Jack McManus is another success story from the prestigious BRIT School, and his love of '70s classic songwriters and polished acoustic pop soon saw him labeled as the new James Blunt.
Born in Bromley in 1984, McManus became hooked on music at the age of seven after finding a drum kit at his dad's workplace (his father supplied pyrotechnics for live shows by rock acts, including Pink Floyd's The Wall tour). Studying during the same year as Amy Winehouse, he attended the BRIT School, where he learned to master the piano and the trumpet, an instrument that he went on to play in various West End musicals after his graduation. Believing that singing was outside his comfort zone, McManus initially planned to write songs for other artists, but after taking demos of his work to publishers -- who were also expecting him to provide the vocals -- he began to think of himself as an artist in his own right. Through a friend, he found writing space in an old-time South London theater once owned by Charlie Chaplin and, influenced by the likes of Elton John, Tom Petty, and Billy Joel, he started to work on his debut album, Either Side of Midnight. After McManus supported the likes of Scouting for Girls, Amy McDonald, and Sam Sparro on their U.K. tours, the album was released to critical acclaim. Featuring the singles "Bang on the Piano" and "You Think I Don't Care," it charted at a respectable number 22. McManus also co-wrote "From the Rooftops," a track on Groove Armada's Soundboy Rock album. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi