Newsletter 4 - March/April 1995
Sitting at home (Wednesday 8th Feb) on my well earned day off work, I decided to give Robbie (Robbie the Ballerina) at Most Wanted a call on the old trombone. "I'm sorry there's no reply" said the softly spoken young lady on the MTV switchboard who had just tried to connect me. "Would you like me to put you
through to his answerphone?" As it was around dinner time and my imaginative mind had immediately pictured Robbie and the rest of the Most Wanted crew, lounging in a local public house whilst attempting to drink it dry, I said "yes please".
On hearing the lilting tones of Robbie's Welsh voice, albeit on the answerphone cassette tape, my mind ricocheted back to the previous vision of Robbie and Co. By now however, they were in a back room of that same public house and heavily immersed in some serious coffee drinking.
"Hi Robbie, it's Andy Smith from Most Wanted Friends", I found myself saying in response to his request to leave a message. "Perhaps you could call me back?"
Two hours later, I found myself repeating the whole exercise, although this time the Most Wanted crew had relocated themselves back in their Camden Lock office complex, and I was now chatting real time with the 'Big Cheese', Yvette
Cheesman who produces the show.
Unbeknown to me at the time of first talking to her, Yvette is a very friendly, fashionable and attractive lady, as I was to find out later in the day. Having never spoken to Yvette before, I explained to her who I am and added that I was hoping to ask Robbie if I could come along to the studios to watch Cyndi Lauper perform, and also maybe take a couple of photos of Ray and Cyndi together for this newsletter. "No problem" said Yvette, adding that it was in fact her and not Robbie that I should be asking anyway. I made my apologies and then asked what time I needed to arrive at Camden. "You will need to here by 7.45" said Yvette, "so we can take you in just before the program starts. That way, you can
take your photos and chat with Ray after the show okay".
Okay did not really sum up how I felt about the prospect, it was too less a word to explain how I felt. There is probably no word in the
English dictionary that adequately explains how a person feels at such a time. It was definitely a sort of 'Condor' moment. (No, I said Condor not Condom)
Putting down the phone,(You're a nasty horrid phone! .....English joke) I set about deciding what time to leave my humble abode in boring old Basingstoke. I
originate from Portsmouth, which is almost Las Vegas by contrast to this place (Basingstoke) we moved to six years ago. You may at this point be wondering why we are still living here if we dislike it so much. Well the answer to that my good friends is down to a four letter word spelt, W. O. R. K.
After much deliberation, I decided that I should leave about five o'clock in order to make allowance for the London traffic. It's only about 55 miles from Basingstoke to Camden Town, which is not that far, but the last 15-20 miles are across London itself and anyone who has driven in London will know what a nightmare it can be. Heading along the M3 towards Richmond the traffic was moving nicely and I thought that I had made a gross miscalculation in my timing. However, a short while later I was approaching the Hammersmith flyover when I suddenly hit monster traffic jams! My mind at this point decided to taunt me with images of arriving too late to watch the evenings proceedings. Trying to drive and read a map is not a sensible (or legal) thing to do, but I had decided that I had to find an alternative route to the one I had planned because time was becoming uncomfortably tight. So as not to bore you to death with further driving horrors, I will move on to say that I finally arrived in Camden at 7.15 pm, and actually managed to park right outside the front of the MTV studios.
Camera in hand, I walked the last twenty yards or so towards the revolving front entrance doors. All the tension of the London driving and my strong fear of arriving too late had now left me and I was looking forward (somewhat nervously) to meeting Yvette.
Flashing my friendliest smile, I told the security guy who I was and who I was there to see. "Oh yes" he said pleasantly, "so your the guy who runs the fan club eh, there you go mate, you'll have to sign in". I looked up to see that he was thrusting a pen in my direction and pointing towards the visitors register. Was this recognition or notoriety? I asked myself under my smile. Having done the signing in bit, the security guy pointed to my right and said, "If you speak to that lovely blonde bird on reception, she'll sort you out okay" He was correct on both counts!
The 'lovely blonde bird' as he called her was very busy and phoning through to Yvette was just one of what seemed liked hundreds of things she was doing all at once. Whilst I waited for Yvette to make her way to the reception desk, I attempted to take in all that was going on around me. Taxi's were being requested, taxi drivers were announcing their arrival to the receptionist, phone calls were being received and the callers put through to whoever, employees were moaning because they were having to wait for up to half an hour for a taxi to take them home, various delivery men were seeking confirmation that the parcels they were clutching were in fact at their correct destination etc.
All in all it was fairly hectic for about fifteen minutes or so and then suddenly it changed to a more relaxed pace. I commented to this remarkably cheerful girl, (didn't ask her name) that she must get totally pee'd off sometimes with having to be so polite and charming to every single caller. "Not really" she said, "I actually enjoy it". She explained that she was 'temping' and that she had been at MTV for about four weeks or so. I soon realised that she was in fact from New Zealand and asked her if she felt homesick at all. She said that she wasn't, but living in London was proving to be a lot more expensive than she had imagined when she had left her New Zealand home some six months earlier.
I glanced at my watch, it said 7.30. (No it doesn't talk)
Before another minute had passed by Yvette arrived and immediately introduced herself to me, shaking my hand. As soon as I saw her I thought of my eldest daughter and how she would have loved to have been there meeting Yvette who had a very attractive Barbie Doll figure and was dressed in the height of London's fashion. As Ray has previously said, Yvette has very long blond dreadlocks which on the day in question were partly hidden by a large black peeked cap. She was wearing a black and white striped top and skin tight black vinyl jeans. On her feet she wore black very high platform boots. Her overall appearance reminded me of David Bowie on the back cover of his Space Oddity album. Yvette however is certainly no oddity, just a very beautiful individual.
