Critically derided, yet stunningly popular, Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman - better known as Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW) - formed one of the most successful British songwriting/production teams of all time. They ruled the ‘80s and early ‘90s charts with an iron, hi-NRG fist, launching the music careers of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Rick Astley.
30 years on, their work is set to be reappraised in a new documentary, Stock Aitken Waterman: Legends of Pop, the first part of which airs on Channel 5 on 21 January. Prior to this, the trio have been discussing their legacy with the Telegraph (paywall), with Waterman saying that “for a long time it felt like everybody hated us, apart from the teenagers”.
SAW had more than 100 UK top 40 hits and sold more than 40 million records, but their self-proclaimed ‘Hit Factory’ was often frequently criticised for producing assembly line pop, and Mike Stock claims that “we were fighting the whole music industry”.
Despite their success, the trio say that they didn’t live the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, but Stock does recall a wild night out in Paris with Judas Priest. “They took us to the Folies Bergère and bought us that ridiculously expensive bottle of champagne we’d never heard of,” he says.
Discussing today’s pop landscape, meanwhile, the trio struggle to name a young artist they admire, with Stock saying of the hugely successful Ed Sheeran: “I shouldn’t be criticising because he does his best. But it’s very limited. I couldn’t sit through a whole concert.”
The first part of the documentary airs in the UK on Saturday night. Prio to that, check out 5 songs by Stock Aitken Waterman you need to hear.