28th July 2003
TRANSMISSION TIME: 23:70 GMT
RADIO STATION: BBC Radio2 88-91FM (UK)
PROGRAMME NAME: Richard Alinson Show - Mark Goodier presenting
not word for word - there are subtle edits!)
MG-Mark Goodier, CF-Chris Farlowe
<MG>Our guest just after 11 tonight, Chris Farlowe - legendary British Blues singer. We've just played a song written by Mick and Keith who of course will be with Steve Wright over the next few days on Radio 2. As I said, Chris Farlowe on the show after 11.00 tonight and he's going to sing something and were going to talk about his new album which is a collection of songs recently recorded. A guy who has pretty never stopped touring since the sixties.
Its seven minutes past eleven on a Monday night and our guest is a singer who formed his first band as a teenager in the 1950's, the sixties came, a great musical career including a number one hit and the original chart appearance of that great song 'Hand Bags and Glad Rags' . Forty years, and a favorite with pop fans and blues fans, not just here but in the rest of the world particularly Europe. You'll know when I say, his latest album is called 'Farlowe That! (which is quite a pun) that we are talking about Chris Farlowe. Welcome to Radio 2 Chris. How are you?
<CF>Hello, yeah, I'm fine thank you.
<MG>Was that a decent enough build up for you?
<CF>Yes that was wonderful!
<MG>Excellent! 'Farlowe That' is a terrible pun (laughs). How long did it take you to think of that?
<CF>Well, I've often thought about it, but never done it. You try explaining it to foreign fans! They say 'What does it mean?'
<MG>Don't bother trying! It's great to have you on the show and reading your biog, I'm attracted to the fact that not only were you were born and bred in Islington, but you still live there?
<MG>Forty years of a music career and you haven't gone off anywhere.
<CF>No, well, I lived in New York for a while.
<MG>Did you? When was that?
<MG>I sure they were very interesting times.
<CF>Yeah it was great. It was when Led Zep and all that lot were there.
<MG>We'll talk about meeting up again with Mr Plant in the 80's. But lets go right back to the sixties. you seemed to remember things pretty well. it must have been in that Andrew Loog Oldham period that things really started to happen for you
<CF>We used to be resident at the Flamingo Club and because we were good, a good rock and roll and blues band, we used to get all the artists coming down, like The Beatles who would be sitting in one corner, the Rolling stones.......
<CF>Jimi Hendrix actually got up and played with us the first night he was in England! Ottis Redding, came down to the dressing room and asked me to do a tv programme with him. And Nina Simone, everybody was there. The Count Baisie orchestras. All of these people would be sitting there, listening to your performing. You don't get that anymore!
<MG>No you don't. Do you have entirely happy memories of that time. Andrew Loog Oldham was very, very strong manager. Is he (Andrew Loog Oldham) still alive?
<MG>He certainly got careers going.
<CF>He certainly did...but, he never got mine going! He got the Rolling Stones going though!
<MG>They were entirely happy memories of those times?
<CF>Oh yeah, definitely. I have fantastic memories. I mean the people I have met, and the people I have worked is amazing. From Otis Reding to Jimi Page, to Van Morrison. Other singers would give a lot to experience what I have.
<MG>A lot of people, also, having had an amazing time in the music business, would give up and go to a more sensible and quiet way of life. You've not exactly done that, have you?
<CF>No, I'm very busy with my music, of course, which is my life and I love that. But I've got my own antiques business which I've had for many years.
<MG>When did you start that, as a matter of interest? Because you were a carpenter when you left school. For how long?
<CF>I was a joiner for ten years.
<MG>Were you playing music at that time
<CF>Oh yes. I was fired from one job because I was singing all the time. The manager said people were complaing and said 'Can't uou stop singing?' and I said, I'm going to be a big singer one day, and they started laughing and said 'Yeah, sure' And, when I made it and got the number one, I went back to the workshop and said 'Hello, remember me, I made it!' Great memories, I would never change them.
<MG>I Presumably you have had lots of life long pals around the Islington neck of the woods in London.
<CF>Yeah, all my old band and all my relations are all there. Well not any more, they've all gone now, except for a couple and they're in their ninties! It makes you feel bad! (groan).
<MG>You're not looking that bad yourself
<CF>I'm looking all right!
<MG>I'd be interested to hear what you make of the cover of 'Hand Bags and Glad Rags' . The Stereophonics cover. Did you like that?
<CF>Well, I'm not that au fait with it. Our version is the great version! I'm not saying that because I'm Chris Farlowe! But, it was written for me by Mike D'abo
<MG>Who's a mate.
<CF>Yeah I knew him before that It's a great song and it was written for me. I didn't cover it. Like 'Out of Time', that was written for me. The Stones recorded it a year later. These songs were written for me.
