LOCAL HEROES – Me Mam says “ Eeh! Did you see that Sting in the news? He’s got
this play on Broadway about the shipyards, our shipyards. I’ve never liked him with that daft yoga stuff and his tree hugging ways but he must be a clever lad and well, he is one of us. I wonder if the Americans understand what it’s all about”? “ I wonder Mam”?
Well I had seen it and I did wonder myself how a New York audience would take Geordie lads musical and what did I really know at all about the man and musician Sting.
Gordon Mathew Thomas Sumner (Sting) born in 1951 in Wallsend to a working class family. Sting grew up in the shadow of the Wallsend shipyards. The eldest of four children he attended St Cuthbert’s grammar school. He was obsessed with music and would often sneak into nightclubs like the Club A Go-Go. Where he watched the likes of Cream and Jimi Hendrix perform. Artist’s that inspired and influenced his later career. He actually qualified as a Teacher and worked at St. Paul’s first school in Cramlington for 2 years.
However, he is best known as the principal songwriter and lead singer of the band The Police. He’s had major success with the band as well as his solo career. Varying his musical style over the years, with elements of rock, reggae, jazz and classical. Sting has an impressive CV both at home and internationally. He has been awarded Brit awards, Golden Globes, an Emmy, inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. So I think that answers the “how has he pulled it off question,” about his musical. His list of charity work is enormous, Amnesty International, the Rain Forest Fund, he’s a patron of the Poverty Alleviation Charity, Aids Foundation and the Red Cross to name but a few. He supports endless local charities and recently gave a personal donation of an undisclosed amount to the Friends Of Tynemouth, out door pool fund. Supporting the drive to, regenerate the 1920s lido. So he is a local hero after all. His accent has faded and he has strange ways but the evidence shows he’s still a Geordie and cares about his past. Hence the making of The last Ship.
The Last Ship is a marrying of Stings boyhood memories of growing up in the ship building industry in Wallsend. The story as described by critic is set in the seafaring town of Wallsend in the North of England. (Somebody tell them)!! The close knit community, where life revolves around the ship yards and hard working men construct magnificent ships with great pride. The main character dreams of a different future and leaves to travel the world. On his return he finds the shipyards future in grave danger and his childhood sweetheart engaged to someone else and so the story unfolds. The critics have heralded it a triumph. I wonder if Newcastle will get to see it, I hope so. So Sting I will let my Mam know that you’re still a proper Geordie lad really and I’m sure she will be interested to learn about all you’ve done for our glorious city and region.
We have a wonderful history in this region and lots of places and people to be proud of, especially our musicians. Some leave and only come back to visit but their hearts seem to always remain here.This week I will play some favourite tracks I like from 5 local heroes. Hope you like them and please feel free to tell me your favourites.
THE POLICE – MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
Message in a Bottle” is a 1979 song by The Police, from their second album, Reggatta de Blanc. Written by Sting; the song is ostensibly about a story of a castaway on an island, who sends out a message in a bottle to seek love. A year later, he has not received any sort of response, and despairs, thinking he is destined to be alone. The next day, he sees “a hundred billion bottles” on the shore, finding out that there are more people like him out there. Rolling Stone ranked it number 65 on its list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.
I’m not a huge Police fan but I do like this song.
JIMI HENDRIX -HEY JOE
James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix, born November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) born in Seattle 1942. I know isn’t a Geordie well he wasn’t born here but, some may say he’s an honorary Geordie. He was discovered in 1965 in the USA by Chad Chandler of The Animals who brought him to England to make him a star. Chas loved the song Hey Joe and was convinced he could make it a hit single with the right artist and he was right. Hey Joe was a massive hit for Hendrix and put him firmly on the musical map in the UK. I didn’t know this until recently and was gob smacked to find out this Geordie connection. I asked my older brother who said he had seen The Jimi Hendrix Experience in the 60s at the Club a’Go-Go in Newcastle. Apparently Jimi was often seen busking on Heaton’s Chillingham Road. Now that is amazing. An untimely death caused a short career span but enough to make a lasting legacy.
