I had been singing in a rehearsal room in Dale End, B’ham
called Diamond Sound Studio’s. Just having some fun really,
nothing serious, although a certain side to my voice was beginning
to appear that I had never really encountered before.
A high pitch was appearing without any training, and people
were beginning to start listening. We were playing a ‘Judas
Priest’ song, ‘Dreamer Deceiver’, when the
door opened to the rehearsal room and in walked a guy by the
name of John Ward. John had just been sacked from a Thin Lizzy
type band called ‘Overdrive’. He suggested I audition
for them, as I had nothing to lose. I was fairly unsure about
all of this, being only 18, but nevertheless I stood in the
queue at the auditions. There was a long queue as I recall,
I was at the back talking to a bricklayer from Newcastle or
somewhere. As I had never really heard of the band, I thought
they must be fairly famous, auditioning all these people. When
the last guy came out and said ‘good luck’, it was
my turn. I was nervous.
There was a black bass player-Tony Forsythe, guitarist Dave
Wheeler and on drums, Roger Simms.
I think we ran through something like ‘Don’t believe
a word’, or something like that. I remember being overawed
by stacks of Marshall amplifiers and a huge chrome Yamaha drum
kit. But the band were shit hot. Certainly more professional
and together than any outfit I’d previously been involved
in. I was successful at the audition, although younger than
the rest of the band, this was their only concern. Mainly whether
or not I could afford to pay the rehearsal fees along with everyone
else. However, I was working as an apprentice for an engineering
company at the time, so that was no problem. ‘Overdrive’
turned out to be fairly well known in Birmingham, and gigs seemed
to be booked all over the place. I was to experience my first
visit to that
venue ‘The Railway’ which is (and had been since
the sixties) a must for all music fans especially rock.
I played several shows with the band and during my time with
them saw some member changes. A second guitarist, from Gibraltar
arrived, named Harry Chichon. Jesus, was he fast ! I had never
really seen playing like this before. The
original guitarist, Dave Wheeler, discovered God and the Pentecostal
church and disappeared never to be seen again. However, in my
now recent visits to The Railway, I had become a great fan of
a band called ‘Enigma’. They played great rock and
uncommercial, which I loved. They never really seemed to have
any luck, though. The lead guitarist was superb, named Nik Lloyd.
Bass player was Mick Walker and the drummer was Eddie Fincher
(later Midnight Blue). I asked Nik if he would be interested
in joining Overdrive and he said he’d try it out for a
Around this time, we did an interview for West Midlands Radio,
and attracted the attention of ‘The Animal's bass player,
Chas Chandler. Chas had his own studios in Portland Place, London
and invited us down to record some material, in the hope of
a hit. In fact, his sound engineer had written a song called
‘Sleeping Visions’ and primarily he only wanted
to record that. Feeling a little cheated, we went to London
anyway with session keyboard player Simon Tweed, and slept over
in Peckham at Tony Forsythe’s mom’s house.
was very stressful, as Chas had ideas of his own, and big guitars
and solos played no part in his grand design. the finished article
was an attempt at a pop song and didn’t suit the band
at all. Overdrive recorded demos at ZEL-LA studios in Edgbaston,
an old BBC studio, which turned out to be fairly well received.
Some Like it Hot
Toys Of War
Wrong Side of the Law
Let it Rock
then, Dave Brockenshaw, who worked at RCA, never managed to
secure any deal on our behalf and eventually we parted company
.Tony Forsythe moved to London, Roger Simms carried on with
various bands in the Midlands, Harry went back to Gibraltar
and Nik decided to reform ‘ENIGMA’. I was pleased,
to say the least, when he asked me to sing for them.
Enigma was destined never to be anything more than a local live
act, playing at venues like the Railway and the Mercat Cross’
in B’ham city centre, occasionally drifting out to play
the biker’s club in Redditch- the Hopwood Caravan Park.
But the band had a decent following and a magnetic quality for
me. This was mainly due to Mick Walker’s excellent songwriting-
something which the band themselves vastly understated.
Take An Illusion
A Change of Direction
Skies on Fire
Are you Ready (Thin Lizzy)
Down to Basics
In the Spring
of ‘82 the band split up and the drummer Eddie Fincher
auditioned for Judas Priest. I would not see Mick Walker again
for twenty years. Nik and I moved on to join the remnants of
another local band ‘Orion’. Brilliant musicians;
drums-Tony Jones(jonah). bass-Paul Prior, guitar-Brett Hammond
(later-Bigmouth). This band introduced me to beer in a big way.
The band were very into ‘RUSH’, and it showed in
their songwriting. Their previous singer had left to take up
other offers, and indeed eventually joined ‘Black Sabbath’.
