Mike Pickering is best-known as a founder member of M People (the M is taken from his Christian name), the dance/pop act that achieved considerable success during the 90s.
Formerly a chef and a roadie for Dire Straits, he was a saxophonist in Quando Quango and in the respected house act T-Coy. His break came when, as a DJ at the legendary Haçienda club in Manchester, he became involved in the late 80s ‘Madchester’ scene that was to have a sustained influence on UK pop music for years to come. The Haçienda was owned by Factory Records and Pickering soon became an A&R man for the label, signing James and the Happy Mondays. Shortly after, he became a co-director of the Manchester-based Deconstruction Records, where he also produced and remixed numerous dance music artists.
Pickering formed M People in 1990 with the initial idea of a collective of musicians using a variety of guest vocalists but the former Hot! House singer, Heather Small became a permanent member. The band scored its first hit at the end of 1991 with the exuberant pop-house of ‘How Can I Love You More?’ and this was followed by a string of hit singles including ‘One Night In Heaven’, ‘Moving On Up’ and ‘Search For the Hero’.
The latter single gained even greater exposure some years after when it was used in a Peugeot television advertising campaign. The band won two Brit Awards in successive years (1994 and 1995) and the Mercury Music Prize in 1994 for Elegant Slumming. Subsequent albums were successful but, by 1997’s Fresco, the band was past the peak of its creative strength and its popularity. Although no longer a member of M People, Pickering continues to write and produce for the band, among other writing and production projects. In 2002, he appeared as himself, DJing at the Haçienda, in 24 Hour Party People, a film telling the story of the Happy Mondays and Factory Records.
Mike Pickering brings a touch of the Haçienda to The Valley…