10CC frontman and celebrated songwriter Graham Gouldman is bringing his hit-packed Heart Full of Songs acoustic stage show to the North East. Andy Barker of R&R caught up with him as he prepares for the UK tour.
The stripped down acoustic show will feature a range of Gouldman’s classic songs from a musical career that incredibly now spans six decades.
As the years roll by, it’s easy to overlook Gouldman’s achievements, but taking time out to study his musical CV and the hits are there to see.
He was only 19 when he scored his first smash with the song For Your Love which his musical contemporaries The Yardbirds took to number three in the charts back in 1965.
At the time he was working in a men’s outfitters by day while performing with Manchester band The Mockingbirds by night. The band signed to record company Columbia who turned down For Your Love as a debut single and it was duly picked up by The Yardbirds.
There was not a hint of jealousy in the move. Graham said: “I didn’t care – I was just delighted to have a song recorded by an amazing band. The song had been published and The Yardbirds were after something a bit more commercial and maybe a hit or two.
“The Yardbirds were a very credible band and a favourite of mine, so it was just an incredible feeling to have a hit with them.”
The respected blues rock band then turned to one man hit machine Gouldman for two more top 10 hit singles in the shape of Heartful of Soul and Evil Hearted You.
The hits kept coming with Bus Stop and Look Through Any Window for The Hollies, No Milk Today and Listen People with Herman’s Hermits and Tallyman for Jeff Beck. All this was before he even played a note with 10CC which Graham formed in 1972 with fellow Mockingbird Kevin Godley and Manchester musicians Eric Stewart and Lol Creme.
The band went on to write and release classic songs like Donna, Rubber Bullets, The Wall Street Shuffle, Art for Art’s Sake and of course the huge number one I’m Not In Love.
In recognition of his work, Graham will travel to New York this year where he will be inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame – an arm of America’s National Academy of Music – which will further reinforce his status as one of the world’s leading songwriters.
Previous inductees include Noel Coward, Irving Berlin, Burt Bacharach, Neil Sedaka, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Leonard Cohen and Sting.
Graham said: “Yes it’s nice to get the respect and I think maybe you have to be around a long time to get honoured. It was Ray Davies turn recently and they took their time getting round to him!
“I was 19 when I had my first hit with For Your Love, but by then I had already done my musical apprenticeship. I was lucky to be born when I was, with so many great things happening and a lot of great music being played for first time.
“I had been listening to rock and roll music like Eddie Cochran and The Everly Brothers from the age of 7 and got my first guitar when I was 11. As kids we would listen to the Brian Matthews show on the BBC. His Saturday Club was the most important time of the week.
“It was special when you could expect to hear The Beatles, Rolling Stones or The Kinks. Then I went on to start playing in bands from the age of 15, so I had built up quite a lot of experience by the time things started to happen.”
While the respect of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame is a superb accolade for Graham, it has and always will be about the music.
“I’ve never gone in for the showbiz side of things. It has never interested me. The reason I keep on going is simple – I love what I do. I love making music, playing live, travelling and writing music – what’s not to like?,” said Graham.
“I suppose looking back, I’ve taken advantage of not being much good at anything else,” he joked. “I don’t play golf and I haven’t got a plane to fly – I just love doing music!”
The hit-laden Heart Full of Songs acoustic tour stretches to over 20 dates in intimate venues across the UK, culminating in the Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham at the end of May. In the North East, Graham will perform at Gateshead Old Town Hall on Sunday 18 May and Stockton Arc on Friday 23 May.
He said: “The acoustic shows are great. I like the way they are really intimate and you get a chance to talk and interact with the audience, telling stories and explaining the origins of the songs. It’s very different from a 10cc gig and great in its own way as there’s a very unifying aspect to it, as you draw the crowd in.”
Graham will perform the shows as part of a trio featuring virtuoso musicians Mike Stevens and Iain Hornal (see below), although it’s sometimes a quartet when the roadie joins in on percussion and backing vocals!
During the time Graham has been writing and performing, he has seen great changes in the music industry especially more recently with the dawn of the internet and the impact of sharing and downloading music.
He said: “I think there is still good music being made – it’s not all doom and gloom as great artists usually make it through. But I think there is a case maybe of too much material flooding the market.
“Record companies came in for a lot of stick and flak but in some ways they fulfilled a role of filtering. I know some acts may have been overlooked over the years but looking back, we all got to hear some great music and in some ways it’s good that we didn’t have to hear everything that’s going on.
“It’s great that people can easily write, record and upload music, but the way things have turned out, it is harder to find and be directed to the really good stuff. In many ways the spontaneity has been taken out of songwriting. Now you hear of collaborations where a song has up to 12 credits on it! How can that happen and where is the spirit and personality in that?
