Michael Jackson delayed my career!

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Sound Of The Blues Brothers

I’d not long finished playing with what I believe was the UK’s first tribute to The Blues Brothers. I’d had an amazing time with the band playing gigs around the country and a few in Europe and the Middle-East but I was getting a bit fed up with chugging up and down the M1 (not to Oman obviously!) three or four times a week and as I recall the ‘big time’ was calling me – Yep, I was still playing the fame game at this point!

Anyway, I’d just hooked up with a new drummer in Derby, where I was now located, and he had a couple of mates that were chasing the dream in London. Well, I say chasing, it’s probably more accurate to say the dream was sneaking up on them like a lip-smacking cat on a dust bathing sparrow! You see they’d just dropped for a management deal and a few record companies were talking to them. It turns out their management team also looked after Rozalla – The Queen of Rave – who had just had the massive hit “Everybody’s Free” so any act on their books was clearly fair game and hotter than a two dollar pistol. Pretty soon they’d signed to a record company in Belgium of all places.

Nice for them I thought as my drummer buddy who was full of ‘the black stuff’ was playing their demo on number eleven at silly o’clock on a Summer’s night with the windows and doors wide open. Ok for him too as it turned out; they’d asked him to go to Brussels with them to play drums on their debut album. I wasn’t bothered… honest.

After a couple of days where I wasn’t sulking, (I wasn’t!) good ol’ Sticks came around to my house (no mob phones back then and even a landline was a luxury I couldn’t afford) and told me the Dynamic Duo in Londinium wanted a bass player to go to Belgium and do the album and he’d recommended me! Whoop, whoop!

The Tub Thumper and myself got down to daily rehearsals using The London chap’s demo cassette. After a few weeks of this we eventually got the dates through to go do the album. Great! But then a week later we got news that Rozalla had got the support on Michael Jackson’s BAD tour and my two best mates down The Smoke had been drafted into her band. And yep, the recording had to be put back while they went and played in front of thousands of people and met and got photographed with just about every rock and pop star that ever lived. A hard life, eh!

Not to worry. We eventually got to go to Belgium to record the album. The London connection were already there with the producer and laying down the guide tracks and the Beat Master and myself were to drive over there in a weeks time to do our bit. So it was left to me to sort transport and go pick up Basher, who when in the car proceeded to open and drink can after can of Ireland’s finest. He did this all the way down to Dover, at the terminal while we waited to board, all the time we were on the ferry and then all the way from Ostend to Brussels. It wouldn’t have been so bad but after the third can he was wanting a pit stop every half hour! On top of this he was no help at all in negotiating the narrow and dimly lit back Streets of the Brussels suburbs whist trying to locate the recording studio. Drummers, eh!

Anyway, we all did our things very well in the studio. One of my takes was unceremoniously disturbed when The Queen Of Rave made an appearance. Everything had to stop while she held court for an hour. She was nice enough and everything but I seem to recall I got right p*ssed off about it. I mean, I was halfway through a good take of a song, who’s she think she is, eh! Spoiling my creative flow!

Bet you’re wondering what happened to that album? Did it chart? Did it outsell every major release of the time? Did we get to make a promo video or appear on Top Of The Pops? Did we get to do a sell out World tour?  Nah, the Gruesome Twosome fell out with the producer AND the record company whilst the album was still in its infancy. So that, as they say, was the end of that. Good fun while it lasted through and I just had to chalk it up to experience.

I think this whole thing possibly highlights the issue of record deals, record companies and producers; especially when they aren’t all singing from the same hymn-sheet, which I presume is what happened in Brussels. Obviously as a ‘hired-hand’ I wasn’t a party to the inner workings and politics of the record company, producer and artist trilogy.

Nowadays, people can often be heard bemoaning the modern music industry saying it’s just about dead and there’s no good music about. Well I disagree. With the wonder that is the internet musicians, songwriters and artist no longer need the antiquated record company to release their music. And the added bonus is it can be done singlehandedly so no falling out with anyone, unless you’re the type that can fall out with yourself!

Talking of which, here is a FREE DOWNLOAD of a track I managed to complete without any arguments. It’s an organ groover called “You Can’t Change”. I hope you enjoy it!

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