After a year or so of following the musical briefs of twenty million west end marketing guys on cocaine, I longed to make pop records or just work on a rock band project – something that was real! I received a call from old girlfriend Maggie Luckley saying that ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ were rehearsing in a hotel in Jersey where she lived and Holly Johnston was interested in working with me – Holly had heard an album I had produced for an artist called Carey Duncan on the big indie Irish label Ritz Records. Would I like to meet up with him to discuss.

I really wanted to find an artist to cut a song I had called ‘Smack’ written by my friend Reg in Folkestone. I had been recording Bobby Tench (one time singer with The Jeff Beck band and guitarist with Alan Price) and legendary session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan (ex Tom Jones) and loving being in amongst creative guys who could instantly deliver a performance. The song definitely wasn’t right for Holly but I wanted to find a few more songs of a similar theme and put together a collection with various artists fronting them.

Maybe it would be something that a major label might go for if I could round up some names but where on earth would I start the ball rolling. I wasn’t known outside of my own front room and after all this time still felt a bit like a hayseed from the north.

They might all go for it especially if a percentage of the sales were for an anti drugs charity. I didn’t know one musician that didn’t know of someone that had been badly affected by drugs.

I needed names and studios who would give me down time to record for free in exchange for their branding being mentioned on the finished product and also help in contributing to such a worthy cause. Bobby Tench suggested I have a word with Keith Grant who ran Olympic studios in Church Street, Barnes.

Everyone had recorded there from The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles in the late 1960s onwards. Olympic Studios had been described as the “go-to studio for many of rock and pop’s leading lights in the music industry’s golden era and being of the same standard and importance as Abbey Road Studios – The studio’s mixing desks eventually became famous in their own right, and were later manufactured commercially.

Keith and sound engineer Dougie Bennett agreed to give me free studio time in order to record my first ‘Live in World’ song with Holly Johnson, it was entitled ‘Slay the Dragon’ and co-wrote by Tenchy and Toby Allison, one of the other Olympic sound engineers.

On the day of recording Holly’s vocals we did a great band track mix for him to sing to – We kept Tenchy’s guide vocal on a separate track just in case we needed it for reference, so that Holly could listen to it if he lost the melody or phrasing at any time during the proceedings.

I got a call from reception asking me if I would drive over to Holly’s house in Parson’s Green and pick him up along with his partner Wolfgang Kuhle. He also wanted to discuss one or two things about the session and song before he came to the studio.

So off I went like a good little taxi driver leaving Dougie Bennett and Tenchy to twiddle their thumbs for an hour or two.

Holly’s home in Chiddingstone Street, Parson’s Green was as smart as a carrot, a red bricked Victorian terraced house with bay windows all shuttered and very private looking. I was slightly disappointed because there wasn’t a moustachioed, leather clad and thong wearing gay prancing around anywhere in the vicinity – especially singing ‘Relax don’t do it when you wanna cum’ and ‘hit me with your laser beams etc’ – Honestly not that I had expected to see ‘Welcome to the Pleasure Dome’ being performed in a Parson’s Green side street but I had some stupid idea that there may be some kind of extraordinary pop star titillation hanging in the air in this little corner of SW6 – but if there was it was certainly not around Holly’s home turf.

The interior of his home was beautiful and tastefully decorated with expensive leather sofas on oak floors throughout, a wall to wall art collection ranging from known artists to up and coming artists whose work would only appreciate in price very quickly – Wolfgang, an art collector and now with Holly had a knack for discovering new artists and investing their money wisely.

Being in a posh pop star home that exuded success impressed me and I had to admit that I wanted some of this in my own career – What Holly had achieved was a far cry from my own banging out of radio jingles in the old Off-Beat music studio in Hammersmith – this type of success had nothing whatsoever to do with the deluded speed sniffing, dope smoking dickheads that routinely thrashed out their tuneless noise over the yard in the black hole that was Yeldham Road rehearsal studios.

We got back to Olympic an hour or so later and started setting up vocal levels for Holly’s performance on ‘Slay the Dragon’.

