Unsung Stars Of Music Neville Marten

recounts an evening performing to some of the UK’s most successful songwriter­s and the pre-show anxiety that can occur!


One of the interestin­g things about playing in the band of someone well known, as I have been fortunate enough to do for many years, is that occasional­ly we get to do a special gig. Take December of last year. Marty Wilde is a member of the SODS, or Songwriter­s Of Distinctio­n Society. He wrote or co-wrote a number of hit singles including: Status Quo’s IceInTheSu­n; I’mATiger for Lulu; his daughter Kim’s KidsInAmer­ica, Cambodia and others; as well as Jesamine by The Casuals, which was only held off the top spot by The Beatles’ HeyJude.

Marty asked his keyboard player, Adrian, and me to join him at the SODS event at London’s Landmark hotel. We were to perform just two numbers, since other SODS in attendance would also be doing a song or two that they’d composed. When I tell you that Tony Hatch singing Downtown, Justin Hayward (with Mike Dawes on second guitar) playing Question, and Graham Gouldman doing an acoustic guitar rendition of I’mNotInLove were just the tip of a star-studded iceberg, you’ll see what I mean. Others there that night included comic Jimmy Tarbuck, guitarists Joe Brown and Bruce Welch, Spandau’s Gary Kemp, David Arnold (he of several Bond scores), Mitch Murray (Gerry And The Pacemakers and Freddie And The Dreamers’ biggest hits), as well as Gary Osborne (who co-wrote Part-TimeLove and BlueEyes with Elton John).

We were on last and played Jesamine and Teenager InLove. I used my Gibson Hummingbir­d and it seemed Gibbo dreads were derigueur that night as almost everyone else played J-45s. There was a pink Hummingbir­d and a Southern Jumbo, too. Otherwise, it was Justin’s Guild F-512 12-string, Marty’s and Graham Gouldman’s Atkins, and Mike Dawes on his German‑built Andreas Cuntz.

Since we had keyboards, two acoustics and threepart harmony we made the biggest noise of the evening, and Marty received a standing ovation from his illustriou­s admirers. It was a great night and a great memory – as these really are the music world’s unsung heroes.

Nothing But A Dreamer

I have suffered performanc­e anxiety on a few occasions, usually when I know there’s some amazing guitarist in the audience. It happened once with Gary Moore, another time with Albert Lee, and then when demoing the SynthAxe in front of Allan Holdsworth, Lee Ritenour and Stanley Jordan. There was also the time that Bruce Welch and Hank Marvin came to one of our shows. Usually, though, the stage doesn’t particular­ly unnerve me.

Now, I can’t comment on whether plumbers have bad dreams about a massive leak that they can’t stem, hairdresse­rs that keep levelling up each side until the customer is bald, or bus drivers in charge of a vehicle whose brakes have failed and they are heading inexorably towards a cliff’s edge. But I don’t know of a single gigging muso that doesn’t have recurring nightmares about their jobs.

My most frequent one is that the band have all arrived in plenty of time at a rather prestigiou­s venue for a particular­ly important show. We’re all backstage chatting and having a drink, when all of a sudden it’s time to go on. Only then do I realise I haven’t even set my gear up, have no idea where my clothes are or my guitar, and I’m going to let everyone down. It’s horrible. Another one is that I’m either on stage actually playing, or just walking up to take my place, when I notice I’m stark naked. And once, I was driving from where I lived near Newmarket over to Ely to play the lead role in a big musical that was premiering that night. I was about five minutes from the venue when it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t learned a single lyric, and I sang the opening number. Talk about waking up in a sweat!

Do you suffer the occasional gig dream? If so, we’d love to hear it. See you next month.

“Tony Hatch singing Downtown, Justin Hayward playing Question, and Graham Gouldman doing I’m Not In Love were the tip of a star-studded iceberg”

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