His name was Tony (Cat) Martin. Orion recorded two excellent
tracks at ‘The Barn’, a 24 track studio out in Warwickshire,
under the auspices of then manager/ financer Jeff Edwards.
Stairway to the Stars
Lights Out (UFO)
Orion played gigs all over the Midlands, but rarely ventured
any further. At a point when I didn’t have a legal vehicle
on the road, Orion were playing a show down in Malvern, Worcs.
Obviously, having trouble getting to the show, I nevertheless,
stuck my neck out and remembering giving Jonah a lift to the
gig, only to find on my arrival, that the band had fired me
- before the gig!
went down well, as I recall, but it was my last. The band split
shortly afterward. Paul Prior became a session musician and
Jonah became drummer for 2AM Jam. Over the past year, I did
quite a lot of singing as a session vocalist for various people.
I think the first paid session I did was for a midlands act
not unlike ‘RUSH’, who I recorded only one track
for, albeit 6 minutes long! the band were called ‘OSSIRUS’
and the track was ‘Janavus 26’. I also sessioned
for another local act, ‘Trojan’.
were a fairly heavy outfit, the line-up being - lead guitar-Steve
Cartledge, Bass-Neil Coates, lead guitar-Steve Harris, drums-Alan
Kelly and myself as session vox. Recorded at Fairmorn Studios,
Castle Bromwich, B’ham.
Prisoner of Freedom
‘82 I sessioned for a live show with Trojan at The Golden
Eagle in B’ham, now sadly demolished. Great reviews in
Melody Maker. I remember we covered Judas Priests’ ‘Beyond
the Realms of Death’ . Reporter, Mary Anne Hobbs raved
In December ‘82 Trojan asked me to session in the studio
again, recording another five tracks, this time, at the bands
rehearsal studio, Missfire Studios, in Sparkbrook. They had
by this time dispensed with the bassist and replaced him with
Mark Badrick and had also found themselves a keyboard player
along the way in Paddy McKenna ! The result was a crossover
to commercialism from the normal heavy two guitar set up. One
of the lead guitarists, Steve Cartledge, had left at this stage.
Before leaving, he wrote both ‘Stevie’ and ‘Need
Hot Lip Reputation
Need Some More
The Life and Times of.....
In February ‘83, I found myself back in the studio with
Trojan again. Except they had gone for a name change, and had
now called themselves ‘SHY’. Steve Cartledge had
gone from the line-up; for what reason I cant recall, but the
rest of the guys were the same. Apparently, SHY came from ‘Steve
Harris’s Yobs’, but I’m not sure I believe
that, knowing what a quiet withdrawn sort of person Steve is.
I also recall a lot of conversation about the phrase ‘Seven
hard Years’. Perhaps that was how long the guys had been
slogging it out, I don’t know. A session at Rich Bitch
studios in Sellyoak, B'ham, produced the following;
Don’t Say No
Turn Out the Lights
Now I was
still only a session singer for the band at this stage and commercial
interest was developing.
Some tapes had been sent to a company called Ebony Records,
in Hull. Daryl Johnston the proprietor had offered the band
a track on one of his compilation albums ‘Metal Warrior’.
The band had to pay to be on the product, and stay in Hull to
record etc., but as it was the first main interest anyone had
shown, they grabbed it with both hands! So, in March ‘83
yet again, I sessioned at Ebony Records this time,
recording two tracks:-
was released on the album in ‘83 and received critical
acclaim as part of ‘The New Wave of British Heavy Metal’.
Finally, in June ‘83 I sang my last session for SHY. Back
with Rob Bruce at Rich Bitch -
Think of Me
some of the best songs the band had written to date. I am not
surprised that Ebony Records offered the band a recording contract
on the strength of them. As I was currently uninvolved with
any other band, and the recordings that I had sang on, had secured
the band a deal at last, they asked me if I would be prepared
to join the band, as they now had something to offer me. Obviously,
I was more than pleased to be a part of SHY at that time, after
all, I had worked on the project to make it what it was, as
well as the other muzo’s. But something odd happened here.
Amid all this excitement and apprehension, the drummer leaned
back behind his kit and folded his arms. “If you want
to join this band, you’ll have to ask my permission.”
Speechless, I looked around at everyone in the room and no-one
was saying anything. So, was this band the personal property
of Alan Kelly ? I wondered.
So, I asked his permission. And do you know what ? He sat and
thought about it for a while. And then he said “OK”,
as if he’d exercised his power over the situation and
events that were to take place in the near future. I remember
vividly leaning over his kit and saying ‘Thanks, this
will be last time I ever have to speak to you, I hope.’