As soon as Holly heard Tenchy’s soulful guide vocal he had instant doubts as to whether he could sing the song and his efforts went from bad to worse – I ended up taking him for a walk along Barnes High Street and explained that I just needed Holly Johnston on the song and not Holly Johnston trying to sound like Bobby Tench – I wanted all the great energy he had put into the songs on ‘Welcome to the Pleasure Dome’ and not the sound of a soul and rock singer. ‘Slay the Dragon’ wasn’t a soul song it was a hard driving pop song that was designed just for Holly.

He bought it and we returned back to the studio and he nailed it in just a few takes – it was magic! Everyone in the control room gave him a round of applause including Tenchy standing at the back of the room.

I took Holly and Wolfgang back home to Parsons Green and stopped over for some tea and a chat about the session. Holly explained that the session had been quite demanding for him and outside of his vocal comfort zone but a good eye opener too and wanted to be kept in the loop on everything we were planning.

He showed me his little loft studio space which he and Wolfgang had created in the same tasteful fashion as the downstairs house – Sunshine streamed in through a couple of roof windows and lit the whole space giving it a beautiful airy vibe – Holly pulled up a couple of kneeling chairs for us to kneel on whilst he lined up one of his latest unfinished song demos – He had a great recording set-up here which boasted some top of the range outboard recording equipment but to be honest, little in the way of song ideas to play me at that point in time.

He wanted me to call back soon so he could play me more song arrangements he was working on and also told me about his passion to become an artist too – he fantasised about painting in oils on huge canvasses and holding exhibitions of his work – I agreed to call back soon and give any creative input that I could offer. I kept pondering upon Holly’s life in the fast lane whilst driving my rust bucket of a Renault 4 back to Sutton Court Road each night and it niggled me quite a bit.

When I got home my answer machine was blinking away with various messages – There was one from Hazel O’Connor who had received a message from a mutual Hari Krishna friend from Radlett in Hertfordshire, he told her that I was looking for artists and she wanted to come to my place to meet me. The thought of actually bringing a pop star to my hole in the ground in Chiswick was extremely alarming. What if Wally the Glasgow gorilla from up stairs started his IRA and bullying antics while she was visiting? What if stinking Stella started emptying her piss pot down my window whilst we were having a cup of tea?

It wasn’t right that I should try and quietly smuggle her in and downstairs as that would rapidly reduce any credibility that she might have thought I possess – there was no way that taking anyone remotely human back to 23 Sutton Court Road would have enhanced my credibility anyway. Never the less I didn’t have another option if I wanted to play her some of the songs we had on the table and also it was Hazel who suggested my place anyway – sitting in the smelly local pub with a cassette, a walkman and lots of blokes drinking wasn’t my idea of creating a good impression either.

So I rang her back. ‘Hi! Is that Hazel?’ (confident voice) -‘Yes?’ – ‘Its Charley Foskett here from the Anti Heroin project – I’ve just got your message about coming over to Chiswick for a meeting to discuss you recording with us’ – ‘Yes are you around tomorrow?’ said Hazel, sounding very enthusiastic. ‘I think so – I have to be at Olympic studios in Barnes at some point but not sure of what time exactly – We could meet there’ I offered. She didn’t want to go to Barnes – she wanted to meet me at my own place in Chiswick as she was driving past on her way to Berkshire and could pop in from the M4. ‘Ok Chiswick it is – what time is good for you?’  ‘Breakfast time?’ she suggested. Oh no! The house would smell of fried crap and boiled underpants. There was no alternative but to go for it. Hazel O’Connor, star of ‘Breaking Glass’ with Phil Daniels was coming for breakfast at Shitsville!

The following morning I frantically cleaned the communal kitchen upstairs and sprayed around the entrance hall with an air freshener – This didn’t help much as the stench coming from under stinking Stella’s door permeated the whole of Chiswick if the wind blew the wrong way. ‘Oh f**k’ what could I do to disguise the fact that I resided in ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ with a bunch of rotting zombies?

