At fifty-six years old, I am the youngest member of my band. In 1995 age thirty-two and at the height of my success, I was the oldest.
Despite my worn exterior, I receive regular radio airplay and have recently been named ‘Artist of the Year’ for which I’ll receive an award. My official website is up and running, and I have an army of fans worldwide. I recently performed some acoustic songs via a live stream at home, which reached an audience of 14k.
The mere mention of age is of genuinely no concern amongst most musicians, unless they’re a vain contender. Alongside the lines comes a wealth of experience and you can’t put a price on priceless.
Earlier this year when recording ‘In My House’ I employed a young engineer who came with no preconceptions. He delighted in working with a band who knew exactly what they wanted and could also achieve it with ease.
The respect was mutual. Returning to music after a twenty-five-year hiatus (writing for television) and being from an era where reel-to-reel ruled, and cassettes were cool (they still are, apparently), my knowledge of the digital method was nil. I learned a lot, as did he, as we record the backline live and don’t do any of this ‘cut and paste’ technique. Old school to the core – but not quite – as I did like the automatic fader as used on Repetitious Verses. Combining both procedures, we produced an outstanding track.
My biggest encounter with ageism in the industry came from the grandiose mouth of a local promoter; a critic with no credentials, whose achievements stretch no further than putting friends’ bands on in his ramshackle venue. He, like his little building, is nothing more than a futile façade and certainly no Harvey Goldsmith.
Hiding behind his keyboard and backed up by playmates for support, he viciously attacked me online, simply because I had been featured in a magazine raising awareness of the fact it exists. Precisely why it should have bothered him I have no idea considering he has never experienced such bias nor walked in my shoes. My only conclusion being that perhaps I’d hit on a prejudiced nerve that he didn’t want exposing.
On hearing of this incident, I was invited by the BBC to talk about my experience, an opportunity I gladly accepted. The broadcast was favourable, and as a result, I was welcomed back again to talk about my career as part of World Music Day. Coincidentally, the very same week, Queen guitarist Brian May, was also in the news discussing the very same subject. He, quite rightly, was not condemned for daring to voice his opinion.
I have enjoyed both ends of the spectrum for different reasons: back then I was driven by energy, ambition and immediacy, whilst now, grey-haired and serene, it’s quality that counts. And on this happy note, I retire from my desk for the night, quoting some lyrics from the title track of my album: “I’m allowed to say this is how I feel, and I say, you are blinded by your negative own ways.”
Photo by Sasha Freemind