Guy Fletcher OBE and Doug Flett

Photo: PRS for Music


Ray Charles

Ray Charles

Elvis Presley


Tom Jones

Tom Jones

Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker


Q: How did you meet Guy Fletcher?

A: Tony Meehan, the original drummer with ‘The Shadows’, introduced us in late 1965.

Q: Have you always been a songwriter?

A: No, my first job back in Sydney was as a TV Cameraman. After only 18 months or so I changed course and joined a major advertising agency and later moved to London continuing in Advertising as an Account Director until I met Guy.

Q: Which comes first, the words or the music?

A: The most frequently asked question! Either, or on a good day, both at the same time. A song can start at the oddest times and in the strangest ways. One moment there is nothing, then the Muse connects and an hour, a day, a week later, there it is.

Q: Where do your ideas come from?

A: If I knew I certainly wouldn’t tell you. Extraordinarily, through good times and bad, highs and lows, in sickness and in health, down all the years the inspiration keeps on flowing. Ideas abound. I am still grateful and humbled by the magical creative process. It sure beats working for a living.

Q: Do you know when you have written a hit song?

A: Unquestionably. Absolutely. It’s an amazing feeling that you can only really share with your collaborator.

Q: Of the many recordings you have had which one gave you the most pleasure?

A: Wow… a close call with three songs recorded by ‘The King’ and now the splendid 21st Century version of “Just Pretend” but it has to be the Ray Charles recording of “Is There Anyone Out There?”. We wrote the Gospel song with him in mind but it was five years before it was recorded. The great man sang it, arranged it and produced it! The very first time we heard his recording, when the song ended Guy and I were speechless. Stunned. It is magnificent. I wish someone would re-master it digitally and issue it on a CD.

Q: Tell us about the Presley recordings and how they came about?

A: The first song “Wonderful World” was written for Cliff Richard and entered in the Song for Europe Competition to find the UK’s Eurovision entry in ’68. It came third but Cliff recorded it, as EMI wanted an EP of the first four songs. Our publisher, seeing its potential played it to Elvis who evidently loved it. I think Cliff was quite chuffed that Elvis recorded ‘his’ song.

The second, “The Fair’s Moving On” was written by invitation, in that the door was now open. We submitted several songs and this was chosen. It’s about the circus packing up and leaving town. The “Colonel” was a former ‘carney roustabout’ or some such. Nostalgia is the songwriter’s friend!

“Just Pretend” is the third and final title and my favourite. It’s on the “Elvis, That’s the Way It Is” album released 1970. I read an interview with Lisa Marie Presley and when asked about her favourite tracks of her father’s work she named four, saying she liked the darker songs and “Just Pretend” is one of the four. I’m pretty pleased about that as you might imagine.

What we didn’t know when we wrote the song was that Elvis and Priscilla had recently parted and if you listen to it with that in mind it’s especially poignant. I’ve seen film and videos of him performing the song and he always looked as if he was really enjoying it.

NB. ‘Our songs “SAVE ME” and “POWER TO ALL OUR FRIENDS” have had way over 300 and 250 cover recordings respectively, and still they come! Doug.