Mike Stock has been making some headlines recently ‘condemning’ modern acts like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears for “‘sexualizing’ youngsters”. This tabloid noises might not be relevant at all, but this guy has a unusual career and, for better or worse, has helped to shape the evolution of music in the second half of the eighties. Or, to put it in another way, without him, we would live in a world where rickrolling does not exist.
Let’s go to the facts:
Wikipedia provides the summary:
Stock Aitken Waterman, sometimes known as SAW, were a UK songwriting and record producing trio consisting of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman. They had great success during the mid to late 1980s and early 1990s. The three are considered to be one of the most successful songwriting and producing partnerships of all time, scoring more than 100 UK top 40 hits, selling 40 million records and earning an estimated £60 million (about $103.78 million).
This 2005 article from The Guardian is obligatory. I could quote the whole thing entirely:
Six years ago, music producers Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman were all in court. Stock and Aitken claimed that Waterman owed them substantial royalties – a two-thirds share of a figure some observers estimated at £12m. They lost, and much mud was slung, largely, it has to be said, by Mike Stock, who branded Waterman “a buffoon” who “thinks talent is blond hair and big tits” and who had spent “a lot of time in Japan, importing koi carp” while he and Aitken had actually written and recorded their famous string of hits in the 80s.
Venerable Sound on Sound Classic Tracks has more details:
“That’s part of the folklore,” says Mark McGuire, who engineered the record. “Rick was the nicest artist I worked with there. He was extremely down-to-earth, but also incredibly shy, and although Pete had spotted him [playing the UK club circuit with a soul band named FBI] and wanted him to record, he feared that Rick would be too shy in the studio to get anything done. So he asked him to work there for a while, get to meet everyone, hang out with them and have a laugh, so that he wouldn’t be intimidated when it was time for him to record. He was, therefore, employed there as an ‘assistant’, but not really to work as an assistant. It was merely a way of introducing him to the studio.”