Shakin' Stevens

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

Last updated: 17 November 2008

The ol' piano doesnt play quite so hot these days, but Shaky is still revered as a bona fide star in Wales and beyond. The legend formerly known as Michael Barratt was born on 4 March 1948 in Ely, Cardiff - the youngest of 13 siblings. He started on the road to stardom in 1968 with the formation of Shakin' Stevens And The Sunsets.

Video: Shakin' Stevens performing This Ole House on The Little And Large Show

Fame and fortune were slightly less than forthcoming, though the band stayed together for a decade and released a couple of albums. They were even voted Best Live Band in a 1972 NME poll.

I was from a family of 13, and it wasn't a rich family. I spent 10 years going up and down the motorway in a tin van, sleeping on floors. Maybe that helped us keep our feet on the ground.

Shakin' Stevens

The Sunsets lasted until 1977, when Shaky was offered the lead in Elvis, an award-winning West End musical. "It was terrific to be earning money while paying tribute to the King," he said.

And it was a formative experience. The show ran for 19 months, during which time he recorded a hit single, Justine, and an album - titled Shakin' Stevens.

The turning point came in the 1980s. He signed to Epic, releasing the Take One album and the single Hot Dog, which reached number 24 in the charts. Marie Marie followed, but it wasnt until 1981's This Ole House single that Shaky truly arrived. It was a number one smash, and made the singer an internationally-recognised face.

This Ole House was followed up by smashes including Green Door, Oh Julie and Shirley. Other notable releases include 1984's A Rockin' Good Way (a duet with Bonnie Tyler), and 1985's Merry Christmas Everyone - which was delayed from the previous year so it wouldn't clash with Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas?.

Towards the end of the 80s, the hits may have been fewer and further between, but Shaky was still a top international live draw. And by the end of the decade he'd had more number ones than any other Welsh artist, and had scored 30 top 30 hits.

He carried on touring until 1995, when he decided to retire from the live circuit. But in 1999 he completed a tour of the UK and Europe, and performed at the launch of the Welsh Assembly in May. At the turn of the new millennium he performed an open-air concert in front of a home crowd in Cardiff, and has since performed to sell-out audiences in the UK and Europe.

In May 2005 Shaky won the ITV comeback show Hit Me Baby One More Time, where he performed This Ole House and a cover of Pink's Trouble, beating competition from the likes of Tiffany, Shalamar and Chesney Hawkes. His victory coincided with the release of The Collection, a CD and DVD best-of.

Fans were rewarded for their loyalty again with the announcement of a new single and album, both titled Now Listen, released in 2007.

BBC Music

Pop concert

Pop and chart

All the latest pop and chart news and reviews from BBC Music.


Gruff Rhys


A-Z of Welsh language artists with biogs, sessions, reviews and gigs.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.