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Archive for the ‘The world according to Martin…’ Category

The very fact that I have even taken the time to Blog on this Boxing Day 2016 is a measure of the profound influence that George Michael has had on me personally. I am by no means a prolific blogger but today I felt compelled, and I guess inspired, to write about a man who sadly will never know how greatly he affected me and many others like me.

The first time I experienced this great artist was when I first heard the 12 inch underground version of Wham Rap in the early 1980s where the songwriting credit was given to Panos and Ridgely. I recall Ridgeley was spelt incorrectly, and Panos was the chosen evolution of George’s birth surname  Panayiotou before he selected the identity that we all know and love of George Michael. Wham! were not yet a household name and I had no idea what they even looked like. But still, the track connected with me in a big way. Once they hit the scene I loved the Fantastic album with its mixture of soul, pop and good vibes. But it was one sunny afternoon walking along Birmingham’s New Street where George metaphorically grabbed me. The saxophone solo of “Careless Whisper” spilled out of the HMV record store and I became fixed to the papvpavementI listened with a great sense of awe. It was beautiful, hooky and amazingly original. Suddenly I wanted to be like George Michael.

My hair was naturally curly, like George’s, and like him, I struggled to keep it in the trendy hairstyles of the day. I also had both my ears pierced and sported those trademark gold sleepers. In truth, I was told I looked like Andrew Ridgeley and not George, but that was ok because I loved Wham! as a whole.  And without Andrew’s influence, we must remember George would not even have had the courage to step into the limelight and we may never have heard any of his wonderful songs. George’s image inspired me for sure but it was his music that connected with me more than anything.

For me, not since Elvis Presley has a solo performer possessed the looks, charisma, stage presence and glorious singing voice other than George Michael. Like Elvis, he seemed to have it all, yet he could even beat Elvis in one department – songwriting.

George Michael was a ground-breaker, which perhaps hasn’t always been recognised. He really was so much more than a fantastic singer, songwriter and charismatic performer. Let’s reflect on this for a moment:

  • He wrote Careless Whisper at the age of 17
  • Was one-half of the biggest selling band of the 1980s
  • As one-half of Wham! was the first western band to play in China
  • Sold more than 100 Million records worldwide
  • His debut solo album Faith sold more than 20 Million copies
  • Won 4 Ivor Novello Awards
  • Won 3 Brit Awards
  • 2 Grammy Awards
  • He supported the 1980s Miners strike and spoke out against Thatcher
  • He was quick to understand and comment on the Bush and Blair relationship
  • He came out in perhaps the most extraordinary way ever recorded – during a police sting in a Beverly Hills toilet! And then turned that experience on its head by crafting the song ‘Outside’and its hilarious accompanying video complete with glittering urinals
  • Successfully went from bubblegum band member to successful and evergreen solo artist, creating an inspiration for the likes of Robbie Williams
  • Achieved the biggest selling number 2 of all time with ‘Last Christmas’ (he was at No 1 on Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas)
  • Had the courage to take on his record company in court as an attempt to secure rights and freedoms for both himself and other artists
  • Was an LGBT Activist
  • And of course, appeared in the first ever James Corden Carpool Karaoke!

So George leaves us quite a legacy both inside and outside his music, and like all great inspirational leaders, he was true to his beliefs and often viewed the cause of others as more important than his own credibility.

At the time of writing, stories are emerging of this very private but very friendly man who significantly donated to charity with the condition that a ‘big deal’ was not to be made of it. Social media has been alive with moving tributes by the likes of Ridgeley, Robbie Williams, Madonna, Elton John, Brian May, Boy George and Rob Lowe.

If I am to present a balanced tribute to George, it has to be stated that his private life revealed some very bizarre incidents, but which somehow still served to add a sense of warmth to the character of a superstar who was actually at the same time just a normal bloke. Through those incidents, George was simply making memories for us and instilling some talking points to keep him alive in addition to his ever-lasting music. To his credit, he was always keen to utilise these events, send himself up and use the controversy as a platform to still entertain people. Quite an extraordinary gift and sense of will. Appearances on Comic Relief, Catherine Tate Show, Extras and Little Britain are hilarious examples.