I slipped down stairs to wash behind my ears and at least made myself look half presentable for my pop star visitor. What would I wear? my old tweed suit and brogues? or jeans, trainers and a tee shirt? Should I shave or leave the stubble? I wanted Hazel to think I was cool even if I did live with sub humans!

The upstairs doorbell rang and of course no body answered which was just as well – I ran up and opened it to Hazel dressed in army surplus gear and looking like she had just been dragged through a hedge in the park.  Fantastic!

‘Hi! Charley Foskett?’  ‘Yes hi – come on in’, I suggested nervously. Hazel wandered in past me looking up at a nicotine stained ceiling with cobwebs, dirty damp patches and wall paper peeling off at the edges. ‘This is erm, this is a kind of communal place – sorry about the rough edges’ I said as I started getting a whiff of stinking Stella – I willed that she wouldn’t for some reason open her room door at that precise moment or my said guest would be gagging and gasping and legging it along Sutton Court Road.

I hurried Hazel into the communal kitchen, sat her down and put the kettle on.  I had scrubbed every surface earlier and emptied everyone’s garbage bins so with the window slightly open luckily the usual greasy stench had subsided for a while. We sat there for five minutes whilst I made some toast and coffee and discussed some of the reasons for me putting together the Anti Heroin project – Hazel knew people who had over-dozed and also lost a couple of friends along the way to heroin abuse – She said she was up for anything that I suggested so firstly I suggested her coming downstairs to my little basement flat. Whether she thought I was going to try and show her my etchings didn’t cross my mind, though it may have been a good idea but not a good time – I just wanted to subtly guide her away from the ground floor and any possibility of unwanted embarrassment by invading Morlocks. We chatted some more about her friend the record producer Martin Rushent which was where she was heading after touching base with me. I once again apologised for the weird residence I lived in and explained that the house had been used as a bit of a refuge for drug addicts and now more so a clientele for rather ill-smelling lost souls who had gone off the rails.

Hazel thought it was all rather funny and proceeded to tell me of the time she had acted in a stage play of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ at Manchester’s Royal Exchange – I told her that I spent most of my time acting in the real life version of a similar gig upstairs.

‘When I get back from Berkshire, why don’t you come and visit me at my place in Aldenham and we can go over ideas for songs and see what might work for the project’, said this star of ‘Breaking Glass’.  I was really chuffed and we exchanged telephone numbers and decided to meet up again a few days later.

Holly with Hazel O’Connor in 1986 (Fish from Marillion in background)

Just as Hazel left I received a call from Audio International, a recording facility in London’s Rodmartin Street saying they were also happy to offer me some recording studio down-time but I needed to get there that afternoon if I wanted them to also supply an audio engineer for my session. I had previously worked at Audio International with an old band of mine called The Breakers and knew the layout – the last time I had been in there Dennis Waterman had been in recording a television theme tune and with the help of his musicians had turned the whole of the live room into a football pitch, destroying music stands and obliterating sound deflectors that were in the way of their game. Any less important clients would have been slung out the door onto the cobbles and sued for damages but Waterman and company sheepishly coughed up the dosh there and then and paid for the broken equipment.

Audio International was originally called ‘Star Sound’ and dated back to 1937 when it was a little theatre space that recorded live audience shows for Radio Luxembourg. The theatre stage had been made into the studio control room and apparently said to be the country’s first independent studio using disk recording onto wax and then one of the first commercial studios to bring in audio tape machines in 1949.

A musician friend told me that the Scottish soul singer Jim Diamond was interested in getting involved – Jim had had massive hits with ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ with his band PHD and also ‘I Should have Known Better’ – it just so happened that he was free that afternoon to come over and lay down a vocal on something; the only problem was I didn’t have a song in mind for him to cut and hoped that he had some ideas to work with himself.

I managed to rope in a keyboard player called Simon Chamberlin for the session and we all arrived at the studio simultaneously.

We managed to cobble together a song idea that I had scribbled out called ‘Tommo and the Boys’ but the style was slightly in the vein of The Blockheads and not up Jim’s street at all. So whilst sitting in the control room scratching our vacant heads I decided to pay a visit to the toilet.

