Well the year has really been a mixture of good and bad so far, with the “bad” probably just edging out as the winner! Things can only get better as they say and optimism will hopefully always override any bad happenings!
I apologise in advance, but I think I shall have to use the famous legal term “allegedly” quite a lot in this newsletter, as one or two of the “not so good” areas that have happened so far this year, do rather point in some extremely convenient directions as to where the cause may lie!
January was in many ways a total disaster as the planned One Man Show on the west coast of America was “mysteriously” cancelled by the agent at the very last minute following “alleged” conversations with certain members of the management of a well known band whom I play with, but who will remain nameless of course!
This meant that all the other plans for January and February that had been made, (and which had been arranged around these solo dates), were thrown into complete chaos and of course there was no time to try and rearrange anything at all or to fill in the months with alternative work at such short notice. To say that there is a sour taste left in the mouth would be putting it mildly and the “excuses” that came our way involving the mysterious cancellation can only be described as being akin to that of Monika Lewinski saying that she only went under the White House table to look for some chewing gum that she had stuck there earlier.
Enough said I think!
Never mind I thought, and sleeves were rolled up all round and work immediately commenced on some music for FOX Television in America for their Sports Channel which hopefully they will use in the coming months. I also had a nice show to look forward to in Jakarta, (which was the rearranged show from the one that was postponed for New Year’s Eve).
An e-mail was received and this was postponed yet again which really turned the first two months of the year into an almost total financial and musical disaster. (Actually in retrospect…it did).
(Don’t worry, it does get better)!
Once again I “regrouped” and I thought I’d spend some time at the flat on the Isle of Man.
That’ll be nice…
………well it would have been had I not returned to a few hundred gallons of effluence in the basement, (not mine I hasten to add) , four large holes in the roof, two interior collapsed walls and the central heating failing to work!
(My tropical fish had died as well).
(Honestly, it does get better)!
Well, for obvious reasons I didn’t stay there too long and came back to England to breathe in some fresh London air. (Trust me, diesel fumes from ancient Routemaster buses beat the hell out of a few tons of brown smelly stuff wafting up at you 24 hours a day)! Once my lungs got used to the change of “filth” I started putting a new itinerary together that would hopefully at least keep me out of mischief!
I recorded some sound bytes for some radio programmes, including one on the new progressive rock scene which is really buoyant at the moment as there are some great bands around such as Mars Volta, Tool and my favourite band of the moment…Muse.
More recently I took part in a television programme about the life of the Sex Pistols, which I have to say was really enjoyable to do as the researchers had actually done their job properly and knew the true story of what went on back in the late seventies….and if you want to know what that was….well, you’re just have to watch the programme when it comes out!!....I just hope they didn’t edit it so much that nothing comes across properly. When you do these kind of programmes they interview you for three hours and use three minutes at best!
There are two more television programmes of interest which I took part in, well they’re especially of interest if you live in the Yorkshire Television region, (as that’s the only region where one of the programmes is to be shown)!...........
…………..and that is That’s Your Lot, which is a Yorkshire Television programme hosted by Richard Whitely and it really is a really good quiz show involving antiques in the “Call My Bluff” vein of things. I have done the programme before and really enjoyed it. It certainly deserves to be networked, which is one good reason why probably it won’t be!!
I think I will be recording two programmes of this show which will probably go out sometime in either March or April.
The second programme I was heavily involved in is one that was recorded for BBC 1 and entitled “Looking For Jesus”. (Well that was the working title it had, so watch out for any name change)!
It’s scheduled to go out on Maundy Thursday during Easter on BBC 1 and I get the great job of hosting the programme and travelling around the country interviewing some truly fascinating people. I really enjoyed doing this greatly and met some wonderful people and made a lot of new friends in the process. I highly recommend you catch this programme regardless of whether or not you have any beliefs or not as it is extremely entertaining, quite funny in places and very moving in parts as well.
Some television has already gone out that I was fortunate enough to take part in such as Countdown during January and also Grumpy Old Christmas and Grumpy Old Men, both of which have been repeated.
