Rosenberg performing in Southampton, Hampshire, England in January 2013
|Michael David Rosenberg|
17 May 1984 |
Brighton, East Sussex, England
Michael David Rosenberg (born 17 May 1984), better known by his stage name Passenger, is an English singer-songwriter and musician. Previously the main vocalist and songwriter of Passenger, Rosenberg opted to keep the band's name for his solo work after the band dissolved in 2009. His most successful single, "Let Her Go", has topped the charts in many countries. In 2014, the song was nominated for the Brit Award for British Single of the Year, and he received the British Academy's Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work.
Rosenberg was born on 17 May 1984 in Brighton & Hove, East Sussex, England to Quaker parents, English mother Jane and American Jewish father, Gerard Rosenberg, originally from Vineland, New Jersey. Rosenberg learnt classical guitar at a young age and at around 14-15, started to write songs. He worked as a chef and spent his spare time on writing music and practicing guitar. He did not apply himself at school in Brighton, spending his time on music. Rosenberg left school at the age of 16 to pursue a career in the music industry and spent the next few years as a busker in England and Australia. Rosenberg still lives in Brighton. He is a fan of English football club Arsenal F.C. In May 2015, Rosenberg appeared at Arsenal's 'A Night to Inspire' event and played a version of the '49 Undefeated' fan chant.
Rosenberg's father (a film production worker) introduced him to ex-Faithless member Jamie Catto in 2001, leading to a two-song spot at the Free Burma Campaign benefit gig at the Royal Court in London in 2002. On the night, Rosenberg met his future writing partner Andrew Phillips and established contact with the IE Music label. Back in Brighton, Phillips and Rosenberg pooled their musical influences (from Simon And Garfunkel to DJ Shadow), and started to write songs at Phillips' in-house studio in Hove. During 2003 they formed the Mike Rosenberg Band, engaging Marcus O'Dair (bass), Alon Cohen (drums) and Richard Brinklow (keyboards) through connections within the Brighton music scene.
Rosenberg did his first performance when he was 16. He founded Passenger with Andrew Phillips in 2003 in Brighton and Hove. The name of the band was stylised as /Passenger. (with a slash at the beginning and a dot at the end). The five-person band's debut and only album, Wicked Man's Rest, was released in 2007, on Chalkmark. Rosenberg wrote the majority of the album's tracks, with the exception of "Four Horses", which was written by Phillips. The band broke up in 2009.
After the break-up of Passenger, Rosenberg kept the stage-name Passenger and took to busking for a solo music career. He first took his act in October 2009 to Australia, where he supported acts such as Lior and Sydneysiders Elana Stone and Brian Campeau, and then played One Movement, a major music industry-focus festival in Perth. This earned him a big following in Australia and he was selling out 500-seater venues across Australia. His debut solo album, Wide Eyes Blind Love, was released in 2009, produced and mixed by former bandmate Andrew Phillips (who also provided backing vocals, and played guitar and other instruments) and vocally supported by Isobel Anderson. He also played various shows in the United Kingdom during this time, including a support slot for Turin Brakes' tenth anniversary show at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London.
The follow-up album, Flight of the Crow, was recorded in Australia and saw him joined in the studio by various Australian independent musical talents including Lior, Kate Miller-Heidke, Boy & Bear, Josh Pyke and Katie Noonan. Additionally, he produced a fans-only limited release Divers and Submarines, again supported by former bandmate Andrew Phillips and vocalist Isobel Anderson.
On his next album, recorded at Sydney's Linear Recording, Rosenberg was joined once again by a core Australian band that included Boy & Bear drummer Tim Hart, jazz bassist Cameron Undy, and keyboards player Stu Hunter, from Katie Noonan and The Captains. During the summer and autumn of 2012, Rosenberg toured the UK, opening for Jools Holland and good friend Ed Sheeran, the latter of whom he had known since he was about 15 while living in Cambridge. He also joined Australian acts the John Butler Trio, and Josh Pyke with a co-headlined UK tour. He also opened for Ed Sheeran's 2012 North American tour and also in Paris. All The Little Lights was released in summer of 2012 in North America on Nettwerk Records. He also opened for Ed Sheeran on his four out of five sell out dates in Ireland in January 2013 and in Australia and New Zealand in early 2013, and supported Sheeran in his Brighton dates and in Reading. Rosenberg performed "All the Little Lights" at the Children in Need Rocks concert at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, broadcast on BBC One on 14 November.
On 24 March 2014, Passenger unveiled "Whispers", the title track of his new album, as part of his set at the Teenage Cancer Trust charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London where he also performed alongside Ed Sheeran. On 26 March, Passenger announced details of his fifth studio album. He released Whispers on 9 June 2014. Talking to Digital Spy about the album he said, "This is easily the most 'up' album I've ever made, it's quite cinematic. There are lots of big stories and big ideas. There are also some sombre moments about loneliness and death but hey, it wouldn't be a Passenger album without those." He released "Hearts on Fire" as the lead single from the album on 14 April 2014.
Passenger recorded Whispers II at the same time as recording Whispers, releasing it as an extension of the first. He released Whispers II on 20 April 2015. All profits from the album go to the UNICEF UK initiative to help children in Liberia.
On 16 June 2016, the music video for "Somebody's Love" was uploaded to his YouTube channel, thereby announcing his next album, titled Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea. A second track from the album, "Anywhere" was released on 19 August 2016. The album Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea was released on 23 September 2016, and became Passenger's first UK number one album.
On 25 July 2017, at the end of his Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea tour, Rosenberg announced via the Passenger Facebook page that their performance on Sunday 23 July would be "my / our last gig for a while". The following day, he announced his next album, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, would be released two days later on 28 July 2017.
On 18 May 2018, Passenger released the song "Hell or High Water". It was recorded in a variety of different national parks across Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California  In the following days, he also announced a fall European tour  and teased fans through social media with a cover for a new album.
On 25 May 2018, he formally announced his tenth studio album Runaway and released a live acoustic version of "Hell or High Water" recorded in Venice Beach. Passenger described the record as a concept album, as he realised many of the songs had a strong sense of Americana. He also believed the songs would work well accompanied by American visuals and thus, alongside long-time collaborators Jarrad Seng, Stu Larsen and Chris Vallejo, embarked on a three-week-long road trip through the United States to film videos for each track. Additionally, they recorded acoustic videos for each track, filmed in a variety of different locations. Rosenberg plans to release a song every three weeks, sharing both the official and acoustic videos, plus behind-the-scenes footage.