Not a good start, you might think. But things stayed fairly
settled for a few years. SHY’s first full on album –
‘Once Bitten, Twice’.... was recorded in Hull, at
Ebony Records studio, which was a converted terraced house.
Take it All The Way
Give Me A Chance
Think Of Me
Chained by Desire
Once Bitten, Twice.....
in 1998 through Neat Records)
(Bonus Track - All on You)
back end of ‘83, SHY had achieved a considerable following,
packing out a B’ham club, called POSERS in Erdington.
It was here, through conversations with a financial consultant,
that we met our first manager, Barry Keen.
Barry had considerable financial connections and early in ‘84
he was to use them to promote SHY .
In February ‘84 we were offered a salary by Barry Keen’s
company ‘Dreamstar Management’ to quit our jobs
and go pro. I never hesitated for a second. in fact, I took
the great pleasure of slapping the first album on my managers
desk at work and saying ‘Stick your job!’. That
night we supported ‘Magnum’ at the B’ham Odeon
along with fellow support band ‘Steel’.
It had been a concert that Mr. Keen had invested a lot of money
in, and I don’t think we were brilliant by any stretch
of the imagination. But it gave us a taste of what was to come
and what we should expect.
April ‘84, saw us at The Barn studios in Warwickshire,
recording new demos.
Was I Wrong ? (Brave the Storm)
Throwing it All Away (unreleased)
Lonely Man (released 1999 ‘Regeneration’)
Two Hearts (released 1996 -bonus track - Brave the Storm - Japan)
In the late spring of ‘84, we recorded at a rather plush
studio; Rockfield Studio in Monmouth. Barry had persuaded RCA
to fund some demos so that they could hear the band recorded
properly under decent conditions and with more professional
My Apollo (Brave the Storm)
All on You (released 1998 - Once Bitten, Twice... Neat Records)
Now or Never (Unreleased)
Keen was out and about looking for the elusive major deal, we
kept ourselves busy writing and recording new songs to ready
ourselves for if and when anything big should kick off. Back
to the Barn.
Spirits In The Night (unreleased)
Behind Closed Doors (released bonus track ‘Brave the Storm’-Japan)
recording at Chipping Norton Studios, with Mungo Jerry producer,
Richie Gold, bought out a stunning track in, ‘Caught in
the Act’. However, Mark Badrick found himself either too
nervous or incapable of playing in time at this session, and
Roxy Music bassist Gary Twigg was drafted in to complete the
session. Sadly, this was the last time we worked with Mark,
who seemed to prefer his Kung Fu, and would insist in coming
to rehearsals with broken fingers.
Mark was finally replaced with ex-‘Trouble’ bassman
Roy Davis.(That peachy metal giant!) The result of these recordings,
was that A&R man Peter Robinson from RCA very much liked
the track, ‘My Apollo’. Barry was to arrange a full
live show with pro lighting rig at Goldiggers in Chippenham,
home of BBC live music broadcast. Coachloads of fans and muzo’s
as well came down from Brum, together with Moms and Dads. RCA
attended the concert, and were impressed enough to offer the
band a five year, seven album contract worth just under a million
pounds. Needless to say, we had a party- as you do !
Two Tommy Vance rock shows and a nationwide tour of the UK with
progressive rockers, Twelfth Night in October/ November saw
us on our way to recording a new studio album. The tour covered
B’ham Odeon, and the finale was the London Dominion Theatre.
We could not get enough of the live scene. Once you were toured
and tighter than you’d ever been before as a unit, you
didn’t want to stop.
Cue another support slot to Magnum at B’ham Odeon. But
tours were expensive, with PA, lighting, crew, bus and hotels
and the Twelfth Night tour had been financed initially through
Barry’s company. So, we had to stop and wait. However,
we did carry out a lower profile tour again around the U.K.
with local support bands opening up for us around the country.
signed a major contract with RCA in the summer of 1984.
At this time, there were major problems with Barry Keen’s
management outfit. It seemed that Barry’s company had
laid out in excess of 80 grand on our behalf, and that as soon
as the first years advance arrived from RCA, his company wanted
it all back in one hit. Just signed a deal and broke. These
were testing times, waiting around at the offices in the hope
that someone would turn up with our wages for the month. Sometimes
they did, sometimes they never answered the phone or even the
door. Something was afoot, that was for sure.
Over the next few months it transpired that Mr. Keen and his
partners had suffered a serious difference of opinion with regard
to Barry's company activities and they had decided to go their
seperate ways. The record company put us in the hands of a solicitor
as an intermediary, and he looked after all the contractual
obligations at the same time, while RCA searched for a suitable
replacement. In many ways, I felt sorry for Mr. Keen as he had
done a lot of groundwork on our behalf, only to have whatever
fruit picked by another manager. I know I am the only person
who felt this way in the band, but there you go.
