Sharleen Spiteri was born November 7, 1967. Her birthplace was suburban Glasgow, but she was raised in the Scottish countryside, in the small town of Balloch, on the banks of the Loch Lomond.
Her surroundings provided her with consistent outdoor adventuring, and the fractured wrist, finger, and four broken noses she suffered throughout her childhood are a testament to her affinity for mountaineering (a pastime she continues to indulge in to this day).
Sharleen was raised in a musical family: her father, a merchant seaman, played the violin, and her mother sang. The Spiteri household was filled with the sounds of classic rock and soul, two influences that would come to bear on Sharleen’s own musical style.
Sharleen’s plans to attend the Glasgow School of Art were thwarted when she took on a Saturday job as a hairdresser. She found that she was quite good with a pair of scissors — brilliant, in fact — and at age 17 she moved to Glasgow to work full-time. Sharleen’s career as a hairdresser took off instantly; working for the international chain Irvine Rusk, it wasn’t long before she was whisked around the globe to work at magazine photo sessions.
Working in fashion led to moving in fashionable circles, and it was thus that Sharleen met Johnny McElhone. McElhone was a former member of the Scottish pop group Altered Images, and in the midst of creating a new band. Sharleen had just bought her first guitar — having been inspired by The Clash — and asked to audition. McElhone was impressed with her voice, other band members were signed up, and Texas was born.
Sharleen and McElhone’s first songwriting collaboration was on the single “I Don’t Want A Lover,” which proved an instant hit. The track hit the top ten in the UK and led to a 1988 deal with Phonogram records. The ensuing album, Southside, went on to reach the No. 3 spot on the British music charts and sell 1.5 million copies. Two years later, their follow-up album, Mother’s Heaven, was released. It didn’t enjoy the same reception as its predecessor, selling only 750,000 copies.
Texas’ 1994 third album, Rick’s Road, did even worse. Despite being held by many fans as the group’s best album, Rick’s Road was a commercial disaster, prompting Sharleen and the rest of the band to take a songwriting hiatus.
Texas reunited in 1996 to begin work on a fourth album, White on Blonde. While the recordings remained predominantly oriented around the same rock/soul/blues sound that had characterized the three previous releases, contributions by Mark Stent (who mixed Massive Attack’s Protection), Mark Rae (founder of Manchester music label Grand Central) and production team Rae and Christian served to infuse the album with a lighter dance feel. The formula proved a success, and White on Blonde went on to reach the No. 1 mark on the UK charts not just once, but twice.
The single “Say What You Want” was particularly successful in Europe and North America, and Sharleen did a second version of the song in 1998, in collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan members RZA and Method Man.
Texas released their fifth album, The Hush, in 1999, and their Greatest Hits in 2000. In 2001, a revamped version of their first hit, “I Don’t Want a Lover,” was released, and the band decided it was time for a break again.
This is not to say that Sharleen is at a loss for things to do. Her management business, Near Back, keeps her occupied, and makes her one of the highest paid company directors in Scotland. In the summer of 2001, she collaborated with Roger Sanchez on his album, First Contact. And after having rejected the lead in Moulin Rouge (which Nicole Kidman went on to fill) and being forced out of a role in Three Blind Mice due to scheduling conflicts, Sharleen has yet to make her acting debut.