TV documentary to lift lid on two Warrington music stars of the 1980s

Rick Astley at Mr Smith's
Rick Astley at Mr Smith's

LOVE them or loathe them, you can't deny that Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman left an indelible mark on the music industry and British popular culture as a whole.

Responsible for more than 100 Top 40 hits in the UK alone, the London-based trio ruled the pop charts in the 1980s and early 1990s.

They sold millions of records, launched the musical careers of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Sinitta, and many others, and provided the soundtrack to a generation.

Their story is being revealed in a documentary Stock Aitken Waterman: Legends of Pop which concludes tonight, Saturday on Channel 5 at 9pm.

However, as this revealing documentary series has already shown, they were despised and reviled by some who saw their "synthetically manufactured music" as a stain on the industry.

Nevertheless, as Warrington resident Waterman says: "If we had to do it all again, I wouldn't change a thing."

Stock agrees: "Only looking back do I realise what a great time it was," he adds.

And finally, Aitken resolutely declares: "Like us, hate us, but you'll never change us."

Last week's opening part, which is available to stream on My5, explored the early days of SAW as American drag star Divine gave Stock Aitken Waterman their first Top 40 hit, before Hazell Dean took them to the Top 10, and Dead or Alive rocketed to the top spot with their iconic hit You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).

But it was far from a pop fairytale, and we also heard about SAW's continued efforts to keep the so-called Hit Factory afloat, as they began working with rising stars such as Princess, Mel and Kim, and Bananarama, who eventually scored a coveted US No.1 with Venus.

Tonight's concluding edition begins in 1987, with three separate performers destined to become among the biggest acts of the decade.


Rick with Pete Waterman
Rick with Pete Waterman

Rick with Pete Waterman


Newton-born Astley stormed both sides of the Atlantic with his first two singles, while Australian soap stars Kylie and Jason captured the hearts of the nation, before coming together for the duet the nation demanded, Especially for You.

In addition, American disco legend Donna Summer became the latest superstar to seek the Stock Aitken Waterman magic - and her career exploded again after hit single This Time I Know It's for Real.

Plus, a young Liverpudlian named Sonia reaches the top of the charts with her very first single You'll Never Stop Me Loving You.

Mike, Matt, and Pete reflect on the success they had during this time, when their roster of acts and hits grew and grew.

However, as their success multiplied, so did the music industry's difficulty in embracing them.

How could this independent team take on the majors and keep winning?

Sybil brings further chart hits with The Love I Lost and When I'm Good And Ready, but as time moves on, the relationship between Matt, Mike and Pete, whose personalities are clearly very different, becomes strained.

In late 1993, Stock ended his partnership with Waterman following a disagreement over their finances.

However, individual success did arrive for Stock and Aitken during the 1990s thanks to Robson & Jerome and Steps.

Despite a bitter 1999 court case taking a further toll on the trio's relationship, the three producers got back together in 2005 and released a CD+DVD album, Stock Aitken Waterman Gold, as well as staging reunion concert Hit Factory Live in 2012, and producing a remix of the Chris Martin-written Kylie Minogue song Every Day's Like Christmas three years later.

Stock Aitken Waterman: Greatest Hits - Part 2 follows at 10.25pm, and serves as one final reminder of the trio's domination of the charts and influence on the musical landscape.