The writewyattuk quotes of 2016, part one – January to June

As a year probably remembered on a national and international level as one of big-name departures and alarming political shifts draws to a close, writewyattuk faces the music and dances (somewhat discordantly) in a retro style, looking back on the last 12 months of feature/interviews, involving many high and lower-profile guests. Over the next two posts I’ll try to encapsulate each via a series of soundbites. Make of them what you will. Big thanks to all who answered my questions, and huge respect to those who read the results. Click on the names for links to features.   


Master Mirth: Stephen K. Amos. Respect due.

Master Mirth: Stephen K. Amos.

Stephen K. Amos, actor and comic, on common courtesy and respect

“In the early days, it might have been, ‘Look at me – jazz hands! Aren’t I funny!’ But the older and wiser you get, you’re more clued up and know you’ve got a captive audience. And what better platform to talk about things. In the old days, polite society wouldn’t dream of saying the things people say online to complete strangers. The level of abuse for simple things is really astonishing, so I want to remind people that when you go to see a comedy show, with people there of all different cultures and backgrounds and ages, your main bond is that you all want a laugh.”


Curtain Call: Ian Robinson faces the public at Chorley Little Theatre (Photo copyright: Chorley Guardian)

Curtain Call: Ian Robinson faces the public
(Photo: Chorley Guardian)

Chorley Little Theatre’s Ian Robinson, talking bizarre happenings on Dole Lane

“A bloke who came to see Frozen with his kids sat at the front for around 20 minutes and as the screen came down said, “I wasn’t expecting a film. No one said it was a film!’ He came to see The Lego Movie the next week, and was similarly surprised. As for the couple who walked out of the panto, I’m not quite sure what they expected. But hopefully they’ll come back and try something else.”

Sixties Survivor: Colin Blunstone

Sixties Survivor: Colin Blunstone

Colin Blunstone, of The Zombies, on retaining a youithful approach to performing 52 years after his band’s first hit

“I genuinely think music and performing help keep you young. Music’s a wonderful thing and affects the way you feel. And the way you feel is the way you look. Just being busy and travelling can be self-perpetuating and give you more energy. It’s all a bit of a circle, and I think it makes you stay young.”

Flying Again: From the Jam at 53 Degrees in 2014. From left - Russell, Smiley and Bruce (Photo: Warren Meadows)

Flying Again: From the Jam at 53 Degrees back in 2014 – Russell Hastings, Steve ‘Smiley’ Barnard and Bruce Foxton (Photo: Warren Meadows)

The Jam’s bass guitar legend Bruce Foxton on those trademark mid-song leaps he still occasionally treats us to with From The Jam

“I kind of restrict leaping around these days, having had a couple of cartilage operations on one knee and being advised to not leap about as much. It’s not choreographed anyway. It’s not false or fake. I’m not just doing it so a photographer can snap me. It’s just what I do … when I do it.”

Two Johns: They Might Be Giants founders John Liddell, left, and John Flansburgh (Photo: Shervin Lainez)

Two Johns: TMBG’s John Liddell, left, and John Flansburgh (Photo: Shervin Lainez)

They Might Be Giants’ John Flansburgh, on the less seemly side of surviving in the music business

“I have to say a lot of rock bands are very lazy – I’ve seen so many bad shows where guys in the band clearly don’t give a rat’s ass about what they’re doing. When things start to fade they get into this bad imitation of themselves. In some cases there are highly notable bands that really should have stopped.”



Light Entertainment: Howard Jones

Light Entertainment: Howard Jones

1980s synth-pop star Howard Jones, paying tribute to his inspiration, the late Keith Emerson

“My first proper band was called Warrior, and I was very influenced by Keith Emerson’s first band, The Nice. That whole idea of combining classical music with rock was right up my street. I absolutely adored those albums. Emerson was a huge influence – he made keyboard playing exciting. He didn’t just sit there at the back, he was the front-man. That was crucial for me. He was like the Hendrix of the keyboard!”



Out There: The Kast Off Kinks. From the left - Mick Avory, Ian Gibbons, John Dalton, Dave Clarke.

