Sunday 25th December 2016

Well, such a sad day indeed in many people’s world – but yet especially in my world – with the news that George Michael passed away today, at the frighteningly young age of fifty-three.

I, of course, had the honour of working with him for over eight years, during a particularly poignant time in his career: starting out with “Wham!” and continuing through into his solo career, specifically from the years 1983 until 1991. Those were indeed memorable years, arguably the pinnacle of my career in the music business. The man gave me free reign to plan his touring operations properly and professionally and – contrary to the majority of acts I have worked with over the years – ensured everyone knew the buck stopped with me.

If – and when – I may consider actually (eventually) writing a book, detailing my experiences over the forty years of my involvement in the music business, my time spent with George (and Andrew Ridgeley for a good few years, as well) will most definitely encompass a very sturdy chapter. This will not consist of so-called “sensationalism tit-bits”, but more anecdotal reflection of many eventful occasions that we fondly enjoyed together. You must remember that I was present around George throughout a very transitional period of his career, both in terms of his ground-breaking decision to go solo - and also his much-publicised management split (the latter, sadly, causing a temporary rift between myself and George’s two original personal managers, Simon Napier-Bell and Jazz Summers).

It’s no secret that George’s Mum’s passing in 1997, when Lesley was only 60 years old, had a most profound effect on George - and I can distinctly recall thinking that one or two of the particular songs and videos that George subsequently released, in the immediate years following Lesley’s passing, certainly – for me – mirroring the extent of his deep grief.

Now, he has gone – and can be added, “worryingly”, to an increasing list of entertainers that I have worked with over the years, who have passed away to date (John Glascock; Randy Rhoads; Mick Karn; George Harrison; Alex Harvey; Joe Cocker; Greg Lake; Gary Moore). I have no wish to see this list expand, however that trend is unlikely to abate, in respect of many of the Artist’s I have worked with, being that most of them are slightly senior to me.

Food for thought? Undeniably, meaning that it will do no harm to revisit the subject of “balance” in my life – a subject that Alice coincidentally raised a few days ago, before we were floored by today’s tragic news. There was once a time in our lives when we were able to think about all the things we wanted to do in life, without there ever having been one iota of concern about whether there would be enough to accomplish all those things. Not so now.

In closing this week’s entry – there is, of course, no prizes awarded for guessing my choice of featured Artist, for the accompanying track. There are so many great, memorable, George Michael songs to choose from: however, I was present for the recording of this iconic track (when George and I journeyed from the UK to the Detroit recording studio). So, with joyful memories – but equally with a heavy heart today – I leave you with the George Michael/Aretha Franklin duet “I Knew You Were Waiting”. Thanks a million George.

Sunday 20th November 2016

Ooh, la, la! Your reliable (but not always timely) scribe comes to you this evening from Paris.

Something of a whistle-stop visit this: arriving early afternoon today – and then back on Tuesday afternoon: the principal reason for doing so being to take in another trial game, an event that we (myself and my Belgian scout Jean Bosco) fairly regularly attend, every three months or so, with a view to unearthing what we believe to be the hidden talent in this city - European football’s lost souls – many of those players not even registered with any clubs.

Only a matter of a few hours ago (topical, eh?) I sat at dinner with Jean, Amick Cianni (a former player of mine, now a Paris-based agent), Jim Totime (another French agent) and a talented Left Back that played in the “bounce” (trial) game at Stenhousemuir on Tuesday, earlier this week. It’s so personally invigorating to see such collective passion from them all.

The general idea of the “project” is to try to place those young players with smaller Scottish clubs, which can foster and develop their talent, in the hope that they can, in time, (having given some appreciative service to the first club that “took them in”) progress to a higher level. Ultimately – as I always tell the players – the icing on the cake is England. Even in a Championship club down south, the player would then become involved in a noticeably higher standard of football and (contrary to the situation in Scotland, where each Premier League club can feasibly play the majority of the other teams possibly four times a season - definitely three) only play each of the other Championship clubs twice, i.e. home and away.

My involvement with football now stretches back over twenty years and I could sure write way more on the subject, than could ever be contained on this one page (what of it I can remember anyway). Maybe it’s just as well that the frustrating – and expensive, in several cases – football episodes have elected to park themselves below my consciousness. Thank God – for the most part anyway – that our minds have a way of burying the more regrettable periods of our lives: sure, there can always come a “trigger” point that causes certain recollections to percolate to the surface, but thankfully (for me anyway - he said, rather selfishly) only on the odd – possibly poignant – occasions. Does that make any sense?

On the personal side of things, I’m just working away slowly (and therefore inexpensively) to keep my wee house up to scratch, cosmetically – with a few particular little jobs going beyond “cosmetic”. I still find myself (possibly ushered in by a minor, uncontrollable, bout of melancholy) reflecting upon how it might have been had I not been so fortunate to clamber back on the property ladder, back in 2005: I’m still not quite sure how I accomplished that. You see, there almost arrived an example of a melancholy bout – but I have shooed it away!

As we draw towards the end of this week’s (yes, I have to admit somewhat) rambling narrative we must be buoyed that we’re still here to ramble, and still here to narrate: at least I understand what I’m on about! As is customary at this point, I go looking for some appropriate track that bears (at best!) some tenuous link to the “theme” of the diary, which is why this week I give you the “Reverend” Al Green and “For The Good Times”. Melancholy?