Q: How did you
meet Guy Fletcher?
A: Tony Meehan, the original
drummer with ‘The Shadows’, introduced us in late
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
A: Unquestionably. Absolutely.
It’s an amazing feeling that you can only really share with
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
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!
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
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.