“WHEN SEPTEMBER FALLS…” is a 7-essay life story events project with an accompanying series of interviews depicting several unique events in the Arts & Entertainment life of one man over a 50-year period. The project also reveals the darker side of a life coping with Depression, Anxiety, Rumination, and eventual Self-Harming. “When September Falls…” illustrates the happiness and joy of realising development and creativity whilst raising Mental Health Awareness through considerably difficult and challenging times…and people.
Two people are involved in the following interview segments of the project: The Interviewer ( below, on the right) and The Interviewee (on the left)…
Theme from “The Persuaders!” (1971) –
(Click sound wave below):
One is from the North. Born in Oldham, Greater Manchester and attended the former Our Lady’s Secondary School in Royton. He moved to Blackpool as a teenager and then from the age of 21 further travelled within the Arts & Entertainment industry to several places including Majorca and South Florida and in-between and thereafter settled in Scotland for many years. He held a variety of positions including DJ-Entertainer, Host & Compere and Professional Voice-Over Artist. He is also a writer/poet who has now moved back to his hometown of Blackpool where he tends to his mother as her live-in Carer…
The other one is from the South. Born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent and attended the local grammar school for girls. Later she went to Surrey University for Acting/drama and subsequently London Academy of music and drama. She has undertaken various roles within Film, Television and Theatre and has utilised her voice skills on several occasions. She is also a professional model having undertaken assignments for a number of organizations. She now resides near Elstree with her husband and young son…
This north and south collaboration first teamed up back in 2008 along with another 7 voice-actors for the independent radio drama entitled “That’ll be the Stardust!” – the online audio spin-off to the classic film “That’ll be the Day” (1973) and its sequel, “Stardust” (1974). Further to this, the two have remained friends and recently reunited for this special project you see before you today. The Interviewee – Tony G. Marshall and The Interviewer – Holly Macdonald both convey great passions for the Arts and Entertainment industry. “When September Falls…” is Tony’s very own story of events in which Holly has played a part in later years…
Holly about Tony:
“Working with Tony once again has not failed to delight. His writing holds you spellbound and his intense energy, positivity, and passion for creativity still captures the imagination of his audience. With his enthusiasm, northern charm, and sense of humour, he is always an absolute pleasure and a true gentleman. The industry needs more like him.”
Tony about Holly:
“I wouldn’t want anyone else to undertake this interview segment of the project with me. It’s a pleasure to know that Holly’s relentless pursuit of anything creative is still a prominent focus; Mrs Macdonald is an excellent line of support whether in a recording studio or on a theatre stage. We previously mixed our professional chemistry in “That’ll be the Stardust!” radio drama in which her performances are compelling.”
Interview 1: “MASQUERADE”…
HOLLY MACDONALD: You’ve had quite a creative and varied existence within the Arts and Entertainment business from being a Hospital Radio Presenter to a live DJ to a Host and Compere and Professional Voice-over Artist. What are your recollections of one of your earliest inspired roles or performances?
TONY G. MARSHALL: It was one of self-expression in the form of dance and mime for the character of ‘The Pierrot’ which was an alter ego of the legendary Leo Sayer in the early ’70s. I was a Disc-Jockey/Entertainer in Blackpool in 1988. I was 20-years-old. I had been a Sayer lookalike for a couple of years at that point and I was inspired with the idea to take it a step further. Because of my outlandish hairstyle at the time, people would frequently burst into a line of “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” or “When I Need You” much to my blushing dismay (Laughter in-studio). However, the lyrics to Sayer’s first hit single “The Show Must Go On” resonated with me, and then I discovered that he performed on stage as a type of sad clown. Therefore, the creative and entertaining streak within me decided to interpret this into a little act that I incorporated into my Discos at the time. The idea was born in conjunction with my Blackpool summer season at the former Grand Hotel Holiday Apartments complex on Station Road, South Shore.
HM: Were you a Leo Sayer fan at the time?
TGM: I very much appreciated his musical talent as both a singer and songwriter. I mean he wrote “Giving It All Away” for Roger Daltrey‘s first solo album of which he also released a fabulously haunting version of that song as well. He wrote “Dreamin'” – a 1980 hit for Cliff Richard. I saw Leo perform this song during his concert at Blackpool’s Opera House in October of 1986. He’s also a great live performer – lots of boundless energy. But my first awareness of him probably came about via his late 70’s TV show on the BBC, but the first record I bought of his was his 1980 hit single “More Than I Can Say” – originally done by The Crickets and subsequently Bobby Vee in the early sixties. Thereafter, I owned a television-advertised double LP from the early ’80s simply entitled “Leo Sayer” – it was on the Ellem Records label. However, it was much later when I found out about his early career as ‘The Pierrot’ and his first three albums (“Silverbird” (1973), “Just A Boy” (1974), “Another Year” (1975)) present both raw and fresh rhythm and blues material with some great orchestrations and performances; great voice. That was before he made it in the States with the disco-era stuff and ballads.
HM: What did your interpretation of ‘The Pierrot’ involve?
