Thursday, May 5, 2011

INTERVIEW: MIKE TINSLEY

In 1965, rock DJs across America began spinning one of the most upbeat and unique songs ever to come out of England.
Whilst the band Hedgehoppers Anonymous' Good News Week was considered a "protest" song, it delivered a sardonic optimism that made the song a smash hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
I recently had the honour of interviewing their lead singer, Mike Tinsley, one of the UK's most prolific solo performers and songwriters -- and it won't be long before you hear his music all over stateside radio as well!

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Mike, where did it all begin with your band, Hedgehoppers Anonymous? You were all part of the Royal Air Force, as I recall.


It all began when I was stationed at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, UK. I was trained as a Radar Technician working on Navigation and Bombing Systems, working on the "V" bombers -- namely Victors and Vulcan aircraft. These were nuclear armed and were in high rediness alert to attack the Soviet Union during the Cuban crisis. We were told we were a direct target for retaliation, should the USA be drawn into a 3rd World War. This was a grim prospect for the survival of many nations -- we were on the brink of a nuclear holocaust!
As a young Corporal I didn't expect to be here today after all the early scrambles. The name "Hedgehoppers" was created for my group because of the tactics used by the Vulcans to fly at very low altitude under enemy radar avoiding ground to air missiles (ie, SAM sites in Russia).
I first got into music with the a single. "Hedgehoppers Anonymous" recorded for Decca Records in the sixties. Four other singles didn't chart and we broke up in the 1970s.

You're also a tremendously popular songwriter. When did you first begin writing your own material?

My first break in songwriting came along in 1976 when I sang for the UK ....a song called "Wrap me in Love". This was at the "Yamaha World Song Festival" in Japan.
I met a director Ellis Ellias of Red Bus Records UK and he asked if I would like to co-write songs for Joe Dolan and Kelly Marie. This brought me into contact with Peter Yellowstone.
Regarding writing songs, I find melody and lyrics come as a natural element together. The quickest song took 10 minutes. The longest part is sorting out the best key and speed.

Who were some of your earliest musical influences?

My earliest influences regarding music were related to romantic pop songs sung by Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly and Phil Spector along with Motown. I hope the future will lead to an opportunity to get an album on the market with new material.

Recently, you had a long-awaited and joyous reunion with someone very special in your life. Could you tell us a bit about that?

I cannot divulge information about the reunion with my daughter Karen, only to say it runs in parallel with many heartbreaking stories you see in films and on TV. I can only say my prayers were answered and she's back!!

Mike, your story is one that's certain to inspire every reader of this blog -- readers whom, I know, will become fans of yours (if they're not already!). Is there anything else you'd like to share with them?

I would like to give a very special thank you to Tony (Hitman) Taylor who encouraged me to open a website, http://www.miketinsley.co.uk. This has had many viewers interested in my story. Also to be thanked is Producer /Writer Tony Swain, John Makin and Max Milligan who have collaborated with me on production to promote songs on Youtube such as "MY SURVIVAL" "TENPENNY BEAR" "ROLLING STONE".

An amazing story ... from an equally-amazing and talented gentleman who has his finger on the musical pulse of fans around the world. If you hear or read that Mike Tinsley is performing at a venue near you, then, no matter how you do it -- drive, take a bus, car pool, even walk if you haveta -- be sure to make the show! Take it from the Relic: You're gonna love it!
Here are two of his hits, courtesy YouTube® -- first, the classic Good News Week and, then, his recent (and touching) hit, Tenpenny Bear:


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