I had some wonderful times touring with Spike and his lovely wife Sheelagh, when I was with the "Spike Milligan and Friends" Tour / West End show. There were so many laughs and stories it's hard to know where to begin. We even did a Royal Command performance for Prince Charles. Spike called him "Trainee King", much to our amusement, throughout the whole show.
I absolutely adored working with Spike. Not all actors did though because he was so unpredictable. For me that was all part of the fun, you never knew what he would do next and no two shows were ever the same. I met Spike through Ed Welch our musical director, when I was asked to sing on a Demo of a Christmas musical they had written called ‘Joseph I’m having a Baby!’ In true Spike fashion it was brilliantly funny. When shall we see that on stage I wonder?? Anyway when I was asked to do Spikes tour I jumped at the chance. We didn't rehearse a lot, normally it's six weeks for a West End Show then a few weeks previewing out of town. We did one week in Torquay at a friend of Ed's studio and then we opened in Dublin-with a sound check only! Talk about flying by the seat of your pants. We must have been ok though because the ‘house full’ notices went up almost immediately and we went back to Dublin ‘By popular demand ‘ later on before opening in The Lyric on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Yesterday I was chatting to Andy East my good friend and colleague about the Music Industry and all the changes that we’ve seen. If you’ve followed any of my blogs you will have noticed that were both were part of the team lecturing on the MA Music Management & Artist Development Degree at London College of Music with great success. (In fact Andy set up the whole thing up)
In my Module, which was A&R, I tried as much as possible to keep it completely relevant to what was happening in the industry today. However, in Academic terms this was sometimes quite difficult because the Academic content agreed by the Degree Boards could not keep up with the rapid changes in the Music Industry. So basically an assignment that might have been cutting edge last year could be pretty old hat this year.
To keep it relevant in any sector of the industry whether it’s Publishing, Recording, Performance, Songwriting, the first question is always; where does the ‘power’ lie? Then, ‘follow the money’ and that basically tells you everything you need to know.
That formula works just as well in a historical context too. A few years ago in a paper I wrote, I looked at the question, “Did songwriters of one hundred years ago earn more than they do today?’
While I was investigating the subject I came a cross a Publisher, Songwriter and Entrepreneur called Lawrence Wright who set up the Melody Maker in 1926. The Melody Maker merged with the New Musical Express in 2000. When I heard about the NME stopping it’s printed edition last week Lawrence came to mind.
He was a really talented man, who knew how to play the Music Industry Game. He knew exactly who had the power at any one time and following the money was what he did best!
I found this old newspaper clipping of him.
Photo: Kim Appleby, Barry Mason, Megg Nicol, Pete Woodroffe
Last week was a roller coaster for those of us involved in the song-writing community and it seems that we could be fastening our belts for the next white-knuckle ride as soon as #paywhatsduetube starts trending on twitter. So if you are reading this, please look out for it.
I first heard the song ‘Lord Franklin’ when Nick Keir and Tony Ireland played it on a Highlands & Islands tour I did with the folk rock band Finn MacCuill in a show called ‘ Envoys & Exiles’ for Pitlochry Festival Theatre in the early years of my music career.