Mike Batt is one of Britain’s best-known songwriter/composers. His consistent track record of success includes production, composition and conducting on projects as diverse as ‘Watership Down’ (music and lyrics to Art Garfunkel’s international number one single, ‘Bright Eyes’), ‘Phantom of The Opera’ (producing, orchestrating and contributing lyrics to the first hit) and a great deal of symphonic work, including many television and film scores. He has won five Ivor Novello Awards including ‘Best Film Song or Music’ two years in succession, once with ‘Watership Down’ and once with ‘Caravans’ the epic adaptation of Michener’s novel, starring Anthony Quinn. He has conducted many of the world’s great orchestras including the London Symphony, The London Philharmonic, The Royal Philharmonic, The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the State Orchestra of Victoria and The National Symphony Orchestra Of Ireland.
He began his career in popular music at the age of eighteen, as a signed artist with and subsequently Head of A&R for Liberty/United Artists Records. Leaving to form his own music publishing company two years later, and simultaneously working as a recording artist. His first hits as a singer/songwriter/producer were by The Wombles, in 1974.
After eight hit singles and four gold albums with The Wombles, he moved on to work with Steeleye Span (‘All Around My Hat’), the Kursall Flyers (‘Little Did She Know’), Elkie Brookes (‘Lilac Wine’), Barbara Dickson (‘Caravan Song’) and Art Garfunkel (‘Bright Eyes’) all of which were top five in at least the UK.
As a singer, his solo albums include ‘Schizophonia’ and ‘Tarot Suite’ (both with the London Symphony Orchestra). From these albums came the European hit songs ‘Railway Hotel’, ‘Lady Of The Dawn’, ‘The Winds Of Change’ and ‘The Ride To Agadir’. He achieved the number four position as an artist in the UK charts in 1976 with his single ‘Summertime City’.
In 1980, he went off with his family aboard his boat ‘Braemar’, ending up in Australia after two and a half years, travelling via France, The West Indies, South America, Central America, Mexico, Los Angeles, Hawaii and Fiji.
Returning to the UK in 1983, Mike wrote and produced three more top ten hits, ‘Please Don’t Fall In Love’ (for Cliff Richard), ‘A Winter’s Tale’ (for David Essex, with lyric co-written by Tim Rice) and ‘I Feel Like Buddy Holly’ (for Alvin Stardust).
The first ‘Snark’ album was recorded in 1984, featuring Art Garfunkel, Cliff Richard, Deneice Williams, Captain Sensible, John Hurt, Sir John Gielgud, Roger Daltrey, Julian Lennon, Stephane Grappelli and George Harrison. It was the first step towards a full dramatic treatment. Since then, he has been preoccupied with ‘The Hunting Of The Snark’, stopping from time to time to become involved with other projects such as the ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ single, which was a top ten hit for Steve Harley and Sarah Brightman. Other projects include Colm Wilkinson’s album ‘Stage Heroes’ with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Justin Hayward’s album ‘Classic Blue’ (also with the LPO) and the music for ‘The Dreamstone’, ITV’s high-rating 52 part animated series, once again with the London Philharmonic. This score and album was composed, orchestrated, conducted, produced and music-supervised by Mike.
He made his concert debut as a conductor at the Barbican with the LSO in 1984, with a programme including the Carmen Suites (Bizet), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Dukas) and other light classics, and has since conducted the LSO, LPO and RPO in various programmes and/or recordings of well-known repertoire pieces such as ‘The Planets Suite’ (Holst), ‘Scheherezade’ (Rimsky Korsakov) and ‘Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture’ (Tchaikovsky). In 1990, he was Music Director of the Melbourne Summer Music Festival, with the State Orchestra of Victoria.
In 1990 he resigned his directorship of The Performing Right Society Ltd. in order to concentrate on musical work, and was appointed by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a member of the Government Working Group for music in the school curriculum.
