Ashcroft is married to Kate Radley, a former member of Spiritualized. They married in 1995 and it was years before it was publicly revealed that the pair had married. Together, they have two sons: Sonny, born in 2000, and Cassius, born in 2004. The family live in Ledbury in Herefordshire. Ashcroft is a Manchester United fan.
He is good friends with Oasis' Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher and Coldplay's Chris Martin (whom Ashcroft once thanked for "letting me be myself again"). The Gallagher brothers for a long time have expressed the greatest of respect to Ashcroft, with Noel fondly nicknaming Ashcroft as 'Captain Rock'. The Oasis track "Cast No Shadow", included in the successful 1995 album (What's the Story) Morning Glory? is dedicated to him, and it is believed that Ashcroft dedicated the title track of A Northern Soul to Gallagher as a response. Ashcroft also provided backing vocals on the Oasis song "All Around the World" in 1997, for Oasis' Be Here Now.
In a 2006 interview, Ashcroft mentioned taking Prozac to help him with clinical depression, but said that they didn't help, referring to the pills as "very, very synthetic." Ashcroft has said that he's always been "a depressive, someone who suffers from depression", and that music and creativity help him cope with his illness.
Ashcroft was the only son of office worker Frank and hairdresser Margaret; he also has two younger sisters.When Ashcroft was 11, his father died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage. Ashcroft soon "fell under the influence of his stepfather", who belonged to the Rosicrucians.
Ashcroft attended Up Holland High School, along with future bandmates Simon Jones, Peter Salisbury and Simon Tong,and then attended Winstanley College, where he met Nick McCabe. His teachers referred to him as "the cancer of the class", though one member of staff recalled him being "incredibly intelligent". Ashcroft was an avid football player, playing junior football for Wigan Athletic.For some time Ashcroft wanted to be a professional football player, idolising George Best, but as he grew older he lost interest in this, turning to music instead.
Ashcroft formed The Verve (originally just Verve) in 1990 with McCabe, Jones and Salisbury. The band signed to Hut Records and became well-known for their appetite for both psychedelic music and drugs. They also became a part of the Britpop movement. The band split in 1995, and around this time Ashcroft wrote a collection of songs he intended to release as his first solo album. However, by 1997 he had changed his mind and asked McCabe to return (alongside new member Tong), reforming The Verve and releasing the very successful album Urban Hymns. Ashcroft was at the forefront of the band's popularity, receiving an Ivor Novello Award for his songwriting and being referred to by the press as "the unmistakable face of the Number One rock band in England".However, the pressures of touring and the tensions within the band led to McCabe's departure in mid-1998 and the announcement of the band's break-up in April 1999.
In early 2007, Ashcroft made peace with McCabe and Jones and The Verve's reunion was announced in June. The band played gigs later that year and continued touring in 2008, headlining at several festivals around the world. A new album, Forth, was released in August.
In August 2009 it was announced by The Guardian that The Verve had broken up for the third time.
Alone with Everybody and Human Conditions: 2000-2004
Ashcroft's first solo single, "A Song for the Lovers", peaked at #3 in the UK charts in April.It was followed by the single "Money To Burn" which reached the UK Top 20 at #17. The album, Alone with Everybody, was released in June, reaching number 1 and receiving platinum status in the UK. Album reviews were generally positive. In September, a third single was released – "C'mon People (We're Making It Now)" – entering the charts at #21. Richard does not publish the lyrics to his songs in the inlay cards of his albums or singles as he feels they are personal to him.
Ashcroft began work on his second album Human Conditions in 2002. The lead single, "Check the Meaning", was released in early October, and peaked at #11 on the UK Singles Chart.The album was released later that month and reached #3 in the UK Album Chart.Reception to the album was largely negative. Despite the general panning, Coldplay's Chris Martin - a fan of both Ashcroft and The Verve - defended the album's merits which "made an impression" on Ashcroft.The appreciation shown would later result in a support slot for Ashcroft, serving as the opening act for Coldplay during a European tour.The album's second single, "Science of Silence", was released the following January and charted at #14 in the UK.On March 26, Ashcroft made his first live appearance of 2003 at London's Royal Albert Hall as part of the third annual Teenage Cancer Trust charity fundraising event, before "Buy It in Bottles", the third and final single to be taken from the album, was released on April 7, charting at #26.
Aside from a limited number of appearances in 2003, Ashcroft was absent from the music business for about two years. He later explained this in 2006, stating that "[e]veryone got it into their heads over the last few years that I was in my ivory tower like Lennon, baking bread all day. The fact of the matter was that I was bringing up kids".
Live 8 and Keys to the World: 2005-2007
Ashcroft began playing gigs again in mid-2005, and, on July 2 at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, Coldplay invited him to perform with them during their set. They performed The Verve's hit "Bitter Sweet Symphony", after having previously rehearsed the song in Crystal Palace. Ashcroft's performance of the song was introduced by Chris Martin as "the best song ever written, sung by the best singer in the world", helping to create renewed interest in Ashcroft. At Christmas 2005, a documentary entitled Live 8: A Bitter Sweet Symphony was aired on the BBC reliving moments of the day featuring a portion of Ashcroft's performance as the show's opening soundtrack.
