After toiling in obscurity as a recording artist for nearly a decade, English songwriter-producer Dave Stewart established lasting fame as one-half of the pop-rock act Eurythmics, which achieved a slew of hits in the 1980s, including "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," "Who's That Girl" and "Missionary Man," before their disbandment in 1990. Stewart's potent production, which mixed proto-electronic elements with more soulful R&B and straight-ahead rock sounds, as well as his songwriting with singer Annie Lennox led to a stellar second career as producer for major acts like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Bono, Tom Petty and Mick Jagger, as well as occasional forays into soundtracks for "Ruthless People" (1986) and "Alfie" (2004. The Eurythmics reunited twice in the 1990s and early 2005, both times generating additional hit singles, while Stewart's efforts as a solo artist failed to generate the same level of interest as his former band or work as a producer-songwriter. In the latter capacity, he remained in demand for much of the 2000s, collaborating with No Doubt, Joss Stone and many other new artists who sought to imbue their own material with the same degree of polish and complexity as his established efforts. As co-creator of one of the most successful pop-rock acts of the 1980s and as producer for some of the biggest names in the music industry, Dave Stewart ensured his place as a major behind-the-scenes force in popular music.
Born David Allan Stewart on Sept. 9, 1952 in the metropolitan borough of Sunderland, England, he began his music career while still a teenager as a member of the folk-rock group Longdancer, which signed to Elton John's record label, Rocket Records, in 1973. The band fizzled out after two albums, and subsequent releases with a variety of smaller acts also failed to generate much interest in Stewart. In the mid-1970s, he began a professional and romantic relationship with aspiring singer-flautist Annie Lennox, with whom he formed a trio called The Catch with songwriter Peet Coombes. Their initial single, "Borderline/Black Blood" (1977), failed, prompting them to expand their lineup to a quartet and redub themselves The Tourists. Though they generated a pair of Top 10 singles, including a cover of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want To Be With You" (1979), the Tourists' blend of 1960s pop, folk and New Wave was pilloried by the U.K. press, which led to their breakup in 1980. Stewart and Lennox's personal relationship also collapsed during this period, but they decided to remain together as musical partners, which gave rise to the Eurythmics. They struck massive gold with their third single, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" (1983), which immediately established their signature sound - an icy mix of Stewart's electronic production and Lennox's otherworldly, soul-drenched vocals. The song topped the U.S. pop singles charts where fans were also drawn to the androgynous Lennox and her bright red crew cut and the striking visual the twosome brought to their videos. The single also led to a slew of additional hit songs, including the Top 10 hit "Here Comes the Rain Again" and the Top 20 single "Who's That Girl?
In the mid-1980s, Stewart and Lennox adopted a more R&B-driven sound anchored around Stewart's guitar and other real instruments instead of the electronic production of their early efforts. The results proved equally as popular, with "Would I Lie to You?" (1985) reaching the Top 5 and an exuberant duet with Aretha Franklin on "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" breaching the Top 20 that same year. Stewart soon expanded his producer's résumé to include Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' popular Southern Accents (1986), which featured the psychedelic-tinged single "Don't Come Around Here No More," a Top 20 hit co-penned by Stewart and Petty. Collaborations as producer and performer with Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, the Ramones and the Neville Brothers soon followed, as well as soundtrack work on "Ruthless People" (1986) and Lily Was Here (1989), the soundtrack for the Dutch film "De Kassière" (1989), which featured the Top 20 title track by saxophonist Candy Dulfer. He also oversaw three more hit albums for Eurythmics before personal issues between Stewart and Lennox, exacerbated by endless touring and recording, forced them to disband in 1990. The pair would not speak to each other for much of the early '90s, during which Stewart launched two new groups, Spiritual Cowboys and Vegas, which saw moderate success in Europe. He also continued his winning streak as a producer with songs by Shakespears Sister, which featured his wife, singer Siobhan Fahey, as well as other U.K. acts like Curve, Utah Saints, and An Emotional Fish, as well as established stateside musicians like Carly Simon and Daryl Hall. Stewart's efforts as a solo artist under his own name, including the 1994 album, Greetings from the Gutter, were sadly met with little interest.
After co-producing the 1997 album Destination Anywhere (1997) for Bon Jovi, Stewart recorded the soundtrack for Robert Altman's 1999 film "Cookie's Fortune." That same year, he patched up his differences with Lennox to reform the Eurythmics. A new album, aptly titled Peace (1999), generated a Top 20 U.K. single with "I Saved the World Today" and their first No. 1 single on the dance charts with a remix of "17 Again." A massive world tour took up much of the remainder of the year, after which Stewart returned to producing for No Doubt and Bryan Ferry, among others, while also making his feature film directorial debut with "Honest" (2000). He also organized a campaign to fight the spread of AIDS in South Africa with the special 46664 phone line based on human rights activist Nelson Mandela's prison number which, when dialed, allowed listeners to hear new material by Paul McCartney and Bono. In 2004, he made his debut as a theater composer with a musical version of "Barbarella" (1968), then reunited with Mick Jagger for the soundtrack to the remake of "Alfie," which featured the single "Old Habits Die Hard," a Golden Globe winner for Best Original Song. The following year, he recorded two new songs with Lennox for a Eurythmics greatest hits compilation titled Ultimate Collection (2005), which reached the Top 5 on the U.K. albums chart.
In 2007, he launched "Greenpeace Works," an initiative that examined ways that celebrities could work with the environmental charity on green issues. He produced The Dave Stewart Songbook for the project, which compiled photos and stories from his career along with a 21-song collection of tracks he had co-written or produced over the course of his career. Among the participating artists were Jon Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, No Doubt and Bono, whose track, "American Prayer," later became the soundtrack for a clip directed by Stewart to promote Barack Obama's presidential campaign. After completing a songbook for the Tony-nominated musical "Ghost" (2011), based on the 1990 movie of the same name, Stewart co-produced Stevie Nicks' In Your Dreams (2011) with "Ghost" collaborator, Glen Ballard. That same year, he released The Blackbird Diaries (2011), his first solo album in over a decade, which featured contributions from Joss Stone, Martina McBride and Colbie Caillat. Stewart's busy year was wrapped with the launch of a new supergroup called Super Heavy, which featured Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley and Indian composer A.R. Rahman. Their self-titled debut release was met with considerable media coverage but only tepid critical response. The following year, Stewart released a new solo album, The Ringmaster General (2012), which was followed by a tour of the U.K>
By Paul Gaita