Shakin' Stevens (March 4, 1948)
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Shakin' Stevens was born Michael Barratt in Ely, a suburb of Cardiff in South Wales. He was the youngest of 11 children and his father was a World War I veteran. By the time he was born, some of Shakin' Stevens' siblings were grown up, married, and had children of their own. His father passed away in 1972 at the age of 75 while his mother survived until her passing in 1984 at the age of 79.
Though not known as a political artist, Shakin' Stevens was involved with the Young Communist League (YCL) at a young age. The group was a youth wing of the Communist Party of Great Britain and some of Shaky's early bands played at YCL events. Several other prominent musicians were also involved with the YCL at the time, including guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who.
Shakin' Stevens caught a big break in 1977 after being discovered by TV producer Jack Good. Good had worked with The Beatles on their first TV special called Around the Beatles and was working on a new Elvis musical. Good personally invited Shaky to audition for one of the lead roles and he landed it. The West End musical Elvis! was huge hit, extending its run twice and turning Shaky into a nationally recognized star.
Despite being one of the biggest artists in Europe at the time, Shakin' Stevens was excluded from the massive Live Aid concert in July 1985. He also missed out on Band Aid's charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?
" which became a worldwide hit the previous December. Shakin' Stevens was touring out of the country at the time the song was recorded, but scored his own Christmas hit with "Merry Christmas Everyone" in December 1985.
Shakin' Stevens suffered a major career setback after he was arrested for drinking and driving in early 2002. On New Year's Day, Stevens was caught by police weaving across the road and driving very slowly. Shaky failed a breathalyzer test and was taken into custody for several hours. In the end, he was ordered to pay more than 400 pounds in fines and his driver's license was confiscated for two years.
In the late 2000's, Shakin' Stevens enjoyed a surprising career resurgence. He released a new album called Now Listen in May 2007 and re-released "Merry Christmas Everyone" in December later that year. Twenty-two years after its original release, the song re-entered the UK Chart at #22 and has re-entered the chart every year since due to downloading. Shaky's comeback continued in 2008 when he opened the Glastonbury Festival to a capacity crowd at 11am.
Shakin' Stevens was rushed to the hospital in July 2010 after collapsing in his home in Windsor. He has diagnosed with a major heart attack and remained in the hospital for two months. The heart attack was brought on by the combination of strenuous work Shaky had been doing in his garden and the stress of working on a new album. By 2011, Shakin' Stevens had fully recovered and embarked on his 30th anniversary tour. He was backed by a 10-piece band and performed in more than two dozen cities in the UK and Europe.
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