All the hard work put into the next LP enabled Mike to firmly establish himself as one of Europe’s most successful artists. With the release of Five Miles Out (V2222) in March, Mike was able to strengthen his grip on the European charts where the LP reached No 1 in Germany and entertained high positions elsewhere. The success in Germany owed much to the fact that Five Miles Out was Virgin’s Deutschlands first release. Meanwhile, in his native UK, the LP reached as high as No 7, whilst the same titled single, release in February (VS464), only reached a poor No 43 in the UK charts. Mike later explained that this single was a musical expression of a terrifying and almost fatal experience whilst travelling between concert venues in Spain. The light aircraft that he and his crew were travelling in was suddenly engulfed by a storm so horrendous that, at one point, Mike and those on board thoughthey would not live to tell the tale. Fortunately they did and this track was a testament to this terrifying trip. A picture disc (VSY464) also appeared and marked the beginning of a short period when this type of release was normal.
This release, along with the next titled Family Man (VS489) was recorded under the guise of the Mike Oldfield Group. This consisted of Mike, Rick Fenn (Bass and Guitar), Maggie Reilly (Vocals), Tim Cross (Keyboards), Morris Pert and Mike Frye (Drums and Percussion). Family Man, backed by the instrumental Mount Teidi, was released in May but was then withdrawn after Mike expressed a dislike for the cover employed by Virgin. Therefore it was quite a surprise that, with limited sales, the track reached No 45 in the UK charts. As like the previous single release, a picture disc (VSY489) was also released. However, when the same track was covered by the American duo Hall and Oates in 1983, it was a huge success reaching No 6 in America and No 15 in the UK singles chart.
Also in March, Mike set off for his first and only world tour which for the first time took in America, Canada and Japan before finally concluding in the UK in the autumn. The final single to be released was a non-album track Mistake (VS541) backed by an instrumental (Walberg) The Peak in August. This failed to chart in the UK and turned out to be the final release of the year to be released on picture disc (VSY541).
Mike performing in Kassel, Germany complete with Five Miles Out T-Shirt. Thomas Rosenthal
The problems arising from Mike’s unhappiness at Virgin’s treatment of him had surfaced to such a degree that after threatened court action in 1981, Mike had re-negotiated his contact to take in an additional three LP’s as well as monies owed since 1973. Mike then settled down to produce his next LP on what was to be the tenth anniversary of Tubular Bells.