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Mike Oldfield

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Also Known As: Mike Gordon Oldfield, Michael Oldfield Died:
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Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A precociously talented musician, Mike Oldfield wrote his masterwork, Tubular Bells (1973), while still in his teens; despite his later successes, the unique and distinctive album went on to define his career. Oldfield started playing guitar in local folk clubs in Berkshire before forming The Sallyangie with his vocalist sister Sally. They signed with noted U.K. folk label Transatlantic Records and released an album, Children of the Sun, in 1968. Next he joined The Whole World alongside former Soft Machine member Kevin Ayers and future modern classical composer David Bedford. During this period, Oldfield had been toying with various instrumental pieces; some of his demos found their way to Richard Branson, who at the time was preparing to launch his label Virgin Records. Oldfield recorded nearly every instrumental track on Tubular Bells himself, layering them on top of each other for an incredibly complex yet beautiful aural experience. An immediate critical and cult success in the U.K., the album broke in America when director William Friedkin used its haunting opening piano refrain as the main theme in the blockbuster horror film "The Exorcist" (1973). Oldfield's follow up Hergest Ridge (1974) was...

A precociously talented musician, Mike Oldfield wrote his masterwork, Tubular Bells (1973), while still in his teens; despite his later successes, the unique and distinctive album went on to define his career. Oldfield started playing guitar in local folk clubs in Berkshire before forming The Sallyangie with his vocalist sister Sally. They signed with noted U.K. folk label Transatlantic Records and released an album, Children of the Sun, in 1968. Next he joined The Whole World alongside former Soft Machine member Kevin Ayers and future modern classical composer David Bedford. During this period, Oldfield had been toying with various instrumental pieces; some of his demos found their way to Richard Branson, who at the time was preparing to launch his label Virgin Records. Oldfield recorded nearly every instrumental track on Tubular Bells himself, layering them on top of each other for an incredibly complex yet beautiful aural experience. An immediate critical and cult success in the U.K., the album broke in America when director William Friedkin used its haunting opening piano refrain as the main theme in the blockbuster horror film "The Exorcist" (1973). Oldfield's follow up Hergest Ridge (1974) was another two part instrumental album with a folkier sound. It went to number one on the U.K. charts but in a strange twist was actually knocked off the top spot by Oldfield's own Tubular Bells over a year after it had first been released. Oldfield was a prolific writer releasing ten other albums through the '70s and 80s 'but none repeated the critical and commercial success of Tubular Bells which has gone on to sell over 17 million copies. In 1981 Oldfield was asked to compose a piece for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer ("Royal Wedding Anthem"), while 1983 saw the release of his biggest hit single "Moonlight Shadow" with Maggie Reilly. Tubular Bells had become a favorite in Hollywood with Oldfield's music appearing in several films; he also composed the soundtrack to Roland Joffe's harrowing account of life in Cambodia under Pol Pot, "The Killing Fields" (1984). After a public dispute with Branson, Oldfield signed to Warner Brothers Records and released the highly anticipated Tubular Bells II in 1992. He would once again return to his opus with Tubular Bells III (1998), The Millennium Bell (1999) and Tubular Bells 2003, a re-recording of the original album utilizing modern production. Oldfield performed live at the London Olympics Opening Ceremony (directed by Danny Boyle) in 2012 and gave a frank and honest interview for BBC documentary "Tubular Bells: The Mike Oldfield Story" (2013) discussing his psychological problems and involvement with controversial therapy Exogenesis in the 1970s.

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