RAK Studios was founded in 1976 by the legendary record producer Mickie Most, who was known for his hits with the Animals, Jeff Beck, Donovan, Suzi Quatro and Kim Wilde, among others. He was also a recording artist, record label boss and TV producer.
Mickie was born Michael Hayes on 20th June 1938 in Aldershot, England. At 17, he formed his first band, Mickie Hayes and the Most. Later, he paired up with Alex Murray (aka Alex Wharton) to form rock'n'roll duo the Most Brothers. They performed at Soho's 2i's Coffee Bar, signed to Decca, and toured with Marty Wilde, Cliff Richard and Eddie Calvert.
In 1959 Mickie married Christina Fusco and moved to Johannesburg, where he formed Mickie Most and the Playboys and scored 11 consecutive number ones on the South African charts. In 1961, Mickie convinced US rock'n'roll star Gene Vincent to tour South Africa with the Playboys - which led to Mickie being labelled 'South Africa's hottest impresario' by the media.
In 1969, he founded RAK Records, RAK Publishing and RAK Music Management (the latter in partnership with Peter Grant, who went on to manage Led Zeppelin). RAK Records released a string of hits in the 70s and 80s, including Suzi Quatro's 'Can the Can', Smokie's 'Living Next Door to Alice', Hot Chocolate's 'You Sexy Thing', and Kim Wilde's 'Kids in America'. In 1986 he sold RAK Records to EMI.
In the 70s, Mickie appeared as a judge on TV talent show New Faces - a precursor to The X Factor - and produced the alternative music programme Revolver, which showcased Kate Bush, the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and XTC.
Here is a list of songs you may remember covering the period 1970 to 1985 that were released on RAK records:
You Sexy Thing
Living next Door to Alice
Dance With The Devil
Lay Your Love On Me
Can The Can
Kids in America
Steve Harley & The Cockney Rebel
Make Me Smile
In 1976, RAK Studios was opened in a converted Victorian schoolhouse in St John's Wood, London.
Since then, it has hosted some of the best-loved names in music, including David Bowie, Al Green, Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd - and more recently, Adele, Plan B, Arctic Monkeys and Shakira.
RAK Publishing's catalogue of hits continue to enjoy success several years after their original release dates. Hot Chocolate's 'You Sexy Thing' featured in the hit film The Full Monty; Joan Jett and the Blackhearts 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' was covered by Britney Spears; and Steve Harley's 'Make Me Smile' was used in a Marks & Spencer's TV campaign. The company is still dedicated to signing new artists and writers.
Mickie Most passed away on 30th May 2003. A year later, a blue plaque celebrating his life and work was unveiled at RAK Studios.