THE PHILLIP MITCHELL TOUR OF EUROPE or
THE ROLLER-COASTER RIDE OF A SOUL BROTHER or
THE YAMAHA STORY
Wednesday 25th September 2002
The story so far. Phillip needs a Yamaha SY77 for both gigs, Amsterdam & Fleetwood. He would have to bring his own if they couldn't be located. A couple of weeks ago the guy in England said they had one. The dutch were still looking. No luck. Phillip said we had till the next afternoon to get one otherwise he would bring his. Seemed none available in Holland. Until 11pm on this night. Seporah called me - we have one!
Thursday 26th September 2002
I was on the massage table getting the muscles loosened, trying to figure out the flight time and realising that he must leave earlier than he had said. I called Phillip at 1pm (he is 6 hours earlier), he answered a little sleepy saying he had been packing and had just realised he must leave for the airport earlier than he had thought. I told him the news - you can leave your keyboard there and bring some warm clothes for the cool English climate (something he never needed actually). 'See you in Amsterdam' I said and he was gone.
Friday 27th September 2002
Set off from Germany 8am - arriving 12.30 in Amsterdam. Seporah had collected Phillip from the Airport and taken him the short journey to his hotel. He had had a long flight and a 5 hour stopover in Atlantic which was not to his liking and had also had a 'Redneck' Stewardess who had it in for him(The colour discussion became a topic we discussed regularly - he agreeing with my description, He is BLACK, I am WHITE - coloured, (what does that mean?). Seporah and I set off for Rotterdam at once to get the Yamaha SY77. We found Rotterdam, then things started to go downhill. Now, a word of warning, never take blondes on a car-rally, you'll never win! After searching for the shop, I stupidly suggested asking some passers-by.
MAGICAL MEMORY: Sep left to car to ask two women. I sat in the car and waited... and waited.... and... waited. Ten minutes later she returned and I sarcastically said 'OK - tell me where they live and who they are?' - to which she answered my questions and proceeded to tell me more. Sep is Jewish and so were the two women - a combination for endless chat. Ten minutes she had been gone of which one minute for the directions - the rest.....
Even funnier is - we were still lost as the directions were not correct! Next stop a cafe where two guys almost came to blows deciding who knew the best way. Anyway, one of them did (he was the biggest) and we found the shop, checked that the floppy disc part worked and set off back to Amsterdam. It was 6pm by this time so time to wake our main man. He greeted me like an old friend and we got on at once. Keyboard and stand were installed in his hotel room - but he needed a foot pedal so we phoned around and were told we could collect it next with the equaliser. I had been 'on the road' 10 hours and Phillip was obviously still tired so we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant - with Sep joining us. We checked out the hotel bar later, piped music and 5 TV sets spread around. Phillip asked if live music was played in hotels - and I swear - if they'd had a piano in the corner - he would have got up and played.
MAGICAL MEMORY: Sep, with a happy smile on her face, watching these two guys at her table so much on the same wavelength - just delving into the past - talking about Soul Music.
Saturday 28th September 2002
Didn't see Phillip till Lunchtime - still fighting his jet-lag. The room maid had knocked 4 times before he finally got some rest with the 'Do Not Disturb' sign. The three of us set of to find the place with the equipment - and we just about squeezed it all in my car and set off for the club 'Madness' to do a sound check. Set in a 'dodgy' area - the club is well run by Sep's daughter, Seyyal - who worked hard to satisfy all requests. She called friends and they got everything up and running. It was late again by now - so back to the hotel and a meal in an Italian restaurant also in the hotel. All those planned visits into town to restaurants were not being realised - time just flew.
Sunday 29th September 2002
Phillip & I had breakfast - it was again a warm sunny day. The hotel Ibis is situated near the airport and and has a large pond in front of the exit - with the car park set around it. I said I was going to play some music on my CD player in the car and Phillip said he's join me. MAGICAL MEMORY: It was 11am. I played some tracks I had planned for the show later that night - then just went through loads of tracks I had for the journey. Some he knew - others he had never heard and I noted them and told him I'd make a CD. All the time he was singing along to the music, even those he had never heard, an ad-lib was added. The windows of the car were open and the occasionally passer-by wasn't sure what to make of these two 'soul'junkies'(a name Phillip called me). We finally left the car, stiffed legged, at 4pm!! Unforgetable!
