Mark King – Level 42 virtuoso

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Level 42 bassist and lead singer, Mark King, was born in 1958 on the idyllic Isle of Wight in England.

His family ran a dairy farm on the south coast of England and his childhood was very stark with not a lot of money around. Mark and his family lived in a tithed dairy house with an outside toilet and a zinc bath in front of the fire. Later years as a child found his family living on a prison estate near Newport. He attended Cowes High School but was kicked out at the age of 17 for wearing denim jeans.

As his first job Mark worked on an assembly line, but he did not enjoy that, so he then became a milkman. He wasn’t thrilled with that job either, so he headed to London for more opportunities. At the age of 19 Mark, Mike Lindup, Phil Gould, and Roland Gould formed Level 42.

Up until his move to London, Mark had been playing the drums. Then he turned to the bass guitar. He was a natural with a distinct funk-jazz sound and playing with a slap and pop style. Their first job was at the La Babalu Club in Ryde and then Elite Records signed them in 1979. A year later, they released the single Love Meeting Love. The bands first top 40 hit was Love Games in 1981.

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Level 42 had several small singles prior to 1984’s The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) hitting the British Top Ten. Released in late 1985, the album World Machine introduced the band to a much wider audience. The single Lessons in Love hit number one in Britain and another song, Something About You, hit number seven in the United States of America. The subsequent two records, Running in the Family (1987) and Staring at the Sun (1988), were also a tremendous success in the U.K. Sadly, both of the Gould brothers left the band Level 42 in late 1987.

In 1991, Level 42 released Guaranteed. The band followed this release in 1995 with the album Forever Now. Mark has released solo albums, Influences in 1984, One Man in 1998, and Trash in 1999. Trash was a compilation of songs from the past that never had been recorded.

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Mark has also released some live recordings such as Live at Jazz Café and Live at the Isle of Wight (his birthplace). He remains Level 42’s front man and still plays with his slap and pop style. The band tours all over the world, participates in music festivals, and even has an active and enormously followed Facebook page.

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