Out There: The Kast Off Kinks. From the left – Mick Avory, Ian Gibbons, John Dalton, Dave Clarke.

Mick Avory on turning  down The Rolling Stones before he joined The Kinks and made it big

“I was doing lots of gigs for different people, and one was for this drummer, who was around 60. He advertised in the Melody Maker, and after one call felt I should ring this guy, Mick Jagger, as his band were about my age. He said he was too old and it wasn’t really his scene.  They were set to do a gig at The Marquee. They wanted a regular drummer. I had a blow with them, doing Chuck Berry stuff, went back and said I’d do the gig but didn’t really want to join. I didn’t know them from Adam, and couldn’t see myself doing it for a living.”

Naturally Alone: Gilbert O'Sullivan

Naturally Alone: Gilbert O’Sullivan

Gilbert O’Sullivan on being covered by leading artists who might not always understand the intricacies of his lyrical references

“Andy Williams in the mid-‘70s rang and said he wanted to record We Will, but needed to change a line because he didn’t understand what it meant, the line, ‘I bagsy being in goal’. That’s a very English expression, so I allowed him to! That’s the thing about being an English songwriter. I’m Irish by birth but in the tradition of Paul McCartney and Ray Davies. That’s where all my background stems from, having grown up in Swindon.”

Reception Committee: The Puppini Sisters. From the left - Emma Smith, Marcella Puppini and Kate Mullins

Reception Committee: From the left – Emma Smith, Marcella Puppini and Kate Mullins

The Puppini Sisters’ Kate Mullins on meeting HRH Prince Charles

“We met him at the Royal Variety Show in 2006 and he was terribly sweet. As he was coming down the line to meet everyone, he had someone whisper in his ear, ‘This is Jim, and he breeds ferrets, and this is Kate, Steph and Marcella, The Puppini Sisters. He said, “Oh, it’s you! Wonderful that you’re here. I was given your album for my birthday and I think it’s terrific!’ There’s a fantastic photo, taken from behind him. All you can see is Charles’ bald spot and us in front of him with our décolletage out, the light reflecting! He was terribly nice, and Camilla was lovely too.”

Hirsute Quartet: Reef, 2016 style, live and direct

Hirsute Quartet: Reef, 2016 style, live and direct

Gary Stringer, frontman of Reef, on finding his true vocation as a teenager in Somerset

“I was probably around 13 or 14 when I started singing. I had a group of friends around my age in Glastonbury who I hung out with and one day remember going round to this house opposite The Riflemans Arms, with a drum kit and amp set up. We were into rock and metal but never really talked about having a band. I just started hollering over these guys making a racket. That’s it, I was hooked!”


Feeling Good: The Feeling, waiting for your response to the new album, with Dan Gillespie Sells out front

Feeling Good: The Feeling, with lead singer and  main songwriter Dan Gillespie Sells out front

The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie Sells, on his approach to ‘cool’

“We didn’t buy into any aesthetic of cool … in sound or anything! Why limit yourself? I’ve actually changed my mind a bit on what cool is now, but in those days I was anti-cool. I thought everyone was just faking it. Rather than being fake, growing a beard, fitting into skinny jeans, like a Strokes soundalike, I decided I liked all this pretty music and wasn’t ashamed of it – I love all those harmonies on Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac records.”

Eclectic Ears: Thea Gilmore

Eclectic Ears: Thea Gilmore, busy in the studio and on the road since the late ’90s

Singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore on the importance of eclectic music tastes on her 15-album output

“I was brought up listening to classic songwriters like Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, then Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. But that’s not all I love. I love the epic soundscapes of artists like Lana Del Ray and Lorde. I’m always listening and always gathering ideas and inspiration.”

Ringing Endorsement: Neil Arthur waiting patiently for writewyattuk's call

Ringing Endorsement: Neil Arthur waiting patiently for writewyattuk’s call

Blancmange mainstay Neil Arthur on returning to the Library Theatre in his Lancashire hometown, Darwen

“They seemed to enjoy it last time we came along. It was nerve-racking first time, but we’ve been a few times now, so I know my way in. Actually, my old school was next door. Our English teacher used to say, ‘You’ve got no excuse for not reading books, with Darwen Library three spits away!’