We set off for the club, dropped off our clothes etc. there, and got a hamburger at a nearby place. Back at the club at 8pm - and the sound wasn't coming out of the boxes. A few phone calls and all was well. I did a quick change(Tea-Shirt with his picture which he loved and which I could have sold dozens of times over the next few days) and started to DJ at 9pm. The club filled slowly and at 11pm Phillip went onstage. After our sunday afternoon 'gig' I knew he would be great and he was. Playing mostly his uptempo stuff and a couple of covers he was greatly appreciated by a group of real soul lovers. A couple of guys had travelled from France and Belgium. I also got to meet some 'net' friends, Fred, Glenn, Max and Rose.
Hans & Harry of 'Fingerpoppin' Soul' fame were also there. After the show he spent ages signing autogramms, having pictures taking and chatting to the fans. You just felt he sincerely loved doing it! I DJ'd till 1am and then we started to get all our stuff together. One bad moment - although a doorman was downstairs nearly all the time, someone had tried to get into the boot of my car. He's had no luck and would have only found some used clothes. However, nothing could dampen the good feeling and we set off by for a good night's sleep.
Monday 30th September 2002
Said bye to Phillip and made sure all was planned for his Monday night. I had arranged for him to appear on Hans & Harry's Radio Show 10 - 12pm and they were going to buy him dinner and show him the sights before taking him to the studio. I picked Sep up from her home and we set off to Rotterdam to return the keyboard. The shop was closed Mondays so we had to deliver it to a private address. Now... we have been here before dear readers. We hit the outskirts of Rotterdam with 'Miss Navigator 2002' by my side, she having written directions of how we could get to the address. After the third 'I think we have to turn off here' and the fourth 'Turn right here' when she meant left I stopped the car and walked into the middle of a highway and flagged down a taxi. He had a fair but returned 10 minutes later. He needed another 5 minutes to know where to drive and we proceeded to follow him. It took us 30 minutes to get there, so the decision had been a good one, as I wouldn't be here now writing this if we had tried it alone. Keyboard delivered and behind the taxi again to the harbour. Onto the ship for the trip over to Hull/England. A quick dinner - I left Sep in the casino, and enjoyed a much needed sleep.
Tuesday 1st October 2002
Left the boat - 90 Minutes later dropped Sep at her sisters in Manchester and then off to Fleetwood. Now, the great thing is, my parents and brother live there so accomodation was no problem and I duly arrived at Mum & Dad's home.
Wednesday 2nd October 2002
Drove To Manchester Airport. Phillip due in from Amsterdam about 10.30 am. Arrived at 10am and met up with another 'net' friend Ray who had asked if I could arrange an interview at the airport. Phillip eventually arrived at 11am after being frisked by a customs lady. 'Why me' he asked. I told him he looked like a mafia boss maybe. Anyway - this forgotten, he did the interview with a slightly nervous Ray, who shouldn't have worried, all went well. Then drove back to Fleetwood, the two 'soul junkies' at it again for the journey. Got him settled in the best hotel in Fleetwood and then we went to find lunch, Fish & Chips at a local cafe. MAGICAL MEMORY: Cafe tables are small anyway - and with his long legs Phillip was forced to sit side on, eating his meal, surrounded by senior citizens who don't see many black guys in Fleetwood. Very amusing we thought! I had mentioned to Phillip he needed to play some down tempo stuff for the coming sunday so he asked if the Yamaha SY 77 Keyboard, that the English guys had ordered to be delivered on Saturday, could be there the next day Thursday. I contacted Richard Searling and it was OK and would be at the hotel at 10am the next day. Relaxed - we had an exellent meal at the hotel and drank some fine champagne to help it down.
