On Tuesday 13th October BASCA, in association with BMI, presented Mark King with a Gold Badge Award in recognition for his outstanding contribution to British Music.

Here, on behalf of BASCA, journalist Mark Sutherland profiles Mark’s career to date:

At one stage in the 1980s, Mark King’s thumb was apparently insured for a whopping £3 million. That was the value placed by his record company upon the digit so key to King’s unique bass sound.

That sound – alongside King’s vocals and some outstanding songwriting – helped propel his band, Level 42, to superstardom, but it also did much, much more than that. King helped to bring the slap bass style and the jazz-funk genre to national and international prominence, as bassists everywhere studied his numerous Top Of The Pops appearances to try and imitate his innovative technique.

Few came close: his fast-playing, fluid style has long been a distinctive presence within pop music, and a defining influence for subsequent generations of bass players.

And that’s why King has remained in such demand as a musician, helping to bring not just Level 42’s songs to prominence, but many others too. Even at a time when Level 42 were conquering charts across the planet with hit singles such as The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up), Running In The Family and Lessons In Love, he took the time to play on albums by the likes of Nik Kershaw and Midge Ure, his immediately recognisable bass style always helping great songs get the recognition they deserved.

Ironically, King originally started out as a drummer, and was apparently a very good one – no wonder former Level 42 bandmate Phil Gould once described him as “one of those natural musicians”.

King has continued to record, both with Level 42 and as a solo artist, releasing 14 studio albums, selling out countless venues (including the incredible total of 21 nights at Wembley Arena) and selling in excess of 30 million albums around the world. But King has always put back into music even more than he got out. He’s a longstanding supporter of music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins and has been prominent within The Prince’s Trust charity for decades, regularly performing at their live events, including the legendary 1986 All-Star Rock Concert at Wembley Arena alongside the likes of Rod Stewart, Phil Collins and Elton John.

An indefatigable champion of the power of music to help change lives, today the man with the golden thumb becomes the man with the Gold Badge, and there could be no more deserving recipient.

(c) Mark Sutherland 2015