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Big George's Guide To Commercial Success: All About Himself

Feature | Tips & Tricks By Big George
Published March 2001

Big George's Guide To Commercial Success: All About Himself

This month, Big George lays himself bare for your entertainment... This is the 17th article in a 26‑part series.

Here I am, every month, telling you exactly how to go about making yourself multi–million sellers, and to date not one of you has bothered to strike it lucky and give me a nice little thank‑you Ferrari. Typical! All you do is nick my work, abuse my hot leads, make my secret scams public knowledge, clog up my hi‑fi with dodgy demos and send me begging letters. Truly, I don't know why I bother.

Oh yes, I remember. If I didn't vent my spleen on you, who else would listen to me?

A Year In The Life

Apart from penning these confessionals every month, how have I occupied myself over the past year?

Starting in no particular order (I am the very embodiment of Chaos Theory), apart from plotting and planning my next non‑starter of a brilliant musical concept, I've been going into various places of learning to extol the joys of music. (I enjoy standing in front of any audience — and the younger they are, the easier I find it to avoid the missiles.) When I was a nipper, our school music teacher died. As good luck would have it, his place was taken by a fellow pupil's dad, a top geezer called Donald Swann, who at the time was the star of the West End music halls. He played Mozart and the Beatles and silly songs that made me laugh so much that stuff came out of my nose, illustrating with a deep passion just how wonderful music is. I've been paying my dues in schools for the past 15 years in grateful thanks to this giant of a man, who switched a seven‑year‑old Big George on to 12 notes.

I Don't Believe It

Then there's the job I did for the last‑ever episode of One Foot In The Grave. Accompanying the clips of Victor's life at the end of the episode was a track by the Traveling Wilburys, 'At The End Of The Line'. The BBC have the right to broadcast any music in the UK, but for video sales and broadcasts outside the UK the producers couldn't afford to pay the estates of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison (RIP). They needed a soundalike. So who they gonna call...?

Now, to say the Traveling Wilburys are never off my turntable would be as big a filthy stinking lie as it's possible to tell, but I chose to take the mission. I thoroughly enjoyed my first solitary 10‑hour day sync'ing up every single kick and snare beat of this speed‑fluctuating track, to which the pictures had already been cut. I hired the studio and tried to get the Editorial Director of this very magazine to play the riddum guitar, but he was in the USA that day (and they say life is tough at the top!). When I delivered the job, the music was bang‑on, but apparently the vocals weren't quite right, or so they said. So it was back into the studio to re‑record the vocals with another batch of top session singers singing everything note‑perfect. Err... maybe it's not as... ummm...

So, in desperation, and as it got me out of the control room for five minutes, I had a go at the bit that wasn't working (Tom Petty's bit, as it happens). Perfect! All I can say is that it wasn't my decision, it was made above me. And where are the limos and chicks that lead vocalists are supposed to get?

And Anyone Else That Knows Me

Then there's my radio work. Apart from my own show (Big George's Sound of Music, Monday‑Thursday 6‑7pm on BBC Three Counties — Beds, Herts and Bucks — but available elsewhere on 630MW), where I feature a different musical icon every evening, I've been a guest on three Radio 4 programmes, as well as composing the soundtrack to one of their comedy series. But I'm still down wiv the kidz — I did all the opening songs for Radio 1FM's 'One Big Belly' live broadcasts with Chris Moyles. And I think I mentioned the BBC1 kids' series that earned me enough to buy two sample CDs.

Projects that cost money, rather than make it (you've got to speculate to accumulate — I've been waiting decades for that cliché to come right) include one with a mature male singer who won a BBC talent show at the end of last year. (Despite that, he has a belting set of lungs.) We're doing a couple of songs by a mate who wrote a tune 31 years ago that's just appeared on the new Steven Spielberg/Cameron Crowe film, Almost Famous. It just goes to show that you never know when your past is going to come back and bite your ass. I'm also doing projects with Scope and the Drake Music Project, which pay more in food for the soul than cash in the pocket.

And of course I'm out there blagging like a lunatic for the next Inspector Morse, piece of BBC ident music, or James Cameron blockbuster. Even a new Carry On film would do! These days I don't pitch for jobs, but if anyone out there has a hot lead to one of the above prospects, or another media tart suggestion, I'd be mighty obliged. Not that there's a chance of that with you lot! You just want every last drop out of me, you bloodsuckers. (See you next issue...)

No Applause — Just Throw Money

For instant access to the majority of my previous rants and tirades in this esteemed periodical, go to the article page on my web site (

Questions, queries, and quaint but valuable gifts can be either sent to me at PO Box 7094, Kiln Farm, MK11 1LL, or emailed to

Over the coming months, I will focus on burning issues regarding the PRS and MCPS, Top Of The Pops, and increasing your bank balance. If there's anything you want to get off your chest and you think burdening me with it might be of help to you, I'm all ears.