It’s always hard to keep up with repeated programmes such as Live At Jongleurs which seems to be on one channel or another almost every night these days…..oh how I wish I was on a royalty!!!!
(Incidentally, they are recording a new series of one man stand up shows but sadly I haven’t got the hosting job because of my touring commitments…..life goes on as they say)!
One very interesting little jaunt that appeared from nowhere was that of travelling to Switzerland, to the Italian part of the country to the beautiful city of Lugano, where I performed with Tony Fernandez and Lee Pomeroy for a charity night at a great club in aid of a foundation created by the parents of a young girl who had been tragically shot and killed by drug dealers as an act of revenge against her husband who was a federal police agent and even more disgustingly whilst she was 8 months pregnant.
The story is horrific but the parents are a remarkable couple and they have worked tirelessly to get the foundation going in the memory of their daughter and I have every admiration for them and what they are trying to do.
As it was the 70th year anniversary of the Hammond organ, I played just the Hammond C3 plus a Korg Triton and a mini-moog. All borrowed equipment. The mini-moog was quite sick, (well very sick if the truth be known), but it managed to get through before dying during the last piece!!! The C3 was in great condition though and the Triton was new so that was fine.
Tony used a borrowed kit and it probably now needs new skins and rims after the bashing he gave it!! Lee was as brilliant as ever and his bass solo stole the show for sure.
The hospitality we were given there was second to none and we have vowed to do a much bigger concert there as soon as we possibly can in order to help the foundation. Many thanks to friends who travelled from Italy and En gland to support the show, it was great to see you there.
The only other events of note so far this year concern California.
YES did a great “unplugged” promotional trip around LA at the end of January, including visiting many radio stations, performing on a live TV chat show, (well as live as they would allow us), and playing live at Tower Records, (which was interesting for many reasons to say the least)!!!
What was pretty cool though was that we played live in a television studio which was then beamed out to loads of cinemas throughout the United States where people were watching the new DVD Yesspeak.
From all accounts this went down really well and the people that I have spoken to who were present at one of the selected theatres said that there was a great atmosphere and that they al had a really great time. Some were almost like parties apparently!
Just one week after returning to England and getting over the jet lag, I flew back again. (I know , why didn’t I stay out there….well I didn’t know at the time that I was going back and so I already had booked my unchangeable airline tickets).
This time I went back to announce the OUT THERE dvd which is due for release in America in mid March. The announcement was made at the convention held by the distributor, (Ventura), at a beautiful resort about a mile north of Los Angeles.
The weather was gorgeous, the hospitality great and I did a short one man show after one of the dinners which was a lot of fun….here’s hoping they buy a few copies of the dvd after all that!!!
It’s really sad at this juncture to have to inform you of the sad passing of two very dear friends of whom I am sure that many of you have either met or have certainly been aware of over the years.
Back in the 1970’s I had what I consider still to be the true “original” English Rock Ensemble and which included a fabulous brass section of Reg Brooks on trombone and Martyn Shields on trumpet.
Sadly Martyn passed away at the beginning of March in Spain where he had been living for some time fighting lung cancer which had sadly spread throughout his body in his final days.
Martyn remained his usual cheerful self right to the end and died peacefully in his sleep but his memory will last a lifetime for all of us who had the pleasure of either knowing him as a person or had the joy of playing with such a fine musician. His passing truly marks the end of a very special era of the English Rock Ensemble and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and children.
Many of you will be aware that in the early days of YES, there was a disc jockey by the name of Ed Sciarky who almost single-handed “broke” YES in the Philadelphia region and in doing so helped YES to expand with its music throughout America.
Ed became legendary amongst all “jocks” in America and was loved and deeply respected by all who knew him.
Sadly, his health failed considerably over the last two or three years of his life culminating in severe diabetes creating the necessity for him to have a leg amputated last year. Amazingly this did nothing to slow Ed down and he continued to work and also to attend his usual batch of concerts of bands that he loved.
I saw him last at one of my shows at the end of last year, where he was his useful enthusiastic self about everything.
In February though, Ed suddenly passed away leaving a great void in the history of YES and also in the lives of all who knew him. It’s a huge loss to music but his legacy still lives on and always will do and we send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, in the knowledge that she, like us, will have more than enough wonderful memories of Ed to last us all for the rest of our lives.