TGM: Well, it incorporated both mime and dance expression into a routine accompanied by Sayer’s song “The Show Must Go On”. Each element depicted the lyrics and story of the song. I re-created Sayer’s clown as I donned a ‘Pierrot’ suit which I had specially made for this. However, I didn’t wear any clown makeup or anything, it was just a black mask that covered the eyes and nose area of my face. And I didn’t wear any pierrot head mask like he had, but this was due to the fact I wanted the audience to retain that familiarity between Sayer and me with the hairdo we both sported.
HM: That is creatively unique how you undertook that interpretation. Did it go well with audiences?
TGM: Yes, for the most part, they got it! They understood where I was coming from and what I was trying to express. It was always a good buzz when I played the record of Opus‘ “Live is Life” – that was the cue for me to change into the suit and then straight into Sayer’s “The Show Must Go On”. It was an even bigger buzz when the audience would start clapping along to the song – it spurred me on. Of course, most were familiar with the original Pierrot of Leo Sayer, especially with that song. I think there were only a couple of times in which the reception was a little bit cooler than expected. I remember one time when I performed the sequence and when the music finished there was no reaction. Not one pair of hands could be heard – not even a ‘boo’ (Laughter in-studio), so I got on the microphone and shouted, “That’s ok, I can wait!” (Laughter). Next thing, one person started to applaud and then the others followed suit…gradually. That was one of those moments when the proverbial ‘hook’ was cast around my neck. (Laughter).
HM: How important was it to include this ‘act’ as part of your Deejaying gig?
TGM: It was most important for me personally because in a way it was not only I making a statement as an entertainer-type DJ, but the profound lyrics were conveying elements of my story at the time, and because of those lyrics the irony lay therein for my later, grownup years. Furthermore, it was a nice tribute to such a great singer and entertainer as Leo Sayer. I also liked the fact that he performed as that character because it was difficult for him to step into the music business and perform as himself so he adopted this persona to help with the confidence factor. However, I’m sure he found it just as difficult to step out as himself without the suit and makeup… (Interview continues below after Mr. Sayer’s ’74 live performance on video)
HM: Do you think that re-creating this character was beneficial to boosting your own confidence and self-esteem as an entertainer?
TGM: Definitely – one hundred percent. Expressing myself this way was a great outlet and enabled me to feel empowered in the sense that I attempted to discover what I was capable of by adopting and adapting this character. Therefore, it was very cathartic portraying something that the majority of people would recognize and maybe in some small way resonate with them. It kind of set me up well to further being creative later in life – reaching out for ideas, creating them, testing them, and finding out what works and what doesn’t.
HM: Did the Pierrot ‘act’ afford you any more gigs outside of your summer season?
TGM: Yes, I managed to get a couple of bookings for birthday party gigs. Funnily enough, I was always asked if I was going to be bringing ‘The Pierrot’ along with me. And so I did…as requested. Later, when the season finished so did my first tenure living in Blackpool. I’d been there about two years and eight months and I decided I wanted to go and work abroad in 1989. I moved back with mum in Royton in Oldham as a stop-gap between gigs and I embarked upon my journey of applying for work abroad. Along with my applications, I sent a promotional photograph of me as ‘The Pierrot’ and it eventually paid off for me. I was offered a position as a DJ-Entertainer in Jersey in the Channel Islands and I was just about to sign the contract for it when I was offered a contract with the Club Tropicana in Mallorca in the Balearic Islands occurred. I was over the moon – the world was my oyster! I chose the Mallorca gig and got ready for my travels – both on and off stage. (Tony’s summer season in 1989 will be covered in “A Place in the Sun” interview for “When September Falls”!)
HM: For a person who has struggled in coping with Depression and Anxiety through the years, you have certainly broken through the lack of confidence barrier with some of the things you have undertaken. How does that feel now to know that you achieved such things in life?
TGM: Well, as I’ve gotten older my mental health has taken a considerable turn for the worse. So, yes, I think it’s remarkable for myself that I managed to achieve what I did. I always had a lot of nervous energy undertaking such things especially when it came to performing on stage but I later discovered that developed into a considerable amount of anxiety. It’s quite overwhelming to think of that now. I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to those days even though they are what gave me a little rung on the entertainment ladder. However, the bad side is that my mental health has taken a turn for the worse in respect of what I struggle with now.
HM: I notice the photograph of you and your lovely mum (wearing red shirt) in the picture promo for this interview. I’ve met her on a couple of occasions exactly 20 years after this photo of you both was taken. Did your mum have any influence on your creativity or even being involved in the industry?
TGM: Yes, in a way. Mum was instrumental in my early musical influences which further inspired me to be involved with the music aspect within my arts and entertainment journey. Mum was responsible for me listening to cassette tapes and records when I was 11 – 12 years old and consequently getting inspired with what I was listening to…
Next…in “When September Falls” – Holly interviews Tony about his early years in Royton, Oldham, and holidaying in Blackpool which led to his early musical influences and heroes which inspired him to eventually format and produce his own shows for the Hospital Radio community and subsequently collaborating with bands on stage – don’t miss Interview 2: “TOWERING PERFORMANCES ON TAPE”!
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Don’t forget “WHEN SEPTEMBER FALLS” now has its very own page here at the Cosmic Dwellings which presents all the links to the latest interviews in the series. The page can be accessed at the following link: