Ray Wilson - Biography

Ray Wilson

Ray Wilson, recognised as one of the UK’s finest ever vocalists by Classic Rock Magazine, is renowned across the music world as an exceptional singer/songwriter, and is acclaimed for his charismatic stage presence, and his ability as an extraordinary entertainer.

A native Scotsman, Ray founded his first professional band GUARANTEED PURE with his brother Steve in the early nineties, releasing three albums, and touring constantly around the UK and Europe.

In 1994 Ray joined the Scottish band STILTSKIN as their front-man. Their debut single “Inside” was an immediate success, reaching number one in several European countries, and to this day “Inside” remains one of the most recognizable rock songs ever recorded, being used of course by “ Levi’s “ as the soundtrack to one of their legendary jeans commercials.

Due to the amazing success of STILTSKIN, Ray was brought to the attention of one of rock’s biggest ever bands, GENESIS, and was given the job of lead vocalist after the resignation of Phil Collins in 1996. From 1996 to 1999 Ray was singer/songwriter with the rock giants, and in the process, they recorded the fourth best-selling album in the band’s history – “Calling All Stations”, following this up with a European Tour, and headlining the world famous Rock am Ring/Park festivals in 1998. In March 2010 GENESIS were inducted into the “Rock’n‘Roll Hall of Fame” being recognised as one of rock’n’roll’s most important and influential bands.

After the rock legends split, Wilson went back to his roots, and in 1999 released the album “Millionairhead” with his new band CUT_, the songs being written by him and his brother Steve, the band being made up of the former members of GUARANTEED PURE, along with GENESIS drummer Nir Z. A stadium support act tour followed, CUT_ supporting the SCORPIONS in arenas all over Europe and WESTERNHAGEN on a football stadium tour of Germany, playing to over a million people in the summer of 2000.

In 2001 Ray Wilson began his solo career in earnest, playing 12 sold out Acoustic shows at the world famous Edinburgh International Festival. Ray followed this up by recording his first solo album “ Change “ in 2003, touring with his band all over Europe, and appearing as special guest, on tour with JOE JACKSON and SAGA. In 2004 his second solo album “ The Next Best Thing “ was released, again followed by tours of Europe and South / Central America, as well as performing on tours with Dolores O’Riordan from the CRANBERRIES, and SUPERTRAMP front-man Roger Hodgson. Proving his diversity, Ray also collaborated with the Dutch DJ-star ARMIN VAN BUUREN; recording a remix of his own song “ Yet Another Day “ the song strolled to the Number 1 spot in the Dance Charts in 2005.

In late 2006 STILTSKIN returned, Ray going back to his “rock roots “ with the studio album “SHE”. Together with his new band line-up, Ray toured the critically acclaimed album to audiences all over Europe, with a live album being produced from the tour. Ray followed this with his album  “Propaganda Man “ in 2008, and coupled with endless touring, quickly established himself as a “must see ” performer.

In 2009, another of Ray’s live projects GENESIS CLASSIC, brought together 10 musicians from across Europe, with the members of his band STILSKIN being joined on stage by the Berlin Symphony Ensemble. GENESIS CLASSIC celebrates the music of Genesis, and its members, taking classical interpretations of world famous songs, and airing them in a form never heard before.

A Triple live CD/DVD of the Genesis Classic show, recorded at the Poznan Philharmonic Hall, was released in 2011, featuring songs from all across the Genesis spectrum, and of course songs from Ray’s solo career, the album box set achieving major chart success reaching Number 2 in Poland, and Number 21 in Germany, with sell out shows all across Europe, and as far afield as Moscow, Russia.

In September 2011 Ray Wilson & STILTSKIN released their long-awaited new studio album, “Unfulfillment”. With typical Scots calm, Ray combined the energy of rock music, with lyrics of great depth, alongside complex string arrangements. All of the songs were written by Ray, Uwe Metzler, and Peter Hoff, one of Stuttgart’s most successful producers (Die Fantastischen Vier, Beth Hart, Lou Bega).

The video for the single “First Day Of Change” was produced by the renowned German company “Camelot”, directed by Robert Broellochs (Xavier Naidoo, La Bouche, Mel C., Shaggy). Cameraman on the shoot was none other than the famous Englishman Joe Dyer (Kylie Minogue, Take That, Bryan Adams etc.). Ray followed the release with an extensive European tour, taking in countries from Poland to Portugal, and Romania to Spain.

Next up, in the Spring of 2013, Ray released his new solo album, “Chasing Rainbows”. Ray aired 12 brand new songs, again joined by his band, and touring string section, and a surprise new addition to the lineup in the form of saxophone player Marcin Kaiper.

The album mixed Ray’s acoustic roots, with his love for Rock music, culminating in an array of songs which pleased fans old and new alike. An extensive tour followed throughout 2013, with the highlights being a main support slot with Rock legend STING, at the Life Festival in Oswiecim, Poland, and the year finishing on a major high, as the band headlined the Wroclaw New Year’s Eve celebrations, playing to over 150,000 fans.