Soulful Leanings: An Evening with Lulu, around and about the UK in 2016

Soulful Leanings: Lulu, live in 2016

Scottish singer and actress Lulu on maintaining her passion for performing, 52 years after her first hit

“When I really look back I see the songs that have the brevity are the ones I brought to the table. I’ve also lived the life and I’ve had up and downs, like most people in their lives. I’ve had tears, I’ve had pain, I’ve had struggles and disappointments … and fantastic success. All of that’s in the bag and I’m grateful now I can do what I want to do and can still kick ass. I’m lucky, very fortunate … and I’m savouring it!”



Dread Zone: Newton Faulkner (Photo: Pip for BMG)

Dread Zone: Newton Faulkner (Photo: Pip for BMG)

Percussive guitar-playing singer/songwriter Newton Faulkner on his love of the festival season

“The festival season was mental. Everyone – band and crew – worked towards T in the Park and Oxegen, which was absolute carnage. One year involved Party Boy, always slightly odd. There was also Mumford and Sons. They’d just got going. It may have been their first festival season. I remember we decided to move this 30ft inflatable frog across the whole site and re-inflate it the other side.  Yeah – the festival season is a bit of a crazy time. I’ve kind of reached a point where I could just tour and do festivals for the rest of my life. It’s a nice reassuring thought – reaching a point of stability. In the world of music that’s very rare, and a very beautiful thing.”

Touring Again: The Blow Monkeys, featuring the same line-up now as way back then

Touring Again: The Blow Monkeys, featuring the same line-up now as way back then

Dr. Robert on all those solo performances over the years between his commitments with The Blow Monkeys

“My solo stuff was pretty much under the radar. I jumped from small label to small label and did a lot of small gigs. I was just putting the acoustic guitar in the boot, with no big deal. It was a case of reconnecting with my roots, and I’ve just carried on doing that. Sometimes I get lucky and people hear them, other times it’s just hardcore fans. It’s been a continual process.”


Bare Footing: Graham Nash, came back to a few of his old UK haunts

Bare Footing: Graham Nash, back to a few old UK haunts

Hollies and CSNY singer/songwriter and activist Graham Nash, on making the most of every available moment while you still can

“A lot of people are going through similar changes to me in my life right now. You get to the age of 74 and look around and you’ve lost Bowie and Glenn Frey and Paul Kantner, and all of a sudden start to think about your own longevity and your own life. I keep getting back to the same simple thing – utilise every second you can the best way you can.”

Prog Princes: Yes in 2016, with Alan White on the right (Photo: Glenn Gottlieb)

Prog Princes: Yes, with Alan White, right (Photo: Glenn Gottlieb)

Yes drumming legend Alan White on the need for home comforts after all those years of jet-setting

“I think the last four gigs are in Italy. You know what though? I’ve been there a million times before. It’s nice to go back, but I’ve travelled the world before. I like to get back home and walk the dogs in the park. I have three Jack Russells. Actually, I misquoted myself – I don’t walk the dogs, they walk me these days.”

HAWKS 2016 COLLAGE with Tim

Hawkwind 2016: Dave Brock and co. in action

Dave Brock on how he found a winning formula for his band Hawkwind, and then stuck with it

“We haven’t really changed. We’ve just carried on playing electronic music with heavy chords – spacey music. It’s like a ship sailing along. We just drop people off at islands along the way, they come on board again another time.”

Underpass Masters: The Magnetic North, on location in Skelmersdale. From the left: Hannah Peel, Simon Tong, Erland Cooper. (Photo copyright: McCoy Wynne)

Underpass Masters: The Magnetic North, on location in Skelmersdale. From the left: Hannah Peel, Simon Tong, Erland Cooper. (Photo copyright: McCoy Wynne)

Simon Tong, of The Magnetic North, on his former Lancashire hometown, which inspired Prospect of Skelmersdale

“In the ‘80s there was that whole thing that Mrs Thatcher hated the word ‘community’ and seemed to want to destroy communities as much as possible. Places like Skelmersdale have had to create their own community, wherever they were shifted from. Over the years, people have had to create their own communities again from scratch.

