Nicholas David "Nik" Kershaw (born 1 March 1958) is an English singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer.
Kershaw came to prominence in the mid 1980s as a solo artist, releasing eight singles that entered the Top 40 charts in the UK during the 1980s, including "Wouldn't It Be Good", "Dancing Girls", "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", "Human Racing", "The Riddle", "Wide Boy", "Don Quixote" and "When a Heart Beats". His 62 weeks on the UK Singles Chart through 1984 and 1985 beat all other solo artists. Kershaw appeared at the dual-venue concert Live Aid in 1985 and has also penned a number of hits for other artists, including a UK number-one single in 1991 for Chesney Hawkes, "The One and Only". Elton John has described Kershaw as "the best songwriter of a generation".
Nicholas David Kershaw was born on 1 March 1958, in Bristol, England, and grew up in Ipswich, Suffolk. His father was a flautist and his mother was an opera singer. He was educated at Northgate Grammar School for Boys where he played the guitar – he was self-taught on this instrument. He left school in the middle of his A-levels and got a job at an unemployment benefit office. He also sang in a number of underground Ipswich bands. However, when the last of these, Fusion, split up in 1982, he embarked on a full-time solo career as a musician and songwriter.
Kershaw was unemployed for a year after leaving Fusion, but during this time he found manager Mickey Modern after placing an advertisement in the magazine Melody Maker. Modern secured a record deal for Kershaw at MCA. In September 1983, Kershaw released his first single "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", which reached No. 47 in the UK Singles Chart. It became a major hit in Scandinavia, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
At the beginning of 1984 Kershaw released his breakthrough song "Wouldn't It Be Good", which reached No. 4 in the UK, and was a big success in Europe, particularly in Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Scandinavia, and also in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The music video, featuring Kershaw as a chroma key-suited alien, received heavy rotation from MTV, helping the song to reach No. 46 in the United States. He enjoyed three more Top 20 hits from his debut solo album Human Racing, including the title track and a successful re-issue of "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". This track ultimately proved his biggest hit as a performer when it reached No. 2 in the UK.
Kershaw's second album was The Riddle. The title-track, released in November 1984, proved to be his third international hit single, reaching No. 3 in the UK and Ireland, and No. 4 in New Zealand. The album also spawned two more UK Top 10 hits, "Wide Boy" and "Don Quixote", as it went multi-platinum. During this time, Kershaw toured extensively with his backing band the Krew, consisting of Keith Airey, Tim Moore, Mark Price and Dennis Smith.
In July 1985, Kershaw was among the performers at Live Aid, held at Wembley Stadium. He described the experience as "absolutely terrifying". The concert turned out to be the peak of his career, as his stardom began to wane soon afterwards and he enjoyed only one more UK Top 40 hit. He continued to record and release records and collaborated with others on a number of projects. Also in 1985, Elton John asked Kershaw to play guitar on John's hit single, "Nikita".
A cover of "Wouldn't it be Good" by the Danny Hutton Hitters appeared on the soundtrack of the 1986 teen romantic comedy-drama Pretty in Pink. Later that same year, Kershaw's third solo album, Radio Musicola, was released to critical acclaim but to little commercial success. The Works was released in 1989, also to little success. Two singles were released from the album, "One Step Ahead" and "Elisabeth's Eyes".
Kershaw's prowess as a songwriter served him well in 1991, when his song "The One and Only" appeared on the soundtrack to the British film Buddy's Song, and in the American movie Doc Hollywood. "The One and Only" proved to be a UK number-one hit for the star of Buddy's Song, Chesney Hawkes. In 1993, the Hollies had a minor hit with another of Kershaw's songs, "The Woman I Love". During the mid-1990s he also wrote and produced material for the boy band Let Loose, with two of the tracks ("Seventeen" and "Everybody Say Everybody Do") achieving reasonable success.
The year 1999 saw the release of the album 15 Minutes. Kershaw decided to record the tracks himself, when he could not envisage them being recorded by other artists. The album spawned two singles, "Somebody Loves You" and "What Do You Think of It So Far?", the latter a song described as "an elegant and soaring ode to the transience of time, infused with both self-doubt and an acceptance of life that can only come with maturity".
The follow-up album, To Be Frank, was released in 2001. Over the years, Kershaw has collaborated on albums with artists such as Elton John, Bonnie Tyler, Tony Banks and Gary Barlow.
In 2005, Kershaw released Then And Now, a collection of earlier material with four new tracks. In 2006, he completed another solo album, You've Got to Laugh, available only through his website or digitally through iTunes. This album contained twelve tracks and was released on the musician's own label, Shorthouse Records. Neither Then And Now nor You've Got To Laugh was promoted by a tour. The year also saw the digital re-release of his 1980s back catalogue including Human Racing, The Riddle, Radio Musicola and The Works.
In August 2009, Kershaw performed at Fairports Cropredy Convention and the Rewind Festival on Temple Island Meadows at Henley-on-Thames.
On 13 May 2010, Kershaw appeared on stage and hosted 'Our Friends Acoustic' in aid of Mencap. He performed "The Riddle", "Wouldn't It Be Good", "Dancing Girls" and "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Other 1980s performers joined him and performed their own songs, including Andy Bell, Carol Decker, Howard Jones, Jimmy Somerville, China Crisis and Steve Strange at The O2 in London.
Kershaw wrote songs and performed for the soundtrack of the 2010 film, Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks. He wrote and sang the theme song, "If It Gets Much Better Than This". He also appeared as an extra in the penultimate scene, presenting a copy of the book to Hawks for signing in the book shop.
Following the release of his eighth studio album in 2012 (Ei8ht), Kershaw undertook a small tour of the UK, with some European dates. As part of each show he played the entirety of his debut album, which had been re-mastered and re-released in March 2012.
In 2012, Kershaw was featured as the lead singer on a new recording of "The Lamia", originally recorded by Genesis for their 1974 album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, with Steve Hackett for the latter's Genesis Revisited II album. He is also featured as a guest performer on the same song on Hackett's Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith CD and DVD, released November 2013.
Kershaw performed a solo acoustic set at Fairport's Cropredy Convention in August 2013. He was on tour in the UK and Ireland in Autumn 2014. He continues to perform at 80s revival events and festivals each year. In the latter part of 2015 he performed a 31-date tour of the UK, on a double bill with Go West, supported by Carol Decker.
On November 11, Kershaw performed in Reykjavík, Iceland, together with the band Todmobile. He joined them after a short set of eight songs and played guitar in three Todmobile songs.
Kershaw's first wife was Canadian Sheri Kershaw, herself a musician who featured on several of Kershaw's early albums. The couple married in July 1983, had three children together, and divorced in 2003. His second son was born with Down syndrome. Kershaw remarried in 2009 and has also had a child with his second wife Sarah.