Sincere apologies for the late GORR, and I have linked it in with June...so late for May, early for June!
First off I have to report on the tour which was everything I could have hoped and dreamed it could have been, plus more. The amazing amount of hard work put in really did pay off and the team out on the road for the 14 shows was second to none in every respect.
All the band, the English Chamber Choir, The Orion Symphony Orchestra, Philip Franks the narrator, Guy Protheroe the conductor, the sound crew, the bands fabulous tech guys (Mr B, EJ, Ewok and Mad Malc), the lighting crew, the drivers, the chefs, the management, Wotsit our production manager and loads of others that are too numerous to mention. All I can say is that it was the most wonderful tour I have EVER been on and there was such sadness when we walked off the stage in Llandudno that our adventure was all over.
Some of our “party” celebrated in the bar until the early hours and some celebrated by skinny dipping at 2 in the morning in an icy cold sea. I, being just a week or so away from becoming a pensioner, was tucked up in a nice warm bed at the time with my Horlicks!
The band coach back to London the following morning had just two people on board who were not asleep, namely myself and thankfully Kevin our driver!
The box set album is due out this month and everybody here is excited about the different packages and box sets which are so wonderfully put together.
The only dampeners for me are the bootlegs of the shows that have appeared for sale on the internet. I’ve had enough of these crooks and thankfully now have the backing of the record company and management to go after these people in a very heavy handed way and take immediate legal action.
Sticking with Journey, there are meetings about to take place to assess the offers that have come in for Journey performances elsewhere in the world and so hopefully by the next GORR we should have some positive information to give out.
So what else happened in May.............Unbelievably I became a pensioner for starters which was a huge shock I can tell you! We held a party at the Grand Order of Water Rats which was fabulous. All the ERE (with the exception of Tony Fernandez who was back in Portugal) turned up as did the Earl Gray Band who played and were as brilliant as ever, plus loads of people sitting in to play including Dave Colquhoun and Ashley Holt from the ERE, a dozen or so from the English Chamber Choir, my son Adam and Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden who pretty much destroyed the drum kit with sheer power and brilliance!
Loads of my fellow rats joined in and one of the highlights was a brilliant ukulele session from Mike Martin and Kaplan Kaye.
The strangest line-up of the evening, but one that went down a storm was that of Nicko on drums, myself on keyboards, Clive Poole on guitar, Ray Begg on bass, Terry Marshall on saxophone and Jess Conrad on vocals!!!
It may be a few months away but I have to mention and give a plug to the Grand Order of Water Rat’s Ball which is being held on November 23rd at the Grosvenor House in Park Lane on November 23rd. If you fancy a night out that you’ll never forget then please check this out. The entertainment is unbelievable with Roy Wood, The Orion Symphony Orchestra, The English Chamber Choir, Neil Innes, Sue Perkins and Kevin Orkian already confirmed.
Two days prior to the 65th birthday party I was installed as Worshipful, Master of Chelsea Lodge, which is the Masonic Lodge for Entertainers. My Charities for my year are The Carer’s Trust, The Eisteddfod for Children with disabilities and The Masonic Trust for Boys and Girls. I’m very proud of what both the Water Rats and Chelsea Lodge do for wonderful charities and the way they put the main focus on to these charities and not on to themselves.
I had great fun doing the voice over for Saxon’s new DVD. It’s a really good rockumentary and very well put together. Not sure of the release date, but well worth keeping an eye out for.
One tinge of sadness was attending the funeral of my great comedian friend Joe Goodman who died earlier this month. He had a fabulous send off as the massive turn out showed just what a great guy he was. A tireless worker for charity within the Water Rats and for the Bud Flanagan Leukaemia Trust. He’s left us all with great memories, but he will be sorely missed.
On the 29th of May I fly to Italy for a concert in Schio, details of which have just been released. It will be a 2 hour piano concert, all music as my Italian is appalling!!! I’m looking forward to this very much. It’s a beautiful part of Italy.
Moving in to June it’s very much a month of sorting stuff out. Some studio work to do, lots of tidying up loose ends and that should just about be finished by the end of the month when I fly to Tokyo for two piano concerts.
Looking ahead, on the 8th July I will be at the Festival Hall performing on the piano, (probably Julia from 1984) in a concert celebrating the music of Sir Tim Rice and then three days later on the 11th I’ll be at the Henley Festival doing a one man piano show and then on the 24th of July it’s back to Italy again for another piano show, this time in Verona.
Harking back to the tour, whilst travelling around I started to make a list of projects I wanted to do, some I had started, some still only in very early stages and some, further down the line, but what was an eye-opener was how long the list actually became by the end of the tour. Any thought of retirement goes out of the window, that’s for sure.
I will be doing an update in June....a sort of GORR plus, so keep your eyes open for that and thanks again for all your support and encouragement, it’s always so much appreciated.