Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Archivist: Mike Peters - Breathe

Being Welsh, back in the 80s, we didn't have much Welsh music talent to be proud of. OK, Tom Jones is a given but Mary Hopkin and Shakin Stevens?

Then in 1983, an obviously punk influenced band hit the charts and Top of the Pops with a song called 68 Guns.
They were The Alarm and hailed from Rhyl in North Wales.

And they were led by the exotically coiffured vocalist and band songwriter, Mike Peters

They released their debut album, Declaration in 1984 (where has 30 years gone) and produced several hit singles

With a mixture of stirring anthems and some quieter moments it reached number 6 in the album charts and set the band on a course of hit albums and singles for the rest of the 1980s.

With 20 UK chart singles and 11 USA chart singles the band had great success on both sides of the Atlantic and ended up touring all over the world in their own right and also supporting major acts such as U2 and Bob Dylan

They had their second biggest UK hit with Rain In The Summertime in 1987

And 2 years later in 1989 they released a record that still resonates in South Wales even to this day. And it's a song that Mike still has to play whenever he plays a gig in Wales.

Included on their last album, Raw, the band even recorded a great version of a Neil Young classic.

Mike famously announced he was leaving the band at their last UK concert in The Brixton Academy in 1991 with the song Moments in Time.

Mike began his comeback in 1992 when he formed the Poets of Justice, which included his wife Jules Jones and a young up and coming guitar player called Ethan Johns :)

I managed to catch and film a couple of the first gigs he played after he left The Alarm.

They were gigs of intensity and passion and the crowd got their first chance to hear the songs that would go on to be included on his debut solo album, Breathe.

Then after this series of gigs, Mike reappeared again in 1994 with his comeback single Back Into The System.

Followed by the next single

He also released a Welsh language version of the album, called Aer.

The breadth of the new songs was just stunning. There was a new depth and confidence to Mike's music and the scope of his debut album left the songs of The Alarm firmly in the past.

Indeed some of the best songs didn't even make the album

Ethan Johns gave an added dimension to the songs when they were performed live

Ethan only stayed with The Poets for a year ( he is now a world famous award winning producer) and by the time the album was released Mike had recruited some new Welsh musicians into the band

Some of the songs were intensely personal. This one being about his father.

And this one speaks for itself.

Mike continued to make excellent solo albums right throughout the 90s. But in 1996, Mike recovered from lymph cancer. A condition which was to rear it's ugly head later.

In 1999, Mike joined forces with The Cult's Billy Duff to form Coloursound and release an album.

In the year 2000, Mike resurrected the name, The Alarm but without any of the original members.

In 2004, they released a single under the pseudonym, The Poppy Fields, to highlight the problems faced by older bands trying to get songs into the charts.

This story became the basis for the movie Vinyl, released in 2012

In 2005, Mike discovered he was suffering from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, 

His brave fight against the disease has resulted in his involvement in the formation of  a Charity Foundation called
Love Hope Strength
to help promote awareness of cancer and leukemia

In 2011, Mike joined Big Country and recorded a new album with the band called The Journey and set out on several tours.

Since 1993, Mike has held a special fan event every Year, normally in January, in North Wales, called The Gathering.
This song is about his friend Stuart Adamson and was performed at the 2013 Gathering.

To this day, Mike still performs solo and with The Alarm and continues to perform the classic Alarm songs as well as his solo material

He often holds special charity concerts and events for The Love Hope Strength Foundation

Mike is playing the Light Of Day concerts in New Jersey

He is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of the Alarm debut album Declaration with a tour where he is playing the whole album live. And he played my tiny home town in Wales.

And - All Cards are Marked

and I will be going out in a Blaze Of Glory

And Mike is back in 2015 celebrating 30 years of Strength with a worldwide tour - but in Wales, it is special.

Twitter - @thealarm

Kind thanks to The Alarm & MPO for use of the photographs


  1. Just been reading about his daily trials; it seems that he is gravely ill. I hope that his is a gentle departure; I never loved his music but I always admired his passion...

    1. He's not sliding away yet Mr Jones. He's a fighter!!! He's ok at the minute and he's one of the best Welsh musicians we've got! Much Respect :)

  2. I saw them live in leeds when they toured the 1st lp. It is the only gig I've been to where the start feels like an that the whole audience was singing blaze of glory before the band even took the stage. I felt I stumbled into a cult , a feeling emphasised in that I seemed to be the only person not with an alarm gravity defying hairstyle