Writer/Singer, Nick van Eede turned 56 this year and so celebrates his 35th year in the music biz. He’s released a bona fide major published label album/single in each of the five decades since the 70s. Now there’s a statistic!!!
Married to Nikki, tour manager, they foster & adopt Greyhounds at their old farmhouse near Rye in East Sussex, two villages away from Sir Paul McCartney. They share Paul’s bakery and hairdresser. Don’t ask!!a
1978: Gets job as an operating theatre orderly in world renowned plastic surgery hospital, Queen Victoria; Chas Chandler visits his sick son and sees Nick playing in the local hospital pub. Signed within a month he is out on the road for two years supporting Slade, David Essex & Hot Chocolate. Dodging alternatively, red roses & beer bottles thrown his way on stage (honestly).
1982: Forms ‘The Drivers’. Signs to RCA Canada. Scores a hit with the brilliant Tears on Your Anorak & meets on the road in Nova Scotia, his future fellow-conspirator, best friend & founder member of Cutting Crew, Kevin MacMichael. (Sadly and impossibly, Kevin died in 2001 from lung cancer)
1987: ‘(I Just) Died in Your Arms’ is Virgin Records’ first US Number 1 and has so far notched up 3 million radio plays in the USA alone. Top-ten follow-up, I’ve Been in Love Before, is fast approaching 2 million US plays. CC are nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist.
1992: Kevin & Nick produce the original demo of Cher’s BELIEVE. They are paid a bottle of whisky. It was 6 years later until the song’s release & world domination. The whisky was consumed in 6 hours!
1999: Signs to Sony Publishing & moves to the remote East coast of Barbados for 4 years. It was here he learns the art of writing his melodies & lyrics whilst swimming the daily mile (honest!!). The big ol’ historic house they live in, adjacent to Eddy Grant’s, is an unofficial drop-off point for the local Bajan’s unwanted pets; they look after 4 dogs, 7 cats and kittens & 3 ducks. All generous contributions from the kindly parishioners of St. Philip.
2012/13: Nick sings live at Brandenburg Gate at midnight on New Year’s Eve in front of half a million on the streets of Berlin and a further 50 million on TV. Stars in Superstar show at Budapest Opera House for Hungarian & German Prime Ministers. Singing his songs, duetting & (precariously) all at once, with the following line-up: Chaka Khan, Greg Lake, Jack Bruce, Randy Brecker, John Helliwell (Supertramp), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann) & Bill Evans. It was a very wide stage!
2014: Nick completes his 5th CC album, ADD TO FAVOURITES. A surprising new/retro sound recorded totally live off-thefloor with a brilliant band (see Wikipedia site) With horns and girls now, it’s in the vein of 70’s Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, Van Morrison & Warren Zevon…all Nick’s faves.
Planning tours NOW to coincide with release in Autumn 2015.
Cornered, I knew I’d eventually get asked to write something for the site. I was trying to dodge it & say I was too busy, overseeing the artwork or mastering. But they finally cornered me and so here goes. I’m not so much awkward about my previous, it’s just that I’ve been shuffling around in this fickle old business for around thirty years; so I’ll try to be respectful, candid, but most important BRIEF!
I went to the coolest school (Imberhorne in East Sussex). The first of those trendy new Comprehensive schools that were replacing the old grammar and secondary.I had young and progressive English & Drama teachers and was given the opportunity at 14 to write and sing the narrative songs for the self-written school productions & and more important, most folk didn’t think they were shite. Confidence can be a dangerous ally but at least I got an early glimpse of what really turned me on in life & apart from the obvious teenage pursuits. The inevitable school band was born: Twice Bitten, with Nick Muggridge, George Brinkhurst, Pete Birch & Steve Boorer. We wrote our own stuff and clumsily wedged it in between frantic Small Faces and obscure Free covers &!!!: But I was at least staying up far too late and hanging with older, cooler guys who gave me so much encouragement & in spite of my guitar playing!
Next. Big break. Signed to Chas Chandler’s recording empire. Chas had earned his fame and fortune through a remarkable list of credentials. As bass player with The (brilliant) Animals & finder/producer / manager of J. Hendrix Esq. and then 70’s record mogul who groomed and delivered to the world the awesome Slade. Within days (honest) of my signature I was touring Poland with the lads from Wolverhampton & from playing to 50 locals a night in the Sussex pubs to 12,000 (apparently) adoring Poles overnight. Now that’s what I call a step up the ladder. It was all beginning to make sense and at the age of 20 I was gigging with the likes of the inimitable David Essex & the Jam, standing on stage at Wembley Arena & & and not a soul in the audience knew who I was! I had released four flop singles, done countless interviews, but here I was signing autographs from Glasgow to Warsaw & just so at least they could learn my name! The ecstatic farce had begun.
