Exclusive: Macca, Bowie, Spandau charity single plan
Paul McCartney has been approached to appear on a charity single to help preserve London’s cultural heritage, Classic Pop can exclusively reveal.
McCartney is among a stellar list of names lined up for the single Don’t Go Changin’ Soho, which is part of the Save Soho appeal that already has the support of The Who, Pet Shop Boys, Kaiser Chiefs, Imelda May, Errol Brown, David Arnold and Heaven 17.
Actors and comedians backing the project – which is to safeguard historical music venues, theatres and cinemas in London’s Soho – include Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton, Andy Serkis, David Morrissey, Eddie Izzard, Paul O’Grady, Ben Miller, Phil Daniels, Kevin Eldon, David Schneider and EastEnders stars Jessie Wallace, June Brown, Charlie Brooks and Shane Richie
Others appearing on the single include Classic Pop favourites Adam Ant, Marc Almond and Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp, plus The Shadows drummer Brian Bennett and leading saxophonist Ray Gelato. Boy George and Suggs are also in discussions to appear.
(photo: Gaz De Vere)
David Bowie, Ray Davies, Jarvis Cocker and Paloma Faith have also been approached to be on the song.
Don’t Go Changin’ Soho is the brainchild of Tim Arnold, a singer-songwriter who founded Save Soho with Stephen Fry and writer Guy Hamilton. The single will raise money for Save Soho and the local Soho Parish Primary School, whose former pupils included The Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious.
Arnold told Classic Pop: “Guy Hamilton has spoken to Paul’s office and we’re hopeful Paul will do what he can. His office is in Soho and he knows it’s the right decision to get involved. If he can work with Kanye West, he can work with Save Soho!”
A number of leading music venues, including The Astoria, LA2, 12 Bar and Madame JoJo, have been closed in recent years in Soho, while a number of theatres, cinemas and clubs have also been shut down due to property development and building the Crossrail train network in London.
Arnold was inspired to write the single when Madame JoJo closed in November. He said: “Soho is unlike anywhere else in the world, really. It’s so inclusive. It’s vital that Soho is preserved as London’s cultural hub, where artists can find their voice in small venues and people without much money can see those future world-famous performers.”
Don’t Go Changin’ Soho traces Soho’s musical history from its 1950s origins as the birthplace of British rock & roll at The 2I’s coffee bar through to Paloma Faith starting as a performer at cabaret bar The Black Gardenia. Arnold said: “I’ve written lines for performers through the decades – Marty Wilde and The Shadows giving birth to British rock & roll in Old Compton Street, David Bowie and Ray Davies frequenting Soho in the ‘60s, punk kicking off here in the ‘70s with The Sex Pistols and Adam Ant, going on to Spandau Ballet and Boy George starting New Romantic in Greek Street clubs, Jarvis Cocker singing about Bar Italia in the ‘90s to Paloma Faith starting out in Soho.”
Arnold added: “Guy Chambers and I would like Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Ray Davies and Jarvis Cocker to remember starting out in small places, knowing how much it means for new generations to hone their craft in tiny clubs where young, skint people can afford to go. We’re approaching them all to sing.”
Robbie Williams songwriter Guy Chambers is producing the single, with Marc Almond the first to record his vocals. Almond told Classic Pop: “London is being stolen from under our very noses. It’s being pulled down, with commerce taking over at the heart of London. I thought people in power would value London more. Those few little streets have a huge history in the arts, so it’s such a shame so much of it is being bulldozed.”
Save Soho has been given a place on the steering committee by the local Westminster Council to help decide future development of the area, with its first meeting taking place this Monday (January 12). Arnold said: “We’re not protestors or campaigners, we’re people with a job to do, working with the developers and landowners. It’s irresponsible of those owners to work without us. They own properties that have important historical significance, and so far none of their changes are preserving that history.”
He added: “You can demolish buildings, but you can’t demolish music. Our message is important, and you need to see it, which is where a song like Don’t Go Changin’ Soho can make such a difference.”
Arnold, who has been recording an album under the name The Soho Hobo, will perform the song at a show at Soho venue St Moritz on January 23.
* See www.savesoho.com for more information.