The rather large all-encompassing bio!
Al Steele was born in Australia, and moved to the UK in 1971. As a teenager he worked with some of the American rock ‘n roll stars,such as Johnny and The Hurricanes, and the now sadly departed Del Shannon.
In the 80’s, Al was a staff-writer at Southern Music, and he also began composing music for television.
He has written many T.V. themes, including BBC Series, Independent TV scores, sports themes for HTV, and promotional music.
During the nineties, he was a featured guitarist on a whole range of T.V. shows, including. “A Night Out With Money”, “Just Up Your Street”, “Money In The Bank”, “Peter Karrie Unmasked”, “Sian Cothi”, and “Voice Of A Nation”.
In the early 90’s, he was touring with The Korgis (“Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime”), and he also became Musical Director of the legendary R&B outfit, The Diva’s.
From 1993-2012, Al wa the Arranger/Musical Director for The Sounds Of The Supremes, in ’98 taking them to Banff, Canada. He has worked alongside Vince Falcone (Frank Sinatra’s M.D.), where Al conducted the ‘All Stars Big Band’.
In 1997 Al composed a full orchestral score for the Dave Daggers movie, “Dance On A Volcano”, and was Vocal Arranger/Vocalist on the Oscar nominated animation, “Famous Fred”.
In ’99, in collaboration with fellow musician Nigel Hart, Al opened a digital recording complex, Shabbey Road Studios.
In May 2000, he took part in a rare performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass”. The concert, which was broadcast live on Radio 2, featured the National Orchestra of Wales as part of a cast of over 800 musicians and singers. Solo guitar and voice opens the whole piece.
He also toured with “Music To Watch Girls Go By”, featuring Gary Wilmot, and played for Jane McDonald on her “Summer Spectacular” in Bournmouth.
In the studio he was commissioned to sequence Elvis Costello’s ballet music Il Sogno. This was shortly before the world premiere.
In the early 2000’s, with Nigel Hart, Al arranged and produced Holly Holyoakes debut album. This was one of the first forays into strictly classical music, that would later become a mainstay.
Between 2000 and 2008 Al arranged and produced seven albums for world renowned guitar soloist Zoe McCulloch. Three of his compositions made the albums, as well as a collaboration with Mason Williams on a new version of ‘Classical Gas’.
Al and Nigel Hart formed the Welsh Television Orchestra in 2005, to broaden the studio recordings onto the live stage. Principal artistes were Paul Child and Owen Money. For HTV and the BBC the WTO were part of 7 different TV series backing many artistes.
Around 2001, Al began a long and fruitful partnership with songwriter Paul Weston. Initially with Louise Ryan (Charlotte Church vocal coach), and then later with just Al as producer/arranger and Paul as songwriter. This would continue all the way to his untimely death in 2014, and culminate in the Weston/Steele co-write ‘My Desire’, a 12- minute epic for orchestra/rock band and vocal.
In 2005 Al and Shabbey Road Studios were commissioned to compose the music for the Modern Television production starring Griff Rhys Jones, ‘A Pembrokeshire Farm.. After a few radical reshapes the series was aired on the BBC in 2007.
Also for Modern television was Terry Jones and The Great Map Mystery. Featuring an innovative score, this was broadcast in 2008.
In 2011 Al produced and arranged Britain’s Got Talent star Jamie Pugh’s debut album ‘Bring Him Home’. all the arrangements were tailored to Jamie’s unique voice. To date Jamie has over 10 million hits for his Britain's Got Talent rendition of the title song.
Between 2011 and 2013 Al recorded and produced the much acclaimed Peter Karrie album (West End’s longest running Phantom, in ‘Phantom Of The Opera’) ‘Standing Alone’.
In 2012 Daniel & Laura Curtis booked into Shabbey Road Studios to record a couple of songs from the American Songbook, and also a song of their own. A small start that would develop into an incredible partnership.
Here is a selection that Al has arranged and produced for Daniel & Laura Curtis:
‘A Miner’s Song’ (featuring Aled Jones, Caroline Sheen, Dennis O'Neill, Ioan Gruffudd, Iris Williams, Jamie Pugh, John Owen Jones, Jonathan Pryce, JP Jones, Mark Llewelyn Evans, Paul Potts, Rebecca Evans, Sian Phillips, Wynne Evans. Michael Sheen, Pino Palladino, Joe Calzaghe and the late Richard Burton... among others!).
The debut album ‘Love on 42nd St’ (featuring Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, John Owen Jones, Lea Salonga, Sam Barks, Simon Bowman and Kasia Howley), which topped the Broadway and Vocal chart, in the US and the UK
The singles ‘When You Smile’ by Laura Osnes, and ‘Find The Best Of Me’ by Cheyenne Jackson.
