2019: the best is yet to come.
2018: a look back at last year
Last year got off to a good start when I was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Dire Straits. It took place in Cleveland, Ohio, and a good time was had by all. Which didn't include Mark Knopfler. It was a nice couple of days in Cleveland during which I discovered Eddie Van Halen is a fan, and caught up with some old friends, and I took the opportunity to hang in Manhattan for a few days. It’s good to see some fellow Geordies nominated for the Hall of Fame this year: Bryan Ferry and Paul Thompson from Roxy Music.
I worked with Trevor Horn on his 80’s Reimagined record, which is available now and in the charts, and played in his band in a show in his new Music Bank Village rehearsal venue to launch both it and the record. Trevor doesn't mess about: it was an 11 piece band that included myself, Steve Ferrone and Phil Palmer, playing along with a pre-recorded orchestra. We followed that with a show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, using a similar line-up and an additional 8 piece string section. There’s another show scheduled for March 14 at the Roundhouse in London, which features Seal, the Pet Shop Boys and Gladys Knight..
I’ve been writing songs for an Italian megastar’s album which I’ll be recording later this year - watch this space.
3 CHORD TRICK…is the name of an album I produced for a band I'm a member of called LEGACY
We (myself and Phil Palmer) recorded the initial tracks in Los Angeles with Steve Ferrone and Pino Palladino, then finished the record in my favourite studio in the world: Forward Studios in Grottaferrata, Rome. I wrote 5 of the tracks and co-wrote 4 of them. The record is called 3 Chord Trick, it's available now on all digital platforms (iTunes etc), you can buy CD's and vinyl on Amazon, and it's also available on DSD (an ultra-high definition format that has 256 times the resolution of a CD).
LEGACY has the following illustrious line-up:
Probably the greatest rock drummer in the world, Steve Ferrone from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; legendary guitarist Phil Palmer from Dire Straits; ace percussionist and drummer and vocalist Danny Cummings, also from Dire Straits and who’s about to embark upon a world tour with Mark Knopfler; one of the greatest sax players of our generation and a member of the original and current lineup of King Krimson, Mel Collins, again from Dire Straits; on bass we have the legendary musician and multi award winning record producer who first appeared with his band Buggles’ record Video Killed the Radio Star then went on to have a worldwide hit with Owner of a Lonely Heart when he was the lead singer, writer and producer of Yes: Trevor Horn; and from Italy we have ace Italian session keyboard player Primiano De Biase and the renowned Italian guitarist Marco Caviglia. And we also have vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player Jamie Squire who has recently been wowing everyone with his singing on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and who is now on a world tour with The 1975.
And, er, me!
We also play the music of Dire Straits under the name “DSL Dire Straits Legacy”. Last year we played in Brazil, the US, Finland and Italy, during which we also had in the band Dire Straits guitarist Jack Sonni, and we’re returning to Brazil soon, see below. For more info: http://dslegacy.com.
I've autographed some things in my time, but signing the vicar's collar at my mother's funeral is going to take some beating. And the funeral director confessed to being a weekend Elvis impersonator.
When I’m recording at Forward Studios, I stay in the marvellous Villa Mercede hotel in nearby Frascati. A big thanks to owners Luigi and Gianluca and everyone at the hotel for making it my home from home in Italy.
I also write music for TV commercials, at least one of which is currently being aired.
15 or so years ago, I recorded an instrumental version of the famous Geordie song Blaydon Races, to try to persuade Newcastle United to adopt it as their theme instead of Knopfler’s tune Going Home from Local Hero, which is actually a Scottish-based song. They still use the Local Hero tune! However, my version of Blaydon Races is being put to good use: early last year, I played on the Sunday For Sammy charity show at the Newcastle Arena, and I was pleased to see/hear they’re still using it as their theme, and are still starting the show with it. And this year Tim Healy also performed my song God's Land, which is a track from LEGACY's 3 Chord Trick album. Trevor Horn featured in the show, performing the song that was a worldwide hit with his band Buggles: Video Killed the Radio Star. Happily, the DVD of the Sunday for Sammy show recently reached #3 in the national charts.
More rock trivia…
In the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, is the accordion I played on the track Brothers in Arms, which I've loaned to them to exhibit. This isn't it in the pic below but it demonstrates how I played it on the song: Guy Fletcher squeezed while I played it.
I was in Nashville towards the end of last year, and had Sunday brunch at Woolworths Restaurant, which is the refurbished former Woolworths shop and restaurant bar where the civil rights movement began in 1964.
I’m going to play a piano recital drawing upon the music of Dire Straits at Piano City in Milan, on 18/19 May.
I’ve been asked by my old school - Chester-le- Straeet Grammar - to be an alumni and visit the school and inspire the kids. I replied saying I would but I’d have to mention to the kids that the school did nothing to help me in my chosen profession.
When I'm at home, I'm very keen to get into the mountains on this:
My mountain bike, a Scott E-Genius 700 Tuned. It's an E-bike with state of the art components including a Shimano engine and electronic gear change, full suspension, hydraulic disk brakes and a bunch of other amazing stuff. It's an absolute hoot; everyone who rides it wants one. It excels in the worst off-road conditions but it's also a great urban bike. My association with Scott goes back to the early 90's when they first set up in the UK, and every bike I've owned thereafter has been a Scott. This picture was taken when I was riding the mountain trails around Lake Ullswater with my son Josh. In the background is Howtown bay where I learned to dinghy sail when I was 12 yrs old, which later led to an obsession with windsurfing.
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