I would have loved to have met John Lennon, but he was shot dead when I was 11. I always believed that one day the opportunity may present itself for me to meet George Michael but alas it now can never be so. At least I had the great pleasure of seeing him perform live on several occasions. In 1984 at Birmingham’s NEC, my first ever concert and I was blown away by the performance of Wham! They created amazing energy coupled with such a polished performance. The night was made even more special as footage of the concert was included in the video for “Everything She Wants”. I also attended Wham! The Final which ranks as one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. As a solo performer, I saw George play live on the Cover to Cover tour, twice on the 25 Live Tour at the NEC again and Manchester City’s Football stadium, before finally witnessing George’s fabulous voice in all its glory during the Symphonica Tour. It saddens me that I will never have the chance to see him perform live again.  At the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992, he demonstrated to the world just what a truly extraordinary and amazing performer he was. He could hold his own against anybody once he graced that stage.

As a young kid, I always wanted to grow up to be a part of music myself. The Beatles and Elvis were my first influence but with those greats, I’ve always needed to look back in order to recognise their impact as I was never part of their generation. When the music of George Michael came along he was the only other significant inspiration to me, but what was great was he was contemporary so I could always grow with him and look forward to the next chapter. Like The Beatles, the music of George Michael has been a constant in my life and in particular during my own years of songwriting and playing in bands from the late 80s – 1990s. The influence of George Michael in my own songwriting is there for all to see,  although I can never claim to match it.When I hung up my keyboard I began to play with words by evolving from song writing to writing books. I love scribing but music will always be in my heart and this is why the subject finds it’s way into my novels. George Michael is referred to in all three of my published novels at the time of writing. I was always taken with the stories of Wimbledon Football Club booming out songs from a ghetto blaster in their changing rooms to motivate them before a game. In

When I hung up my keyboard I began to play with words by evolving from songwriting to writing books. I love scribing but music will always be in my heart and this is why the subject finds it’s way into my novels. George Michael is referred to in all three of my published novels at the time of writing. I was always taken with the stories of Wimbledon Football Club booming out songs from a ghetto blaster in their changing rooms to motivate them before a game. In Beneath The Floodlights I use this concept when the football team in the story blast out “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” before a match, and one of the footballers is a huge 80s fan wearing T-shirts sporting the catchphrase ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ – a slogan created by Wham! Then in Mind Guerrilla I take George’s own exploratory thoughts from his track “White Light” which he released following his near-death experience in Austria in 2011, forming the question Was it science that saved him or spirituality? The only questions on my lips today are Why didn’t something save him on Christmas Day 2016? What possible good reason is there for the world to be robbed of a talent like George’s at such a young age? In Mind Guerrilla I also make reference to his Olympic ceremony perofrmance. And finally, just 1 month short of his untimely death I released Things They’ll Never See where a failing rock star, Jake Zennor is seeking a way to emulate George Michael in the transition from band member to successful global superstar. My next book 27 will include a dedication to George Michael.

So as homes across the world were celebrating their Christmas day listening to George’s song “Last Christmas” news came through that rocked the foundations of our very being. This inspirational and much-loved star had passed away making this and every Christmas going forward somewhat of a poignant nature. George Michael owned John Lennon’s piano, the same that the great song “Imagine” had been composed on. Well, imagine that! It could have had no more deserving owner after Lennon. And George went on to compose the song “John and Elvis are Dead” as a tribute to these two musical heavyweights that have departed. George was questioning the rationale for their untimely deaths because losing inspirational and talented people so young makes no sense. Well, now we are left wondering why George Michael who penned that wonderful song has been taken from us at such an unnatural time. We wait to understand the cause of his death as a post mortem will be conducted in the next few days. The cause perhaps, the reasoning never.

I’ve been speaking today with my peers and people of my generation ever since I learned of the awful news, be it face to face or over social media. We must continue to speak of George Michael and then his energy and spirit can never really die. RIP George Michael, gone too soon but never forgotten. Your music and legacy will live on. You Have Been Loved. x

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So I was watching the Voice UK this Valentine’s evening, and was mystified when the judges didn’t turn for Keedie Green’s fantastic interpretation of David Guetta featuring Sia”s Titanium.

Now where am I going with this you may well ask, and how the hell am I linking a televised singing contest to my blog which is primarily about writing books? Well stay with me as that in itself is what the point of this post is all about – the unlikely marrying of two worlds.

When the four judges eventually turned in unison to explain why they hadn’t turned during what was an exceptional performance by Keedie, Will.i.am offered some words that unexpectedly connected with me and helped me make sense of my unorthodox approach to writing.

I’ve slightly beat myself up over recent times, and questioned myself regarding my methods of putting all types of subjects into the mixing pot of my novels at the same time.

