I have never owned a bucket list – written or virtual – nor do I harbour any deep seated desires to swim with dolphins, or fall out of aeroplanes. I must confess though, that me and mate Eddie always fancied ‘running the bulls’ in Pamplona. However, the ongoing poor state of my left knee, amongst other health related issues, will likely limit the chances of that ever happening; I can’t speak for Eddie though. My list – more wish than bucket – if ever such a thing was to exist, would include sitting down to interview Stevie Wonder; with the tapes rolling. I have lots of questions – written not virtual – already prepared; I think it could be quite a coup. Should that opportunity ever present itself, it could sit alongside something that has been on my wish list for some time, a desire to write something of substance about the ‘additional’ professional recordings of a man whose life and career has interested, informed, and intrigued me, for well over forty years. ‘That Sounds Like Stevie’ is the end product of that deep seated desire, and a real life wish come true.
I wrote it over an eight year period, with the hunting and the searching for material stages taking even longer. That might all add up to an over long period of time some might think for a project of this size, and if that appears to make me look rather tardy, then I offer a number of plausible, even if not always acceptable excuses in my defence. As a first time author, and having never had anything like this published before, everything involved in this project has taken me a little while longer to accomplish, then maybe those who write professionally, and for a living; those people really do have my upmost respect. Also, for as much as I prepared and planned the structure and format of most of the contents, I was actually a number of years – five maybe six – into the project, before I felt comfortable enough to share my very own labour of love with a much wider audience.
Those other tardy ‘excuses’ are primarily centred on the ‘three lives’ that I would often tell people that I lead, or have led. Home is in York, and has been for over thirty years. I am married to Sharon, she helps to keep me on the straight and off the narrow… most of the time. Despite living in York, I am still very connected through my immediate and extended family to the North East of England and frequent visits to family and friends help to keep that ‘north east’ part of my life very much alive. Professionally my background lay in Sports development and leisure and recreation management.
The many years that I spent working in that area helped to lay the foundations for what was – until recently – my ‘third life’. I lectured and taught at Leeds Beckett University in a number of Sport and Leisure related disciplines, which all meant that when I was faced with that often thorny question ‘So, what are you up to these days? I usually had my very own stock in trade answer based around one, or even a combination of those three life scenarios.
If I have such a thing as a ‘fourth’ life, then I can usually be found, researching, chronicling, or put more simply, attempting to follow – through various methods – the life and music of Motown’s most faithful son. As a devoted fan, keeping up with Stevie has always been a healthy challenge, and one of my ‘good habits’ that has stayed with me for many years. When the opportunity arises, seeing Stevie live is high on my ‘to do’ list; no buckets or wishes needed on that front. I was too young to see ‘Little Stevie’ perform, and still not quite old enough to witness those now fabled Rainbow Theatre shows in 1974. I did though manage to catch my first live glimpse at Wembley Arena in 1980, and have been fortunate enough to see at least one show from every UK Stevie visit since; the exception been Glastonbury in 2010. I’ve been to the shows, bought every song release in all their formats, paid my dues, and collected the T shirts; I have also collected in print form, on record, and on tape – including cassette – as much as I have been able to in order to build up a comprehensive picture of the life and recording career, of one of music’s outstanding talents, and despite many years of work and effort, I still feel as if I am only starting to scratch the surface.