The OUT THERE cd is now available throughout Scandinavia and Europe and hopefully very soon in the USA and Japan as well.
The DVD of OUT THERE will also be released world wide toward the end of March and hopefully will surprise some as to how it has been put together as it really is unique. Robert Garofalo and his team at Classic Pictures have surpassed themselves I think with this unique approach to this dvd. Personally, (but I am biased of course) , I think it is tremendous although I must be honest when I say that my blood pressure does rise fractionally every time the face of a certain ex-singer appears…..maybe I could do my own “director’s edit” one day just for myself!!!!
Apart from these releases there are no plans for any new recordings in the near future for many reasons, including those of financial restraints and the “death” of the cd market being two extremely good reasons to start with!
OUT OF THE BLUE and THE WIZARD AND THE FOREST OF ALL DREAMS should hopefully have European releases within the next few months though which will be nice, and hopefully this will stop the dreaded export market once and for all in these territories.
There are still no plans for a new YES product although undoubtedly this topic will come up in discussions whilst we are on the road this year touring.
The YES tour begins with rehearsals in Seattle at the beginning of April and finishes on the 15th of May in Boston. I will then be going on to New York to take part in a tribute concert for Bob Moog on the 18th before flying back to the UK for a few days before commencing the European tour at the beginning of June.
There is a remote possibility at the time of going to press of The New English Rock Ensemble playing in France at a festival on the 22nd of May, but this is still to be confirmed as there are a lot of “ifs” and “buts” as regards getting my equipment there from America and then into Scandinavia for the start of the YES European tour.
Discussions are also underway as regards performing four of five concerts of the New Gospels, either for Christmas or for Easter 2005, but these negotiations are at a very early stage.
I have also been offered a short term role in a West End musical!.....and I’m not telling you which one at this juncture either!!!!
Finally, plans are going ahead to record another show purely in order to film another dvd. This follows the relative success of Legend 2000 and will be along similar lines except for the fact that I will just be performing on a piano and will possibly have one or two surprise guests.
This will be recorded some time between the YES touring at a venue yet to be announced, (although I have heard the Wimbledon Theatre mentioned a couple of times), and will be a purely one off affair. Keep your eyes peeled on the website for further announcements as regards this and also in the next newsletter by which time we will have a definitive date for the recording.
I have used the first couple of months of this year to carefully review my musical life and future and have come up with the following plans, as I feel it is now time for a change of direction.
This has been brought about for many reasons, including the fall in cd sales and the losses incurred on solo tours over recent years.
I have therefore decided that all solo touring as I have been doing it in the past, has to finally come to an end once and for all.
I will however always be looking to do more “epic” events and “one-offs”, provided that they can be well funded by sponsorship.
It is pointless my “dumming down” my stage shows in order to fit income from the theatre attendances as that simply produces a second rate show and second rate production and I am not interested in doing that. Therefore I have decided that apart from the odd one-offs that may be financially viable, 2005 and 2006 will see the end of my solo touring.
To this end I have come up with the following plan.
Between now and the end of 2006, I will be doing one more tour of each of the following musical genres and in as many territories that want it and where I can make it viable.
Viability is crucial to making “THE LONG FAREWELL” tour work and should any areas be obvious as non viable, then that particular area or country will be crossed off of the “Long Farewell” list.
Here are the four tours that I hope to accomplish during this “wind down” period.
THE ONE MAN SHOW (with guests)
A CHURCH TOUR (with guests)
A NEW ENGLISH ROCK ENSEMBLE TOUR
A NEW GOSPELS TOUR
The length of these tours will of course be dependant upon their viability and when they will happen will also be dependant of course upon the YES itinerary around which these will fit.
So what I am going to do instead?
I am hoping that I will be able to concentrate more on the writing side of my music and work on some dreams that I have had for some years now. Over the last months I am ashamed to say that because of personal pressures I had forgotten about my musical dreams, but realise that without them you can’t be a true artist, composer and musician, and that’s what I always wanted to be.
Happy dreams everybody and have a great Spring………..