1981 Freeman of London

For the first time in over 7 years Mike'soutput was considerably below that experienced in previous years. Towards the end of 1980, Mike had again decided to tour, mainly to promote QE2. Most of the concerts were in Europe, taking in Greece, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Belgium and France. Mike then appeared on the 28th July to give a free concert on the lawn outside the Guildhall, London on the eve of the wedding of Prince Charles and the then Lady Diana. This free concert along with his world-wide LP sales and charity work led to Mike being made a "Freeman of the City of London", which would enable him, if he so required, to drive his sheep across the River Thames!

On the record front, Mike's only contribution to the charts this year was a guest appearance playing a Fairlight CMI keyboard on the punk band the Skids B side Iona on Blood and Soil (VS449). This track would also appear on the same bands LP Joy (V2117), which was also released in November.

Funnily enough this was not to be the only punk record to utilise Mike, as the Sex Pistols LP Some Product contained a section from Tubular Bells during one of the numbers.

Two notable overseas recordings were released this year. The first a Dutch compilation titled Mike Oldfield's Wonderland (203.550), was released on LP and cassette. Apart from the usual favourites, like In Dulci Jubilo, excerpt from Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, Incantations and Platinum, it also featured a different and rare 2 minute 6 second version of Blue Peter, which on closer inspection must have been an initial version not used in favour of the final release. The second titled Episodes (30025) was released on LP, cassette, and later on CD in France. Like the Dutch compilation it contained only excerpts of the first 6 studio LP's plus a standard version of Portsmouth.

It seems that Mike spent most of this year writing and recording his next studio LP which was to rekindle his flame as a serious composer and, more surprisingly, as a song writer.

©Peter Evans