You thought pop stars were so named because they play ‘pop’ music? Think again! It’s actually because they continually ‘pop up’… in the most unusual places. Whether it’s Elvis in a chip shop or the bloke out of Keane in rehab, you just can’t tell where these unpredictable rockers and poppers are going to show up next.
Here is my personal top ten strange encounters with music stars. They are all TRUE:
1) Helen Shapiro. On her lap, Torquay, 1969. I was a cute five-year-old, so how could Clapton’s answer to Dusty Springfield resist when (prompted by my pushy mum) I toddled over to her in a hotel bar after a panto in Torquay and asked her for her autograph? I was lifted onto her knee and jiggled around a bit – which must have made some of the old Teddy Boys in the bar seethe with jealousy.
2) Clem Burke from Blondie. In a hotel lift, London, circa 1995. A very cramped elevator, just three occupants. Myself, my friend Stubz, and Clem. This is how the conversation went. Me: “Look, Stubz! It’s Clem Burke.” Stubz: “No it’s not… is it?” Me: “Yes, it is. Clem, are you Clem Burke?” Clem: “Yes.”
3) Paul Cook from Sex Pistols. Behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Beetle, Victoria, London, 1982. After a fantastic Iggy Pop gig, my friend Shaun and I looked across the road and spotted a recognisable face in a VW Beetle. We must have stared a bit too much because we were beckoned over. “Are you Paul Cook?” we asked. “Yes,” he replied. My first Pistol meeting. I was made up.
4) ‘H’ from Steps. Upstairs at the Red Lion theatre bar, Angel, London. 2006 I think. I was trying to enjoy a rather good play about local newspaper journalists when who should appear from the wings to play the part of a cub reporter than the hyperactive one himself. My niece was well impressed – but doesn’t understand why I didn’t take seize this golden opportunity to grab his arse.
5) David Bowie. In a queue for soup, backstage at the Isle Of Wight Festival 2004. I’d driven British Sea Power to this gig and was queueing hungrily for some leek and potato loveliness in the catering tent. Some bloke in a red baseball cap was taking a little too long over his choice, so I skirted around him and kind of pushed past. When I got back to the table, my ashen-faced friends pointed out that I’d just shoved Ziggy Stardust himself aside in my rush for dindins. Oh my word.
6) PJ Proby. Busking in Union Street, Plymouth, early 1980s. Before his current bad luck spell, the trouser-splitting beat crooner had an earlier down and out phase – and could be heard belting out his classics in this South West city centre thoroughfare.
7) Ronnie Wood. A black cab, Dublin, 1991. The Face walked out of a hotel bar with a full pint of Guinness in hand, straight into the open door of a taxi, and took a huge gulp just as the driver pulled away. Right in front of my eyes. Class.
8) Joe Strummer. A barn, Glastonbury. Joe was helping his mate Michael Eavis with moral support at a press conference for Glastonbury Festival. Afterwards, he regaled me with a classic story about how he turned veggie after watching a chicken being saved from a fiery death during Arthur Brown’s set at the very first Glasto. My one and only meeting with this great man.
9) Spizz. Psychedelic Furs gig, The Forum, London, 2010. “How did you know it was Spizz?” asked my girlfriend when i got home. He had a Spizz T-shirt, was handing out Spizz flyers, had Spizz painted on his jacket and a scrolling LCD belt buckle with “Spizz live at the Dublin Castle” illuminated on it. Spizz.
10) Mani from Stone Roses/Primal Scream. Behind the counter of a burger van, Monmouth, 1993. OK – so I didn’t actually see him in this most glorious of circumstances, but it is established legend that the bass legend earned a few extra shillings by manning a friend’s weekend burger cabin in the South Wales town during breaks from ‘Second Coming’ recording sessions.