Thursday 3rd October 2002
Off to the hotel at 10am and the keyboard arrived. I left Phillip in his room to set up and set off to do some record buying in Blackpool and spend a nice quiet day before seeing him again in the evening. Or so I thought! At 11am my mobile rang 'Barry, the floppy disc part of the Yamaha doesn't work'!. Now, so you know how this Yamaha keyboard works. Phillip has programmed his music onto discs and he puts them in the Yamaha then accompanies himself on the keyboard. Without the floppy discs - no show on Sunday! This keyboard is an older version as I have said so it was unlikely that we could find another. I drove around checking music shops and also called the guy who had delivered the first one. He promised to try to find another. At 1am over lunch we got the call - they had found one - would be there 5pm. About 4pm I dragged Philip out of the hotel with the excuse - we needed to blow the cobwebs away and get some air! A very enjoyable hour was spent on the beach, with Phillip doing his 'Beachcomber' role. At 5pm the Keyboard was delivered and was checked immediately. Some discs wouldn't react but others did. Better than nothing! The planned dinner was cancelled and I left Phillip in his room to work on some material.
Friday 4th October 2002
Sep arrived late morning - was going to take a train from Manchester, but her sister insisted she be driven there - saying not safe for a lady on her own. Sep had her cloggs with her so maybe the passengers would have been in danger! She had bought a pair of clogs for Ray which she gave to him later.
Ray - about to get his clogs
Friday afternoon after lunch and off to the Cala Gran for a soundcheck and practise with the band 'Snake Davis & The Suspicions' I left Phillip there and tried to get some rest for the long night ahead. No way - so much going on in the head. I headed off the Cala Gran at about 8pm and eventually met up with Richard Searling who I only knew from the phone calls we had made. Walked around until 10pm but was being bombarded by too much Northern so headed for home to try to get some rest. Left home again at 12.30 am and headed off to the hotel where Sep was waiting. We had sandwiches in the foyer at 1.30am - I made sure Phillip had the red suit(my wish for the performance) and off into the night for a much anticipated performance. We were met by the security guards (who were terrific the whole weekend) and led backstage. I was out front checking the stage was clean and glasses were cleared and had the chance to meet up with Geoff, Christian from Denmark and Angie. Was constantly asked by the guards as to whom was allowed backstage and we never refused. At 2.30am all visitors were stopped - Phillip needed a few minutes alone. Snake Davis and the group played 3 songs then it was 'Startime'. Writing this gives me 'goosebumps' as the memory floods back of Phillip treading that stage to a public that expected a decent performance but didn't know what hit them! He was tremendous - his voice soaring over his 'Northern' favourites along with his versions of Bobby Sheen & Corey Blake songs he wrote. The band were really excellent and you could feel the good vibes, see the satisfied smiles on all those present on the stage. And the fans - 1500 crammed into the main hall were going wild - thrilling to the high screams Phillip throws in from time to time, enjoying his 'twirl' with the mike changing hands behind his back (the old codger can still cut it at 58 folks!).After coming back for an encore a memorable performance was over too soon. Backstage the feeling of success was in the air and out front people were just bottling up their memories for future use.
Special mention must go to Snake Davis and The Suspicions who were excellent!
The band comprises : SAX - Snake Davis, BASS - Dangerous Dave, HAMMOND ORGAN - Paul Birchall, GUITAR - Mark Cresswell, TRUMPET - Bob Taylor, VOCALS - Doreen Edwards, VOCALS - Jackie Reed, DRUMS - Ash Soan
MAGICAL MEMORY: The security guard collected us from backstage to take us to the VIP room so fans could get their photos & autogramms. Paul( a gentle giant) led the way with Phillip's left hand on Paul's right shoulder and Paul with his right arm out to the right in front of Phillip. Funny enough as no-one expected any fans to 'jump him' but part of security. Sep & I walked behind and I just had this vision so I shouted to Phillip 'You look like Ray Charles being led out onto the stage'. Laughter all round. Really very funny at the time. An excellent VIP lounge, table at the ready, coffee served. It was 4 am by this time and the next 45 minutes were spent signing records, pictures etc. Back to the hotel at 5am, goodnights said and off home to try to get a well earned night's sleep.
Saturday 5th October 2002.
