born 2nd August, 1951, London
Whilst still a pupil at the City of London School, Hillage formed his first band Uriel with schoolmates Hugo Martin Montgomery-Campbell and Dave Stewart. Already a good electric blues player in the style of early Eric Clapton, his solos were reported as "paint blistering" according to Stewart who quickly switched to keyboards in the face of this overwhelming competition. They began by playing blues standards but as time went by 'Mont' started writing songs and they included a rather ambitious version of Saturn from Holst's The Planets Suite. Uriel landed a residency on the Isle of Wight, but their 'big break' quickly soured when the hotel management took an instant dislike to them and their contract was swiftly renegotiated in a steeply downward direction and they were told to cut out the 'acidy' stuff.
Steve quit to study history and philosophy at Kent University where he met and jammed with Canterbury-ites Caravan and Spyrogyra.
Mont, Clive and Dave auditioned a few guitarists but none could cut the mustard like Steve could, so they decided to carry on as a trio, dropping the blues numbers and developing a more complex neo-classical style based around Mont's polytonal and metrically irregular compositions. They fell in with a guy called Jesus Jellett who introduced them to venues, audiences and management that did want the 'acidy' stuff. The only catch was that they had to change their name to Egg on the grounds that Uriel sounded too much like urinal. Egg recorded a couple of albums - 'Egg' (Deram SDN 14?) '70, 'The Polite Force' (Decca SML 1074?) '71, reconvened to cut 'Civil Surface' with Steve guesting (Caroline C1510) Oct '74.
Steve returned to London and formed Khan in April 1971. The group included Dave Stewart in the latter stages. Recorded one album, 'Space Shanties' (Deram) and split in October 1972. Steve and Dave Stewart together with various members of Henry Cow, Egg and others also performed in a series of concerts as the 16 piece big band The Ottawa Company. Following the dissolution of Khan, Steve contributed to Kevin Ayers' 'Bananamour' LP and enlisted in Kevin's short lived band Decadence which toured France where he met the Gong clan.
He joined Gong in January 1973 and played an important part in their rise to prominence. It was while in Gong that he also met his long-time partner and collaborator 'Miquette Giraudy'. He appeared on the all the Gong Trilogy albums and contributed briefly to 'Shamal' (Virgin), released two months after his departure in December 1975. Whilst in Gong, he also made the solo LP 'Fish Rising' (Virgin) with assistance from group colleagues and others; played on one side of 'Clear Light Symphony' and performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Scottish National Orchestra in concerts featuring Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells.
In May 1976, went to U.S. to record his second solo album 'L' (Virgin), produced by 'Todd Rundgren' and accompanied by Rundgren's band 'Utopia'. On return to England formed a group - Clive Bunker (drums), Colin Bass (bass), Christian Boulé (guitar), Phil Hodges (keyboards), Basil Brooks (synthesiser) and Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser, vocals) - which made its live debut at the Hyde Park Free Concert in September 1976. Toured U.K. continuously between then and late December. 'L' became an enormous chart success, with a residence of over two months. Six-week tour of U.S. with Electric Light Orchestra in January/February 1977. 'L' entered the American charts. Return to U.K. with concert at London's Rainbow in March 1977.
After the Gong '77 reunion concert travelled to Los Angles in July 1977 to record third solo album 'Motivation Radio' under supervision of Malcolm Cecil, co-producer of Stevie Wonder and The Islay Brothers. Returned to England to tour U.K. with a new band of american session players - Joe Blocker (drums), Curtis Robertson Jr (bass) plus Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser, vocals). The same group performed on the LP 'Green'(Virgin) which Steve produced with Nick Mason, released in April 1978. Three months earlier Steve completed the production of Nik Turner's first solo album on which he also played guitar and synthesiser.
Toured U.K. and Europe in the Spring and summer of 1978 with a band consisting of Andy Anerson (drums), John Mc Kenzie? (bass), Christian Boulé (guitar), and Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser, vocals). Steve himself made a guest appearance with Sham 69 at the Reading Festival in August 1978. The remainder of the year was spent assembling live recordings of the three Hillage bands for release on the double album 'Live Herald' (Virgin), together with some new studio material in February 1979.
At the Glastonbury Festival in 1979 a sequence of events prompted him to reassess the role of 'guitar hero' and playing live in general, something he had been questioning for some time. He decided to concentrate on studio work and production. Throughout the eighties he produced such acts as Simple Minds, Murray Head, Robin Hitchcock, Cock Robin and many others.
In 1989, after meeting the Orb's Alex Patterson playing among other things 'Rainbow Dome Music' while DJ-ing at the Land of Oz club, Steve and Miquette teamed up with a group of D Js?, producers and musicians to form System 7, named after Apple computer's latest operating system at the time. Informal jams led to an album, and guesting with the Orb led to playing live for the first time in many years in System 7. Steve remains in great demand as a producer and re-mixer as well as playing with System 7.