Three's Company: From the left - Humphrey Berney, Ollie Baines and Stephen Bowman, collectively known as Blake

Three’s Company: From the left – Humphrey Berney, Ollie Baines and Stephen Bowman, aka Blake

Stephen Bowman of classical trio Blake, on what he likes to listen to on his days off, preferably while riding his Suzuki GSX-R1000

“My joy outside of the music we sing is electronic dance music. I listen to Chvrches a lot and an American group called Lucius. I tend to listen to music with a beat. And when I’m motorcycling longer distances I tend to have headphones under the helmet so I have a soundtrack for those longer motorway stints – normally quite fun and upbeat.”

Lining Up: The Four Tops in earlier days, with Duke Fakir back right

Lining Up: The Four Tops back then, with Duke Fakir right

Duke Fakir, sole surviving member of the original Four Tops, on his latest landmark birthday

“A big party was planned. I was going down with my wife to Atlanta where my daughter is, but then the Detroit Pistons basketball team asked if we would perform that day. I hated to turn them down, so told the family we could always have a party later – I’ll be 80 all year long! But then the Pistons surprised me. On a big screen they ran a history of my life and gave me a jersey with my name on it and a number 80.”


Singing Drummer: Ciaran McLaughlin (right of bandmate Raymond Gorman) adds vocal touches to The Everlasting Yeah, live at the Lexington, Islington (Photo copyright: Kate Greaves)

Singing Drummer: Ciaran McLaughlin (with Raymond Gorman) adds vocal touches to The Everlasting Yeah, live in Islington (Photo: Kate Greaves)

Drummer, songwriter and occasional lead singer Ciaran McLaughlin on those That Petrol Emotion and The Everlasting Yeah harmonies

“I can’t get enough of them! That runs right through from Fleshprint, the first song on the first album to Taking that Damn Train Again on Anima Rising. I think there are going to be some on the next record as well. I don’t know what it is, but it pushes all our buttons … and it works. It wasn’t something I thought about until listening back to Anima Rising, but we’re all big fans of black music, soul music, whatever you want to call it. I love Gladys Knight and the Pips, Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions, all those harmonies in the backing vocals – woo-woos and oohs! I think that subconsciously creeps in sometimes, making it more poppy.”

Six Appeal: James, from Manchester to the Scottish Highlands, and beyond

Six Appeal: James, from Manchester to the Scottish Highlands, and beyond

Jim Glennie, bass player and founding member of James, on the band’s continued work ethic – 30 years after debut album Stutter

“We were all based in Manchester and there wasn’t a great deal else to do. We constantly rehearsed between the sparse number of gigs we could arrange and organise. We’d rehearse for no reason. We’d get in a room and just bang away for hours, day after day, working out what we were as a band and trying to write songs … in a very hit and miss kind of way. There was virtually no communication between us. We were an odd little band! Now we’re geographically scattered around, so have to be more organised in how we work together. Everyone’s shipped in and we lock ourselves away, start first thing in the morning and work away until we go to bed. It’s great – productive but good fun as well.”

Once Rotten: John Lydon, four decades after his Sex Pistols days

Once Rotten: John Lydon, four decades after his Sex Pistols days

John Lydon, on the more industrial language ruling out too much radio airplay for PiL’s 10th studio album, What the World Needs Now  

“Oh, for calamity’s sake! It’s a shame that us as a species hasn’t evolved past the point of realising all language is useful and we’re one of nature’s best creations because of language. Banning or chastisement of certain words is pretty damn foolish. And I use the negative words sometimes to very positive thoughts. I’m not openly insulting anyone.”



Live Stuff: The Wonder Stuff, coming to a town near you (Photo: Nick Sayers)

Live Stuff: The Wonder Stuff, came to a town near you in 2016 (Photo: Nick Sayers)

The Wonder Stuff’s Miles Hunt on how seeing his uncle Bill Hunt perform with the Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard and the success of further Black Country outfits inspired him to get involved in music

“It didn’t seem unusual. It was all we knew, having an uncle on Top of the Pops and the like, and me and my brother were really into the pop music of the early ‘70s when we were growing up. And as well as Bill, one of the biggest bands in the country at the time was Slade, and there was a sense of pride that they were from where we were from. They were working-class guys catapulted to national fame. The music they played had such an energy, and we were just the right age to catch it.”