It turned out that Audio International, despite having a posh Neve mixing board that cost the same as a small Holland Park town house, had a loo that was narrower, smellier and dirtier than a dodgy back street car repairer – It was a short passage affair next door to the kitchen – It had an old toilet bowl at one end and in the middle there was a sink on one wall and directly opposite was a large, bulky cloth hand towel machine – this left some twenty inches between the two for a person to squeeze through to sit on the said throne.

I sat there for five minutes trying to rewrite the song lyric on the last piece of toilet paper but nothing much to speak of came into my head – just then there was a knock on the door and a thick Glaswegian accent called out ‘Have you fallen down the wee hole?’ – Jim wanted to have his turn at sitting in the dark smelly fart room.
‘Be out in a minute’ I shouted as I discovered the lack of any more toilet paper, nothing on the floor, nothing behind the bowl, nothing anywhere except the last two crumpled pieces in my hand that I had scribbled upon and I didn’t want to lose my no doubt rubbish idea.
The obvious move was to hobble to the hand basin and wash myself which, with pants dangling around my ankles I did successfully. Swivelling around some ninety degrees in the extremely small gap to dry my wet posterior on the hand towel was hilarious – As I pulled what seemed like a yard of damp cloth out of the machine I turned back around to face the wall mirror and pulled up my pants – unknowingly, like a complete idiot, I had caught up the slack of the wall towel into the back of my trousers. I tied my belt tight and as I stepped away from the sink I pulled the whole damned towel machine off the toilet wall, which instantly swung down like a big tin wrecking ball and crashed into the back of my legs, I stumbled forward and hit the floor like a sack of old potatoes banging my head on the bog door as I went down.

The shock, the noise and the pain came nowhere to matching the damage I had created to the toilet wall – I howled out a sequence of expletives as I gazed in disbelief at the plaster, screws and crap everywhere – I could see light shining through a hole in the wall from the kitchen next door. By this time Diamond and the studio engineer were banging on the door wondering what the commotion was about – ‘You ok in there? Making a lot of noise’ – ‘I’m ok, be out in a minute’ I shouted from my pile of rubble on the floor. ‘Just trying to find some loo paper!’

I had created more mess than Dennis Waterman and his in studio football match – frantically loosening my pants to free the spare yard of damp wall towel from my now damp rear I attempted a swift cleanup by kicking the crap to one side.

I pried the door open and wandered out into the control room trying to look normal and as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

‘Shit man what’s all that on your hair?’ exclaimed the Scottish Diamond. Chamberlain (who resembled one of the Third Reich) and the studio engineer looked at me in amazement and pointed to a mirror on the wall – I resembled something that had just crawled out of a rubbish dump, hair covered in plaster dust, a rawl plug even managed to dangle itself over my right ear, thus completing a look that I had not planned on working up that afternoon (or any other afternoon for that matter).
Embarrassment engulfed my world and as I managed to quickly shrink myself to the size of a newly born leprechaun I slithered under the studio sofa never to be seen again! (I’ve just made that last line up!!).

Most of the afternoon’s creative efforts were a write-off – I apologised none stop, ingratiating myself to the manager of Audio International for the demolishing of their toilet wall and my wrecking their towel machine – They told me that I was let off for the damage seeing that I was a really good boy!

I made my way straight over to Olympic studios in Barnes to hear the rough mix of Holly’s track – Walking up the old stone stairs to studio one I could hear the sound of Barbra Streisand, Dougie Bennett had just completed recording and mixing Streisand’s album ‘Yentl’ – Dougie and Toby Alison had also worked over time to get ‘Slay the Dragon’ sounding like a match for anything that Trevor Horn had ever accomplished at ZTT records (home of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Seal and many other top artists of the time).

‘Had a hard day have you? You’re looking like you’ve spent the day on a building site’ exclaimed Bennett. ‘Don’t even ask!’ I replied as I started to get very excited at the ‘Slay the Dragon’ mix.

