the heart of Lancashire, Peter Skellern was born in 1947 and
bred in Bury. Starting out his musical career he played the
organ in his local church and became the choirmaster. Apparently,
musical talent ran in the Skellern family with many generations
interested in music and his own Grandfather playing the Grand
Skellern graduated from the Guildhall
School of music in 1968. Here he studied piano and soon after
he joined the vocal harmony band March Hare (which later changed
their name to Harlan County). However, soon after they had
completed their first country/pop album the group spilt. This
band though unsuccessful launched Peter Skellern’s musical
Skellern soon shot to fame with his first
hit in 1972, the ballad 'You're a lady' which got to number
three in the UK Charts and number fifty in the US. It became
a world-wide hit. He wrote the lyrics while working as a hotel
porter in Shaftesbury, Dorset. It was later covered by fellow
Mancunian (and ex-Monkee) Davy Jones.
In 1975, Skellern released a follow up
hit to his song ‘You’re a lady’. This time
the song ‘Hold on to love’ hit the charts at number
14. Skellern was an expert at writing love songs as well as
being able to write ballads, which were often witty but still
had that homely feeling. He was always able to maintain the
old folk traditions that Lancashire folks love. Around this
time he was well known for his regular appearances on television
until finally deciding that he was not as interested in the
charts as once thought, and so concentrated more on composing
and recording with brass bands.
A minor hit 'Love is the Sweetest thing'
in 1979 won him a Music Trades Association Award for Best
Skellern continued to make records on
and off during the Seventies and Eighties, but concentrated
more on developing his career as a stage writer and composing
scores for musicals.
He wrote and performed six autobiographical programmes for
the BBC followed by a series of musical plays called 'Happy
Endings'. In his career he has composed the theme music for
several television shows including ‘The life and times
of Henry Pratt’, ‘Me and my girl’ and ‘Flesh
Skellern performed at The Royal Variety
Performance in 1982 which was named the ‘Magical World
of Musicals’ for ‘Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
the Queen Mother’. Here he performed one of his well-known
hits ‘I get a kick out of you’.
In 1983 Skellern hosted the Private Lives
chat show. A year later he formed the first Oasis band from
Manchester and became the lead singer. 'Simpergroup' Oasis
was formed with Julian Lloyd Webber, Mary Hopkin and Bill
Lovelady. The group released a self-titled album, Oasis in
1984 on Warner Brothers, which earned silver record acclaim.
The group actually never performed live together although
they did assemble three times to record their music. They
made many attempts to combine classical and popular music
genres, but their attempts failed to impress the public.
Skellern became disinterested with the
recording industry for a long time, and after eight years
out of the business he released his 1995 album, a tribute
to an American vocals group, The Ink Spots.
Peter Skellern performed at the BBC Live
event in Manchester with musicians from Radio Lancashire.
You also may have spotted him playing on ‘Songs of Praise’!
He then began to make broadcasts on BBC Radio.
In 1997, Skellern criticised the now
new Oasis - the Gallagher brothers - as 'louts' saying: "While
it's obvious that they revere the Beatles, the Beatles were
bright people and never rude. You didn't see photographs of
John Lennon sticking two fingers up at everyone." He
went on to say,
"My Oasis never had the same press coverage when I was
lead singer - but then again, I'm not Liam Gallagher."
Skellern went on a 60-date tour in 1997,
performing with Richard Stilgoe. The tour included the Manchester
venues the G-Mex and the Bridgwater Hall. The two performed
their last show (or so we thought) in 1999 working on the
principal that it is better to quit while your ahead. The
tour was entitled ‘A quiet night out’.
In 2000, Skellern once again appeared
at The Royal Variety Performance at the Dominion Theatre in
London. This time for His Royal Highness The Prince Of Wales.
He headlined amongst stars such as Dame Shirley Bassey, Kylie
Minogue, Westlife, Ronan Keating, Jane Horrocks and Elaine
Page, which were only a handful of the stars that were performing.
Surprising everybody, Peter
Skellern returned in 2002 and performed another tour, which
proved that his career still has not come to an end 30 years