Standing there talking with her, I felt distinctly square and old in my leather jacket and jeans. My age suddenly seemed grossly inappropriate to : my situation. Or perhaps just gross!
Yvette wrote me out a visitors pass and told me she would come back and collect me from reception in approx ten minutes, due to the fact that things were running late because Cyndi Lauper was unconvinced about the sound quality etc.
True to her word, Yvette came and escorted me in to the control room at 7.50. I sat alongside her and watched what appeared to be organised chaos in the studio. Last minute hitches were sorted and tonight's camera-men (Andycam, Ben Dover and Martin the Commando) went through their well rehearsed camera angles and movements. At this point I could hear Ray as he had just been 'miked up', but he couldn't be seen on any of the many screens in the control room. Russell and Neil skipped through last second instructions to both Ray and Ben I)over as the familiar Most Wanted intro drifted onto your screens.
I watched the first hour of the show from inside the control room. You may have seen it recently when Ray took the camera crew in and sent all of its occupants scurrying off into various directions. It was very amusing to see that everyone inside the control room was really enjoying the show just as if they were sat at home watching. Yvette and Russell were continually prompting Ray to either get on with it, remove his glasses or beware the camera angle catching his bald spot(s).
I thought that Cyndi Lauper was absolutely brilliant, she was also quite funny off air whilst the commercials were being shown. If you saw the show you will have undoubtedly enjoyed 'Gone with the Wind'. I read the script whilst it lay on Yvette's desk and you could tell it was going to be funny when enacted by Ray and Cyndi. If you did watch it, you will remember that it went on for quite some time. In fact it went quite a bit overtime despite the control room frantically trying to get Ray to speed it up. He actually admitted to being unable to shut people up abruptly, during his banter with the control room in the following ad break. During one particularly long ad break, Ray rushed off to the toilet and Chris the sound man came into the control room from his area next door and started laughing. As Russell began to enquire after the reason for his amusement, it suddenly became obvious. Ray was still miked up and you could hear every sound! A good job it was only number one's Ray.
Just after nine o'clock and slightly before the Goody Bag started, Yvette led me into the studio and I seated myself on Nina's red velvet? reclining couch. I was now somewhat alone in the studio, with only the crew going through their paces, for company.
Cyndi Lauper and her band soon returned to the studio from the doorway two feet to my left. They played through her final number during the ad break and then played out the end of the show in fine style. Cyndi really does have a fine 'live' voice and her band were really getting into it.
When the show was finally over, I sat alone and watched as Ray and Cyndi posed for the official? MTV photographer and then Ray and Robbie quickly filmed the promo for the following nights show, featuring Whale. Robbie's shouted announcement that the studio was now clear was met with frantic methodical movement by Cyndi's road crew, methodically packing and removing their all too familiar Eight cases to the awaiting lorry. I say all too familiar because I too used to 'Roadie' for a couple of bands, back in the years 1977-1981. Nothing big time I'm afraid, although we did play twice at the Marquee in Wardour Street. Once supporting Ginger Baker's Airforce (who? - I hear you ask) and the other supporting The Vapors, who had a chart hit with 'Turning Japanese'. We also played in quite a few other London venues, including Ronnie Scott's, Dingwalls at Camden Lock and The Greyhound in Fulham to name but a few. The Hammersmith Odeon it weren't, but great fun it most certainly was and the memories are plenty.
Ray was now stood back behind his hotel receptionists desk and gave a couple of glances in my direction. Seizing the moment, I walked towards Ray and set about asking him for a few photographs. With that however, Cyndi Lauper appeared from my right hand side and promptly posed with Ray for a couple of photographs behind Ray's desk together. One of those photos appears on page two of this newsletter. I didn't manage to take any more photographs which was a shame because I had been thinking of all the pictures I would like to take, whilst driving to London earlier in the day. Strangely enough I don't really know why I didn't take more, because I had ample opportunity to actually do so. In retrospect, I believe it was perhaps due to one or two reasons, possibly both. Firstly, I didn't want to miss any opportunity to get to speak to Ray, and secondly, I did feel a little nervous and out of place. I now think it odd to think that I was nervous, because my job actually entails training and talking to quite large groups of people in a traditional classroom type situation, many of whom I have never seen before. I suppose it's due to the fact that they're not international television celebrities. .............
(or mega sex gods)!
Having taken my photos, I set about chatting to Ray for a few moments before he made his excuses and had to leave. Before Ray went though, he did say to me that:
1. He would try and get our 'Most wanted Friends' club, listed onto MTV text. (I had just explained to Ray the problems I was having in trying to do just that)
2. He said he would also give out the name and address of the club 'on air' to help promote it and therefore obviously attract more members. (Still waiting Ray)
3. Finally, if I cared to telephone him one afternoon - I could then conduct a short (half hour) interview with him, that could then be used in a future issue of this newsletter. He added that if this was not okay, I would have to wait about a month in order to conduct a longer face to face interview, as during the next month he was going to be extremely busy.
I felt that all the above was very good of him because he is obviously very much in demand these days as his popularity increases around Europe. I just hope that he remembers to keep his word to us, as at the time of writing nothing has so far happened.
As Ray left I snatched a few words with Robbie and thanked Yvette for allowing me to drop in etc. I then decided to make good my exit. Before doing so, I managed to get myself a much overdue thirst quencher from the hospitality suite where Cyndi and her party were lounging.
Driving home (which incidentally, took only 70 minutes back to Basingstoke) my mind bounced back and forth between my driving and the evenings earlier events. To sum those events up as accurately as I can, I would have to say that:
It was a great night spoilt only by my apparent shyness? at the end of things, and I'm sure that you will all be looking forward to hearing this clubs name uttered from Ray's lips, just as much as I am.