He produced, arranged and conducted the ‘Cover Shot’ album by David Essex (top three in the UK albums chart) and recorded his Symphonic Suite ‘The Dreamstone’ with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios.
He also produced, arranged and conducted the Irish number one album ‘Whatever You Believe’ for tenor Finbar Wright, for which album he also wrote the title song, and has conducted Finbar Wright with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland in a televised recording of ‘A Tribute To John McCormack’ – including the premiere performance of his overture, the ‘Dublin Overture’ written especially for the occasion.
Also in 1995 he made another solo album for SONY Germany, entitled ‘Arabesque’.
He was then commissioned to write the official Anthem for the inauguration of the Channel Tunnel by the Queen.
Mike composed and produced the four million-selling album ‘The Violin Player’ which launched the career of violinist Vanessa Mae in 1995.
Mike’s 1996 projects included the completion of a new musical (both the music and libretto) entitled ‘Men Who March Away’ – a love story set in the first World War and the Spanish Civil War, and he also wrote a humorous/surreal book soon to be published, called ‘Tails From Don’t Be So Ridiculous Valley’.
In 1997, he produced and conducted the hit album ‘A Night At The Movies’ for David Essex and composed a special celebration piece, ‘Royal Gold’ commissioned by the military for the Queen’s 50th Wedding anniversary. This was performed for Her Majesty at the Royal Tournament, by the massed bands of the Scots, Welsh, Irish, Colstream and Grenadier Guards, together with 100 pipers. That year, he also acted as music supervisor to the film ‘Richard III’ starring Sir Ian McKellern.
He scored and music-supervised the British movie, ‘Keep The Aspidistra Flying’ (released in the USA as ‘A Merry War’) starring Helena Bonham-Carter and Richard E. Grant In 1998, he produced new music for the ongoing 52 part Womble series, and composed the music for Germany’s most popular television show ‘Wetten, Dass….?’.
After conceiving and co-creating the all-girl string quartet ‘Bond’, and producing their first single, he then created the eight piece classical crossover band The Planets. The album ‘Classical Graffiti’ was released in February 2002. and went straight to number one (classical charts) on the day of release and remained there for three months.
His solo album, “A Songwriter’s Tale” achieved the number 24 position in the UK album charts in 2008.
Currently, he is dedicating most of his time to guiding the career of 28- year -old Katie Melua from Georgia, former USSR. Katie’s first album ‘Call Off The Search’ (containing six of Mike’s songs including ‘The Closest Thing To Crazy’) was released on Mike’s own Dramatico label in November 2003. After six weeks at number one in the UK, it sold six times platinum – over 1.8 million copies – in the UK and three million copies in total, making Katie the biggest selling UK female artist of 2004. Her second album, ‘Piece by Piece’ (including Mike’s song ‘Nine Million Bicycles’) was released in September 2005 and to date has sold 3.5 million copies in Europe, going to number 1 in the UK, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and achieving top five positions in eight other countries. Dramatico has established itself as one of the leading UK based Indie labels. Subsequent albums have brought Melua’s worldwide sales tally to 11m, and her 5th album, “Secret Symphony” (produced by Mike) is released throughout Europe on March 5th 2012. For more on Katie go to (link) and on Dramatico, (link)
Mike is Deputy Chairman of the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) and plays an active part in the political and organizational side of the music business, having served for 12 years as a PRS (Perforning Right Society) director in the past, and having been a Vice President and active member of the British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (formerly BASCA now BACS). As a BASCA director, he conceived, produced and directed the Ivor Novello Awards show for several years after bringing it to the Grosvenor House Hotel in the seventies and establishing it as the first lavishly produced music award show in the UK, – inspiring the Britania Awards which eventually became the BRIT awards, presented each year by the BPI. He also established the modern production values of the “Gold Badge Of Merit” awards show for BASCA by staging it firstly at the London Hilton, and thereafter directing it for some years.