The Drivers were a super-tight three-piece band from Sussex, UK. Three skinny Brits & fans of XTC, the Police, the Stones, who had an uncanny knack of filling every pub and club they played in & right up to sell out nights at the Marquee in London. Steve Boorer was my old mate from school and Twice Bitten. He was the perfect rock / feel drummer, with tons of energy & he also sang all the high bits (mostly in tune). Mak Norman played the most solid, melodic bass lines I’d ever heard. He almost played his own tunes within our songs, and crucially, had the same sense of humour as me. We literally churned out the songs, hardly ever played a cover and it was undoubtedly the happiest time of my musical life. It was all sweat, sex, and so easy, and we were (again, apparently) making good money at the doors. Drongo our roadie would walk into the pub kitchens (our dressing rooms) after each gig with a bagful of fivers. We were rich for young guys and blew it all on girls and guitars. It was effortless and quite cool for three Sussex hicks. Titles like After Gdansk, Finchley Girl, Stolen Treasure, and the soon to be, mini-hit, Tears on your Anorak, cemented our minor place in that special department of the kitsch British new wave scene.
Did you hear about the one-eyed, one-legged Jewish attorney from Toronto who walked into a bar (The Shelley Arms) and changed all that and my life forever? Signed, sealed and delivered, Bernie Solomon flew us to Toronto to record our album Short Cuts with Rush producer Terry Brown. We shot videos and flew into every major city in Canada to press the flesh and eat cocktail food. Anorak went top ten & it was still sweat, more sex and even easier & and this time touring in feckin’ Canada & But outside of that beautiful country and the pubs and clubs of London and the South East, I ask you, had anyone really, truthfully heard of us? The ecstasy of the farce continued and I wasn’t about to point it out to ‘nobody’.
Backstage in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Drivers gig.
Support band guitarist enters our dressing room. Says he digs the band and what part of Australia do we come from? I ask him his name & he says….Kevin. I ask him his surname & (baffled look) he replies, Kevin. That was the day I met Kevin Kevin, or MacMichael, as it turned out. Another piece of the jigsaw from the box called life-changing moments had just fallen into place. We stared at each other and some unspoken intent sparked between us. That day was the beginning of the end of the Drivers and to all that fun and laughter and pure rock’n roll.
Kev moved to England and arrived with his precious L’Arrivee guitar and hand luggage. No suitcase; just the man and his music. We wrote/planned/set deadlines and pretty soon we’d invented Cutting Crew (as we had spent all those first months writing and not gigging, we named the C.C. after a journalist’s reference to Queen (no attachment but I loved their early albums)who had ceased touring and spent all their time in the studio & a cutting crew).
Colin Farley was a fab bass player from Surrey.Loads of ideas, tons of experience and very musical. He helped with every aspect of setting up and forming the band and crucially, he knew Frosty. Frosty (Martin Beedle) was a (relative) youngster from Hull, Yorkshire who brought with him hilarity, energy and confidence and was ready to step up to playing rock music, after having played big band music for a few years. My good friend Tony Moore joined as the coolest keyboard player, and there you have it. Kevin & I wrote 7 songs, the boys added a few others, and within the year we had a Number 1 hit single all over the world & the ecstatic farce continued. After all those years of chipping away at the music business, it wasn’t supposed to happen like this & not so fast and furious. I never complained (obviously) but we were like frightened rabbits on those first Top of the Pops and Johnny Carson shows. All those years of waiting and suddenly you’re not prepared & please, not that big & not now & maybe in a few months time??? All hell broke loose.
It was frantic, painful, and to be honest all a bit of a blur.
We gave Richard Branson his first US Number one record for his fledgling Virgin US Record Company. Six years of non-stop travel, pretty awards and the inevitable chemistry lessons!!!! I loved our songs and our gigs, every single one of them. I’d finally invented and steered my band to a position where the whole feckin’ world had finally heard us & and it felt, sadly a little empty. Frankly, apart from the love of the fans and the support we got from our friends and families and dearest allies in the biz, I found the so-called big time, fickle and totally beyond any control. All those (apart from a few glowing exceptions) corporate managers, lawyers and accountants screwing and manipulating you because they had control of the money and contracts &the sad, inevitable, personal rows that sprung up & and then suddenly it was over.
Cutting Crew Part1 RIP.