Major press releases ensued, and songwriting shortlists were
drawn up for a new album to be recorded in Berkshire at Genetic
Studios. But first things first, pre-production. We moved into
Fastix rehearsal complex in Hockley (owned by now, session drummer
and drum teacher Paul Brookes), B’ham, with producer Tony
Platt. Tony had recorded several serious rock acts in his past,
and was no stranger to large projects such as this. All went
well, and pre-pro was completed in two weeks. The song arrangements
cleared of deadwood and spiced up somewhat, were ready to be
recorded. We landed in Berkshire in the late Autumn and spent
three wonderful months with a bar tab (which came to £1800.00!)
and a peppered steak every night if that was what you wanted
at the Miller of Mansfield pub. Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks fame
was recording in the next studio and even sharing our hotel
too. There were some great nights had by all.
The album was completed with few real hang-ups. John Sinclair
(keyboards-Ozzy Osbourne) and Pete Goalby (vox-Uriah Heep) both
guested as backing vocalists on the album. This was also our
first experience of a computer as Tony did various programming
with a ‘Fairlight’ system. The album was entitled
‘Brave The Storm’
Hold on (to your love)
Keep The Fires Burning
Brave The Storm
Wild, Wild Woman
Caught in the Act
Was I Wrong ?
(bonus track - Strangers in Town (b-side of Hold On)
were filmed for the album with regard to single promotion. The
first single, ‘Hold on’ was an elaborate affair,
with a video shot in Pinewood Studios (literally in the wood!)
with a carousel that had been flown in from some McCartney project
somewhere, fire engines and agency models abound. The carousel
shot turned into a revolving stage that was set up in a totally
different studio (Ewart’s)in the centre of London, surrounded
by a hired audience of students off the street! - (So that’s
how they did it!!) The single went straight into the charts
at no.60, and the album at 65. For the U.K., I guess that was
pretty good for first release week, but RCA had not had permission
to give T-shirts away with the product, and Gallup Pole took
us out and placed us at no.120.
A serious blow, that handicapped any real further sales impact
for a band of our stature at that time. The second video was
filmed at the Mean Fiddler at Harlesden, and as ‘Brave
the Storm’ was to be the second single, the video saw
tables and chairs flying around with a poltergeist in our midst!
(And some seriously overly made up musicians on the stage.)
Tourwise, in ‘85, promotion for this album came in the
form of support to Robin George at London Dominion Theatre in
June & UFO, nationwide across the U.K. once more, covering
all major venues and climaxing at the Hammersmith Odeon. Again,
we carried on and did another club level tour to further promote
the album in the U.K. Throughout the remainder of 1985, due
to a shortage of decent tours, we wrote constantly and found
ourselves recording demos on a regular basis at The Barn.
Run For Cover
Call of the Wild
Don’t Turn your Back on Love
Turn Me Loose
Who Do I turn To ?
Got Me Runnin’
‘86 , RCA made a decision to lose Steve Harris and myself
in Los Angeles for a few months, to co-write songs with as many
people as we could contact in the rock stars phone directory.
accommodated us in the Oakwood Apartment complex at Barham Blvd.,
Burbank. I think the reasons for this were two-fold. I don’t
believe they thought that some of our songs were up to scratch
for a follow up album, because we were too insular in our writing
methods. I also believe they wanted us to soak up the atmosphere
of Los Angeles and get to grip with what was going on in the
world - and come up to speed. Personally, I didn’t think
it was a bad idea.
Working with Don Dokken, Michael Bolton, John Parker (Chicago),
Jeff Paris, Michael Thompson, Bob Kulick(Skull), Michael Jay(Survivor)
Michael Des Barres(Power Station) and Duane Hitchings(Rod Stewart)
did us nothing but favours and opened our eyes no end.
During these writing sessions I was asked by Jeff Paris
to stand in for him as a session vocalist because he couldn’t
I arrived at the studio’s just off Sunset Boulevard, to
find a band in session with Andy Johns, The Rolling Stones producer,
I was asked to sing harmonies on various tracks in the company
of a man named Tom Keifer, who’s band was eventually named
was asked if I wanted cash or 0.25 % of the album sales I pondered
for a few seconds and thought to myself “Cinderella, Nah
!!” and took the cash; "Nightsongs" sold seven
million copies; story of my life.
The remainder of the band flew in to L.A. to rehearse &
record what we had co- written and the results were really encouraging.
