People were 'created' in 1991 by ex-Haçienda DJ, Mike Pickering
and soon became the World's best dance act of the 1990's.
The Chorlton-cum-Hardy DJ had previously
worked as an A&R man for Factory Records and was credited for
shaping the success of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and James
with his Friday night talent shows at the Haç. In fact his
contribution to Madchester earned him the title, 'The Godfather
Of House'. In forming M People ('Mike's People'), he also provided
success for three other talented musicians in Londoner's Paul Heard,
Andrew Lovell (better known as 'Shovell'), and the brilliant vocalist
The distinctive voice of Heather,
ex-wife of England Rugby League star Shaun Edwards, immediately
won M People critical acclaim. It was therefore no surprise that
their debut single "Colour My Life", was a hit in 1991
(and also on its re-release in 1992).
M People's first album, "Northern
Soul", was named after the legendary Mancunian style of music
that found fame in the Wigan Casino which was often visited by Mike.
"I'm an old Northern Soul boy and I always thought that the
Northern House scene was the modern equivalent of the old Northern
Soul scene", he was later quoted as saying. The album was re-released
in 1992 with an amended track listing to include their second single,
"How Can I Love You More", which was a huge hit and introduced
M People to a mass audience.
M People's 1993 follow-up album, "Elegant
Slumming", spawned the massive hits "Moving on Up",
"One Night In Heaven" and the cover of Dennis Edwards'
"Don't Look Any Further".
Amazingly, M People's 1994 "Bizarre
Fruit" album stayed on the UK-chart for two and a half years,
producing the smash hits "Sight For Sore Eyes", "Open
Your Heart", and the brilliant "Search For A Hero"
(which was also used in Peugeot's European advertising campaign
and as an official UK Labour Party rallying cry). The huge success
of "Bizarre Fruit" prompted M People to release "Bizarre
Fruit II", a double limited edition re-release incorporating
remixes of the original tracks and an additional cover of the 1975
Small Faces' UK Number 3 classic, "Itchycoo Park", which
subsequently gave them more chart success. The promotional tour
produced, "Come Again", the live video recording at Manchester's
M People supported Simply Red in the
huge Euro'96 concert held at Manchester United's Old Trafford football
stadium. Over 65,000 people attended and the show was also broadcast
live to millions more worldwide. (Mike Pickering incidentally is
a die-hard Manchester City fan).
As a promotional campaign, Boddingtons
gave away a free copy of "By Personal Invitation Only",
a mini CD of M People tracks, which included remixes of "Just
For You", "Moving On Up", "Excited", "Search
For The Hero", and "Open Your Heart".
1997 saw the release of their next
album, "Fresco", which prompted a change in direction
for their predominately dance style. "Just For You" introduced
acoustic guitar whilst their cover of Roxy Music's "Avalon"
experimented with drum'n'bass. M People still produced their unique
dance-sound on the hit singles, "Fantasy Island" and "Angel
Just seven years after forming, M
People released their "Best Of" compilation which included
the new singles, "Testify", "Dreaming", and
"What A Fool Believes" (a cover of the Doobie Brothers
1979 U.S. chart-topper).
Heather Small scored a hit with her
debut solo-single, "Proud", in May 2000 (UK No.16). The
excellent track, with Heather's distinctive vocals at their best,
could have been lifted straight off an M People album. Her own album,
also called "Proud", scored more chart success in June
M People are as big as they come and
were surprisingly awarded the 'Freedom Of Manchester' in 1999, a
very rare privilege previously awarded to Sir Matt Busby and Sir
Heather Small also took centre stage
at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
Her performance was broadcast an audience of millions and reminded
everbody of her superb vocal talent. 2003 sees the release of her
M People (despite their differing
geographical upbringings) are without doubt… Manchester People!
M People discography]