Hey Joe is a popular American song from the 1960s which has been performed by a lot of artists in different standards. The most famous being the Jimi Hendrix experience, recorded in 1966. I love this song and Jimi Hendrix’s version is the best. I wished I had been living on Chilli Road back in the 60s.
LINDISFARNE -RUN FOR HOME
You can’t get more local heroes or Geordie than LINDISFARNE firmed in 1968. Folk rock band originally called Brethern. Lindisfarne are named after the island off the Northumberland Coast. They were signed in 1970 and went on to release no fewer than 14 albums over the decades, with the odd change of line up. The biggest selling album was Fog On The Tyne which was released in 1971. They obtained a huge following from their live concerts and built a reputation for being one of the top festival bands. Lindisfarne broke up in 2004 with the full line up performing a final concert in their beloved Newcastle.
Run For Home was a huge hit for Lindisfarne, I Love this song. As a proud Geordie I always think of my beautiful city and its people when I hear it. My cousin who lives in New Zealand says when he hears it, he always feels as if he wants to come straight home, see the bridges and hear familiar voices. Always get ‘dust’ in my eye when I play it, funny that.
ROXY MUSIC – ANGELS EYES
Roxy Music a British art rock group formed in 1971 by Bryan Ferry, who became the group’s lead vocalist and chief songwriter. Despite an 18-year gap between activity Roxy Music never officially split up. Ferry frequently enlisted many Roxy members as session musicians for his solo releases. Although the band took a break from group activities in 1976 and again in 1983, they reunited for a concert tour in 2001, and have toured together intermittently since that time. The band was highly influential, as leaders in the more experimental, musically sophisticated element of glam, as well as a significant influence on early English punk music. They also provided a model for many new wave acts and the experimental electronic groups of the early 1980s. Ferry and co-founding member Eno have also had influential solo careers, the latter becoming one of the most significant record producers and collaborators of the late 20th century.
Bryan Ferry was born in Washington, Tyne and Wear, England into a working-class family. Ferry attended Washington Grammar-Technical School (now called Washington School) on Spout Lane from 1957. Ferry became a pottery teacher at Holland Park School in London however his move was with the real intention of pursuing a career in music and he formed Roxy Music
Angel Eyes was released as a single in August 1979, it was the third single to be taken from their album Manifesto and peaked at No. 4 in the UK. The single was a disco re-recorded version of the album track, which was more rock sounding, and (just like the previous single “Dance Away”) was also released as an extended 12″ dance mix (still a relatively new format at that time).
I have always been a Roxy Music/ Bryan Ferry fan through my brother. I think he fancied himself as a bit of a Ferry look alike. This is one of my favourite songs of his.
PET SHOP BOYS – WEST END GIRLS
Pet shop boys and English electronic pop duo, Neil Tenant and Chris Lowe. They have sold over 50million records worldwide and are listed as the most successful duo in UK music history by the Guinness book of Records. Their achievements are astounding.They met in an electronics shop in London and recognised a mutual interest in dance music. Their original name was West End because of their love of London’s West End but later changed it to Pet Shop Boys, derived from friends that worked in a pet shop in Ealing.
Neil tenant was born in North Shields it shortly moved to Brunton Park in Gosforth shortly after Neil’s birth. He attended St Cuthbert’s catholic school. Tenants songs ‘ This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave and It’s A Sin,” refer to his early life in the catholic school and the strict up bringing. In 1975 he completed his degree in London and worked for various magazines editing, the most famous being the Smash Hits yearbook 1982, 83 and 84 editions. Whilst at Smash Hits an opportunity arose to interview The Police, whilst there he met Bobby Orlando who he admired. He mentioned he was writing songs and Orlando was interested. Orlando subsequently recorded and produced the Pet Shop Boys first single West End Girls
With lyrics concerned with class and inner city life. West End Girls was a massive hit, reaching number 1 in the UK and America in 1986. Neil Tennant explained the role of new sampling technology on the track and how every single sound came from the newly introduced E-mu Emulator keyboard.
This is my favourite Pet Shop Boys song. At the time it was a really different sound and the inner city life lyrics and of course I am a West End Girl myself.