Is it simply a confusing approach for the reader? I’ve often asked myself.

But then I usually go on to think about the layers of plots in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction for instance, and convince myself that attempting to keep the viewer, or in my case the reader, guessing and interested in the twists and turns of the story is the right thing to do. Besides, I have come to understand that actually, that is how I am simply wired – to mix things up a bit and make bizarre connections, and for me to approach my writing in a much more conventional way would actually be quite difficult for me to achieve.

Most of this internal questioning has materialised after reading generic articles designed to help authors in their careers. The advice given is to encourage the author categorically to choose a single genre and to stick with it. It seems for the author to then wander away from that genre would almost be regarded as a cardinal sin! Now I am not doubting this to be good advice for most authors and there are of course countless successful authors out there who are masters in their field. Many of whom I personally enjoy and find inspirational. And let me be clear, I am not setting myself apart from other authors as being anything special either, but the truth is I struggle to approach my writing as a “one glove fits all” type of author. As I  said, I’m simply wired a bit funny!

Now my only published book to date, Beneath the Floodlights has achieved moderate success, and although there are currently not reviews a plenty out there, the ones that have been written are overwhelmingly very positive I’m glad to say. However, there have been rumblings in some circles as to why on Earth I decided to marry the two worlds of soccer and vampires together, as this perhaps made the book difficult to allocate to one specific genre. Beneath the Floodlights can be found in Local Interest sections in Midland’s Waterstone’s shops, but also on the Horror, Sport and Sci-Fi shelves. My writing tends to include supernatural or horror elements I guess, but to pigeon-hole what I write is quite a challenge. Frankly, it doesn’t really bother me, I already feel blessed that my book is simply available for any potential readers.

And that’s where Will.i.am’s words of wisdom come into the equation, though ironically he may never know how he has helped to ease my mind.

So, when Keedie Green faced the agonising prospect of trying to understand why the judges hadn’t turned for her on the Voice UK, Will.i.am explained that Mary J. Blige had once been criticised for marrying two genre’s of music together early in her career, and although Keedie’s approach of marrying pop vocals with operatic vocals was “a little confusing” for the non-judgmental Sir Tom Jones, Will.i.am pointed out that marrying two unlikely worlds together that automatically shouldn’t belong is a cool thing to do and is only attempted by a certain breed of brave person. The kind of which the entertainment world needs in order to keep evolving whether that be music, literature or whatever!

The key is to pick yourself up after the knocks, dust yourself down and use all that rejection to make you stronger and better at what you were born to do!

So I thank you Will.i.am for reassuring me that marrying the worlds of soccer and vampires was an ok thing to do.

This boosts my confidence to realise that when my next book Mind Guerrilla not only brings two worlds together but several, it is the right approach for ME as a writer. It won’t be to everyone’s taste but a writer has to be true to himself or herself.

And if the people who I am eternally grateful to for reading my books ever notice me “playing it safe” you have my sincere permission here and now to hold me to account.

Thanks for reading my blog, I hope you like reading Mind Guerrilla and it’s several plot lines, out later in 2015.

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In this interview I speak about my forthcoming book ‘Mind Guerrilla’ as well as answering some great questions by Fiona…
https://authorsinterviews.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/here-is-my-interview-with-martin-tracey/

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Beneath The Floodlights at the movies. Who would be the stars?.

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As Beneath the Floodlights has been in print one year today I thought it would be great fun to have a play at who could represent the characters of the book if it were ever to reach the silver screen (fingers crossed!)

I would love to hear from you to see if you agree with my choices or if you would like to offer some alternatives. Did you visualise the characters any differently when you read the book? You can either reply to the post or email me at martinpaperbackwriter@yahoo.co.uk.

 

Professor Cezar Prodanescu: Cezar oozes charisma and sophistication with the ability to make grown men shake in their boots whilst women fall at his feet!

I can see Sean Bean in this role. Other possible candidates could be Antonio Banderas or George Clooney.

 

Andrei Botezatu: Andrei is an athletic and dynamic vampire.

I can see Nowhere Boy Aaron Johnson doing a great job as Andrei.

 

Johnny Knox: Good looking and endearing. Johnny is the local hero whom everyone adores.

I like the idea of Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles playing Johnny, but can he kick a ball and do a Brummie accent! Other possible candidates could be Colin Farrell or even David Beckham if his acting skills are as good as his football skills.

