Neil Tennant facts: Pet Shop Boys singer's age, partner, family and career explained

26 April 2024, 10:45

"MUSIK" A New Cabaret From Pet Shop Boys & Jonathan Harvey - Press Night - After Party
"MUSIK" A New Cabaret From Pet Shop Boys & Jonathan Harvey - Press Night - After Party. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Neil Tennant is one half of one of British pop music's greatest ever duos.

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Neil Tennant co-founded the synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys with Chris Lowe in 1981. Before this, Tennant worked as a journalist for Smash Hits and served as an assistant editor for the magazine in the mid-1980s.

He is credited with coining the term “imperial phase,” which refers to the period when a musical artist reaches both commercial success and creative excellence simultaneously.

The Pet Shop Boys exemplified this phase, achieving four British number one hits ('West End Girls', 'It’s a Sin', 'Heart', and 'Always on My Mind'), receiving critical acclaim for their initial three albums, and exploring innovative collaborations in visual and performing arts.

  1. How old is Neil Tennant and where is he from?

    Neil Tennant in his Smash Hits days
    Neil Tennant in his Smash Hits days. Picture: Getty

    Neil Tennant was born on July 10, 1954, and he celebrated his 69th birthday in 2023.

    He was born in North Shields, a charming fishing port near Newcastle upon Tyne. His parents, William W Tennant (1923–2009), a sales representative, and Sheila M (Watson) Tennant (1923–2008), welcomed him into a family that included an older sister named Susan and two younger brothers, Simon and Philip.

  2. How did he meet Chris Lowe?

    The Pet Shop Boys Posed In London
    The Pet Shop Boys Posed In London. Picture: Getty

    Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe crossed paths at the Chelsea Record Centre, a hi-fi shop located at 203 King’s Road in Chelsea, London, back in 1981.

    The encounter was sparked by Tennant’s purchase of a Korg MS-10 synthesizer, which led to a conversation with Lowe. As they chatted, they discovered a shared passion for disco and electronic music, forging the foundation of their friendship.

    Drawing inspiration from synth-pop records like 'Souvenir' by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) and 'Bedsitter' by Soft Cell, the duo’s creative journey reflected their lifestyles at the time. They immersed themselves in the sounds of electronic pioneers, including OMD, Soft Cell, Kraftwerk, the Human League, and Depeche Mode.

    Their collaboration began in Tennant’s Chelsea flat and later expanded to a small studio in Camden Town starting in 1982. Initially, their demo tapes bore the name West End, but eventually, they settled on the iconic moniker Pet Shop Boys.

    Pet Shop Boys - What Have I Done To Deserve This (Official Video) [HD REMASTERED]

    The band name was inspired by friends who worked at a pet shop in Ealing, playfully known as the “pet shop boys.” Interestingly, there was also a subtle connection to the newly formed rap rock group Beastie Boys.

    In August 1983, while serving as an assistant editor at Smash Hits, Tennant travelled to New York to interview Sting. During his visit, he arranged a meeting with hi-NRG producer Bobby Orlando, sharing a demo tape featuring tracks like 'It’s a Sin' and 'Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)'.

  3. Is Neil Tennant married?

    Neil Tennant publicly revealed his sexual orientation in a 1994 interview with Attitude magazine, where he came out as gay.

    Beyond that, he tends to keep his personal and romantic life under wraps, embracing a persona of mystery.

    He has a house in London and another one in the picturesque County Durham, nestled in the North East England countryside. Additionally, Tennant and Chris Lowe share an apartment in the city of Berlin.