Bohemian Rhapsody – The Making of a Classic

Here is the interview we recorded with Barry Ainsworth, the man who engineered Bohemian Rhapsody and many many more classic records. Enjoy!!

This week, we are conducting interviews with Jordan Gray, Marcus Anderson (Prince’s sax player) and possibly CeeLo Green. Here’s part 2 of the interview with Barry – The Q&A:

To book Barry for an exclusive masterclass on dealing with creative and highly talented people, get in touch. If you know of any artists that would like an interview in our growing collection of interviews with music giants please get in touch with Rory Gill the film maker or myself:

BH

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock, fusing business with parallel ideas from music and Human Dynamics, offering business and organisation development. Check his latest work “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” for Bloomsbury.

Burn The Witch

I have a love / hate relationship with Radiohead. Love in so far that they produce absolutely sublime pieces of music which reach deeper than One Direction. Hate in so far as they rarely deal with happy thoughts … but I guess you can’t always get what you want …:-)

I was struck by the daring attempt to release a chart song that deals with the issues of thought crime, surveillance, being a heretic and other dystopian matter, probably informed by 1984 amongst other works.

Listen to “Burn The Witch” without the video and all appears a bit upbeat. Watch the video and at first glance you are confronted with what appears to be a remake of the children’s programme “Trumpton”. As you look deeper, you begin to realise that not all is well in the village as social cohesion breaks down and a scapegoat is identified for an unidentified malaise.  This culminates in a scene from “The Wicker Man”, although it appears that the man who gets burned in the tower then reappears relatively unscathed in the final scene. The animators say that the video refers to Islamophobia and the refugee crisis although the song was written some 10-15 years ago.

Abandon all reason

Avoid all eye contact

Do not react

Shoot the messenger

I’m not quite sure what goes on in Thom Yorke’s mind or why, but “Burn The Witch” certainly deserves a place in popular culture, proving that pop music can address more than “boy meets girl” issues. Since the lyrics are beautifully ambiguous the song has multiple meanings, allowing the listener to project their own interpretation into the piece. Given that the establishment banned Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” and Prince’s “Sexy MF” I’m surprised and delighted that our leaders allow such potent material into the world … or perhaps they just don’t get it?

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Book him for your next interactive motivational keynote or longer masterclass on subjects such as Leadership, Creativity, Innovation and Change.

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Our next free event at Virgin

Come along to our next free event at Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Lounge on Wed May 25th at 3 pm where I will be in conversation with Jordan Gray, star of BBC One’s The Voice. We will also get a unique opportunity to see Jordan perform a few songs and preview her new album “The Baffled King”.

Jordan Gray, performing with Paloma Faith on The Voice

Jordan Gray, performing with Paloma Faith on The Voice

Jordan is an all round talent and a great inspiration : A songwriter, accomplished pianist, vocalist with multiple voices and an engaging performer. Peter will be in conversation with Jordan, discussing her life as a musician, her journey as a transgender person, the exhilarating experience of competing on The Voice and most importantly her future as an artist, author and much more.

Since appearing on The Voice, and unlike the usual suspects, Jordan’s multiple talents have been recognised by global record labels. She is presently considering a major record deal, having been adopted by Paloma Faith and Boy George.

The event is free to attend but booking is ESSENTIAL

Call Virgin on 0207 439 8802 to reserve your space

Check the event out on Virgin.com

Check my latest article for Virgin out by clicking the image below

Click to view our articles for Virgin

Fitter, Happier, More Productive?

Prince R.I.P. – Sometimes it Snows in April

That is all I can find to say … 

I wish u heaven xx

Prince Koko's

A few tributes have come in from musical friends:

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 00.44.34

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 00.44.12

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 00.40.51Prince posts:

The Prince of Innovation

3rd Eye Girl

My Tribute to Prince

George Clinton and Prince

Innovation Excellence – NYC

A post from South East Asia

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Spirits come and spirits go
Some stick around for the after show
Don’t have to say I miss you
(Don’t have to say I miss you)
‘Cause I think you already know

If you ever lose someone
Dear to you
Never say the words, they’re gone

They’ll come back, yeah
They’ll come back, yeah yeah
They’ll come back

Tears go here

PrinceI

Illustration by Martin Homent

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 09.58.09

Paying your dues

There is much contention and gnashing of teeth over what is called The X-Factor Culture. Some people presume that it is enough to get on the TV with a backing track and be catapulted to stardom. In the vast majority of cases, this is untrue and people miss all the blood, sweat and tears that takes place on the way to lasting stardom.

