In Episode 9 – I talk to the always sensational, Troy Miller. Troy has worked as a drummer with artists such as Laura Mvula, Mark Ronson, George Benson and the late great Amy Winehouse, but is also an extremely established producer in his own right. You can listen here –
I’m still processing the fact that Prince has passed away. I had never met him (but did cross paths with the members of 3rd Eye Girl once), and understand that writing a blog about a musician that I never personally knew might seems strange, but I have spent so many hours listening to his music and researching/reading about him over the years that in some kind of strange way, (as silly as it sounds) I feel as though I’ve lost a friend.
A few years ago I set out to try collect as much Prince music as I possibly could and even started sourcing material he released as Jamie Starr, Camille or Joey CoCo just so that I could try and hear as much of what he was capable of musically as possible. (I still need to try get my hands on loads of “unofficial NPG releases” and have never been able to find an original GuitarWorld release of ‘The Undertaker’, but I’ll get there eventually).
As with most musicians, Prince (and his music) wasn’t always every one’s cup of tea. Many people felt he was at his best as a funk artist, while a few people out there feel that he contributed just as much to hip hop as a genre as many of it’s top stars. Again, there are those that feel he didn’t quite ‘get’ hip hop and should’ve remained a more mainstream pop/rock artist as per his ‘Purple Rain’ era. The bottom line however, is that Prince was an outstanding musical talent that inspired countless of people throughout the world over the last 3 decades, so whether you’re a fan of his music or not, you cannot deny how proficient he was on the numerous instruments he had the ability to play.
As a musician, Prince helped me understand that as great as it is being a multi instrumentalist and be able to play pretty much everything on ones own recordings, that allowing other musicians into your creative world can take your musical ideas to new heights, add new concepts and ideas and be a lot more fun.
I also think it was great that even after he took over the pop world like he did in the early/mid 1980’s, that he constantly pushed his own boundaries, both personally and musicality. Again a lot of material he released wasn’t always accepted as mainstream pop but he kept writing/creating even long after he financially needed too. There are countless other artists that have simply disappeared after they’ve made their millions and given how he could have comfortable lived off off the money he made as early as the mid 1980’s if he had wanted to, he could’ve done the same. Instead, he kept producing, helped establish other artists (Vanity 6, Sheila E, Judith Hill).
Plus, he could hold his own musically with anyone – he truly was one of a kind.
Add to the above the outstanding amount of charity work he did (which no one ever really talks about) and how he stood up for musicians rights in regards to how streaming and distribution of music has changed how musicians earn a living and it’s easy to see why we’ll never have another icon quite like him ever again.
So yes, I realize that this is usually a drum related blog but I would like to say thank you for the music Prince, you were a true inspiration, (I would’ve loved to have had the opportunity to have jammed with you). For the drummers out there who have never taken the time to research what Prince contributed to the drumming world I strongly suggest you do, he always brought some of the drummers we now love and admire to mainstream attention. Did I mention that he was even on the cover of Modern Drummer once (Jan 2005 issue). Amazing.
This week I talk to British session drumming legend ‘Clem Cattini’. Who, during the course of his career played on over forty four #1 singles and was part of a group called ‘The Tornados’ who were the first British group to ever achieve a #1 in the US with their single ‘Telstar’. He was also on a shortlist of drummers considered by Jimmy Page to potentially be a member of Led Zeppelin before the group officially launched. Say what !!!
Some Random Thoughts – March Blog 2016.
I thought I’d get a bit more personal with this months blog by sharing a few things that I’ve learned in my life/career so far. These are the gems that I feel apply to being a musician particularly well. So I hope that they are of some use to you all. Here goes…
1. Unfortunately, you really can’t (and won’t) please everyone, and trying to do so usually backfires.
2. If people can’t accept you for who you are, or don’t wanna be friends with you after you’ve made an effort to try to be, then you’re probably better off without them in your life.
3. Life can get pretty crazy sometimes, so if possible try to take a little time to do the things that make you happy – even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.
4. When in doubt, just go with it. Don’t try change situations that you have absolutely no control over (so unless you’re hurting yourself, or others in the process), just enjoy the moment. They’re not going to last forever.
5. Develop a hard skin. Successful people want to stay on top forever and might not always give you the turn that you might feel you deserve. Likewise, often people on their own way up might feel threatened or self entitled to something that you’re also after and hurtful things can be said or done that might discourage you along your journey, (who knows you might even be the one to say or do them). Regardless having a hard skin can help you shake the negativity off – especially within the entertainment industry.
6. Trust your gut !!! Pretty self explanatory really, but your instincts are usually correct.
7. Be nice to others, even if you think they’re unkind or inconsiderate towards you. You never know who’s help you might need one day, or who might need help from you.
8. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and help build you up. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve by doing this, even if it means that you might have to hear the ‘cold’ occasional truth about yourself every once in a while.
9. Stop complaining all the time. Unfortunately, this is much harder than I’d like to admit, but negativity breeds negativity (you would’ve heard me say that on the UK Drummer Podcast a few times).
10. Don’t fake it – just make it… You don’t have to be a fake individual to survive in this world. As mentioned earlier, you’re probably make a couple frenemies along the way but being true to yourself is worth its weight in gold so don’t let anyone take that away from you.
Until next time, practise hard, work hard and I’ll see you around.
In todays episode we talk with British jazz drumming legend, ‘Pete Cater who, in addition to being one of the UK’s most in demand drum tutors has also performed at clinics alongside Steve White, Ian Palmer and Steve Gadd (among others). We also talk about how Pete filled in for Harvey Mason at last years London Drum Show event and how he has rubbed shoulders with both Louie Bellson and Buddy Rich over the years.