BLOG NO.7 – IF YOU LIKE TO READ PART 1 FIRST, CLICK HERE
In my 40-odd years as an actor, puppeteer and movement choreographer in theatre, television and film I was fortunate and honoured enough to meet and work with some music legends – both human and places – from David Bowie to Capital Record Studios in LA. It’s only recently that I realised music has been with me my whole adult working life, in one form or another, and I thought I’d share these close encounters with you. So here is Part 2 of those encounters….
I opened a door for Elton John, and ended up shining a spotlight on him – Firstly, I have to say that these things didn’t happen one after the other; the first was actually in 1974 and second in 1976. The first wasn’t as an unexpected encounter as you might imagine as we had something in common: the National Youth Theatre. I was in it, and he was one of its patrons, so holding a door open for him at the Shaw Theatre in London – home of the NYT – was always a possibility. Nevertheless, for this 16-year-old lad who was a massive fan and had all his albums (more than any other legend I met) it was a major event!
The second came about because of the NYT. One of its admin staff knew this rock n roll lighting company – whom he had connections with .- were looking for a general dog’s-body, knew I was an Elton John fanatic, and knew they were about to do his concern at Wembley Stadium. I don’t even think I had an interview.
So there were two amazing things happening here for this lad from Stanley: being at Wembley and working on an Elton John concert that also had The Beach Boys and Eagles playing! Actually, The Beach Boys came to haunt Elton John, because they stole that Summer Solstice Day. Not because Elton was bad, but because he had choses to play nearly his whole new Captain Fantastic album, and all the 75,000 audience wanted were his old faithfuls. He soon realised their frustration, and that’s when he threw his piano stool into the ‘pit’! (Pictured above.)
So it was that I got to shine a follow spot onto his then balding head; this was before he had the implants. My day…nay, my year had been made!
If you were so inclined to want to hear (only) the Elton John part of this concert, someone went and recorded it and posted it on YouTube, HERE click to access it. The quality isn’t very good, but click if you’d like to give it a listen. I composed an instrumental piece (using Apple Loops) inspired by his Funeral For A Friend track on Captain Fantastic. Mine is called Funeral For A Young Fisherman, and you can hear it at SoundCloud by clicking HERE.
I’d get to do another gig at the new Wembley Stadium some 40 years later, but that’s another, non-music story.
Paul McCartney prodded my fat stomach – Now there’s a sentence you don’t hear every day. It was 1983, and I was working on the Tarzan film, Greystoke at Elstree Studios, playing Figs, Tarzan’s fat ape friend. We used to have lots of VIP visitors, and it’s here that I first met Princess Anne (I’d meet her on two more occasions), and I’d heard Paul McCartney had been visiting, but thought I’d missed him. Anyway, I’d been called to set, so I waddle there in my ape suit – no head on of course – and was making my way around the back of the jungle cyclorama. It was pretty dark back there, so I couldn’t really make out this tall figure coming the other way with a young boy by his side. I stopped and backed up to let them pass, but they stopped too, and suddenly this man with a Liverpudlian accent began prodding my latex fat stomach. I was about to tell him to stop as it was pretty delicate stuff, when I realised who it was…so stuck my stomach out even more as the boy began prodding it too! We laughed, and with that they went on their way. All I could think was, ‘Not another one!’
I will have another Beatles’ related story in another Part of these Encounters, this time with their producer, George Martin.
I have been a very fortunate and blessed person.
Thanks for reading,
BLOG NO.8 WILL COVER THE FIRST FOUR TRACKS OF PART 2 (SECOND ‘ALBUM’), WHICH COVERS THE 19TH CENTURY. PART 3 OF THIS BLOG WILL BE ABOUT ME WORKING WITH DAVID BOWIE, AND THE BOOK HE NEVER RETURNED TO ME!