(born David Lloyd Stewart
, 30 December 1950, Waterloo, London) is an English keyboardist and composer who has worked with singer Barbara Gaskin since 1981. He played in the progressive rock bands Uriel, Egg, Khan, Hatfield and the North, National Health and Bruford. Stewart is the author of two books on music theory and wrote a music column for Keyboard
magazine (USA) for 13 years. He has also composed music for TV, film and radio, much of it for Victor Lewis-Smith's ARTV production company.
Having joined local covers band The Southsiders while still at school, Stewart's musical career began in earnest at the age of 17 when he played organ in Uriel with Mont Campbell (bass, vocals), Steve Hillage (guitar, vocals) and Clive Brooks (drums). After a summer residency on the Isle of Wight in the summer of 1968, Hillage left the group to go to university. Uriel continued as a trio, later changed their name to Egg and subsequently recorded two albums for Decca. In 1969 Hillage briefly rejoined his former bandmates to record a one-off psychedelic album under the pseudonym Arzachel. In 1972 Stewart guested on Hillage's new band Khan's first album.After the break-up of Egg in 1973, Stewart joined Hatfield and the North, described by author Jonathan Coe as "probably the best-loved of the so-called 'Canterbury' bands". (Coe's novel 'The Rotters' Club' takes its title from the band's second album.) Hatfield broke up in 1975 and after guesting with the Steve Hillage-led Gong on a few French gigs Stewart founded National Health with fellow keyboardist Alan Gowen and ex-Hatfield guitarist Phil Miller. Finding a permanent drummer proved difficult; Bill Bruford played with the group for a few months and was eventually replaced by Pip Pyle, thereby reuniting three of the former Hatfield musicians. Stewart subsequently guested on Bill Bruford's debut solo album Feels Good to Me
(1977) before joining his band Bruford.Having recorded three albums and played two successful US tours, the Bruford group was discontinued in 1980. Stewart immediately formed Rapid Eye Movement with his friends Pip Pyle (drums), Rick Biddulph (who had been a roadie and sound engineer for Hatfield and National Health) on bass and Jakko Jakszyk (guitar & vocals). The UK REM (not to be confused with the contemporaneous American band of the same name) was conceived primarily as a live band and never recorded an album, although poor-quality tapes of live concerts in France survive. Jakko recalls the band as being "a lot rougher than National Health, very structured but performed in a very anarchic way".In 1981 Stewart changed musical direction and began experimenting with pop arrangements and songwriting. His first solo release, a heavy electronic reworking of Jimmy Ruffin's Motown soul classic 'What Becomes of the Brokenhearted' featuring guest vocals by The Zombies founder and vocalist Colin Blunstone, reached #13 in the UK Singles Chart. For a follow-up, Stewart recruited friend and former Hatfield backing vocalist Barbara Gaskin to record a version of the '60s teen lament 'It's My Party'. Released in the autumn of 1981, the single reached #1 in Britain and Germany and topped the UK charts for four weeks. Stewart and Gaskin have worked together ever since and have released five albums. The duo occasionally play live gigs augmented by Andy Reynolds on guitar and in September 2001 performed in Japan as a quartet with Gavin Harrison on drums.The keyboardist's side projects include reforming National Health in 1981 to produce a memorial album for keyboardist Alan Gowen, producing the hit single 'Hole In My Shoe' and 'Neil's Heavy Concept Album' for comedian Nigel Planer (well known for his hippie character in 'The Young Ones' TV series) and producing the first album by Bill Bruford's electro-jazz outfit Earthworks.Stewart has also composed TV music – in the mid-'80s he wrote the new title theme to the revamped BBC Television AOR show 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' and later wrote, produced and performed much of the soundtrack to the TV drama series 'Lost Belongings', set in Northern Ireland. From the 1990s on he has written music for TV programmes made by British production company Associated Rediffusion; these include the Channel 4 series 'Inside Victor Lewis-Smith' (1995), 'Ads Infinitum' (BBC2, 1999) and the 2003 documentary on the BBC Radiophonic Workshop 'Alchemists of Sound'. In recent years, he has written string and choir arrangements for a number of acts, including Anathema, Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson. (See 'Arranger' below.) He is often confused with David A. Stewart, founder of Eurythmics.Minor historical footnote: Stewart also suggested the name Twiddly.Bits for Julian Colbeck's MIDI sample business.