Peter Ruger: Where James Bond came from the author of Fleming’s favourite book on birds, Peter Ruger is the name of a friend and musician who was my first writing partner, and shared my love of music. I’d always drop off my copies of Classic Rock magazine to him after I’d read them when we worked in the same hospital, and we would often chat about all kinds of rock music and discuss bands and players we admired and had been to see. I have to say here that Peter is nothing like the character I’ve written as Pieter, he is a true gentleman and a friendly soul, who I’m glad to know and call a friend. By using his name in my first novel I’m acknowledging his friendship and help in my writing process and hopefully immortalising him in the process, just as Ian Fleming did with James Bond, rock on Peter.
Noddy Holder & Jim Lea: The writing partnership behind the Glam Rock group Slade, are two of my favourite songwriters. Their early work around the “Slayed” and “Sladest” albums were known to me word perfect as I played them alone in my bedroom over and over again on my mono cassette recorder. The album tracks were so diverse and they literally wrote about anything and inspired me to do the same.
Elton John & Bernie Taupin: If I was to be marooned on a desert island and could only take one album with me it would have to be “Yellow Brick Road”, not just because it was a double album, but because it was brilliant. The hairs on the back of my neck still stand up when I hear some of these songs again. From “Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting”, through “Bennie And The Jets” and onto the title track it has a song for every mood and every occasion. I’ve actually written a song for Elton to duet with Anastasia and who knows maybe one day………
Jeff Lynne: The self-taught guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, leader of the Electric Light Orchestra and sometime Wilbury, and like me he’s a “Brummie”. My top ten songs of all time include two ELO masterpieces “Telephone Line” and “Mr Blue Sky”. I fear he has more talent in his little finger than I have in my whole body and he is the ultimate success story.
George Harrison: He may have been the quiet one in The Beatles but it was he who explored all the new sounds and introduced them to Lennon and McCartney to include in their songs. At an early age he realised school was not for him, nor a normal job, he realised music was his calling and bravely forged ahead with a single purpose in mind. He may have written fewer hits than the main duo, but his certainly had that special “Something”.
Phil Lynott: I only recently found out he was born in Selly Oak hospital where my grandparents and mother all worked, then he and his mother relocated to Ireland. Thin Lizzy were the first real heavy rock band I got into and “The Boys Are Back In Town” is a must for my own top ten songs of all time. He told stories and he cleverly weaved his own personal tales in between the lines. Like in “Parisienne Walkways”, the opening line “I remember Paris in forty nine”, his father who ran out on him shortly after his birth was named Paris and Phil was born in 1949. Definitely my biggest inspiration lyric wise and with two tribute songs to him I couldn’t fail to acknowledge his influence on my own song writing. With Brian, Scott and Darren now looking to record new songs under the name Thin Lizzy if they ever want a lyricist I’d certainly be keen to ride back into town with those boys.
Alice Cooper: While I loved his early hits like “Elected” and “Schools Out”, it’s his later stuff I admire so much as a songwriter. From “Brutal Planet” onwards he seems to have gone from strength to strength and re-invented himself once more. He is a great showman, but he also writes about so many diverse things and is always interesting. He’s an individual and an icon and I love his radio show, especially when he tells his stories of old and is honest enough to admit his mistakes. He has the reputation of being an open and friendly guy who has helped so many other up and coming bands and artists. I’ve written a stack of songs tuning into my inner Alice and really he is the only guy who could ever record them, as no one else would fit the mould. So if you ever read this Mr Cooper I have an album worth of material for you should your radio show take up too much of your time to write all your own stuff.
David Coverdale: The one time retail worker who stepped into Deep Purple, then bowed out to forge ahead to even greater heights with Whitesnake. He may be best known as the hair metal master of tongue in cheek debauched lyrics like “Slide It In” and “Spit It Out”, but with the likes of “Soldier Of Fortune”, “Mistreated”, “Aint Gonna Cry No More”, “Is This Love”, Sailing Ships” and “Forevermore” in his back catalogue he has more than proved his worth as a brilliant songwriter. I have to admit to the guilty pleasure of using one of his song titles as an occasional acronym for a cheesy pick up line…. LDITILY = “Lie Down, I think I Love You”. Again I’ve written a song or two that only he could record, and maybe sometime in the future…
Ozzy Osbourne: Everyone knows Ozzy because of the reality show now and it’s totally overshadowed his achievements as a songwriter and singer. He is the guy that sobered up enough to discover Randy Rhoads, Jake E Lee, Zakk Wylde and now Gus G. He wouldn’t keep having such a large following if he didn’t have the music to back it up. His album “Blizzard Of Oz” featuring “Crazy Train” and “Goodbye To Romance”, and then later “No More Tears” featuring “Mama I’m Coming Home” and the title track are some of my all-time favourites. I wrote the song “Asylum” as a duet for him and Alice Cooper as they are both Classic Rock Living Legends. It’s just a shame he’s from the wrong part of Birmingham and doesn’t support West Brom like me.
Bryan Adams: Singer, songwriter, guitar breaker. I actually met Bryan while doing backstage security at a place called Garbsen near Hannover inBrian Adams northern Germany. For the encore they had to run out the gate I was guarding to a small makeshift stage at the back of the outdoor arena so the people at the back could become the front row. Unfortunately on his way back through the gate he caught the headstock to his newly presented limited edition Fender guitar on the gate post and we spent ages trying to find the chip so he could glue it back in. Another artist I’ve written stuff for, but got a very polite “no thank you, Bryan only works with people he already knows” reply from. I wish he’d get rid of the schmaltzy ballads and go back to the rock songs he does so well “Run To You” is one of my top ten favourite songs of all time.
Simon Kirke: The drummer with first “Free” and then “Bad Company” is not well known as a singer or a songwriter, but during the late Eighties and early Nineties when “Bad Company” were fronted by Brian Howe he sneaked a song or two on the back end of their albums. The song “100 Miles” is the song I will dance to with my little girl on her wedding day. It’s simple straight forward and says so much in so few words, (it is also short enough for me to last the whole song, as by the time someone gets her to the altar I’ll be using a Zimmer frame).
Tom Petty: Around the time of his solo album “Full Moon Fever” and over the next couple of albums with the Heartbreakers, Tom could do no wrong. I remember seeing MTV interviews with him talking about the Wilbury’s and song writing and recall him saying the great songs come really quickly and anything that you have to work at over and over again probably won’t ever be. After 9/11 I admired his performance of “I Won’t Back Down” and thought what a great song that was to have available to unite people behind their stance against the terrorist threat, but “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” is my all-time favourite Tom Petty song.
Chris Isaak: One of the few guys out there that records the heart on the sleeve type of sloppy love songs I occasionally seem to write. From Wicked Game onwards I’ve been a big fan and I like the kind of retro rockabilly style he has adopted. “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing” was an amazing shift of gear for him and opened up so many other avenue’s to explore with his voice. Needless to say with the way my love life has gone I’ve got a few songs he may be interested in.
Jeff Wayne & Gary Osborne: The men behind the musical version of “The War Of The Worlds”, quite simply wrote an amazing double album with Jeff Wayne – some of the most interesting sounds to ever assault my ears, as well as some truly great songs. The team of singers Jeff put together was simply inspired and “Forever Autumn” is one of the greatest love songs ever recorded. I was lucky enough to see the touring stage show and although Phil Lynott, David Essex and Julie Covington were missing Justin Hayward and Chris Thompson were amazing. Gary wrote almost all the lyrics and also worked with Elton John so I’m just green with envy at his obvious talent.