Name dropping

Who’s She?
In 1984 we recorded our last single, Feel The Steel. We’d used Dennis Weinrich to produce our stuff before and he produced the 7″ but for the 12″ the label thought a ‘hip’ New York dance music producer should be involved so they brought in Mark Kamins who had a good reputation and I think was a dj at the Danceteria there. He turned up with his girlfriend, a small girl with shaved blond hair who sat at the back reading magazines.

For some reason Mark didn’t feel the need to start before about 9pm in the evening, but one night he started early and hit some technical problem. After around an hour trying to get things going I asked his girlfriend if she wanted to go to the pub and she agreed, and so Madonna and a couple of us went to the local bar to waste some time.

If I knew what I know now I’d probably have paid more attention but she was good humored and glad to be out of the studio. I’d like to say I could tell she’d succeed straight away but I couldn’t, she wasn’t loud, but she told us about the single she’d done (could have been ‘Holiday’?) and seemed determined. The last time I checked, the pub still hadn’t put up a blue plaque.

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Mr Michael Wants Some Answers
The guy who first signed us to our publisher, later left and started his own company, Innervision. When we were trying to find a way to record our album with Phonogram and getting no-where we worked a way of re-signing to his new label. In the end it didn’t work out either but that’s another story.

Innervision’s office wasn’t far away from our first label’s headquarters in New Bond Street. They had 2 or 3 rooms on the top floor of a small building round the corner in South Molton Street. We were one of just four bands on the label, the other three were Animal Nightlife, Jimmy The Hoover and Wham. At one time they were the most successful small label in the country, with three of the bands having songs out and in the charts at once, though I think we were probably the least obviously commercial sounding bunch they had.
They had a small writing room there though it wasn’t easy to get in as George and his Wham partner Andrew Ridgley were in there most days. Obviously not wasting any time. He was ok though and didn’t mind working hard. A couple of times I walked the length of Oxford street with him visiting every major record retailer and checking they were stocking his disc, and if not, why not. He was pretty organised and determined to succeed, even back then.

A little postscript to that story. Our publisher was also George Michael’s publisher and one day, when I was over there, he called me into his office and sat me down to play me something. He thought it would be massive. “What do you think” he said when it had finished. “Shit” I said, “Sounds like sub Michael Jackson, that’ll never get anywhere”

The song was Careless Whisper

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Stop Looking! It’s Already Out There

Just to show I’m not the only one who can’t hear.

I think I can get Madonna, Nile Rodgers, James Brown and James Dean into this one. In the early 80s, Way Of The West were playing in New York and got invited to something called ‘The New Music Seminar’ – I think that was the name and the idea was to get a panel of music celebrities and ask them questions about the future of music.

It took place each year in a classy hotel and this time it was the New York Hilton. A little more upmarket than our hotel The Iroquois. It’s since been renovated but at the time it was the standard band hotel with a little bar on the groundfloor, and interesting people in the lift. Apparently James Dean used to keep a suite there and fans could visit it. They also had some fast moving insect life in the rooms too, which made opening drawers a disturbing experience.

All the mega celebrities above were on the panel up on the stage and we were in the audience. Questions were going back and forth between the floor and the panel and the topic was something like ‘what direction will the new music take’. I can’t remember now who said what but there were lots of ideas about ‘more girlbands’ or ‘more electronics in music’ that kind of stuff.

On our walk to the hotel we had to step around young black kids with their big radios on the sidewalk breakdancing and rapping, all the early hip-hop stuff. Nobody at the conference mentioned this thing that was happening right under their noses, this thing that’s now bigger than anything else, the biggest selling music anywhere.

So now, when anybody asks what direction new music will take, my answer will be, whatever it is it’s already out there. Sometimes closer than you think.

To be con’t….

4 Responses to “Name dropping”

  1. Jimmy The Hoover are amazing! I wish I could find the whereabouts of lead singer Derek Dunbar

    Thank you,
    Justin

  2. Can’t help you there. Though we were on the same label I only met them once.

    Pete

  3. Splendid article from the Sambian Post about Jimmy the Hoover’s bass player…..

    http://www.postzambia.com/post-read_article.php?articleId=31476

  4. Whoops! That should have been the Zambian Post……….

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