2014 promised to be a big year for Ray and the band. First up, came the release of “Up Close and Personal“, a double live CD recorded in Mainz, Germany, at the legendary SWR 1 Studios. It featured Ray backed by his acoustic quintet, and presented the first ever recording of Ray’s full acoustic show, beautifully showcasing the classical arrangements of songs from both Ray’s solo career, and the world of Genesis.

2014 saw Ray release his first ever full length DVD, combined with a Double CD. “20 Years and More” was captured live on stage at the Polish Radio Music Hall, part of the iconic Radio Troika Studios in Warsaw, Poland.

 “20 Years and More“, was truly the first complete retrospective look at Ray’s career in the music business. A fascinating journey through his early days with Guaranteed Pure, via Stiltskin, Genesis, Cut – and, of course, Ray’s extensive solo career – the DVD highlights Ray’s depth and diversity as a performer, backed as always by his band, and a 4 piece string quartet.

The DVD features various milestones from Ray’s career, including the songs: Inside (the European wide No 1 smash hit from 1994), Another Day (remixed by world ranked number 1 DJ, Armin Van Buuren, the song going on to become No 1 in the European dance charts), and Congo, from the last ever Genesis studio album, Calling All Stations, the album going on to reach No 2 in both the UK and German Charts.

2016 saw a great burst in creativity resulting in two releases of original material.

The first, released in March 2016, “Song For A Friend”, is dedicated to Ray’s friend, James Lewis, who died in 2015.
Inspired by the many intimate experiences from his acoustic storytelling concerts, Ray decided to write a collection of musical short stories.

Stories, simply, about life. Stiltskin guitarist and collaborator, Uwe Metzler, sketched out some acoustic ideas, and the journey began. Moving through jealousy, anger, hurt, regret, disappointment, fate, and love. Ray often exposes his innermost feelings through his music, and the minimalist production on this collection of songs provides a particularly intimate expression of those emotions.

Ray’s love of the road has been his musical lifeline, and the journey has been good for him. Whether a concert or an album they are a journey for the soul. A journey that will allow you to escape your demons and embolden yourself, spiritually.

This album was written to inspire. When you feel like giving in, when you feel you are losing the will to keep pushing or fighting. This was written to help you dig deep, and fight for joy and peace in your life. The meaning of life is the journey. This album encapsulates that journey.

Following on from “Song For A Friend”, Ray released his 6th studio album, “Makes Me Think Of Home”, on Oct 7th 2016.

The album is a mix of Pop, Rock, and Progressive with occasional subtle undertones of humour; particularly in the first single “Amen To That”. The track is accompanied by a multi-layered video production, bringing out the best of Ray’s acting skills, where he takes on multiple roles, playing different characters in a range of unusual professions.

An intense 7 day shoot produced what is undoubtedly the best video of Ray’s career. It takes the instantly memorable “Amen To That” to another level, and throws in some unexpected twists along the way.

The title track, “Makes Me Think Of Home”, sees Ray looking back to his days living in Scotland, a country he left after finding love with a Polish dancer. He subsequently moved to Poznan 8 years ago, and in the ambitious title track (just under 8 minutes) he reflects – in a very moving way – on the many memories from his years trying to find peace and happiness in Edinburgh.

The album also covers complex issues such as The Scottish Referendum with “They Never Should Have Sent You Roses”, focusing on how it divided families and a nation. Also, the purge of alcoholism, which affected one of Ray’s close family members, is challenged in “The Next Life”, and having to fight these demons alone in “Anyone Out There”.

He also has time to pay homage to one of the world’s best loved cartoon strips with “Calvin and Hobbes”.

Ray’s most recent live album, “Time And Distance” was released in 2017 and featured some of the great tracks from “Calling All Stations” and included other Genesis songs which Ray performed throughout the 1998 European Tour.

“Time And Distance” was followed in 2018 by “Ray Wilson ZDF @ Bauhaus”, a new live 14 Track DVD/CD, with Ray’s first ever Blu-Ray option also available.

It was recorded in 2018, in Dessau at the legendary Bauhaus. The concert has a more MTV unplugged feel about it, with an intimate atmosphere favoured by many of Ray’s fans with some favourites including “Take It Slow”, “Alone”, “Lemon Yellow Sun” and a great old track from Ray’s brother Steve called “Along The Way”. There are also a few gems from the World of Genesis including “No Son of Mine”, “Mama”, “Follow You Follow Me” and a brilliant rendition of the Peter Gabriel classic “Solsbury Hill”.

Constantly touring across Europe, Ray always makes time to meet fans.
“It’s a great joy to regularly meet people who come to my concerts and buy albums after each show. It allows me to connect with my audience and understand why my own music strikes a chord in them.

Social Media is one thing – face to face is another level completely”.