Richard Ashcroft (born 11 September 1971, in Billinge, Wigan, England) is best known as the lead singer of The Verve, a British rock band that he helped form in 1989. After that band's demise in 1999, Ashcroft embarked on a successful solo career.
Ashcroft's father passed away when Richard was 11. Ashcroft soon fell under the influence of his stepfather, who belonged to the ancient secular order of the Rosicrucians.
He is good friends with Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher and Coldplay's Chris Martin (whom Ashcroft once thanked for "letting me be myself again"), and occasionally plays as support at Oasis and Coldplay concerts, including the European and second UK legs of Coldplay's 'Twisted Logic Tour'. He recently described himself as "the best support act you'll ever see." The Oasis track "Cast No Shadow" is dedicated to him, and it is believed that Ashcroft dedicated The Verve's 1995 song "Northern Soul" to Noel Gallagher. Martin introduced him as "the best singer in the world" when he performed "Bitter Sweet Symphony" (which Martin called "the best song in the world") with Coldplay at the London Live 8 concert in 2005. On his second album, Human Conditions, Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson performs on the song "Nature is the Law." Ashcroft is married to Kate Radley,Spiritualized's former keyboard player. They have two sons: Sonny, born in 2000, and Cassius, born in 2004.
Ashcroft's third solo album, Keys to the World, was recorded with the co-operation of the London Metropolitan Orchestra, and released on January 23, 2006, by Parlophone. The first single from the album, "Break the Night with Colour," was released on January 9, 2006, and entered the UK Singles Chart at number 3. Around the time of the album's release, Ashcroft announced his largest UK tour for years for May 2006, culminating in three nights at London's Brixton Academy. He will be opening for the second half of Coldplay's tour, starting March 14, 2006, in Ottawa.