<MG>So do you feel mildly irritated that Rod and the Stereophonics had success with Handbags and Gladrags?
<CF>No I don't. They know that mine is the best!
<MG>The definitive version.
<CF>There's one thing that I've got in this business and it is respect from other artists. That's what I like to know that I'm a good singer
<MG>Out of Time is one of those records that will always be played on the radio. You must be proud about that.
<CF>Yes, I'm amazed. And of course, we (England) won the world cup the same week it was number one. Whenever we are in the world cup, I get all the papers contacting me and asking how I think we'll do this year.
<MG>Are you a big football fan?
<CF>I'm an Arsenal supporter, well I live in Highbury, I suppose I have to be!
<MG>I'd like to play some stuff from the new album and talk about. It's on Delicious Records. How did you select all the songs, there's one original song on there but the others, there are songs by some great artists. Was that a difficult process?
<CF>No, I have thousands of CDs. I'm a real music buff.
<MG>Have you still got the vinyl?
<CF>I've got a lot of it. I get out a nice album and play it and instead of putting it back in the sleeve, put it on the floor, on the carpet, at which point my cat comes along and skids all over it, scratching it! So I'm not buying vinyl anymore - it just gets ruined. so I get CDs... Mind you. CD's are the same, he uses the small one as a Frisbee!
<MG>That's one for each foot!
<MG>So your house is like a teenagers bedroom with stuff all over the floor!!
<CF>It is, absolutely all over the floor!
<MG>We'll talk about a few other songs afterwards we've played this one. Tell us about 'Ain't No Big Deal'
<CF>As I said, I like listening to real old music and I've got a great collection. I like going through the original R n B stuff like Little Milton and we picked out a Hank Williams song. I love picking out the old stuff and rerecording it in my own way. And that s what 'Aint No Big Deal' is.
<MG>Excellent stuff! That's 'Aint No Big Deal'. We're trying to remember who did the original of that, but with no success. Little Milton?
<CF>Yeah I think it was.
<MG>Chris Farlowe's new album is called 'Farlowe That'. Van Morrison is on this.
<CF>Yeah, Van wrote me a song. I've been touring with Van for a long time and I said, I've had the Stones write me a song, I've had Mike D'abo write me a song and I had Paul McCartney offered me a song, which I refused.
<MG>Did you! which one was that?
<MG>Your kidding me!
<CF>I was in a club Paul said 'I've written a good song, you would do a great version of it. He said it's called Yesterday an d I thought nothing of it then of course it came out . I heard it when The Beatles played the Palladium and realised it was the song he offered me!
<MG>It's often covered. You wouldn't do it now.
<CF>I've done a version, I recorded it many years ago
<MG>People used to do covers versions of songs on a regular basis and there's no shame in that.
<CF>No, in the seventies and eighties people started to write their own stuff.
<MG>I got very excited earlier on when I was doing a bit of homework I found out you were in Atomic Rooster for a while. Devils Answer - that was the big one. In the seventies, Did you move about between bands?
<CF>No only when my band the Thunderbirds broke up. I joined Colosseum and then they broke up after a about two and a half years and then Atomic Rooster offered me a job because I new Vincent Crane from the old days as an organist. But I didn't stay long with them, it wasn't my thing.
<MG>Back to Van Morrison. so he wrote you a song Which song did he write?
<CF>Yes, I said to him, its about time you wrote me a song. so out of the blue - he said I've got this song for you and we recorded it
<MG>You must be one of the few people who can speak to Van Morrison like that looking
<CF>He likes me as a singer, which is great. he is a great singer and I love singing with him, we feed of him
<MG>So having had 'Out of Time' as a hit did your professional life change drastically, or just a bit
<CF>Just a bit I think. I've never been a person to be
headstrong by fame. It didn't come to me, 'I never thought I'm a big ego fan, I'm it!'. I was a carpenter and joiner at the
time, I stopped being a carpenter and joiner after a number one record of course, but I
still do carpentry and joinery and I've still got a shop, an antique shop. I still like
making furniture. I learnt that trade and I still like doing it. I'm one of those people
that likes fame, I mean, I love going out. When we go abroad, we are very well known in
Europe, and I go out, I might be going to the antique shops to have a look around, and I'm
walking down the street or I'll fancy a coffee outside on the pavement, especially in
places like Czechoslovakia or East Germany as it was then. You get people coming, standing
around you, pointing and saying "that's Chris Farlowe". I'll say
'Hello and ask if they want to come and join me for a cup of coffee. They're all amazed at that, I've never been one to put myself above these people and never will.
<MG>We have been listening to my very good friend Chris Farlowe singing 'Bring it on
home to me'. Chris I remember going
down to the Flamingo to see you. It was like a rendezvous for anyone
that was about down there . What was it like? You were there week after week, if not day
after day at the Flamingo for years, weren't you?