Last Chance (became Break Down the Walls)
Cant Fight the Nights
When the Love is Over
Talk to Me
Changing (basics) (became Young Heart)
She’s not So Innocent
The Eyes of A Woman
Follow Your heart
Just Love Me
Whilst in L.A, RCA released a compilation album ‘Let Them
Eat Rock’ , featuring ‘The Hunter’, from ‘Brave
the Storm’. Featured on the same album were Priest, Grim
Reaper, Mass, Autograph, White Wolf, Gary O, Nick Gilder and
The Scorpions. We were in very good company.
’86 – more demos upon arrival home from
writing in the States
Changing (became Young Heart)
Only you (bonus track - Once Bitten Twice 1999 - Neat records
Someday (1999 - Regeneration- neat Records)
Blind Rage, Blind Fury (1999 - Regeneration- neat Records)
The songwriting petered out in July/August ‘86 with -
Wake up (unreleased)
Tell her its Over (unreleased)
Walk Away From Love (unreleased)
We had spent
a year writing an album on both sides of the Atlantic and now
it was time to record it. During the Summer of 1986 we toured
the length and breadth of the U.K in support to Twisted Sister.
These were a great bunch of guys, and so tall!! (Except the
drummer who was about five feet tall and dreamed of playing
for Rush. A second support band also came along for the ride,
namely Pallas. And we still had no manager.
During many visits to Peter Robinson at RCA in Bedford Avenue,
a conversation came up regarding Smallwood and Taylor. This
was a heavy weight management company that looked after Iron
Maiden. they had showed an interest, but they wanted to witness
the band live before they would make any decision. I think it
was after a show at the Hammersmith Odeon, that they recommended
a world wide tour supporting Maiden, otherwise they would take
on the project for a fee of 150 grand. Who says that music isn’t
run by money then !
Finally, after meeting producer Neil Kernon, we decided that
were going to get on famously recording an album together, so
that was that. Sifting through all the songs and kicking out
the deadwood, we arrived at a final list of tracks minus one.
‘Last Chance’, the song we wrote with Dokken, was
all but scrapped. Only the intro remained. As for co-writes
with all the other American writers, they pretty much remained
unchanged. After returning to Zel La studios in Birmingham one
last time for pre-production in August ‘86 with Neil Kernon,
we flew to what would be our home for three months in Blaricum.
This was just outside the radio town of Hilversum, in Holland.
The studios that had been chosen by the producer were Soundpush
Studios because of the Solid State Logic desk, and the huge
live drum room. The studio had a large amount of staff and was
literally down the road from Wisseloord studio where Def Leppard
were recording ‘Hysteria’ at the same time with
So came three months of gruelling recording, debates, arguments,
fights, drunkenness and all the other things that had become
the norm for every SHY recording session.
We struggled for ages to get a decent guitar sound. In the end
Steve and Neil Kernon flew back to London to fetch different
Marshall’s. But upon their return there was still no joy.
Neil got the studio to advertise nationwide on the radio for
anyone with a decent Marshall of any description to come to
the studio and bring it with them. People turned up from everywhere.
Amplifiers were everywhere you looked. But still no joy. The
final answer came from a conversation with Mutt Lange who presumably
had been suffering the same problem. ‘ Have you got one
of those little JHS rock boxes ?’ he asked. Yes we had.
After taking this personal practice amp the size of a Walkman
and plugging it through a graphic equaliser, we finally found
the sound. Monster. Unlike the guitar, there were few issues
with the other instruments.
was played live apart from some great programmes that John Parker
bought over with him from L.A. for his co-written song ‘Just
Love Me’. The whole of the staff joined in for the vocals
on ‘Break Down the Walls’, even the cleaners! Adrian
Vandenberg even popped inand had a look! The problem of a cover
version to consider was solved after a shortlist was drawn up
and Cliff Richard’s ‘Devil Woman’ was pulled
out of the hat! Despite the obvious piss taking, which was rife
for years, the song has always proved a winner with audiences
wherever we have played. The recording was a great success.
The mixing and the vocals for the single b-sides were taken
back to Red Bus Studios in London. We spent another ten days
here, carrying out various mixes and I sat pulling the chewing
gum out of my hair that Neil had kindly placed there while he
was pissed in the back of a taxi one night.
Everyone seemed really pleased with Neil’s work. On the
last night, we drove over to Hammersmith Odeon to see Queensryche
supporting Bon Jovi. Backstage, we met the bands and talked
about working and recording with Neil Kernon. Neil’s previous
album had been Queensryche’s ‘Rage For Order’.
A bloody masterpiece. I guess he was an all round clever guy.
Shy worked with Neil once more, recording ‘Welcome to
the Madhouse’, but this was long after I had left the
band, in the nineties.
The only other track written & recorded specifically for
the project was ‘ Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Your Love’.