Sheena Knox: Electrifyingly beautiful with dark hair.

I think Corrie’s Alison King would be perfect as Johnny’s strong and loyal wife.

Lily: Lily is a pretty young thing with an air of innocence.

I see another Corrie actress fitting the bill: Sacha Parkinson.

Vincent “Bruiser” Bradshaw: Lovable rogue and ball winning midfielder who suffers with Tourette’s Syndrome.

Versatile actor Tom Hardy would do a grand job I’m sure.

Jody Roper: the central defender who loves everything about the 1980s.

Jody is a very likeable character who often provides an element of humour in the book, therefore Owen Wilson (Starsky & Hutch, Zoolander) would be a great choice. I am exactly 10 days older than Owen, but unlike me he can easily pass for a man in his early to mid thirties.

Alvin Braxton: Jamaican goalkeeper for Kingsbarr United.

Impressive actor Idris Elba of Luther fame would be perfect in my book (no pun intended.)

Giuseppe Rossi: Italian centre-forward for Kingsbarr United.

How’s about Benidorm’s Jake Canuso.

Afina: strikingly looking Romanian victim of Andrei.

Black Swan’s Natalie Portman would be perfect in this role.

Gene Macgoree: Kingsbarr United superfan and prolific vampire slayer.

I can see two fine English actors playing this part: Tim Roth or Phil Davis.

Peter Cogshaw: Penny pinching chairman of Kingsbarr United.

How’s about Warren Clarke of Dalziel and Pascoe or perhaps Timothy Spall.

There are many more characters of course. Who would play the nasty pair of Leon Davis or Lucas for example. There are also parts for ex-jailbird Gerry Spalding, Charlie Cheng, Audrey Chillingsworth, Saffron Knox, Father McGill and the other vampires of the Fosturnea School of Football Excellence. Would there be a part in the film for the evil couple Josiah and Alison Connor who set the vampire ball rolling? (Pun intended).

It’s just a bit of fun but I would welcome your thoughts on the potential movie stars of Beneath The Floodlights.

(A big thank you to fellow author Rachael H. Dixon for providing this idea. You can read more about Rachael here: http://rhdixon.blogspot.co.uk/ )

 

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In July of 2011 I had my first novel published entitled Beneath The Floodlights, a novel about soccer and vampires.

The novel tells the story of a Midlands based football team who become relegated from the English Premier League. Their only hope seems to rest on the shoulders of a mysterious new manager who arrives from overseas.

This closing season the team I support in real life, Wolverhampton Wanderers, got relegated from the English Premier League and guess what – a mysterious manager from overseas has been appointed to hopefully return the club to its former glory. Welcome to Wolves Mr. Stale Solbakken!

Funny how life can sometimes mimic fiction….

http://www.amazon.co.uk/BENEATH-THE-FLOODLIGHTS-ebook/dp/B005FQK84M/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337371352&sr=1-1#_

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BBC Radio West Midlands (WM) really is a fantastic ambassador for Birmingham and the West Midlands in general (UK). It is very supportive of the region and the people within it and of course carries the significant branding and endorsement of the BBC.

My own story with them spans over 20 years (of course my love affair with them started when I was very young lol).

In very recent times I have been interviewed by no less than 3 of the Radio Network’s presenters to showcase my vampire/football novel Beneath the Floodlights. The gentlemen who assisted in raising awareness of my novel were Mark Regan, Paul Franks and the legendary Brummie Carl Chinn.

When I wrote the song Raging Bull in 1990 , which can be found on Old Gold Anthems the songs of Wolves, myself and co-performer Gary were asked to attend Molineux (home of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club) one cold December Saturday. We had a great interview with Jenny Wilkes about the song’s subject Steve Bull: Wolves’ record breaking goal-scoring legend and about our music in general. The radio station also played it on air a few times.

Then if we jump a few years to 2005 BBC Radio WM ran a competition for a local band to join Roland Gift and The Fine Young Cannibals on stage at a forthcoming gig at Birmingham’s Alexander Theatre. The song I wrote Saturn Rising was entered and it won a unanimous phone vote from the Midlands’ public which indeed resulted in the band I was playing in at the time, Entity Fair (aka me and a great singer called Scott Stackhouse), supporting FYC and getting smashed at the pub next door to the theatre after the memorable event.

My story is just one of many who have been supported by this great radio station who work tirelessly to represent their community.

I would like to finish with a big thank you and I know my love affair with BBC Radio WM will continue….

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