MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Amy [2012 In Review]

As the end of January approaches and we start wrapping up our review of our favorite MIMO posts of 2012…we came across this gem from composer and industry veteran John Altman:  a remarkable tribute to the late Amy Winehouse. If you missed this one back in June when we first published it, you need to catch it this time around. –Ed Apart from during a short stint as a substitute […]

Never In Your Wildest Dreams (would Tina Turner make you a cup of tea!) -[2012 In Review]

Our correspondent John Altman is perhaps one of the most experienced industry professionals we know, having worked with some of the music industry’s greatest legends. As this post from August demonstrates, he is also one of the most storied professionals we know, and we love reading his incredible anecdotes derived from years of experience. (How many of us have had Tina Turner serve us tea?) Enjoy. -Ed One of the […]

Freddie Mercury and the Sausages

In 1975 I joined the very successful British band Hot Chocolate, just as You Sexy Thing, their biggest worldwide hit, was released. My role was as woodwind player, auxiliary keyboards and arranger/musical director for their terrific stage show. Although, technically speaking, the three horn players and extra percussionist were not part of the band per se we all became fast friends and travelling companions on the road. I travelled to […]

Jamming in the 60s – A Night At Les Cousins

In my last posting I talked about the London jamming scene in the 60s and how I was lucky enough to become a part of that vibrant moment in British musical history. A number of venues existed to support that scene – Studio 51, (where the Stones rehearsed and had a residency in their early days), The Roundhouse (home of so much innovation in British alternative music), The Speakeasy (where […]

Jimi Jams

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to participate in many memorable jam sessions with the likes of Peter Green, Muddy Waters, Lionel Richie, Chaka Khan, Van Morrison and Dr. John – the list is endless, and thankfully I’m still adding to it – a recent memorable session in London involved Stevie Wonder’s Band. But I’ve also been able to attend a number of memorable jam sessions as a member […]

Tim, Tim, Harry ….and Nick Drake (Part 2)

Tim Hardin and Tim Buckley. Two genuine artists who shared more than a common first name, a remarkable talent and a propensity to self destruct. I won’t dwell too much on their sickness here – it’s well documented in all the writings about their respective careers – what I would like to do is share some of my memories of sitting in late night coffee bars in London with Tim […]

Shaken and Stirred

I have a very curious relationship with James Bond. No, we’re never mistaken for each other – although I can claim more than a little responsibility for kick starting Pierce Brosnan’s movie career that ultimately led him to that coveted role (I persuaded a reluctant John Mackenzie to cast Pierce in The Fourth Protocol). I’m one of the select few to have composed for James Bond and am lucky enough […]

Tim, Tim, Harry – And Nick Drake (Part 1)

  During my musical career I’ve been very lucky and privileged to share a stage or recording studio with some of the most influential artistes of the last half century or more. The list is daunting and inspiring – from Jule Styne and Elmer Bernstein to Little Richard and the Damned via Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Sting, Hendrix, Chet Baker and Amy Winehouse. Yet in these next two editions of […]

The 10 Room – Nothing Like It

It’s a Monday night in a London club – onstage Lionel Richie is singing his greatest hits. Waiting in the wings is Chaka Khan. Listening and watching with total absorption are Amy Winehouse and Joss Stone. On a sofa in the corner, baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, is Leonardo Di Caprio, in the middle of the room are Tim Robbins, Orlando Bloom and Brad Pitt. In the corner […]

Never In Your Wildest Dreams (would Tina Turner make you a cup of tea!)

One of the most enjoyable arrangements I wrote for Trevor Horn was the string chart for Tina Turner’s hit record of In Your Wildest Dreams. The song was written by Mike Chapman and my occasional writing partner Holly Knight. When I first heard the track it was designed to feature Tina with a spoken interlude, and I remember on the session mentioning that it would sound great with someone like […]

On a Downtown Train

On a Downtown Train

I think no one would dispute the statement that Trevor Horn is one of the great record producers of the last thirty years. All his productions have become classics and stood the test of time, sounding as impressive as they did when first recorded in the days when technology didn’t lead the way and had to be manipulated by people with ears and, dare I say it, genius. I was […]

Me and the Blues

I got bitten by the blues bug at the same time as many of my contemporaries. I guess I was around 12 years old when the blues first spoke to me, just before the blues boom exploded in the UK in 1962-63. I’d already been heavily into jazz since I was around 3 (long story!) and somehow recognized the blues at the root of most great jazz. So when I […]

It’s Oh So……….Silent?

When my big band assembled in Angel Studios one morning in the mid 90s, the only thing most of the musicians knew was that they were booked from 10am till 1pm, a standard 3 hour recording session to record one track. By our usual standards this was what would be known as a ‘doddle’, a walk in the park. All the musicians, including myself, were used to recording 3 or […]


Apart from during a short stint as a substitute teacher in the early 70s, and the insincere fawnings of various shop assistants and waiters over the years, only two people have called me ‘Sir’ to my face during my professional career. One was legendary performer Eartha Kitt, who was brought to London to replicate one of her 1950s hits for an advertising campaign in the mid 90s. She was charm […]

Why I Had to Hit Sir Ridley Scott

Why I Had to Hit Sir Ridley Scott (He Asked Me To!)

No this isn’t some tabloid ‘kiss and tell’ revelation – sorry to disappoint you all. I’ve had the good fortune to work on over 4,000 TV, cinema and radio commercials over the last 35 years, and in the process collaborate with some extraordinary (and sometimes very unlikely) talents. My lyricist at one time was no less a figure than eminent novelist Sir Salman Rushdie. But he never asked me to […]