After the disintegration of Hut Records in 2004, Ashcroft signed to Parlophone where he released his third solo album, Keys to the World, on January 23, 2006. The first single from the album, "Break the Night with Colour", was released on 9 January 2006, and entered the UK Singles Chart at number 3. Following his performance at Live 8, Ashcroft was booked as a support act for Coldplay's Twisted Logic Tour throughout North America and the UK, which started on March 14 in Ottawa, Canada. Ashcroft saw the support slot as "a good chance to play to a significant amount of people and say, ‘I’m back. And this is what I do’".
The album's second single, "Music Is Power", charted at number 20.On April 18, 2006, he recorded the Live from London EP, the ninth in a series of EPs released exclusively as digital downloads from Apple's iTunes Store. The EP was released just 6 days later on April 24. With the release of Keys to the World, the general consensus was that Ashcroft was "back at the top of his musical game", as he announced his largest UK tour for years for May 2006, culminating in three nights at London's Brixton Academy. Following the tour, Ashcroft had hoped to perform two "Homecoming" shows at Wigan Athletic's 25,000 seater JJB Stadium in June 2006, but was unable to do so as the proposed venue lacked the "appropriate licence". As a consequence, he chose to play at Lancashire County Cricket Club in Manchester, in what was to be his biggest solo show to date. He was supported at the gig by acts such as Razorlight and The Feeling, whilst DJ Shadow joined Richard on stage during his set to perform "Lonely Soul", their UNKLE collaboration from 1998's Psyence Fiction LP. Another UK tour followed five months later, culminating in a show at Manchester's M.E.N. Arena on November 30.Ashcroft did not tour Keys To The World outside of Europe.
Richard hinted at the possible release of a new version of his previous single "C'mon People (We're Making It Now)" for the Bobby Moore Cancer Fund, which would coincide with England's participation in the 2006 Football World Cup, but the single never materialised. Instead, his next release was "Words Just Get in the Way", which charted lower than his previous single, peaking at #40 in the UK Singles Chart.On December 4, the double a-side "Why Not Nothing" / "Sweet Brother Malcolm" was released on limited edition 7" vinyl.
On December 11, 2006, Ashcroft recorded a live performance for Live From Abbey Road. The programme was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 in March 2007, and in the USA on the Sundance Channel in June 2007.
RPA & The United Nations of Sound: 2008-present
Ashcroft is contractually obligated to record another album for Parlophone. Ashcroft played a solo gig on August 25, 2008 as part of the Last Days of Summer Festival in Buckingham. The Verve broke up for a third time sometime between the last rehearsals in late 2008 and the summer of 2009. It was announced in August 2009 by a band's friend.
A b-side compilation was considered a possibility, as Richard's team has asked the fans through his site about their feelings on such an album, but it's now very unlikely. In December 2009, Richard contributed the lead soundtrack song for the documentary The Journey The song, available for purchase at iTunes can be streamed and a video was posted at Ashcroft's site. Also, through his blog BRAIN, he has stated that he will release a new album in 2010. Sources reveal he has worked on some 20-30 new songs in New York, Los Angeles and London with producer No I.D., who Richard sought after because he liked his work in the Jay-Z song "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" and read an interview where he states how many producers destroy records in order to boost sales .
Richard, now working with a new band called RPA & The United Nations of Sound, has released a promo single from the upcoming album called "Are You Ready?", which was premiered exclusively on the NME website on 18 January 2010. From 9 April 2010 an exclusive RPA Fan Club-only track, "Third Eye (Colombus Circle)", is also available as a download on the official Richard Ashcroft website. The album "United Nations of Sound" (former working title "Redemption") and the first proper single "Born Again" are to be released on 19 July 2010. The full album leaked on 15 July and the NME started streaming the album the following day. The new sound seems to emulate many of Richard's influences described over the years in interviews and seems to close a circle for his solo career. Strings, rap beats, rock-guitar-riffs, voice-loops, ballads and heroic-choir-anthems are the core of the album's sound with Ashcroft's craft for pop tunes and unique melody-making. Also found in the songs are the ever-present spiritual lyrics for Richard, although here in fuller form.
Controversy exists over The Verve's biggest hit, "Bitter Sweet Symphony", on which Ashcroft is the sole band member to share a co-writing credit. The song uses a sample of Andrew Oldham Orchestra's recording of The Rolling Stones' 1965 song "The Last Time". The Verve had negotiated this legally, however The Rolling Stones' record company successfully sued and argued that they had used "too much". The Verve was subsequently forced to give ABKCO 100 percent of the royalties from "Bitter Sweet Symphony", and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were given songwriting credits along with Ashcroft.
In 2006, he was arrested in Wiltshire after coming into a youth centre and asking to work with the teenagers present at the club. He refused to leave and employees called the police, resulting in Ashcroft being arrested and fined £80 for disorderly conduct.
Ashcroft stormed off stage after only one song at Australia's 2010 Splendour in the Grass festival at Woodford, apparently angry at the lack of attendance at his stage... He had been scheduled as one of three headliners but punters mainly filled the stages of the other two headliners, alternative rockers The Pixies and local Australian dance act Empire of the Sun.
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