Hedge fund chief branches out into rock career

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FOR more than 20 years, Mike Marlin was one of the City's most successful hedge fund managers. As the co-creator of computer software that predicted market trends, he enjoyed a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, owning an expensive art collection and a string of international homes.

Now the 49-year-old from Ayrshire is more likely to be found in the back of a run-down van with a group of struggling musicians half his age, starting from scratch as he attempts to launch a belated musical career.

This month, the father-of-four embarked on his first ever tour, as the support act for the band From The Jam, and will take the stage in Glasgow this week. In January, he will release his first single, Play That Game, from his debut album, Nearly Man, which is out the following month. By the time he goes on his next tour, supporting The Stranglers, in March, he estimates he will have played to 15,000 people in about a dozen venues across the UK, including Glasgow's Barrowland.

Marlin insists there are similarities between his past and present lives.

"I was bloody good at what I did before and I am taking all those skills and applying them to music," he said. "I was never going to do this as a hobby. I'm not going to arrive in a limo at the Hilton while the band is in a van. I'm in the van with them, lugging the gear."

Marlin - formerly known as Michael Adam - first dabbled in music as a physics student at Oxford, where he was the bass player in a band. "It was a hobby," he said. "I wasn't thinking of a career at the time, but it never occurred to me it would be something I would do."

After dropping out from university in his third year, Marlin went to London where he eventually took a job writing computer codes. At the age of 26, he began his own business with two friends from Oxford. Their company, Adam, Harding and Lueck - known as AHL - pioneered the use of computers to predict market trends in commodities trading and in 1994 was bought by the Man Group in a multi-million-pound deal. AHL remains one of the biggest hedge funds, with assets of more than 13.5 billion. After moving to Ayrshire in 1999, he founded other successful businesses but has now given them up to revive his music career.

Among his fans is Bill Heckle, owner of Liverpool's Cavern Club, who said he was "the best act he had seen in the last couple of years" after Marlin played at the venue last week. Producer James Durrant, who has been in the music business for ten years, said Marlin was a "fantastic" artist who would appeal to audiences that enjoy "old school rock and roll".