This was recorded at Trident Studios by Marc Freegard in march
‘87. It has always been one of my favourite tracks. It
ended up being used as a bonus. Kerranng gave a free ep taster
of the album away on the front of their mag in ‘87. The
album was titled Excess All Areas.
to touring this album. First up was a nationwide with my old
friend Bob Kulick supporting Meatloaf on his 20/20 tour around
the U.K. Bob played guitar for Meatloaf and we spent a lot of
time together. The finale, which was two nights at Wembley Arena,
saw me on stage with Meat, singing a medley of 50’s numbers!
I wasn’t even born for Christ sake! I made an arse of
myself, forgetting the words to ‘Johnny B Good’,
mind you John Parr and Helen Reddy couldn’t remember them
either , so I guessed it didn’t matter anyway! We made
a lot of new friends on this tour, and the next one was round
Wherever we toured, I always spent more of my time with the
crew than I did with the band. Whether or not that was because
I found them more down to earth or not I don’t know. But
inevitably, I would share hotel rooms with Willy the lighting
director, or more often than not the sound engineer. Every time
we would check into a hotel, I would sign the book, only to
turn round and find the band had hit the town already. This
began to nag at me in a big way. I had never really got on with
Alan Kelly after his unsavoury welcome to the band in ‘83,
but there had been a gulf growing between us over the years.
Unfortunately, Alan seemed to lead the band on the social side,
or perhaps they just gelled together, I don’t know. Perhaps
it was me all along. But this was one of the only tours where
I had to have an eighteen stone guitar roadie and a mad Geordie
sit on me, to stop me kicking the living shit out of Alan Kelly.
Things were getting a little out of hand.
A major European tour with Gary Moore and his ‘Wild Frontier
tour’ was next up, and it took us from Spain to Scandinavia
and all over the UK with the majority of the shows being in
Germany. I’ll never forget Michael Schenker standing on
the side of the stage all night at Hannover. At the end of the
show, he caught me as we walked off and said, ‘Hey man,
that was some show!’ It remains one of the most memorable
concerts I’ve performed.
At the end of the tour, we played an open air bull ring in Madrid.
It was a free festival; there were 30,000 people. Gig going
well-audience screaming their balls off. Big rock comes flying
on stage and smashes Steve’s guitar, seriously cutting
Steve’s arm into the bargain. We have no choice but to
vacate the gig. As it was the last gig, Gary Moore’s crew
had made a few gallons of vodka punch. Very strong. The next
morning, I woke up on a beach in Biarritz, northern Spain with
no clothes, nothing. The band had dumped me. Apparently, I’d
been throwing bricks at the coach windscreens and had also smashed
the coach AC system.
The roadie, Big Les Wilson, who worked for Black Sabbath and
Van Halen back in the late 70’s was heard to say that
I ‘was worse than Ozzy Osbourne on tour’. I never
drank vodka again.
I also found the quickest way to get up in the morning and be
wide awake. It was on the Belgian border. I had a Bren gun shoved
through the curtains of my bunk bed and ‘DRUG CHECK-OUT!!!’
screamed at me. That works. I caught a food allergy in Helsinki
and ended up in hospital just before the gig. A ten hour ice
breaker ferry from Stockholm just for that. I was well pissed
off. I discharged myself and got back to the gig with about
ten minutes before showtime, but I wasn’t well and it
showed. Bloody North Sea Fish!!
The band received a stunning response everywhere they played
in Europe and we came home to Reading Festival with Alice Cooper.
Unfortunately, we didn’t do ourselves any favours here.
As everyone seemed ready to go on stage, I went on stage! Unfortuately,
the roadie had disappeared with the guitars for a final tune
up or something and blow me, I had to come off stage and then
go on again when everybody had got their shit together. This
had never happened before and could not have looked good.
Shortly afterwards RCA cleared out all bands on their roster
with a debit sheet, and we were one of them. A support slot
to Bon Jovi at the NEC went down well, but whether we liked
it or not, we were looking for another record deal and fast.
During the touring of 1987 manager Neil Levine from Light and
Sound Design in Birmingham, came on board as our new manager.
I never thought ‘Stagefright Management’ was very
encouraging, but there you go! Neil was a pro player in the
Jewish Mafia of the music industry, and new more important bosses
in the biz than I had ever even heard of.
Neil guided us through twelve months without a deal, recording
new demos, taking the flak from the press about how we’d
had our chance and lost a major deal; how we’d never get
another one, blah, blah..... . We carried on. In September ‘87
we returned to our demo base, The Barn.
Let The Hammer Fall
If you want it
Why Does our Love Have To End
All of Your Love Tonight
You’re Gonna’ Lose Her.
Standing in The Line of Fire
None of these tracks
ever made the album that was to be SHY’s next release,
but all found their way to product over the coming years.
