Stephen Alan "Steve" Lillywhite, CBE (born 15 March 1955) is an English record producer. Since he began his career in 1977, Lillywhite has been credited on over 500 records, and has collaborated with a variety of musicians including U2, the Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band, Steel Pulse, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Morrissey, the Killers, the Pogues, David Byrne, Blue October, XTC, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Simple Minds, the Psychedelic Furs, Phish, Counting Crows and Joan Armatrading. He has won six Grammy Awards, including the Producer of The Year in 2006, and was made a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (CBE) in 2012 for his contributions to music.
Lillywhite was born in Surrey, England. From 1984 to 1994 he was married to Kirsty MacColl, with whom he had two sons, Jamie and Louis. He has been married to Patricia Louise Galluzzi since 29 May 2004. He was made a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (CBE) in 2012 for his contributions to music.
Lillywhite entered the music industry in 1972, when he worked as a tape operator for Polygram. He produced a demo recording for Ultravox, which led to them being offered a recording contract with Island Records. Lillywhite soon joined Island as a staff producer, where he worked with many of the leading new wave musicians, including the guitarist Johnny Thunders for whom he produced a solo album, So Alone. His first commercial success was with Siouxsie and the Banshees in August 1978, after producing their debut single, "Hong Kong Garden". He also produced "Ku Klux Klan", the first single that Steel Pulse released under Island Records in 1978.
In February 1980 the Psychedelic Furs' self-titled debut album was released, produced by Lillywhite. He also produced Peter Gabriel's critically acclaimed third solo album Peter Gabriel (also known as III or Melt), which was released in May 1980 and topped the UK album chart. It established Gabriel as "one of rock's most ambitious, innovative musicians" and "raised considerably" Lillywhite's profile. During the recording of the album he pioneered (with Gabriel and engineer Hugh Padgham) the gated reverb drum sound which became a hallmark of Phil Collins' solo career. Later in the year, Boy, the debut album of U2, was released, produced by Lillywhite. Lillywhite's collaboration with U2 continued with the albums October and War. He moved on to produce work by Bruce Foxton (of The Jam), Big Country, XTC, The Chameleons, Toyah, Talking Heads, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Morrissey, The Rolling Stones and the Shine album by the former ABBA vocalist Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Lillywhite was also hired by Rush to produce their 1984 album, Grace Under Pressure but, much to their frustration, withdrew from the project to work with Simple Minds.
In 1987 Lillywhite worked with the Pogues, producing "Fairytale of New York". His wife, Kirsty MacColl, provided the lead female vocal for the song, which became the band's biggest hit. The single narrowly missed being the UK Christmas number one single, but was still one of the biggest selling records that year. The song "Cotton Fields," from the Pogues' 1989 album Peace and Love (also produced by Lillywhite), includes a reference to "Steve Lillywhite's drunken mix".
During the 1990s, Lillywhite produced the multi platinum albums Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash, and Before These Crowded Streets by the Dave Matthews Band. In 1991, he continued to produce Morrissey and co-produced songs from U2's Achtung Baby, working alongside Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Flood. That same year he returned to Dublin to produce Engine Alley's debut album entitled A Sonic Holiday, and Kirsty MacColl again provided additional vocals, this time for the single "Song for Someone". He also produced albums by Travis and the debut (and only album) by The La's. In 1996, he produced Phish's Billy Breathes, and he returned to produce Joy in 2009.
In 2000, Lillywhite was fired from his fourth album by the Dave Matthews Band after band members cited creative differences. In 2001, a number of their recordings emerged on a bootleg album, known now as The Lillywhite Sessions; many of the songs from those recordings followed later, on the Dave Matthews Band's album Busted Stuff. The unfinished tracks appeared online, and the majority of the tracks were re-recorded, without Lillywhite, with Stephen Harris as the preferred choice by the band.
In 2002, Universal Music Group head Lucian Grainge invited him to become managing director. Lillywhite signed singer-songwriter Darius Danesh and served as executive producer for his debut album Dive In, which spawned three Top 10 hits, and Mercury Records' first number one in eighteen years. He also signed Razorlight, and also produced Jason Mraz's Mr. A-Z.
In September 2005 Lillywhite joined Columbia Records as a Senior Vice-President of A&R. During his tenure he signed MGMT. He left the label at the end of 2006. Lillywhite collected consecutive Grammy Awards for Record of the Year with U2's "Beautiful Day" and "Walk On." In 2006, Lillywhite won three more Grammys: Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), Best Rock Album also with U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb; and a partial win for Album of the Year, also for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
In late 2006 he worked with Chris Cornell on his album Carry On, and also produced two songs on Switchfoot's album, Oh! Gravity.. In February 2007 Lillywhite began work with Crowded House on tracks for their first studio album in fourteen years, Time on Earth. The majority of the album was produced by Ethan Johns, but Lillywhite produced four songs with the full touring line-up, including new drummer Matt Sherrod as well as studio guest guitarist Johnny Marr. Lillywhite's next project was working with Matchbox Twenty on an EP, that comprised a portion of Exile on Mainstream, a two-disc album that entered the US charts at No. 3 and Australian charts at No. 1. In 2008, Lillywhite again worked alongside Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois on U2's No Line on the Horizon. He also worked on Blue October's Approaching Normal, and rejoined Flood to work with Thirty Seconds to Mars on This Is War.
In 2008, Lillywhite produced a number of recordings for the World Cafe radio show on NPR. This included sessions at Avatar Studios in New York with Fleet Foxes, She & Him, Bell X1, Dr. Dog, and Mercury Rev.
In November 2009, he began presenting his own weekly radio show on East Village Radio called "The Lillywhite Sessions".
On 25 May 2010, the official Oasis website announced that Lillywhite was working with Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock on material for their new band Beady Eye. Lillywhite was scheduled to produce an album for Evanescence, but the plan was scrapped in early 2011.
In 2012, Lillywhite was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to music. This was followed by his Producing Oberhofer's debut LP for Glassnote Records entitled Time Capsules II -released on 27 March 2012. The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers also announced on 4 January 2012 that Lillywhite was working with the band on a their new album Battle Born -which was released on 17 September 2012. Lillywhite also reunited with the Dave Matthews Band after twelve years, producing their 2012 album Away from the World.
On 16 July 2012, the Irish Examiner reported that Lillywhite was attached to a new television format entitled "The Hit".
In April 2017, musician and writer Jon Regen wrote an article for the New York Times profiling Lillywhite and his work bundling recorded CDs with fried chicken in Indonesian KFC restaurants.
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