After a couple of days of continuous phone calls, bending people’s ears, driving them totally nuts and begging down time from recording studios. I would then jump into my untrustworthy beaten up Renault 4 and head off all over London by night, bump starting the damned thing every time it stalled – I’d deliver my Anti Heroin Project letters by hand so when I rang them again the following morning to beg, steal and borrow whatever I could get from them, they would have my information in front of them on their desk.

The letters contained an ever growing list of supporters and established name artists, some of which I had completely made up and for every real name on the list I’d add two other famous names, hoping that they didn’t communicate with each other too often and find out that I was lying through my teeth – It looked great on paper all these people wanting to record songs for my proposed Anti Heroin project album. Of course quite a lot of the studios wanted the kudos of having more big names recording in their establishment, it was good for business and free studio time was good for my plans too!

After months of working my nuts off around the clock I had a group of two dozen top session players, a finished master of ‘Slay the Dragon’ by Holly Johnston and a publicity photograph of lots of smiling faces in their ‘Anti Smack Band’ tee shirts – it was time to start hitting the record labels to try and get a deal in place for this gig – I needed the infrastructure and muscle and support of a major label. I also needed help with the administration side of this gig so I could focus mainly on the creative, recording and production – the endless phone messages were piling up on my return to Chiswick every night and I was starting to miss out on communications with music industry people that I should have been talking to.

I had a word with a friend who worked at Patch Music (Cliff Richard’s publishing company) and was introduced to a chirpy, bright and energetic lady called Roz Graham. Roz had run a public relations company in the west end and was keen to come on board as my personal assistant.
Together we sat for a week planning our attack on the record labels and who would be good to capture and drag into the fray to help us gain even more mileage. Simon Cowell at Fanfare Records was interested but not to sign the deal we were after – he mainly wanted his girlfriend and artist Sinitta on board which was cool with me, another none fictitious name for the list.

We managed to get a meeting lined up with David Munns who was head of A&R at EMI records in Manchester Square and sat in his office giving him a million reasons why he should sign our ‘Anti Heroin Project’ and release our band aid record for the anti drugs campaign.

‘I know we’ve all dabbled and smoked some weed but heroin is killing lots of kids and we are hell bent on making a noise about this on a national scale’ I preached to Munns who was looking rather uneasy but could see the potential of getting EMI behind a serious band aid record – it was all great media fodder for the label and I could get them (and us) a million pounds worth of free publicity to back it all up, it was all down to if they believed that I could actually pull it off.

Nick Gatfield, David’s second in command was brought into the meeting to probably help asses my ranting as being of something worthwhile – I kept up the barrage of reasons why EMI Records needed this gig with periodic intervals of common sense being interjected by Roz Graham. Eventually they gave in and agreed to sign the deal for a double album and specially designed band aid single – They also gave me full support along with my own production office, free run of Abbey Road studios for all my recording sessions and an anti heroin project pr person to work specifically with Roz and myself. This was exactly the kind of infrastructure and support I wanted from a record label.

My main terms and conditions in the deal was that no one taking part would financially benefit from this gig in any way and all funding that came our way would go to drug rehabilitation centres spread around the UK. After all I had now spent months of my time working twenty four seven completely for free so why should anyone else expect to make a single penny from taking part in this gig. Munns and Gatfield liked this and agreed with my terms whole heartedly.

Roz and I left the meeting on the highest of highs and returned to her Fulham Road flat to spend the evening on the phone spreading the word. I looked out her kitchen window onto the Chelsea Football ground and smiled as I heard her selling the benefits of our project to Bill Oddie’s office on the phone.

After leaving Roz’s place in the early hours I drove slowly over into North End Road – I slowed right down to avoid the gaze of a parked police car as I may have been over the limit having celebrated the success of the day with too much red wine.

A hairy drunken guy staggered over the road, he almost fell into the front of my car, as he stumbled over my bonnet he disappeared from sight and I couldn’t see him through my wing mirrors or windscreen mirror. I thought he had hit the ground or worse still that I had somehow run him over. I jumped out of the car and couldn’t see him anywhere, I even looked under the car and then all of a sudden there he was, stumbling backwards out of a shop doorway attempting to zip up his flies.

