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Posted By: Jim Liddane on: 02/23/2012 19:13:58 EST
Subject: Gilbert O'Sullivan (was RE: Dean Martin Question

Message Detail:
John wrote

That is a clever giggle ending. Without it, and lyrically mentioning an age difference between them, you might think otherwise!!!

Jim replied...

Yeah - it sounds a little bit odd when you do not know the background!

When Gilbert was writing his first album, he lived with his manager Gordon Mill's family, and frequently baby-sat for their daughter Clair.

She is quoted in the song as referring to "Uncle Ray" and of course, Raymond was Gilbert's real name before he became famous.

The excellent harmonica playing on the single is actually down to her Dad, Gordon Mills, who was once the European Harmonica Champion! Later he formed The Viscounts, who went on to have the UK cover hit of Barry Mann's "Who Put The Bomp".

He also took up songwwriting - penning such hits as "It's Not Unusual" for Tom Jones, along with "I'll Never Get Over You" for Johnny Kidd, plus chart entries for Cliff Richard, Billy Fury etc.

Mills then founded his own MAM Label, and was also manager/producer for both Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdinck, so by the 70's, he was probably the top UK impressario.

However, Gilbert felt that he had been deprived of royalties due to him, and sued.

The ensuing court case was unfortunate - it was like the worst possible family squabble but in the end, Gilbert won the case, getting 7 million in compensation, and his master recordings returned to him.

However, the court case dragged on and during that period, Gilbert could not record, so by the time it all ended, his career was in decline.

Gordon Mills was only 51 when he died a few years after the case. However, I think that Clair and her mother Jo, attended a recent Gilbert O'Sullivan concert in London, so hopefully, bridges have been mended.

The guitarist on "Clair" is Big Jim Sullivan (one of the UK's top session guitarists, who for example, is frequently the lead guitarist on the Gerry & The Pacemakers hits, as well as those by The Small Faces, Freddie & The Dreamers, Brian Poole & The Tremeloes etc etc).

He was known as "Big Jim", to differentiate him from the other top UK sssion guitarist of the day, Jimmy Page (the man who went on to found Led Zeppelin), and who was nicknamed "Little Jim".

Big Jim is supposed to have played on 1120 UK chart entries, and he was also the touring guitarist for a lot of visiting American rockers, such as Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran. In fact he was on the tour during which Eddie Cochran was killed in 1960.

Every Saturday morning, there was a BBC Radio Program called "Saturday Club" (a sort of UK radio equivelent of American Bandstand), during which many of the top UK and American acts would perform.

The joke used to be that as each band exchanged places with the next performer, the only person not having to swap seats was Big Jim, who was in fact, the real lead guitarist on almost every hit of the day!

(Incidentally, he is also the guitarist on the track you kindly attached "Alone Again Naturally").

Later, he went to work in the US with Tom Jones (becoming very friendly with Elvis while in Las Vegas), before touring for several years with Olivia Newton John, and later the James Last Orchestra.

Nowadays, he writes jingles and film scores, and fronts the Big Jim Sullivan band.

Another great talent.

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