Under the watchful eye of Neil Levine, (which caused a big break
up at the time:- manager come producer = conflict of interest)
we again went in to the studio to record new songs in early
Love on the Line
She’s Got What it Takes
two of these songs were very commercial and real album contenders.
They found their way to Los Angeles the following year. Another
session of demos that were recorded at UB40’s studio,
The Abbatoir with engineer Paul Talbot were in August ‘88.
Time After Time
Give it All You’ve Got
How Does it Feel ?
In The Line of Fire
Set The night on Fire
Love’s Just Another Word
set to be recorded were back at Rich Bitch in October ‘88.
Give it All You’ve got
Love On The Line
Axe to Grind
Make My Day
Never Trust A Stranger
we played 35 shows to try out new material mixed with old -
see gig history.
Now amid all this,
it seemed that being six feet and two inches tall with a big
frame is not a great size to be, if you’re a budding rock
star. Through most of my career thus far, I had been dogged
by people as being overweight and when I looked at my competition,
I always knew where they were coming from. But trying to be
a small guy, when you’re a big strapper like I am, is
never an easy issue to deal with. My managers’ have put
me in gymnasiums, tried to suggest diets, taken me out shopping
for complimentary clothing, you name it, I’ve heard it
all. They even asked my wife if she could make me look like
her!! But what was to come, in looking for a new record deal,
took the biscuit.
Neil Levine was courting a company called London Records, which
are probably still a big concern, I dont know. The head of the
A&R dept., had shown a definite interest, and at one point
we were regularly selling out two-nighters at the London Marquee
Club. I’ll never forget this. This guy told Neil, that
if we played a blinder of a show, he would sign the band and
discuss terms in the morning. Cool! So, we play a killer show.
Sold out. Again. Guy says, ‘Brilliant Neil, speak tommorrow’.
Next day, I get a call. ‘London Records wont sign SHY,
cause you’re too big; you’re unmarketable’.
What do you do ?
Well, me ? I locked myself away for twelve weeks. I didn’t
see the band or the manager or any fucking record company people.
I cut down to 250 calories a day, and went out every morning
running around 6/7 miles up hill and down dale. In the end it
worked. I lost 50 pounds in 3 months.
If you can believe this, I had to catch a train from Manchester
to London and go and see this guy. I got to his office, and
he made me walk backwards and forwards in front of his desk!
‘My God, how did you do that - I cant believe you’re
the same person!!’
The answer was simple. I wanted to. I had to. I would not let
some two bit A&R man tell me I was unmarketable, when 50%
of your fans in those days never got to see you like they do
now; they were buying my voice and the bands records for Christ
sake! Would people only buy a band’s records if the musicians
were a certain shape and size ?! Did it ever affect Meatloaf
- no. OK, there was some novelty perhaps, because he was real
Neil Levine did the greatest thing he had ever done for me at
this point. he had secured a contract with MCA records, but
hadn’t said anything. After London Records were jumping
up and down and had finally offered us a deal, Neil just calmly
said, ‘Nah,..... thanks, but no thanks, we’re signing
with MCA. And we walked out of the guy’s office. What
a fuckin’ star.
Neil Levine achieved all sorts of sponsorship for the band,
which was something we’d never experienced before, from
sunglasses to full backline. Quite an achievement. It took Neil
twelve months to court the record and the publishing companies
back into bed with us. Rondor Publishing signed SHY as did MCA
records in 1989. But Rondor gave us our publishing rights back
after a couple of months, as they could not agree a statutory
rate figure that would tie in with MCA’s record deal.
So MCA Publishing signed the band after all.
Having a small studio at home in Rochdale, I recorded a nine
track demo that I sold through the SHY fan club which I also
ran for a while, until it got out of hand. The tape was titled
Flame of your Heart
Rockin St. Boy
One More Shot
Hold Me Now
No Gettin’ Away.
Other tracks written
at home were:-
Don’t Look Back
Hold Me Now
Aint So Easy
A Piece of My Heart
Nothin’s Gonna Bring Me Down
Break My Heart
Defy The Eagle
Bring it all Back
The Downward Road
What in The World
Memories fade to Grey
Love Strikes at Midnight
Head over heels
Make a Wish
None of this material
ever really saw the light of day on a commercial scale. it’s
impossible to say if it ever will.
The dawn of ‘89 found us with new producer Roy Thomas
Baker of Bohemian Rhapsody fame along with The Cars and many
more famous bands. The guy was a legend in his own lifetime.
I guess we couldn’t have been happier. RTB (as he became
known - because they were the letters on his myriad of car licence
plates which he shipped around by transporter wherever he went
!!) lived in Arizona and wished to record at Enterprise Studios
in los Angeles. So be it! The whole band flew out to LA in February
1989 for three months to make what was to be our most important
album to date.
