I was living in Sleights, near Whitby with my wife Anne, and my three Kids, Mark, Simon and Lucy. My Triumvirat “prog rock” days had come to an end I was busy writing with my writing partner Pete Jackson. We were trying to put together an album that told a story...in other words, a concept album. By then, which was probably 1982 or 1983, the concept album was already a thing of the past and was really seen as silly and pretentious, especially when compared to the punk movement which was the main thing at that time.
For me and Pete, that didn’t matter and we didn’t really get the whole punk thing at the time. No that’s not right...we did understand why it was popular ... but it just didn’t fit for us as writers and I never thought that pretending to be part of something because it was the current thing was a good idea and neither did
Pete. We had found a company that said they might be interested when I told them the story so we were sticking to the plan. Amazingly, the two guys that ran the company, Tony Harding and Chris Harding, (no relation) had even offered to pay the recording costs for a complete demo of the album and even if £800 doesn’t sound like a lot now, it was then. We felt very supported and therefore confident. I think most of the money went on getting some new bits for the studio (which belonged to Pete by the way) and over the next few weeks we got various mates in to play on the demo’s.
Anyway, I must concentrate on the matter in hand... The album demo had been accepted and a really posh studio had been booked in Ascot. I picked up the phone at home one Saturday morning to some bloke asking if I was the singer who had sung with Triumvirat. I was a bit cagey in case it was something to do with unpaid German taxes so I asked him why he wanted to know.
“My name is Mike Oldfield and I want to talk about your singing” he said and waited for my response.
“You’re an idiot Pete” was my considered response.
From time to time (and always when you least expected it) Pete would call with a fake voice and try to wind me up. It was often along the lines of…”What are you wearing” followed by heavy breathing, or “your blow up model is ready for collection” ... that sort of thing.
“It’s not Pete” Mike insisted as the penny slowly dropped. “Are you really Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells and all that?” “I’ve done a lot of other stuff apart from that” he said.
...and I knew it was him because now he was starting to get annoyed.
I apologised and he told me about how he had heard an album that I had sung on and he had a big tour coming up and would I come down to his place to try some live stuff in the studio?.
“Tomorrow, we can book you flight from your nearest airport and I’ll pick you up at Heathrow”
Well, he did ... and I guess it went well because he offered me the tour.
I explained that I would need to think about it as I had a few things planned but I never said what they were. I got a call a few days later asking for a decision and I said that I was very flattered to be asked but my commitments meant that I had to say “no.” It was one of Mike’s people and she made it very clear that if I turned this offer down, I wouldn’t be getting another one. So, that was it, I had said “no, thank you” and I knew it was a big thing to say no to Mike Oldfield. It was done and I had my own album to look forward to.
A few months later I got a call from Mike’s people asking if I would sing on his song “Crime of Passion”
Nothing was said about my past refusal and of course, I said “Yes.”
I was genuinely shocked to be given a second chance with him and secretly chuffed that he liked me enough to ask again. The session was great for me and Mike was easy to work with and very gracious in his comments and encouragement. I reckon I did a good job and he said he was very happy with it. When you sing and also write your own songs there is a tendency to think of how you would do it if it was yours so I had a few idea’s as we worked which I offered up to him in case he liked any of them. He was always happy to try stuff and on this occasion I don’t believe he used any of my suggestions... but he had the good grace to consider them... which is all you can ask. It was just the two of us as he usually did all the tech stuff himself.
I have only good memories of our first recording session together and I am proud of my contribution to the song.