“I mean when you listen to say Paul Simon you are listening to him personally, not a song by committee. But don’t get me wrong there are still great songwriters out there. Ben Howard is making interesting music and Mumford and Sons made big selling organic music.
“Meanwhile I will just carry on making and performing music I enjoy.”
Heart Full of Songs tour dates:
DATE CITY VENUE TICKETS
Tue 6 May BIRMINGHAM Glee Club www.glee.co.uk
Wed 7 May TUNBRIDGE WELLS The Forum www.twforum.co.uk
Thu 8 May SALISBURY Arts Centre www.salisburyartscentre.co.uk
Fri 9 May TORRINGTON Plough Arts Centre 01805 624624
Sun 11 May TAVISTOCK The Wharf 01822 611166
Mon 12 May MILTON KEYNES The Stables Theatre www.stables.org
Tue 13 May POCKLINGTON Arts Centre www.pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk
Wed 14 May LEEDS Brudenell Social Club www.jumborecords.co.uk
Fri 16 May EVESHAM The Regal 01386 421007
Sat 17 May SALE Waterside Arts Centre 0161 912 5616
Sun 18 May GATESHEAD Old Town Hall 0191 443 4661
Mon 19 May GLASGOW Oran Mor 0141 2045151
Tue 20 May DUNFERMLINE Carnegie Hall www.onfife.com
Wed 21 May ABERDEEN The Lemon Tree www.aberdeenperformingarts.com
Thu 22 May CARLISLE The Brickyard www.skiddle.com
Fri 23 May STOCKTON Arc www.arconline.co.uk
Sun 25 May HERTFORD Corn Exchange 01992 584322
Mon 26 May BATH Komedia www.komedia.co.uk/bath
Tue 27 May NOTTINGHAM Glee Club www.glee.co.uk
Wed 28 May BISHOPS STORTFORD Rhodes www.rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk
Thu 29 May LIVERPOOL The Epstein Theatre www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk
Fri 30 May CHELTENHAM Wychwood Festival www.wychwoodfestival.com
Born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, Mike is a musician, producer and writer graduate from Birmingham School of Music, where he studied clarinet, euphonium and piano.
He is widely known as the Musical Director for Take That, having performed with them on every tour since 1993, including the Progress stadium tour last summer.
He has also been Musical Director for acts such as Mika, Will Young, James Morrison, Anastasia, Sugababes, Geri Halliwell, Bill Withers, Donny Osmond, and supervised tours for Cheryl Cole, The Saturdays, Steps and The Wanted.
Mike has also been Annie Lennox’s Musical Director/Producer since 2002, and performed worldwide with Annie on shows including Sting’s Sacred Love US tour (2004), Live 8 (2005) and Nelson Mandela’s 96664 concerts. More recently he has worked with Annie on the album Songs of Mass Destruction (2007), co-producing her single Shining Light from the album Annie Lennox – The Collection (2009) and producing A Christmas Cornucopia (2010).
As a solo sax player in earlier years, Mike was in the Top 20 of America’s Jazz/Crossover chart with his RCA/Novus albums Light Up The Night and Set The Spirit Free. He supported The Temptations, Bill Withers and Dionne Warwick among others on tour and has recorded on albums by Tina Turner, Tom Jones, Mica Paris and Barry White.
He was also Musical Director for Children in Need Rocks at the Royal Albert Hall (2009) and at Manchester Arena (2011), continuing with two London concerts this year.
In 2012 he was Musical Director for the Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace, and supervised performances with Take That and Annie Lennox at the Olympic Games closing ceremony. Mike has been performing with 10cc since 2002.
Iain is a singer-songwriter and session musician. His latest release, recorded with band The Hornal Family, featuring guest appearances by The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie Sells and Ciaran Jeremiah, amongst others.
Iain’s songwriting credits include Sophie Ellis-Bextor and The Feeling and his live performances include support slots at London’s Hammersmith Apollo and Birmingham’s LG Arena with Nelly Furtado, and a tour culminating with a show at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire with rockabilly outfit Sinead and The Dawnbreakers. Iain also played guitar for The Feeling on BBC 1’s The Olympics – 1 Year to Go.
He has enjoyed contributing to various projects as a session vocalist, including work for BBC 1, and is a featured vocalist on the popular Online Sessions website.
Last year Iain played the Paul McCartney role in the West End musical Let It Be at London’s Savoy Theatre. Like Graham Gouldman, Iain is a huge admirer of The Beatles’ work, and the influences of the band’s late ‘60s era can certainly be heard in his own music.
Iain met Graham at a festival in the French Alps ski resort of Meribel in 2010 and was delighted to be asked to play his first shows with 10cc – singing, and playing guitars, keyboards and percussion, standing in for the band’s Mick Wilson when he’s unavailable through other projects.
As well as singing and playing with 10cc, Iain is an integral part of Graham Gouldman’s acoustic touring band Heart Full of Songs.