It was Pete Wylie's birthday yesterday. What a dude. A pop star in his own head.
Among my top memories of being in a professional pop group (theaudience) are the two occasions where I got to meet the great man. He was using the same mixing engineer while working on Heart As Big As Liverpool (the greatest number one there never was; mooted b-side Liver As Big As Hartlepool) which is an utterly brilliant song.
He turned up to the mix of A Pessimist is Never Disappointed ("in that Soho") with a mate (of course called Wack) and a jiffy bag of cash which his head of A&R Dave Balfe had given him to keep him fed and in hotels while in London.
After 30 minutes of making us all fall about he realised he was taking over and asked "where's good to get one of them falafels?" We explained how to do so, it was about 300 yards away.
Three hours later he returned with a much thinner jiffy bag and a load of leg porn. (He'd spent so much money in one particular shop that the owner had given him all the pictures on the wall. Wylie admired the yellowing sellotape holding the leg porn inside the cheap clip frames. "They're going on my hall wall", he enthused).
I have nearly all my early Wah! 7s signed by him, each with his own scribbled (in biro) retrospective review. The legend scrawled on to Seven Minutes to Midnight what simply reads "Single of the week in four music papers!"
The second time I met him was at Abbey Road; I accepted his invite as I'd not there before. The fact that Wylie and producer Mike Hedges were allowed to hire Abbey Road for the Heart As Big As Liverpool project was testament to how much Balfe believed in it. The song wasn't ever released in the end. (It's on YouTube, check it, it's mighty, like a Liverpudlian Righteous Brothers).
At this session Wylie had bought in two slices of inspiration which he believed could seep into the song: A Phil Spector box-set and the complete poetry of Jean Baudrillard. Sitting next to the book, in the tidiest mix room I've ever seen, was a scrap of paper on which a crude picture of a cock and balls has been drawn in biro. Written next to this in Wylie's characteristic untidy handwriting was a Baudrillard quote: "You are born modern, you do not become so". I wish I'd nicked it.
His biggest hit The Story Of The Blues was recorded over three days, two days to work out how to programme the Linn drum (a brand new and exciting piece of technology in those days), 14 hours to record the song, half an hour to do the vocal.
He's on tour presently, by the way: www.PeteWylie.co.uk
I am a pop star in my own head. If you are a pop star in your own head, I salute you.
Pete Wylie. Part time rock star, full time legend.