|Born||June 23, 1966 |
Münster, West Germany
|Origin||Brighton, Sussex, U.K|
|Genres||Alternative rock |
British folk rock
|Years active||1988 – present|
On the Fiddle
Mark Chadwick is an English singer, songwriter and musician, best known as the co-founding frontman and lyricist of the British band Levellers, who were once considered the most popular Indie band in Britain. The band saw their popularity culminate in their record breaking headlining act at Glastonbury Festival in 1994 when they played to a crowd of over 300,000. Besides his work with Levellers, Chadwick has also enjoyed a successful solo career.
Mark Chadwick was born on 23 June 1966 in Münster, in West Germany. His father was an Army musician, and his younger years were spent moving from posting to posting. Chadwick had wanted to be in a band since he was 12 years old and after spending a lot of time in front of the mirror with a tennis racket his father bought him a cheap acoustic guitar and a chord book. Chadwick taught himself to play the guitar aided by his chord book and The Beatles Complete. In 1982 At the age of sixteen with no real direction he picked Brighton on a map and set off. Chadwick took to busking around Brighton and joined his first band The Soup Dragons. The band wasn't going anywhere and gave Chadwick time to think. On a trip to Dieppe, Chadwick decided to go back to Brighton and form a band of his own.
Chadwick formed the band after a chance meeting with future Levellers bassist Jeremy Cunningham in The Eagle pub in Brighton. Chadwick had decided to go to The Eagle one night and bumped into Cunningham, who was trying to sell his bass guitar. Discovering that they had a fair bit in common, they decided to form a band. They soon added Charlie Heather on drums and Jon Sevink on fiddle and, after a short while, Alan Miles to play harmonica, guitar and the mandolin.
The band released two EPs on their own Hag label in 1989, which led to a contract with Musidisc. They released their first album, A Weapon Called the Word, in 1990 which is one of the few albums known to have gone gold without ever charting. After its release, Miles quit the band and was quickly replaced by Simon Friend and that Levellers line-up of Chadwick, Cunningham, Sevink, Friend and Heather continues to this day (with Matt Savage later joining on keyboards). Levellers were discovered that year by Derek Green (the man responsible for signing the Sex Pistols) and signed to independent label China Records.
The following year, they released Levelling The Land which entered the charts at number 14 and eventually went platinum. The single "One Way", despite not entering the Top 40, became a live favourite for years to come. Levelling The Land is often cited as an all time classic amongst people who were students or travellers in the early 1990s. The band have had seven Top 40 albums and 14 Top 40 singles.
At the height of their popularity in 1994, Levellers headlined Glastonbury Festival: they are believed to have performed to Glastonbury's biggest-ever crowd when they headlined the Pyramid stage on the Friday night in 1994. With no steel fence yet having been erected to keep out gatecrashers, as many as 300,000 people are thought to have seen the show.
In 1995 Levellers's most commercially successful album Zeitgeist was released and reached No. 1 in the UK album charts. Two singles were released from the album – "Hope St.", which reached No. 12 in the UK single charts, and "Fantasy", which reached No. 16. The third single released from this album took Levellers to their first Top of the Pops appearance, playing the tongue-in-cheek drinking anthem "Just the One" whilst dressed in tuxedos. "Just the One" was specially re-recorded for the single release, with The Clash's frontman and long-time Levellers hero Joe Strummer guesting on honky tonk piano. It reached No. 12 in the UK.
Among their most successful singles are "What a Beautiful Day", which became the first single release from Mouth to Mouth and reached No. 13 on the UK chart, and "This Garden", which reached No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart.
Growing weary of the existing UK festival scene - having once turned down £250,000 to headline the Reading Festival - and despising the commercialism that had developed around festivals, Levellers decided to put on a festival of their own. This would be a return - as far as UK legislation would allow - to the earlier festivals that the young Levellers had enjoyed, such as Elephant Fayre. Green Blade Fayre was the title of the first attempt, and was to be held at Bicton Park, East Devon, England in August 2002. Despite the backing of the necessary authorities, an organised local population managed to persuade the East Devon council to reject the licence application.
Nonetheless, in 2003 Levellers created their own Beautiful Days Festival. The festival is now an annual event, taking place each August at Escot Park, near Fairmile in Devon, England. The Festival sells all 17,500 tickets annually and has remained sponsorship free.
Aside from Levellers Chadwick has a solo career. After decades as the frontman of Levellers, Chadwick marked the beginning of his solo career with the release of his album All The Pieces on 6 September 2010. This album focuses more on folk rather than punk, and features a series of songs written by Chadwick over the years. Produced by Sean Lakeman, the album is a collection of personal accounts of life as a singer / songwriter. A second solo album Moment was released 15 June 2014 by On The Fiddle Recordings.
- A Weapon Called the Word (1990)
- Levelling the Land (1991)
- Levellers (1993)
- Zeitgeist (1995)
- Mouth to Mouth (1997)
- Hello Pig (2000)
- Green Blade Rising (2002)
- Truth and Lies (2005)
- Letters from the Underground (2008)
- Static on the Airwaves (2012)
- We the Collective (2018)
- All The Pieces (2010)
- Moment (2014)