westminster.[14] He is a regular participant on black music panels that support local community initiatives and investigations, which have resulted in report publications such as The Black British Jazz Report[15][16][17][18] and Master of the Airwaves.[19][20] He has also written articles on Black British music such as "Bass Culture: An Alternative Soundtrack to Britishness" in the book, Black Popular Music in Britain Since 1945 (edited by Jon Stratton and Nabeel Zuberi, published by Routledge in 2017).[21] He has consulted for exhibitions such as The Return of the Rudeboy at Somerset House (2015).[22] He is also a trustee of the Black Music Education Trust.[citation needed]

In 2016, Riley became the Principal Investigator of Bass Culture, a research project supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).[23] The three-year academic research project explores the impact of Jamaican and Jamaican-influenced music on British culture. The research explores the profound ways in which the island’s music remade popular music in Britain. Key Jamaican and British Caribbean genres and styles are examined such as ska, reggae, dub, dub poetry, two-tone and lovers rock.[citation needed]

Mykaell Riley with British musician, record producer, radio DJ and presenter Ras Kwame at the launch of the Bass Culture 70/50 Expo

In 2017, Riley (on behalf of the Black Music Research Unit[24] collaborated with Ticketmaster and Disrupt to report on the current state of Grime in the events industry. This was the first comprehensive study on the public’s views on grime music.[25][26] The State of Play: Grime report assessed the impact of the genre on the mainstream and the controversial and now defunct, Form 696. The report revealed that Grime is an established part of British culture that carries a direct effect on the political establishment.[27][28]

Riley has become a regular presence on black music panels supporting community initiatives, writing reports and most recently contributing to Black Popular Music in Britain Since 1945.[citation needed]


  1. "Mural Unveiled To Honour Steel Pulse's Handsworth Revolution". 2018-10-13. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  2. "Riley, Mykaell - About us - University of Westminster, London". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  3. "About Steel Pulse: Past Member Bios". Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  4. "Steel Pulse Ku Klux Klan (1978) Há 40 anos o grupo levantava sua voz! - Oganpazan". (in português). 2018-02-28. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  5. "Reggae In The U.K.: A Steady Force". Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  6. Simpson, Dave (2007-07-20). "Dave Simpson on what happened when reggae and punk went head to head in the UK". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  7. "Glorious Fool Tour 1981 | Big Muff". Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  8. Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra - Oxford Reference. 2006. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195313734.001.0001. ISBN 9780195313734. Retrieved 2018-03-28. Search this book on
  9. Letters (2015-06-09). "All-black orchestra won't be the first | Letters". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  10. "Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  11. Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra - Oxford Reference. 2006. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195313734.001.0001. ISBN 9780195313734. Retrieved 2018-03-28. Search this book on
  12. Pytlik, Mark (2003). Bjork: Wow and Flutter. ECW Press. ISBN 9781550225563. Search this book on
  13. "Mykaell Riley". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  14. "Home | Black Music Research Unit". Black Music Research Unit. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  15. Riley, Mykaell (2006). The Value of Jazz in Britain: Report Commissioned by Jazz Services Ltd. Jazz Services. Search this book on
  16. "What is Black British Jazz? Routes, Ownership, Performance - Arts and Humanities Research Council". Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  17. "Jazz Research Papers and Reports". Retrieved 2018-02-11.
  18. Riley, Mykaell (2006). The Value of Jazz in Britain: Jazz in the media. Special report. Jazz Services. Search this book on
  19. "Arts: Funding - Hansard Online". Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  20. "Masters Of The Airwaves: The Rise and Rise of Underground Radio | Mi-Soul". Mi-Soul. 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  21. NABEEL., STRATTON, JON. ZUBERI (2017). BLACK POPULAR MUSIC IN BRITAIN SINCE 1945. [S.l.]: ROUTLEDGE. ISBN 9781138504875. OCLC 991382803. Search this book on
  22. "Return Of The Rude Boy | Laforet, Harajuku". Return Of The Rude Boy | Laforet Harajuku. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  23. "Steel Pulse's Mykaell Riley to front festival talk". Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  24. "Home | Black Music Research Unit". Black Music Research Unit. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  25. "Britain's most innovative musical export since punk rock is grime". Quartzy. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  26. "Grime 4 Corbyn influenced 24% of grime fans to vote Labour in General Election". Crack Magazine. 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  27. "Ticketmaster releases findings from State of Play: Grime music report". Ticketmaster | Get Started. 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  28. "Grime meets the marketers: How to marry brands and subcultures without selling out". Retrieved 2018-03-30.

External links[edit]

This article "Mykaell Riley" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Mykaell Riley. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.