This week The Studios are celebrating Wolverhampton musicians. From May to September, Wolverhampton Art Gallery is holding an exhibition showcasing popular musicians from Wolverhampton and the surrounding areas. Focussing on artists and bands from the 1970s to the present day, the exhibition ties in with the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
After the Second World War, a diverse multicultural population developed in the region, when people from the Commonwealth were invited to help rebuild post-war Britain. Within a short space of time, this melting-pot of cultures and ideas produced a host of popular music styles and artists.
A Hall of Fame – Celebrating Wolverhampton Musicians
In light of the current Black Country Beats exhibition, we thought it would be a good excuse to talk about the crop of famous musicians Wolverhampton has produced from the 1970s up until now. From Beverley Knight to Babylon Zoo, the Wonder Stuff to Led Zepplin’s Robert Plant – there’s an unbelievable amount of talent to celebrate and discuss.
Many of these artists and bands you’ll know and love from their success in the charts, and others you may have never heard of.
Kevin Rowland – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Born in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton in 1953, Kevin Rowland is most famous as the lead singer of the popular 80s band Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
Leaving his job as a hairdresser, Kevin formed his first ‘art rock’ band Lucy & the Lovers in 1976. Adopting a Roxy Music-inspired sound and image, the band enjoyed mild success performing live, however, morphed into punk band The Killjoys in 1977.
Recognising that the punk-rock bubble was ready to burst, Kevin Rowland and Killjoys guitarist Kevin Archer went on to form the insanely popular Dexy’s Midnight Runners in 1978.
The band rose to stardom with their first hit single ‘Geno’ in 1980, and after a few lineup changes made it to international stardom in 1982 with ‘Come on Eileen.’ This song made it to number one in many countries including the USA and is still a firm favourite to this day.
The band still tour simply as ‘Dexys’, and definitely represent the musical pride of Wolverhampton and the Black Country.
Beverley Knight, MBE
Probably one of the most famous and respected artists to emerge from Wolverhampton, Beverley Knight, MBE is a true soul diva and Black Country treasure.
Her love of music and singing began in childhood when she would sing at her local Pentecostal church, being exposed to a wide range of gospel and soul music. Beverley began writing songs at the age of 13, working at her craft until receiving her first record contract in 1994.
By 1995, Beverley had released her debut album The B-Funk, which was lauded by her record label as ‘the best British soul album ever’. She achieved moderate chart success with this album, however, it wasn’t until signing with EMI in 1997 that her singing career would truly take off.
Knight released the album ‘Prodigal Sista’ in 1998, which contained five top 40 hit singles, won praise from critics and won 3 MOBO awards.
Beverley’s star continued to rise well into the 2000s and in 2006 was awarded an MBE for her contribution to music.
YouTube sensation-turned-trap metal pioneer, Scarlxrd (pronounced Scarlord) gained significant attention with his single ‘Heart Attack’ in 2017. As of March 2022, the music video alone has gained over 95 million views.
Known for being one of the first to fuse the styles of trap, hip hop and metal music, NME magazine described Scarlxrd as a ‘rap-metal overlord’, praising his ‘screamed vocal’ approach. Originally from Wolverhampton, Scarlxrd names some of his influences as Missy Elliott, Eminem, Linkin Park and Rage Against the Machine to name a few.
Having previously been signed to the legendary Island records in 2018, Scarlxrd currently releases music independently and boasts 2.6 million followers on YouTube.
Ian Hobson is a world-renowned pianist and conductor who began his career in 1981 when he won first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition.
Born in Wolverhampton, England, Ian Hobson studied at Cambridge University (England), at Yale University and became one of the youngest ever graduates of the Royal Academy of Music.
The New York Times called him ‘powerful and persuasive’ and is known for conducting from both the podium and piano! Ian has also performed solo recitals at Carnegie Hall, completed a six-concert series at SubCulture in New York, and has made many guest appearances at philharmonic orchestra performances around the world.
‘Hobson’s noble artistry is as vibrant and controlled in dramatic episodes as it is in the music of lilting melancholy’ (Gramophone, July 2012)
We can’t be celebrating Wolverhampton musicians without mentioning the iconic, quintessentially Black Country, Slade!
Formed in 1966, the band made their name in the ‘glam rock’ era of the 1970s, becoming the most successful British group of the decade based on sales of singles.
At their peak, Slade achieved 17 consecutive top 20 chart hits and six number ones in the UK. They were also the first act to have three singles enter the charts at number one, including their most famous hit ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’.
Fronted by national treasure Noddy Holder, the fun-loving and influential band have to date sold over 50 million records worldwide and are surely the biggest band so far to come out of the area.
Celebrating Wolverhampton Musicians at the Art Gallery
Be sure to check out the Black Country Beats exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery for more info on these and many more artists and bands from the region!
Read more about Wolverhampton bidding for City of Culture on our blog here
Weekly Events at TheStudios Bar
Every Wednesday at 8 PM take part in our ‘Killer Darts’ tournament, and ‘Killer Pool’ each Thursday! With a unique twist on these classic pub games, you’re guaranteed a good time! Contact Dave at TheStudios for more info, or turn up on the night!
Free Jubilee Barbeque!
To celebrate the long bank holiday weekend, we will be hosting a BBQ on Friday the 3rd of June from 14:00 to 16:00; burgers and hot dogs are on the house for all who attend!