Nicolas David Kershaw was born in Bristol, England, in 1958. Son of a flautist father and opera singing mother, Kershaw’s first foray into the arts was as a 13-year-old student actor planning to go into repertory when he finished training.
However, around 1974 he learned guitar and played Deep Purple cover versions in a school band called Half Pint Hogg.
Leaving school in 1976, he started work at the Department of Employment (and later the Co-op) but spent his evenings performing in the jazz-funk outfit Fusion. Signed to Plastic Fantastic Records and later to Telephone Records, they released one single and an album respectively.
The album, ‘Til I Hear From You, contained an early version of the track Human Racing, which Kershaw later re-recorded. When Fusion folded, Kershaw linked with Nine Below Zero‘s manager Micky Modern, who helped him sign to MCA Records.
The UK chart hits started to come in 1983 when his debut – I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – reached a modest #47.
However, early the next year the follow-up Wouldn’t It Be Good reached the Top Five. This perfect pop song justifiably gave Kershaw a high profile.
That summer a reissue of his debut gave him his biggest success (#2) and for the next 12 months a succession of his pleasant, simple tunes paraded through the upper reaches of the UK chart.
Kershaw was backed by The Krew, whose nucleus was Dennis Smith, Keiffer Airey, Tim Moore, Mark Price and Kershaw’s wife, Sheri.
The first two albums also featured guest appearances from Don Snow (ex-Squeeze and The Sinceros) and Mark King of Level 42. In 1985, Elton John – a big Kershaw fan – asked him to play guitar on his single Nikita.
Although the first two albums had been successes, the third (Radio Musicola) proved a relative failure, and despite regular comebacks Kershaw’s performing career declined.
In the 90s, Kershaw returned as a songwriter of note behind other acts, notably Chesney Hawkes’ massive hit The One And Only.
After a long absence, Kershaw returned to recording in 1998. He delighted his fans with 15 Minutes, an assured collection of songs with all the right hooks (notably the excellent Somebody Loves You and Your Brave Face). The critics were less enamoured, and the album was unfairly dismissed.
Similarly, the follow-up To Be Frank contained some very good songs, clever lyrics and at least one great chord change per song.
Kershaw remains a quality songwriter but appears unable to find a new audience to appreciate his art.