Maximum Joy: Will experiences inflation first-hand

Maximum Joy: Will experiencing inflation

Will Young on whether he feels a need to prove himself after entering the business via talent show TV 15 years ago

“Well, no, because the person I needed to prove it to the most was myself, and I feel I’ve done that now. I try and operate not from a place of fear, because that’s where creative juices are stifled. I just kind of plough on … pretty much basically with my head in the sand!”

Five Alive: The Undertones today, namely (from the left) Paul McLoone, Damian O'Neill, Mickey Bradley (in front), Billy Doherty, and John O'Neill.

Five Alive: The Undertones, from the left – Paul McLoone, Damian O’Neill, Mickey Bradley (in front), Billy Doherty, and John O’Neill.

The Undertones’ Mickey Bradley denying suggestions that it must get boring talking about Teenage Kicks

“Not really. I don’t play it at home, and it’s not my ringtone or anything. So whenever you do hear it, it’s unexpected. And I know enough not to be ungrateful. It’s a good record. Sometimes you hear it on TV ads, and that’s nice too. There was a time around 1981/82 when we were not that enamoured of it, although we still played it. But it wasn’t such a big deal then. It’s only become a big deal in the last 20 years.”

Acoustic Warrior: Toyah, out and about with her Acoustic, Up Close and Personal shows (Photo: Dean Stockings for

Acoustic Warrior: Toyah, out and about with her Acoustic, Up Close and Personal shows in 2016 (Photo: Dean Stockings for

Toyah Willcox on a constant striving to keep going and fit in all she wants to achieve in life

“When I was starting at 23 I couldn’t see beyond the age of 30. Now at the age of 58 I still feel there’s so much I want to learn and achieve and get right. And I find I start panicking, thinking, ‘Don’t waste time!’ I’m not interested in retirement. There are so many things I still want to do, mainly in what I want to do. I’d love to be able to play guitar on stage, but I’ve never been good enough. There are many things within my working sphere which I feel I’ve still got to get right.”

Blues Ambassador: Joe Bonamassa (Photo: Marty Moffatt)

Blues Brother: Joe Bonamassa in live action (Photo: Marty Moffatt)

Blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa on occasionally playing smaller clubs when you’re used to far larger venues

“Every once in a while you want to see the crowds, and in a big gig you don’t see the crowd at all. You’ve got lights in your face and may see one or two rows, but that’s about it. But the problem with the small gigs is, it’s so f***ing loud! You lose your hearing, and we don’t know how to play soft!”



The Temptations’ sole surviving original member Otis Williams on what Muhammad Ali meant to him

“When I heard of his passing, in all honesty I cried. I thought about the times Ali and me walked down Broadway, New York City, and people came out of buildings, he stopped traffic, and I was thinking, ‘Here I am, walking with Ali!’ I was with him with my group when he fought over in Manila in ‘75. One of his fellas called us to his dressing room and we talked together. He asked us to sing Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, which we did, a capella. We used to go to his house when he lived in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. I had some wonderful times with The Greatest. When I heard of his passing I sat there and I cried like a little boy.”

Temptations Today: The band in 2016, with Otis Williams, centre, the sole surviving original member

Temptations Today: The band in 2016, with Otis Williams, centre, the sole surviving original member

Stick around … part two of the writewyattuk 2016 story – from July to December – is coming next.


About writewyattuk

A freelance writer and family man being swept along on a wave of advanced technology, but somehow clinging on to reality. It's only a matter of time ... A highly-motivated scribbler with a background in journalism, business and life itself. Away from the features, interviews and reviews you see here, I tackle novels, short stories, copywriting, ghost-writing, plus TV, radio and film scripts for adults and children. I'm also available for assignments and write/research for magazines, newspapers, press releases and webpages on a vast range of subjects. You can also follow me on Facebook via and on Twitter via @writewyattuk. Legally speaking, all content of this blog (unless otherwise stated) is the intellectual property of Malcolm Wyatt and may only be reproduced with permission.
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