A very surreal moment in time – A very inebriated Billy Connolly falls under my car and then takes a pee in a shop doorway – Fulham Road – middle of the night!

‘Are you ok? I didn’t hit you did I?’ I enquired sheepishly. Just as he unsteadily turned himself around I realised I was face to face with an extremely pissed Billy Connelly. This was one hell of a surreal moment and the first thing he uttered in his thick, comedic Glaswegian accent was ‘No no I’m ok mate – just had a wee wander here and there as I couldn’t find a wee taxi anywhere’ or something along those lines – he was still having difficulty in finding a way to zip up his flies and stand upright – ‘fucking thing’ he swore at his own pants – it was almost like a real life version of one of his ‘Big Yin’ sketches.

‘Can I offer you a lift erm, Billy? You look like you’re about to hit the ground at any given moment’ – ‘No no mate I’m ok honestly’ he replied as he wandered off around the corner and headed west along Fulham Road.

So I drove after him – he would probably think I was stalking him but I didn’t care as my head was full of the day’s excitement with the EMI deal – I just had to tell him about it and not lose an opportunity in asking if he’d like to get involved. Apart from that he may have ended up under somebody else’s car the way he was flapping about – I started kerb crawling alongside him and asked him if I could have another word before he went on his way. I jumped out of my crappy Renault clutching an envelope with one of my anti heroin project letters and the list of on board artists.

‘Billy I really want you to consider coming on board with us here – We just signed a double album recording deal today with EMI Records and this project needs someone like you on board – You won’t have to do anything if you don’t want to but your banjo playing is great’ I said, attempting to feed his drunken ego ‘and I just think you’ – I felt a whole sales pitch coming on but I stopped myself knowing that he was pissed as a fart anyway and probably wouldn’t even remember meeting me tomorrow morning (afternoon?).
He took the envelope and skimmed the letter – ‘Holly Johnston aye? Cliff Richard? – Ok I’ll get the office onto this tomorrow’ he said and that is where we left it.
Off he went stuffing my letter into his pocket and I climbed back into my rust bucket and turned the ignition key but nothing happened other than a small click. Shit! The battery was as dead as a Dodo so out I got and pushed the stupid thing, I was half way to Roz Graham’s flat before I found a decent incline in the road to help gather a bit of speed past one mile per hour.

I jumped in, rammed it into second gear and bump started it for the millionth time – I did a ‘U’ turn and headed back up Fulham Road in the direction of the very inebriated Mr Connelly – I drove on several blocks from where I’d left him and spotted a figure half encapsulated in an old blanket slouched in a shop doorway, it couldn’t have been surely? No.

Onwards I drove through Hammersmith towards my hole in the ground in Chiswick with a huge smile on my face.
I was awakened at 8.30 am by a knocking on my basement window – it was Roz with a couple of take out coffees. ‘I’ve been ringing you – Why aren’t you up? We have a breakfast meeting in Manchester Square at 9.30’ she exclaimed with a large amount of urgency in her voice.
‘Shit I forgot to put my alarm on, sorry – hey you’ll never guess who I bumped into on my way home last night’.

Ten minutes later I was spilling coffee all over my pants, squashed into the front passenger seat of her miniscule triumph sports car. She drove like a demented demon down the Hammersmith bypass as I relayed the pissed Billy Connelly episode to her. ‘And is he going to come on board?’ asked the female Stirling Moss. ‘I don’t know – he is probably still fast asleep in bed – he said he’d get his office to contact us but I think that may have been a brush off to get me out of his face at this morning’ I replied. There was definitely more coffee on my pants and the passenger seat than had actually passed my lips.

At the EMI Manchester Square headquarters we were shown an office that had been specifically set up for the anti heroin project. It hit home to me that I had actually succeeded in getting the deal and it was all stations go – having EMI behind me made it easy to talk directly to all the music industry people that mattered and getting fobbed off and the run around by secretaries and pa’s was a thing of the past.