Slept 8 hours till 1pm!! Great! Off to the hotel to see how the work on the keyboard was going. MAGICAL MEMORY: Phillip played me some tracks he had written but never released - Magic - and I hope they will soon see the light of day... Sep joined us in the evening and we had dinner at the Trafalgar Restaurant which is very good. Phillip wanted to go to the Cala Gran again and maybe check out J.J. Barnes who was due to appear at 1am. By this time he was calling me 'boss' so boss said - not a good idea- it's J.J's night and if you are there you'll steal his thunder which he agreed was correct. Anyway - he needed to do more on the keyboard and get a good night's rest for the Sunday afternoon show.
Sunday 6th October 2002
At 1pm we packed the keyboard, suit etc into the car. 'Got your hotel key Phillip?' - 'Yes Boss' came the reply and we were away, passing Phillip's favourite building in Fleetwood - Fisherman's Friends factory. He uses them for his voice so it was a thrill for him to see that place. Set up the keyboard and did a soundcheck before the first DJ was due on - this in the modern room. The VIP room was available again(although a resident lady insisted on being let in - nothing the guards could do - but no worries from our side). Met up again with Colin Dilnot, Martin Goggin, Jan Barker and Ray and they all joined us to say Hi to Phillip. One guy on Friday had promised him his favourite beer 'Heineken' and promptly produced a 12-pack. Then, everybody out while he got changed. I went over to the modern room - checked all was Ok and Paul took Phillip a back way to the stage. Nice of the DJ onstage to agree to let me introduce him. 'A Star In Any Ghetto - please put your hands together for a Soul Legend - Prince PHILLIP MITCHELL'. Looking snatty in a dark pin-striped suit he rapped with the audience before going into first song, and between each track there was again the feeling that this was special for him. This is where you really feel your audience - up close. Moving from keyboard upfront with the cableless mike he did the northern favourites again. The audience turned it into a sing-a-long, they were all as one! Phillip had been working on a medley which Sep had asked for and he dedicated to her. 'End Of The Road / Love Don't Love Nobody' was pure magic. An encore was essential and I had asked for a song recorded by about 20 people but never done by Phillip himself. He had also worked on this using a version I had on CD from Johnnie Taylor. MAGICAL MEMORY: To hear him sing this song was very emotional for me - and maybe the moment also - all the hiccups etc behind us. The tears just flowed, but I don't think I was alone. A moment I will never forget!
Back to the VIP room, hugs all round, Sep looking at my tear stained face, Phillip taking the blame, quick change and out into the late afternoon sunshine for another session with the fans. The posters from Amsterdam I had got Phillip to sign and these were generously distributed. It was 7pm by this time so back to the hotel for a quick change. I went home to see my parents and told them we wanted to go back to the Cala to soak it all in. Said - I may bring Phillip round to say hallo before we go on the Cala Gran. Picked up Sep & Phillip and asked Phillip if he's just drop in to say hi to my parents. Would be a pleasure he said. MAGICAL MEMORY: By the time we arrived my mother had changed into her 'sunday best' and was sitting like The Queen in our front room. He greeted her with a kiss on the hand, shook my dad's hand, called him sir and then played with the dog (he has two at home and loves them). Took a picture of them with him. They had hardly seen me since I arrived and it was nice for them to meet this guy who had had my full attention every day.
Off to the Cala Gran and we just walked about - and especially in the modern room - people coming up to us saying it was the best show ever at 'Togetherness'. Saying his voice hadn't changed - was still top man! How true!MAGICAL MEMORY: Just people coming to say thanks to me for organising the trip - it was greatly appreciated and reward enough for 10 days of Roller-Coaster pleasure! Dragged Phillip away about 10.30 as he needed to pack for the return home next day. 'Night Boss' will also be remembered with affection.
Monday 7th October 2002
Collected Phillip at 9am and drove him to Manchester Airport. After the flight here he was not relishing the return journey(this proved to be the case - with another 5 hour stop-over in Atlanta). We hugged and said farewell - two friends who had spent 10 days enjoying a rare moment in soul history(seems like weeks when I think back, with all we did). He'll be back he said, and he will.
Oh my - would I do it again - just try to stop me!!!
MAGICAL MEMORY: EVERYTHING REALLY!!!