John Miles (born John Errington; 23 April 1949 – 5 December 2021) was a British rock music vocalist, guitarist, and keyboard player best known for his 1976 Top 3 UK hit single “Music“. He won the “Outstanding Musical Achievement” award at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards.
Miles was born John Errington in Jarrow, County Durham, but grew up in the neighbouring town of Hebburn. While still a pupil at Jarrow Grammar School, Miles was a member of a local band called The Influence, which also included Paul Thompson, later drummer with Roxy Music; and Vic Malcolm, later lead guitarist with Geordie. This outfit released the single “I Want to Live” (Orange Records, 1969). Following this he formed The John Miles Set before starting his solo career in 1971.
Miles signed a recording contract with the Decca UK label in 1975 and issued four albums Rebel (1976), Stranger in the City (1977), Zaragon (1978) and More Miles Per Hour (1979). However, Miles had the most success with singles and released a total of eighteen during this era. In addition to “Music”, he also charted in the UK with “Highfly” (1975), “Remember Yesterday” (1976), and “Slow Down” (1977). Not long after “Music”‘s release, Miles was described by Melody Maker as
“the brightest, freshest force in British rock”
Most of his songs were co-written with the bassist in his backing group, Bob Marshall.
At the peak of his success, in 1976 and 1977, Miles made several appearances on the weekly pop TV show Supersonic. The debut album did receive some attention in the US. Two singles from the debut album reached the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, “Highfly” peaked at No. 68, followed by “Music” which stalled at No. 88. “Slow Down” was his biggest US chart hit, peaking at No. 2 on the disco chart, and at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1977. It was later featured in the 1979 film Players, starring Ali MacGraw and Dean Paul Martin. The relative success in the US charts lead to Miles supporting Elton John on his tour.
From 1985, Miles participated almost every year in the Night of the Proms, a series of concerts held yearly in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Denmark and the United States. Regularly there were also shows in Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden. The concerts consist of a combination of pop music and popular classical music (often combined) and various well-known musicians and groups usually participate. Miles always performs “Music”, and also sings other songs. In 2009, an album The Best of John Miles at the Night of the Proms was released, which included “Music” and cover versions including “All by Myself“, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “It Was a Very Good Year“.
Miles also toured with Tina Turner since 1987, playing keyboards, guitar and supporting vocals on every one of her tours, and played on several of her albums. He also appeared on Jimmy Page‘s 1988 album Outrider and subsequent tour (his wide-ranging vocals allowed him to cover both Robert Plant and Paul Rodgers from Page’s two previous bands), and played Hammond organ on Joe Cocker‘s album Night Calls (1992). In 1990, Miles participated in the UK heat of A Song for Europe with the song “Where I Belong”, which came second.
Miles was also a frequent guest vocalist on albums by The Alan Parsons Project, being featured on Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1976), Pyramid (1978), Stereotomy (1985), and Gaudi (1987), as well as on the Eric Woolfson album Freudiana (1990).
His first DVD, John Miles – Live in Concert was released in 2002. In 2007, Miles performed in Gelsenkirchen, Germany with German band Pur and sang two songs. One of those songs, “Abenteuerland”, Miles sang with Pur in German. The concert is available on the DVD, Pur-Friends-Live-Schalke-2007. In October 2008, Miles began touring once again with Tina Turner until May 2009.
- List of performers on Top of the Pops
- List of artists under the Decca Records label
- List of 1970s one-hit wonders in the United States
- Orange Records
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 366. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- “Marillion, Anathema, Steve Hackett among Progressive Music Award winners”. Teamrock.com. 14 September 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- “John Miles”. Archived 14 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine Mtv.co.uk. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- “John Miles explores with Sympathy”. Madison Courier. 11 April 1980. p. 9.
- “Early Days of Orange.” Premierguitar.com (July 2011). Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Meyer, Bruce (20 May 1976). “Sisters Make Heart Throb”. Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 10.
- Whelan, Tim (27 May 1977). “Electronics, pop and pop parodies”. The Leader-Post. p. 71.
- Patterson, Rob (20 June 1978). “Genesis, British Rock Group, Carries On, Solid”. Portsmouth Times. p. 7.
- “John Miles, best known for his rock ballad Music, has died”. BBC News. 6 December 2021.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 176.
- “Music interpreter John Miles (72) passed away”. Netherlandsnewslive.com. 6 December 2021. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
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