Mike Vickers is best known as the resident multi-instrumentalist in the original Manfred Mann, but he has participated on and played significant roles in the recording of dozens of successful (and occasional monster hit) records by everyone from the Beatles to Gentle Giant, in addition to composing numerous film scores.
Vickers' jazz background and multi-instrumental skills made his musicianship a centerpiece of Manfred Mann's sound; his guitar, sax, and flute highlighted their live shows and dozens of their sides from the beginning of their career in 1963 through his departure from the group in October of 1965. His exit from the lineup marked the beginning of the end for the original group. Vickers' decision to leave Manfred Mann was apparently at least reasonably amicable, because the other bandmembers participated extensively on his debut solo album, I Wish I Were a Group Again, released in 1968, which is virtually a lost Manfred Mann record. Upon leaving the band, he began a career as a composer of film music, debuting with the comedy Press for Time in 1966. He also began a career as a composer, arranger, and conductor, working in the idioms of rock, jazz, and orchestral music. Among other projects, Vickers was the conductor of the 13-piece core ensemble playing behind the Beatles on their live broadcast (and record) of "All You Need Is Love" on June 25, 1967, and he later played synthesizer on their final album, Abbey Road. Since then, he has worked across the entire spectrum of English popular music, with singers as diverse as Cilla Black, Francoise Hardy, and Ella Fitzgerald in various capacities as arranger, orchestrator, or conductor, with groups as different as the Hollies, the Bee Gees, and Gentle Giant, and even turned up playing synthesizer on the original 1971 recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. The '70s also saw him move into the scoring of films with more of an international exposure, including Dracula AD 1972 and At the Earth's Core. Since the end of the '90s, Vickers has also been a participant in the Manfreds, a reunited ensemble of the original and principal second lineup members of Manfred Mann (without co-founder/keyboard player Manfred Mann himself), who have toured extensively and released a live recording in the year 2000. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi