Musician, songwriter, producer, arranger, singer, philosopher, wit.
Not a description of Oscar Wilde, but one of the UK’s most popular yet unsung musical heroes, GRAHAM GOULDMAN, whose catchy tunes and lyrical messages are still being enjoyed in most corners of the world, some thirty years after his first hit. If songs like the timeless classic, ‘I’m Not In Love’, the poptastic ‘Things We Do For Love’ or the quasi reggae ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ mean little or nothing, then reader, read on, you’ve had you ears tuned to the wrong station all these years.
When he was about eight years old, and all his class-mates were dreaming of being train drivers or lion tamers, Graham decided he was going to be a drummer. Even at that tender age he knew music would be his destiny, but after a few tentative lessons, he realized wielding a pair of drumsticks wasn’t quite what he had in mind. It wasn’t until he reached the age of eleven, when a cousin returned from Spain with a cheap acoustic guitar that he realized this was it. “As soon as I held it,” he remembers, “I was gone”.
Graham left school in his hometown of Manchester as soon as was legally possible, and was soon fronting the Whirlwinds on lead guitar. This was the Sixties, the most exciting time in the history of Western music when the Beatles were happening, Liverpool was the new capitol of the world, Elvis was king, Motown was the coolest, and Britain was spawning bands by the ton. The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry And The Pacemakers, The Yardbirds, Georgie Fame, The Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann, The Springfields and the Mockingbirds.
The Mockingbirds were formed after Graham tired of the Whirlwinds. Working by day in a Gentleman’s outfitters and writing songs and playing by night didn’t pan out at all and Graham was soon fired from his day job. It was, hardly surprising, a blessing in disguise. He’d already caught the attention of Harvey Lisberg, the energetic manager of the biggest act to break out of Manchester, Herman’s Hermits. Harvey offered Graham a small retainer to sit in his office and write songs all day – a dream come true.
Within months the Mockingbirds signed to the Columbia (UK) division of EMI and were booked as the warm up band at the taping of the Manchester based BBC TV show, Top Of The Pops. And as if that wasn’t enough, Graham had his first Top Ten hit at the age of 19, with the haunting, ‘For Your Love’, recorded by the Yardbirds. Graham’s songwriting career was off with a flourish.
He penned two more big hits for the Yardbirds, ‘Heartful Of Soul’ and ‘Evil Hearted You’ and had his next Top Ten hit with ‘Look Through Any Window’ which he wrote for the Hollies. ‘Bus Stop’ followed and although Graham was still recording with and without the Mockingbirds, the hits continued. ‘Pamela Pamela’ was ex-Mindbenders Wayne Fontana’s biggest solo hit. Herman’s Hermit hit the Top Ten with ‘No Milk Today’ which featured the unforgettable suburban comment, “the bottle stands forlorn, a symbol of the dawn”, and ‘East West’ which was covered in 1991 be fellow Mancunian Morrissey.
In between writing more hot songs for the likes of Jeff Beck, The Mindbenders, The Hollies et al, the late Sixties saw Graham spend time in New York writing and recording for Kasenetz-Katz hit factory and invest with Eric Stewart in Strawberry Studios.
Back in the UK, after this spell in New York, Graham decided to get Eric, Kevin Godley and Lol Crème together to complete the Kasenetz-Katz recordings. Together the four then produced and played on Two Neil Sedaka albums, ‘The Tra La Days Are Over’ and ‘Solitaire’ (both of which were recorded and produced at Strawberry Studios). There were only minutes before 10cc were born…
Jonathan King heard some demos by the foursome, gave them their name (the origin of which has gone into music business mythology) and signed them to his own UK record label. Between 1972 and 1976 10cc had an outstanding string of hit records, such as the two No. 1’s ‘Rubber Bullets’ and the aforementioned ‘I’m Not In Love’, ’I’m Mandy Fly Me’, ‘Wall Street Shuffle’, ‘Art For Art’s Sake’ and many more, making them one of the most successful and influential English bands of the 70’s.
Graham had found a natural songwriting partner in the sweet voiced Eric Stewart; ‘I’m Not In love’ became an all time classic love song. “I’d already written the sort of suspended chords at the beginning of the song”, says Graham, “ and Eric came up with the title…..he saw it more as a song about not having to say “I Love You”, but I saw it more as someone trying to ignore the obvious”. In the twenty something years since Gouldman and Stewart wrote the song, its been covered by artists as diverse as the Pretenders (their version featured in the smash movie “Indecent Proposal”), Will To Power, and, more recently, The Fun Loving Criminals.
Between 1972 and 1976 all four of the band’s albums were bit hits; three hit the UK Top Ten. In 1976 Godley and Creme left the band, Stewart and Gouldman retained the name and continued the hits with ‘Good Morning Judge’. The No. 1 ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ and the international smash ‘Things We Do For Love’. Then fate turned nasty when Eric was involved in a serious car accident at the end of 1979; things were never the same again.
While Eric embarked on a long convalescence, Graham took stock of his career and decided to take on some solo projects. Having always harboured a love of film which rivalled his love of music, he had occasionally toyed with the idea of writing film soundtracks, but hadn’t exactly been sitting around twiddling his thumbs looking for something to do. And this was the ideal time to try something different. First he wrote the theme song to the respectfully successful Farrah Fawcett movie ‘Sunburn’ and a year later he released an album of songs written for the hugely popular animated feature, ‘Animalympics’ which continues to sell steadily on video.
As soon as he’d finished ‘Animalympics’, Graham was invited by none other than the Ramones to produce their ’Pleasant Dreams‘ album for Sire Records. Thinking his musical ideas must be a million miles away from those of Joey and da brudders, Graham was, nevertheless, intrigued by the prospect of working with one of New York’s finest groups of punk rockers. The result wqas that they all had enormous fun and the record was the third most successful of The Ramones’ huge catalogue of albums.
Into ‘83-’84 – Graham and Eric decided to formally disband 10cc. Graham subsequently formed Wax with American songwriter Andrew Gold, whose biggest hit to date had been ‘Lonely Boy’ and whose theme for the evergreen TV series ‘The Golden Girls’ had made him hot property. Wax signed to RCA and had hits with ‘Right Between The Eyes’ (which sat at No. 1 in Spain for six weeks as well as being a UK and US hit) and ‘Bridge To Your Heart’ which hit No. 12 in the UK. Although Wax released their third and last album in 1989, Gouldman and Gold continued (and continue) to write together.
Into the nineties, amid renewed interest in everything 10cc-ish, Graham reunited with Eric Stewart to record a new 10cc album, ‘Meanwhile’, which featured some input from Godley and Creme. Although a moderate success in the UK, the album was enormous in Japan. Before you could say ‘Sushi’, Graham and Eric had jumped on a plane to Japan where their tour was so successful that the duo, with an extended line-up, were invited to return the following year.
Back into the swing of touring, 1991 and 1992 saw the band undertake tours of Japan, the UK, and most of Europe. Touring continued into the following year when the band signed to the Japanese label Avex, recorded a live album and then started work on another 10cc album, ‘Mirror Mirror’. Huge amounts of promotional work followed and Graham and Eric found themselves trekking up and down the country armed only with an acoustic guitar.
As if the nineties hadn’t been busy enough already, 1995 turned out to be one of the most active periods with tours of the UK, Japan and Europe, an acoustic show at the famous Lloyds of London Building and to cap it all, a BMI citation for an unprecedented THREE MILLION plays on US radio for “I’m Not In Love”. This followed the BMI citation for two million plays of “Things We Do For Love” and one million plays of “Bus Stop”. Graham was beginning to run out of wall space.
Graham has also wrote with and for a number of people. He and Tim Rice partnered on the song ‘The Monkey And The Onion’; Graham wrote ‘The Way I’m Feeling Tonight’ with Paul Carrack for the latter’s album (released in August 2002); he’s writing songs with the late Kirsty McCall for her album, with Suggs (from Madness) for his. He also spent some time in Nashville writing with, among others, Country Songwriter of the Year Gary Burr.