Within days artist’s managements were approaching us to get their artist on board and offer us a pre recorded track from one of their albums or that their artist would be up for recording one of our songs – Howard Jones sent in a song called ‘A Little Piece of Snow’ which was a perfect album track. Cliff Richard’s manager called saying that Cliff would be happy to get involved so his name on my list was now genuine.

Roz and a friend called Maxine beavered away in the EMI office as I was shown around Abbey Road studios and introduced to some of the in-house audio engineers.

Abbey Road – Studio 2

I didn’t know it but I was about to co-produced tracks with Paul and Linda McCartney, writing songs for Kim Wilde, Bonnie Tyler, Elkie Brooks, Fish from Marillion and producing Elvis Costello and Loudon Wainright 111.
Artists just kept on coming my way and I somehow managed to stay on my feet and remain compos mentis even though I was only getting around five hours sleep and less each night.

I was spending more and more time producing artists in every top studio in town and had to eventually split from my two Off Beat Music partners in Hammersmith; they still believed I should be composing music for television and radio alongside all the top flight action I had scored through hard graft and yelling at the top of my voice to anyone who would listen to what I had planned.

The double album and single ‘It’s a Live-In World’ was due for Christmas release 1986 and featured pretty much everybody that was a big name at that time. I had artists flying in from America, taking days out from their tour schedules to get in on the action. Organising it was an administrational nightmare but with the help of my p.a. and various EMI departments (who would run in the opposite direction at the sight of me coming) we kept on top of it.

It always becomes a lot easier when you have the support of a major record label behind you – every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to jump on your ride to big up their own failing careers and why not – I got a million quid’s worth of free publicity including prime time television – BBC and ITV news, MTV and the whole shebang. Without any shadow of doubt we were going to have the biggest number one Christmas hit that would equal Geldof’s Band Aid without problem.

I had been told by two Beatles (Ringo and Macca) that I had written one great big classic hit song, this fed my ego and meant a lot – I had also been offered a top job at the home office as David Mellor’s right hand man on the government’s proposed 1987 anti drug campaign. Mellor took me out for dinner and schmoozed me no end!

It was at this point I should have smelled a rat – and one gigantic rat at that!
I turned Mellor’s job offer down favouring popular music over politics and one week later EMI received a telephone call from the home office ordering them to ditch the release of ‘It’s a Live-In-World’. They were proposing to dump twenty months of my hard labours in the blink of an eye, none of us could understand it; my endless pushing and pulling of hundreds of great talented people and their managements and agents and most of all my own love of achieving something really worthwhile in a self gratifying industry.

Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and myself complained like hell at the front door of the Home Office, we rang Parliament – Mellor and his darker forces had rendered the BBC totally helpless and we were also banned from giving ‘It’s a Live-in World’ any much needed airplay what-so-ever. They were forbidden from even covering our endeavours and promotional campaign on the news – Nothing! Zilch!

I got in the way of the government’s own anti heroin campaign and it was looking like ‘It’s a Live-In-World’ may have proved much more effective than their own multi million pound efforts which was primarily spent on those huge hording adverts that appeared throughout the UK in January 1987 – Kids with dark rings under their eyes looking gray and washed out; giant syringes dripping blood looked down onto every other street corner, this campaign lasted for a couple of months and then seemed to disappear without trace.

I could see what they were getting at by those images but could not understand why we couldn’t have joined forces with them on the same campaign. The answer was obvious – ‘Ego’ – not knowingly I had bashed David Mellor’s ego in a massive way, they couldn’t have been seen to have spent so much of the countries money on cleaning up Great Britain from heroin abuse, then along comes this Geordie musician and makes much more noise about the problem having not spent or made one single penny on funding his own plan of action.

The carpet had been pulled from right under our feet and we were well and truly buried without trace. ‘It’s a Live-In-World’ was wiped out.
In hindsight I should have created this gig for Macmillan Cancer support and/or Cancer Research – Today I am a cancer survivor still at battle with it! No one would have, could have argued!


‘It’s a Live-In World’ – the double album featuring everyone that was  anyone in 1986 (EMI)


I photographed a friend’s two kids with a teddy bear to portray a vibe of innocence on the front cover of the ‘Live -In World’ radio single.