Jordan Gray

This is never more true in the case of Jordan Gray, currently about to enter the quarter finals of The Voice tonight. Jordan has hardly revealed more than 10% of her talents on the shows to date in my humble opinion. Jordan is an extremely talented pianist and musicologist, a very capable songwriter with massive creativity in her compositions. She is also a very fluent singer with multiple voices which she calls on in her performances and a captivating performer in her own right. That’s such a rare combination of talents in my long experience. Just check out two of her own compositions that show more of her talent than can be showcased in 90 seconds on a TV programme.

 

I am privileged to have shared a stage with this massive talent – the REAL X-Factor.

 

 

Just Like A Woman

I’m proud to know Jordan Gray, who performed on BBC’s “The Voice” last night.  Jordan is a massive talent both in terms of her songwriting, musicality and performance.  I was privileged and humbled to share a stage with Jordan at Aaron Stone’s “Spontaneous Combustion” last year.

Here is her performance of “Just Like A Woman” on the show:

But Jordan’s superb showcase for The Voice missed out on her huge songwriting and musical talents. Just check this amazing piece “Corridors” out under her name “Tall Dark Friend“. This was one of the songs she performed at Spon Com and it blew me away even more live than the video can convey:

In case you are wondering who the singer is in the above video, Jordan made a principled decision to change gender a couple of years back. I have some understanding of the courage required to take such a decision through my good friend Hilary who also did this some years back. Hilary and I wrote a song together called “No Dick’s as Hard as my Life”, to reflect some of the abuse she took during the change. I also took a beating from some young solders in 1983, whilst walking along the high street with my best friend from school Dennis Pearce. Dennis was a flamboyantly dressed homosexual at a time when pink trousers were not considered an acceptable form of attire by some . I took the beating instead of Dennis because I had not learned to run as fast as he had … I spent several hours in hospital as a result !:-) oh well … soldiers will be soldiers but it’s a pity they have to take their work home …

Coming back to the music, comparisons are invidious, but I would rank Jordan Gray alongside talents such as Prince, Lady Gaga, Paloma Faith and Sia. Her performance on The Voice was great but you cannot imagine the incredible combination of piano playing, singing, rapping, voice manipulation and performance skills that Jordan possesses just from her 3 minute showcase.

A Tall Dark Friend - click to connect with Jordan Gray

A Tall Dark Friend – click to connect with Jordan Gray

Jordan

Fade to Gray …

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Book him for your next interactive motivational keynote or longer masterclass on subjects such as Leadership, Creativity, Innovation and Change. His new book Leading Innovation and Enterprise is released on February 25th.  Order it now on Amazon.

 

Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?

A few months back, I casually went to a networking event, got talking to a chap who said that they worked in the music business as a recording engineer.  We chatted on for a while, eventually I asked:

“Oh, have you worked on any records that I’d know of?”

Well, the last record I worked on is a bit old now – 40 years in fact” he replied

“What was that then?” I enquired

Bohemian Rhapsody” he casually replied

I pinched myself and asked “Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?”

Turns out that this guy also produced or engineered records for The Kinks, Rush, Deep Purple, Toyah, Yes, Jack Bruce, Hawkwind, Sooty and a very long list of great acts from the 1960’s and 70’s. We got talking about the gentle art of working with people, some of whom have very fixed ideas about how they wanted things done and who sometimes had less than ideal personalities or, at least, egos that were too big for the room. We shared a connection in terms of my friend Bill Nelson, who also worked with Roy Thomas Baker, Queen’s producer. The conversation flowed on and on …

I’ll be talking with Barry Ainsworth at the Virgin Money Lounge in London on FRIDAY February 26th from 3 – 4.30 pm. Book your place NOW via 0207 439 8802. Beyond that, book us for an in company masterclass.

Whether it's a night at the Opera or "we're going down the pub" we can offer you an unforgettable experience

Whether it’s a night at the Opera or “we’re going down the pub” we can offer you an unforgettable experience

Of course these skills are entirely transferrable to the world of “Brain Based Enterprises”, where intellect must be cultivated, facilitated, directed but not squashed. As a result of this, we’re now able to offer a joint masterclass where you will learn from a master of getting things done with volatile and sometimes precocious talents. Should you really wish to make the event unforgettable, we can combine this with a performance of Queen’s material with Patti Russo, long term singing partner of Meatloaf and songstress with Queen and Cher

What’s it like working with Mercurial people? Find out by booking us for a masterclass

The Show Must Go On - with Patti Russo

The Show Must Go On – with Patti Russo

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Book him for your next interactive motivational keynote or longer masterclass on subjects such as Leadership, Creativity, Innovation and Change.

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