We stayed back at the Oakwood Apartments again and took our
road manager Nigel Evans with us this time. (Guitarist from
Tobruk) The first real problem reared its ugly head when we
had checked into a real laid back rehearsal facility by the
name of Alleycat Studios in downtown Burbank. RTB turned up
after we’d set the equipment up and we were running through
‘Burnin’ Up’, probably the most uptempo and
heavy track we were to record. As RTB wasn’t keen on the
intro, he suggested some changes. Alan Kelly immediately stood
up from behind the kit, and suggested that he thought this was
a lousy idea. With no further ado, RTB got back in his gold
Rolls Royce and went back to Arizona. Doh.
So what now ?! RTB had informed our manager that he wouldn’t
be attending any pre-production and that he would be back in
two weeks for the recording of the album. Well, there was nothing
else to be said. We rehearsed the songs back to front until
we were blue in the face and could do no more.
To be honest, I killed most of the first month working out in
the gym and lazing by the pool in the day drinking beer, while
the guys recorded backing tracks down at the studio with RTB.
He got through a few sound engineers, firing them as and when
he was displeased with the way they had gone about something
and just as quickly, another one would pop up. But he seemed
oblivious to it all to me. In fact, I got the distinct impression
he didn’t really want to be there and he was just killing
time. RTB would not work weekends and one particular Monday
morning I arrived at the studio to find yet another engineer
sacked. Apparently, as we were paying for a lock out on the
studio, which meant no-one could use it whether we were there
or not, one of the engineers took it upon himself to make a
fast buck over the weekend and record a classical orchestra
in our studio! Cheeky bastard! Obviously all the desk settings
had been changed and we had literally to start from scratch.
There was much debate over the coming weeks, about how the album
sounded by management and company alike, but at the end of the
day, Paddy McKenna had booked his wedding to his smashin’
girlfriend Jo for round about a month before we were due to
come home. Everybody decided to go back to the UK to celebrate.
However, I stayed in L.A. for the remaining month although i
had undergone surgery and was in no fit state to be a good judge
with regard to the mixes.
A friend of RTB’s helped me convalesce in LA for a couple
of weeks, her name was Leslie St. Nicholas. She was the wife
of the guitarist from Steppenwolf. When I had fully recovered,
I flew back to the UK not overly happy with the recordings,
but having totally lost the plot. The band in my eyes, had no-one
to blame but themselves for the quality of the finished album,
which seemed to lack a decent low end to it. Another bass guitar
was added to the whole mix of the album back at Rich Bitch studios
in Birmingham, but it never really salvaged it. Quite how it
had all gone so wrong, I never understood. How could 125,000
dollars have ended up in a bargain bin for just 99c one month
after it was released ?!!!
In retrospect, I think we partied too much, LA very probably
went to our heads and in my opinion, the producer was just sitting
there earning his money, not really breaking his balls, ‘cause
it was obvious from day 1 in pre-production that his opinions
The album was finish mixed in May ‘99 to plan, it was
called ‘ Misspent Youth’.
We were harangued no end in the press for the quality of the
album, but we had no choice but to carry on and tour the product.
Give it All You Got
After The Love is Gone
Never Trust a Stranger
Shake The Nations
When You Need Someone
Love On The Line
Make My Day
Singles were ‘Give
it All you Got’ and ‘Broken Heart’.
In December 1989 we set out to tour on a wide scale with Manowar.
Hardly a suitable support slot for an AOR band you might think.
Well so did we. But it was the only thing going at all. Rather
than not tour at all, we took it.
Arriving in Paris to find the bass amp was still in Birmingham,
we were confronted by second support band Sabbat. Lots of swords
being stuck in the stage and that sort of thing. And they did
a heavy metal version of the Lords Prayer as I remember.
As you can imagine, the audience were of a very heavy metal
nature and were a little bemused by us. Toulouse was not dissimilar,
but when we landed at Turin, Italy, we had a shock. The gig
was a 6000 seat cycle stadium and sold out.
Manowar spent a lot of time praying to the stage for some reason
and chanting ‘Death to false Metal’.
As we were opening up, I was rather taken aback to hear the
audience chanting ‘Tony, Tony,..’ wildly as I came
out of the tunnel and onto the stage. We had never been to Italy
before, so this looked like it would be a scorcher of a show.
And so it proved , with the audience going mental until around
the fourth or fifth song – all the power died.
Our road manager ran on stage to inform us that Manowar did
not consider us to be artistically appropriate for their tour.
They had disconnected the power to the stage. That was the end
of that. It was a long drive back to Birmingham.