Mick Greenwood, singer, songwriter, producer and musician, was born in England and raised in the states. Discovered by the legendary John Hammond of Columbia Records New York (Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin fame), he’s (this mid-Atlantic refugee has) performed at Carnegie Hall, Atlanta's Coliseum, London's Hammersmith Odeon and The Hollywood Palladium.
With two albums for MCA Records, and another/one for Warner Brothers along with a large body of work to date /to be released/, now one of the best kept secrets of 70’s artist/ writer/ producers singer/ songwriter/ producers is coming in from the cold.
Facts and recollections....
“I remember standing on deck of the Queen Mary ocean liner, passing Ellis Island heading for NYC’s docks in heavy January snow. It was the winter of ’63, and I’m sure the culture shock of moving continents would prove to be my saving grace...”
Biography title example
Michael Vernon Greenwood was born under the sign of Aquarius at the family home in Potters Bar, England on February 13th, 1951. His father was a Yorkshire engineer and the son of a self-made textile entrepreneur, and his mother a Cumbrian farmer’s daughter. His parents were restless souls, and much of Mick’s early childhood was spent on the move. A month before his 12th birthday, the family emigrated from the leafy London suburb of Thames Ditton to the small rural town of Halifax, Pennsylvania, situated twenty miles up the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg, on the edge of the Alleghenies in Iroquois Indian territory.
Musically, Mick was predominately self-taught, and found an affinity with the piano at around 4 years old, and at 14 was given a Kent electric guitar with a Sears Roebuck amp. After an initial disappointing cacophony, the guitar stayed in its case until Mick broke his right wrist on the wrestling mat at school. Wearing a cast, but still able to hold a pick between his thumb and index finger, he decided it was time to pick up the guitar and teach himself a few basics. With practice he started writing songs, and later formed his high school band, The DearSirs.
Gap years were hard to achieve in 1968 due to the Draft and the war in Vietnam, so after graduating from Halifax High, Mick got accepted to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, ostensibly to pursue a career in law. Becoming more prolific as a songwriter, he played with several bands including Charlotte’s Web as well as performing solo in clubs further afield like New York’s Bitter End. In conjunction with a very basic tape recording, Mick was contacted by the legendary John Hammond of Columbia Records who became instrumental in launching Mick’s recording career.
“One evening I went into the music department armed with my much-loved Martin D12-35 and sheets of A4. The room had a very basic reel to reel tape recorder and one microphone that recorded my vocal and at the same time picked up the sound of the guitar together with my bare feet keeping rhythm on sheets of A4 paper. No overdubs or retakes, just a crude tape of my songs. I didn’t know at the time how important this tape would become. I drove to New York with my lady Nancy and dropped off the tape at Columbia Records A&R Department. I didn’t have an appointment and it was the only tape there was. A few weeks later the phone rang, and it was John Hammond calling to arrange meeting up. Pure magic! In my ignorance, I didn’t know who John Hammond was, but he was to prove to be an incredibly important figure in my life. ”
In 1970 Greenwood was returning to England for a few months to take up a planned third year abroad at Exeter University and Exeter College of Art. John Hammond arranged a meeting with CBS London, and Mick was signed on the spot. Recordings of LIVING GAME, Mick’s highly-acclaimed first album, began at CBS Studios, and half way through, David Howells (Stock, Aitken and Waterman) who had done the actual signing became head of A&R at MCA Records in London, and negotiated taking Mick with him to MCA to be one of their major new signings.
The album was completed at Sound Techniques in Chelsea (the famous recording studio where Nick Drake & John Martyn recorded their best works along with Cat Stevens, John Cale, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Richard Thompson, Incredible String Band, Sandy Denny, Pentangle and others).
The sessions went so well that the celebrated musicians involved became his backing band on the road, Jerry Donahue, Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway, along with keyboards/arranger Tony Cox. Other contributors were Fairport’s Dave Pegg and top jazz musicians– Karl Jenkins, Bud Parkes, Derek Wadsworth, Lynn Dobson, and Dudu Pakwana.
The Commonwealth Institute in Kensington was hired as the reception venue, and the highly-acclaimed LIVING GAME album was released throughout the world on MCA to great reviews, and among other accolades became Cashbox’s Import of the Week. There were some comparisons made, but the consensus was Mick had a range and originality of his own.