‘The Wax Files’, which features tracks from all three Wax albums as well as newly recorded material with Andrew Gold, released in the UK on the For Your Love label (through Dome records) and Graham also worked on writing the soundtrack for Paul Hills’ new film, ‘Raving Beauties’.
Graham Gouldman is the complete musician; it’s what he’s always done, it’s what he’ll always do. And he loves it, “I just can’t imagine doing anything else”, he says simply, “I Love working with new, sometimes unsigned artists because it’s great to work with new people. I know I benefit from their fresh perspective, I can only hope they then benefit from my experience.”
During the late-‘90s, Graham assembled some friends to do the occasional live show, playing mainly 10cc material, but also featuring some of his earlier hits. In 2000, concerts in the UK, Belgium and Germany were so well received that he decided to take it more seriously.
With 2002 being the 30th anniversary of the 10cc hit ‘Donna’, Graham thought it good opportunity to play more live shows and remind people of the original band’s musical genius. A UK tour covered 28 cities and towns from April-June, followed by selected one-off events during the summer and shows in Europe.
Since then, Graham and the band has played shows across Europe, toured Australia and Japan and performed at several UK festivals.
In June 2006, Graham takes 10cc to New Zealand for a 10-date concert tour, followed, with other summer dates including festivals in the UK, Norway and Belgium. A tour of the US is being discussed for autumn 2006.
The band’s line-up is:
Graham Gouldman - bass, guitar, vocals
Rick Fenn - lead guitar, vocals
Paul Burgess - drums
Mick Wilson - percussion, guitar, vocals
Mike Stevens - keyboards, guitar, sax, vocals
Rick joined 10cc in the mid ‘70s.
Paul has worked with 10cc from the beginning.
Songs written or co-written by Graham Gouldman
FOR YOUR LOVE - THE YARDBIRDS
HEARTFUL OF SOUL - THE YARDBIRDS
EVIL HEARTED YOU - THE YARDBIRDS
LOOK THROUGH ANY WINDOW - THE HOLLIES
BUS STOP - THE HOLLIES
NO MILK TODAY - HERMANS HERMITS
LISTEN PEOPLE - HERMANS HERMITS
EAST WEST - HERMANS HERMITS
TALLYMAN - JEFF BECK
PAMELA PAMELA - WAYNE FONTANA
RUBBER BULLETS - 10CC
WALL STREET SHUFFLE - 10CC
ART FOR ARTS SAKE - 10CC
I’M MANDY FLY ME - 10CC
I’M NOT IN LOVE - 10CC
THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE - 10CC
GOOD MORNING JUDGE - 10CC
DREADLOCK HOLIDAY - 10CC
RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES - Wax
BRIDGE TO YOUR HEART - Wax
10cc’s Graham Gouldman - Assorted statistics
• I’m Not In Love has been played over three million times on US radio.
• Things We Do For Love has been played over two million times on US
• Bus Stop (written by Graham for The Hollies) has been played over one
million times on US radio.
• Graham Gouldman won two Ivor Novello Awards for Rubber Bullets. The
Ivor Novello Awards were established in 1955 and are the highest
song-writing awards in the UK
• In 1993, Will To Power hit No1 in the UK with its version of I’m Not In
Love - one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, along with
Frank Sinatra’s My Way. It has also been recorded by, among others,
The Pretenders (for the film Indecent Proposal) and Fun Lovin’ Criminals.
• Chris Isaak’s huge hit album Blue Hotel featured his version of Graham’s
1960’s song Heart Full Of Soul.
• 10cc has sold 15 million albums in the UK alone.
• 10cc has sold 30 milion albums worldwide
• Wax, featuring Graham and Andrew Gold, has sold two million albums
• To date, Graham has penned five UK No 1s.
I’m Not in Love