In 2014 Al was Musical Director for ‘The Songs Of Daniel and Laura Curtis’ performed at The Royal Albert Hall. Here a connection was made with the amazing David Stanley from The Music Man Group. As part of Southend Mencap the group performed at The London Palladium in June 2015, with an orchestra and massed choirs, under the Direction of Al. He also orchestrated the 20 or so songs that were performed on the night. The show was a massive success, and following a second Palladium concert in 2017, The Music Man Project is going to the Royal Albert Hall in 2019. The first rehearsal with the orchestra was a massive success, and everyone is hoping the show will be a sell-out!
The major project for 2016 was ‘Overture’, by Daniel and Laura Curtis. This was a double album of Orchestral/Musical Theatre pieces.
The 23 tracks featured an amazing array of artistes from the USA and the UK. Marc Broussard (Magnolias and Mistletoe, 2015 album), Earl Carpenter (Les Miserables, Broadway), Melinda Doolittle (American Idol), Matt Doyle (Book Of Mormon, Broadway), Hannah Elless (Bright Star, Broadway), Jason Forbach (Les Miserables, Broadway), Matthew Ford (Gershwin In Hollywood) Ashleigh Gray (Wicked, UK Tour), Emma Hatton (Wicked, West End), Samantha Hill (Phantom Of The Opera, Broadway), James M Iglehart (Aladdin, Broadway), Adam Jacobs (Aladdin, Broadway), Arielle Jacobs (Aladdin, Australia), Charlotte Jaconelli (She Loves Me, West End), Rachel John (The Bodyguard, West End), Adam Kaplan (Newsies, US Tour), Emmanuel Kojo (Showboat, West End), Kara Lily-Hayworth (I See Fire, 2015 single), Rebecca Luker (Fun Home, Broadway), Jai McDowall (I Begin Again, 2014 single), Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder, Broadway), Courtney Reed (Aladdin, Broadway), Krysta Rodriguez (Smash, NBC), Will Swenson (Les Miserables, Broadway) and Natalie Weiss.
Once again all the cuts were arranged by Al, who also co-produced the album. In the middle of this the Curtis’ also released a single featuring Glee’s Jenna Ushkowitz.
Also in 2016 Al started a writing project with old mate James Warren from the Korgis. They wrote two great songs, the country tinged 'Long Way Down', and the internet hit 'Happy Man'. The process was somewhat interrupted by a new James Warren solo album 'Innocent Bystander'. Al arranged some strings and brass for the album as well as contributing a few guitar parts. This was followed by a sell-out gig at The Rondo Theatre in Bath in 2017. As well as covering guitar duties in the band Al has also been hard at work organising projection and production for the shows.
Al's main studio project for 2018 has been a charity single by Daniel and Laura Curtis called The Hero - A West End Tribute. Well it wasn't just West End Stars that contributed!... amongst the many luminaries were Paul McCartney, Judi Dench and David Jason.
Between 2016-2018 Al had been producing an original album with David Juan Lozano. Juan is known all over the world as one of the foremost Elvis tributes. That description somewhat undersells him, as he seems to capture the 'soul' of Elvis without ever being a gratuitous imitator. Juan is also a very fine songwriter, and the resulting album 'Love At First Sight', harks back to the days of 'proper songwriter's such as Sedaka, Bacharach and The Beatles. After rave reviews, David Juan performed the album on October 2018 with a 22-piece orchestra conducted by Al. This rather wild night (David Juan's fans are very vocal!) was followed by a second sell-out concert in May 2019.
After a couple of brilliant gigs as James Warren and Friends in 2018, the decision was make to tour under the name THE KORGIS featuring James Warren. They have performed a string of sell-out dates in 2019, including the legendary 100 Club in London, and the rest of the year is hotting up as a result. The band includes vocalist John Baker and Al (from the 1990s Korgis). Keyboardist Glenn Tommey (session player Stackridge/The Korgis) and powerhouse drummer Paul Smith make up the rhythm section and ‘Born To Win’ provide brilliant backing vocals and bring a vibrant energy to each performance.
Al took over the Mike Smith Orchestra and singers in 2017, and have been performing some eclectic concerts under the new name of the The Mike Smith Big Swing Band. For the concerts Al has expanded the band to include a full string section. so as well as swing music, the band has covered all sorts, including songs from the movies and the West End. Although the musicians and vocalists are some of the top performers in the country, it still remains an entertaining and fun gig for the band and the audience.
The largest undertaking of 2019 was the 3rd Music Man Project concert, with a full orchestra at The Royal Albert Hall. As usual the music was composed by the amazing David Stanley, and orchestrated by Al. Liam Bates - a serious composer in his own right - conducted the JJK orchestra with great charisma and charm, and the night was a massive success, with in excess of a 3000-strong audience adding to the 600 performers on stage. Next stop Broadway!
AND WE ARE ONLY HALFWAY THROUGH 2019!!!!!