Released today in 1989: One Step Ahead



Nik Kershaw started playing in bands with friends while still at school. An early one was Thor who made their debut performance in 1974: “The reception was mixed,” his website reports. “Admittedly, there were a few who thought they were crap but by far, the majority view was that they were really crap.” Stints with a number of other short-lived outfits followed before he placed an advert in Melody Maker looking for management: Mickey Modern replied and a year or so later Kershaw had a single in the shops. It was the beginning of a two-year period where he barely had a day off; after years of waiting for a break he seemed to be an overnight success, with a string a major hits throughout 1984 and 1985 culminating in an appearance at Live Aid. Wouldn’t It Be Good started the run of UK hits at the beginning of 1984 (in the US this would be his only significant chart showing). He released two albums that year, both big sellers. Following his Live Aid performance, standalone single When A Heart Beats broke his run of Top 20 hits, albeit only by a few places, but its comparative failure marked a turning point in his career as a pop star: he wouldn’t make the Top 40 again.

There was a delay of a year before the autumn 1986 release of Radio Musicola, his third album. With his public profile diminished during that gestation period, the album barely charted and neither of its two singles sold particularly well, earning little radio airplay. Kershaw would later suggest that it was a mistake to produce it himself 1, and he flew to America to record his fourth effort, The Works, helmed by Peter Wolf. This arrangement was not a success either; Kershaw said he “hated” the end result which was due to compromises he had made with Wolf to get the LP finished. Feeling unable to promote a product he wasn’t proud of, the album sat on the shelf for over a year before he recorded One Step Ahead with new producer Julian Mendelsohn in London, the track that was chosen to be the The Works’s lead single. By the time it appeared, though, Kershaw hadn’t released anything in the UK for over two years and the market had moved on without him. Second single Elizabeth’s Eyes flopped, plans for a third single One World were dropped and, with his recording contract up for renewal anyway, Kershaw decided to withdraw from performing and concentrate on working with other artists. His contributions to various acts’ records during the 1990s would include backing vocals, guitar and mandolin, keyboard and synthesizer programming, and production. But in particular, it was as a songwriter that he achieved the most notice.

In 1991, he wrote tracks for Genesis’s Tony Banks latest solo album; I Wanna Change The Score was selected as a single and although Kershaw wasn’t credited on the label as a performer, he did receive joint-billing on the sleeve where he was pictured with Banks. In the same year he also wrote Show Me The Way for Osmond Boys and The One and Only for Chesney Hawkes: “That song has made me millions of pounds over the years, along with The Riddle, Wouldn’t It Be Good and I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. It’s put my kids through university and private school.” 2

Further material for Hawkes followed in 1993 (featured on his album Get The Picture) along with songs written for more established artists, including All Around The World for Jason Donovan, The Woman I Love for The Hollies and Healing Love for Cliff Richard. Also that year, Kershaw wrote a track for Elton John’s album Duets, having previously played guitar on Elton’s 80s single Nikita and toured with him later in the decade. By the mid-90s, Kershaw was producing boyband Let Loose’s album Rollercoaster. Although he returned to performing as an artist in his own right at the end of the decade and continues to tour and release occasional albums, he still contributes to a wide variety of other artists’ projects, including appearances on recent albums by his fellow Smash Hits cover star Kim Wilde.

1 Sinclair, Paul. “Nik Kershaw talks 80s pop and Human Racing 28 years on”,, 2 March 2012.
2 Pollen, Lisa. “Nik Kershaw: I made millions from four songs”, The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 7 September 2014.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Jan. 23
The BOOMTOWN RATS Elephant’s Graveyard (Mercury BONGO2)
Kirsty MACCOLL Keep Your Hands Off My Baby (Polydor POSP225)
BANGLES Eternal Flame (CBS BANGS5)
BIG COUNTRY Peace In Our Time (Mercury BIGC7)
Nick HEYWARD Tell Me Why (Warner Bros. W7579)
Nik KERSHAW One Step Ahead (MCA NIK12)
S’EXPRESS Hey Music Lover (Rhythm King LEFT630)
YAZZ Fine Time (Big Life BLR006)


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