June 10, 2015

Sunny with Occasional Rain | Two life changing encounters

Two Life Changing Encounters

There was a feeling of blues that accompanied our return to London with its inescapable, blunt reminders of normal life. Money, responsibilities, survival- the whole unwelcome line-up. We had been trying to set up some paying gigs but they were too few and too inconsistent. The band in its present line-up was heading for an inevitable break up. Paul was the first to go followed soon after by Rob. There were no acrimonious feelings however on any side. We had shared some unique days and unforgettable moments, a time to savor whatever the outcome. It was just the end of a good run, closing down time. John and I were still hungry to move forward in some form or other. We would borrow or plead for some cash, start the hunt for musicians and go again.

During the course of the next two years, we tried out a whole range of line-ups and approaches. Different singers came and went, we had guitarists, sax players, string players. At one point we had the wind musician from Aphrodite’s Child, Janis Fanariotis who infused interesting and complex Greek rhythms and cross rhythms into the music. In another incarnation, we worked with a refugee Biafran singer, Mike Biosah, raw but with interesting, poignant songs. However we never managed to really keep a cohesive and committed entity together long enough to develop something that really clicked.  I know now with the benefit of experience, that we were not yet ready to produce that special something d

– whether songs or sound. We had some good ideas, some skill, rivers of enthusiasm, passion for work, but there would be a lot more learning and discovering to do before  acquiring that sense of real creative confidence. The gift of unique talent at birth is for the few, most of us have chip away at our craft, stroke by stroke, probably for a very long time. Fortunately that  is  what also makes life rich. No rose pruning time for the truly obsessed, too busy still working on the perfect song.

At the young age of 22, I had a terrifying realization. I might have to get a proper job. Regular hours, normality. I was genuinely terrified of the thought. I consoled myself with the promise that it would be short lived, a necessary diversion on my chosen road. Maybe I might even learn something.

Following a couple of disastrous false starts( I lasted precisely 1 day as a burglar alarm salesman) I got an opportunity – or was it a sentence- to work in the quasi music industry. I joined Music for Pleasure as a kind of general assistant in the repertoire department. Mostly I wrote sleeve notes for such tantalizing releases as ‘Music from the Greek Isles’ one of the best sellers as it happened- over 1 million units mostly retailed through motorway service stations – an early insight into combining mass appeal with shrewd marketing strategy. It was supremely boring but highly educational, so I did in fact learn something. And then around 6 months into this one and only ‘proper’ job I ever did in my life, I met Bill Wellings, entrepreneur extraordinaire who suggested I should come and spend some time helping him out. He became, for a brief period one of 2 great mentors in my life. A while later came  Paul Robinson a super tough New York producer/hustler/gangster/charmer that I also had the amazing opportunity to know and work with. Again, you wonder, looking back at the serendipity of these critical encounters,  at the almost perfect timing of certain events that play out in your life. So Bill Wellings, an Australian and Paul Robinson,from the Bronx. More of them in my next blog. What they had in common was utter disdain for traditional thinking, ruthlessness, strength, ambition and a shrewd business sense. Why they both chose me, a sensitive struggling musician to work in effect as personal assistant is an interesting question. I think it had a lot to with being British, a foil of correctness and courtesy. Well that’s how I read it.

Sunny with Occasional Rain

Sunny with Occasional Rain is a blog series written by BKP Media Group CEO, Barry Kirsch, highlighting moments from his intriguing career.

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