Sunday, 16 October 2011
For no apparent reason this thought came to me as I was out driving: "I've played guitar with the Jeff Beck group and sung with the Nolan Sisters". How diverse is that? So. how did these two, poles apart situations come about? Well, firstly producer Wayne Bickerton picked up on one of my songs and wanted to put it out on his label, State Records. He really liked the demo and asked who was playing on it. I informed him it was just two people. My mate Paul Smith on drums and me doing everything else. So Wayne says, "OK, you come and play guitar on the track and I'll pull in a bunch of session people". Vocals on the release were to be Mick Whitaker but it also ended up with Chris Farlow singing it (I met him at the studio a few months later) You can hear both these versions by clicking here. So the sessions took place with Waynes session guys and I showed them all the parts - it sounded a lot like the demo only more polished of course. When I returned to the North East Keith Satchfield (of Fist) asked me about the sessions. I said there was some guy called Simon Philips on drums and a bass player with an unusual name. Keith said "was his name  Mo Foster". Ahah. I said that's it. Keith looked a little stunned for a moment and then declared "F*** me, you've only been playing with the Jeff Beck band (Mo and Simon far right in pic below) So on to the other part of the story. In 1985 I took part in an event to support the Bradford Football Fire Disaster Appeal. The gig took place at St Georges Hall, Bradford and featured the likes of Smokey, Kiki Dee, Motorhead, Colin Blunstone and of course the Nolan Sisters. I played keyboards with John Verity's band. John had organised the gig. Top of the Bill was Gerry Marsdon (he of the Pacemakers). There was a big jam session towards the end and I distinctly  remember trading keyboard licks with Rod Argent. Jim Rodford and Bob Henrit, respectively bass player and drummer with the Kinks were keen to do a couple of Kinks tunes in the jam so we obliged with "You Really Got Me" - no problem. Next came "All The Day and All of The Night". The main riff was easy enough to busk but nobody was quite sure of the chords to the bit "The only time I feel all right is by your side" so it kind of fell apart there with just bass and drums really knowing it. The funniest bit for me was when we were doing a blues jam. I looked to the assembled guitarists  on stage and noticed they were playing in the key of G (by the chord shapes their hands were making) and so I joined in, also in the key of G (naturally). A few moments later I glanced at Worzel of Motorhead and spotted he was playing in the key of A, blissfully unaware he was the only person doing so!  Incidentally this was the gig credited with re-uniting Smokie but that was almost short lived when their drummer Pete Spencer fell backwards off the drum podium and injured himself. Luckily, as well as multiple guitarists we were sporting two drummers (Paul Smith) at the time and so the beat went on. And finally; my singing debut with the Nolans. The last act was Gerry Marsden and the last number was the anthem for the appeal "You'll Never Walk Alone". Everybody got up and sang this one. There were loads of us so we clustered in groups around several mics. I clustered with the Nolans and that, dear readers is who I got to sing with the Nolans. Sadly there is no picture of this event but I do have the programme (below) strangely the Nolans are not mentioned on it - a strange oversight. ≈ Click to Enlarge
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Charlie Crane
I met Charlie Crane mid to late 80's when I was earning a living as a songwriter. I had just come to the end of a contract with MCA Music and Charlie had just left employment as a publisher (can't remember - maybe it was ABC Music) I was looking for a new publisher and he was looking for some action. I can't remember how we met but we hung out for a while. To be honest I had kinda fallen out with MCA as they fired my main man, Pete Waterman leaving me without a mentor.

I stayed at Charlie's house a couple of times and met his wife and kids. I recall a moment when Charlie caught me dealing from the bottom of the deck in a card game. I was playing with his six year old son at the time.

I remember hearing somewhere that Charlie was a one time member of a band called the "Crying Shames" but I did not pay this much attention as I was more concerned with my own career. Eventually Charlie got the gig with MCA music which put an end to us working together since I had just left them. I guess I should have stayed in touch and got him to work my back catalogue but I was more concerned with the future. I got a publishing deal with DJM through Gus Dudgeon and concentrated on that, losing touch with Charlie.

Just yesterday evening Charlie came to mind so I thought I would Google him. I vaguely recall hearing he had died so I didn't expect to find him on Facebook. I did find him though. Made me think how great the web is that I could learn more about his story that I selfishly paid scant attention to. Through YouTube I was able hear him sing and realising that the record was produced by the legendary Joe Meek, I really wished I had got into conversation about this. This web page - tells the story of the "Crying Shames" very well and in the YouTube below you can hear Charlie sing. He was a nice unassuming guy and I wish that I had kept in touch but our paths crossed briefly and we went our own ways - such is life.