"I don't think we're ever going to achieve what we want to achieve. It would be impossible, but that's the point, to aim further." -Richard Ashcroft

Born September 11, 1971, former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft is a veritable modern-day rock legend. Charismatic, intense, creative, inspirational, and so quotable that he was dubbed "Mad Richard" by the British press, Ashcroft's post-Verve oeuvre includes the two brilliant solo albums Alone with Everybody and Human Conditions.

Raised in the Wigan suburb of Billinge, UK, the peerless Ashcroft attended Upholland Comprehensive School, where he met future band mates Simon Jones, Simon Tong, and Peter Salisbury. After the unfortunate passing of his father at age 11, Richard became heavily influenced by his stepfather, whose membership in the ancient secular order of the Rosicrucians meant that Richard was privy to his stepfather's experiments in mind expansion and healing from an early age.

In 1989, while studying at Winstanley College, Ashcroft formed Verve (later The Verve) along with bassist Simon Jones, drummer Peter Salisbury, and guitarist Nick McCabe. Ashcroft, along with being the lead vocalist, was also the sole lyricist in the band. They signed with Virgin Records and saw their first single, All in the Mind, released to critical acclaim in 1992. The single reached the top of UK Indie charts, as did the two singles that followed, She's a Superstar, and Gravity Grave. Their debut album, A Storm in Heaven, was released the following year. The stormy title of their first album proved to be somewhat prophetic as the following years proved eventful for Ashcroft, to say the least.

While touring with Lollapalooza in 1994, Ashcroft became severely dehydrated and had to be hospitalised. Several months later, the band was sued by an American jazz label called Verve, which resulted in the band changing their name to The Verve. Still, that tumultuous period resulted in their best album to date, 1995's A Northern Soul. Singles from that album include This is Music, On YOur Own, and the classic History.

While the ecstasy-influenced release was a huge success, it effectively tore the band apart. Fortunately for Ashcroft fans, the band re-united a few weeks later. Their next release, 1997's award-winning Urban Hymns brought the band international success and was hailed as one of the greatest albums of the millenium. To date, it has sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Several successful singles came off the album as well, including Lucky Man, Sonnet, The Drugs Don't Work, and the smash hit Bittersweet Symphony. While "Bittersweet Symphony" was instrumental in bringing the band international fame, it also landed them in a bit of legal hot water (again). Unfortunately, since the song was based on a Rolling Stones sample, the band had to give 100% of the royalties for the song to ABKCO Music.

Following their legal battle, the tension between Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe came to a head, resulting in McCabe's departure from the band. The Verve toured one final time without McCabe, playing their final show on August 29, 1998, in Dublin, Ireland. Their breakup was officially announced on April 28 of the following year.

Ashcroft's solo debut, Alone With Everybody, was released in mid-2000 to enthusiastic reviews. The soulful single A Song for the Lovers was highly successful, while the album was nominated for a Mercury Award. Ashcroft toured Britain and America, although he had to postpone some dates due to the two broken ribs he sustained when he fell off the stage in Birmingham, UK. Meanwhile, Ashcroft found himself in legal trouble yet again, when his ex-manager sued him for wrongful dismissal.

Ashcroft is married to former Spiritualized keyboardist Kate Radley, with whom he has a son aptly named Sonny. His second solo album, the more spiritual HUman Conditions, was released in 2002.

It's difficult to think of anyone in rock'n'roll history who's articulated the symphonic, life-altering power of music better than Richard Ashcroft. His unswerving belief in its potency has enabled him to produce songs that have perfectly communicated his ongoing voyage of personal discovery. -nme.com


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