Celebrating 36 years together The Real Thing will take to the stage this weekend at the Lincoln Theatre Royal (Saturday 18th June)to perform their top ten hits plus a medley of classics from the 70s with their own five-piece band.
LoveLincoln.co.uk caught up with vocalist and guitarist Eddie Amoo to find out a little more about him and how they got where they are today.
Was music a big part of your life growing up? When did you know you wanted to perform and be involved in music?
I was about 16 when I knew I wanted to be involved in music but I never actually thought that I would be. I was part of an a capella group called The Chants before I joined The Real Thing and Paul McCartney from The Beatles saw us. We explained what kind of group we were and he asked us to perform a few songs for The Beatles.
At their performance that night they introduced us halfway through their show and it took off from there. It was crazy, walking on stage with The Beatles, so many screaming girls… you might say we started at the top and worked our way down after that! From there Paul took us under his wing. Then in 1975 I joined The Real Thing and we worked and toured with David Essex. At that time there wasn’t really an audience for black groups but we just took off. David Essex was a huge part of our success.
Track your most proud of?
That’s a difficult one really and the answer will probably surprise you. I’d say the track I’m probably most proud of and that gave us our credibility as we call it in the industry is Children of the Ghetto. We wrote a trilogy of songs about where we grew up in Toxteth in Liverpool and it was part of that. Mary J Blige covered it as well as Philip Bailey and Courtney Pine. It gave us credibility as songwriters and it’s probably the track we love the most.
Love Is Such a Wonderful Thing only reached number 31 when we first released it but in 2006 it was sampled by the Freeloaders in their So Much Love to Give track. They lifted our voices off the track and used them and it got it to number 13. It’s funny how things work out.
Who are your musical inspirations?
It really depends what era to be honest. If we’re talking about the sixties there was Motown, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. We used to sit and discuss these bands with The Beatles, they loved all that stuff. Moving on you’ve got funk with the likes of James Brown and Earth Wind and Fire and fusion artists like Herbie Hancock. I can’t pick one out of so many fantastically talented people. I’d even have to include the greats behind the songs like Quincy Jones.
Most memorable gig?
Tough question really because we’ve done some big gigs! One of the most memorable for me was a gig in The Rainbow in London with Michael Jackson – or The Jacksons as they were known then – who were also performing. Looking back now and considering what’s happened to Michael it’s definitely something I’ll never forget.
Another would be the Earls Court gig in 1976 with David Essex. It was my first huge gig and the sheer amount of people we were performing in front of was unbelievable. You felt tiny on the stage in comparison. I’ll never forget the energy it took out of you.
Highlight of your career so far?
Number one. Definitely number one. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was my most favourite moment in my career – being told that Mary J Blige was recording Children of the Ghetto was huge – but you can’t get any better than number one. ‘You to Me Are Everything’ has turned into a classic; I think it’s because it’s a track people can not only sing to but dance to as well. You know that if you play that song the dance floor’s going to fill.
The only negative side is that people don’t always realise just how varied we are musically. When people come to see one of our shows they’re usually surprised. When we reached number one David Essex took us to the side and told us that he was made up for our success but not how we got there. None of us really understood why but he told us that our audiences wouldn’t be that interested in the other side of our music any more and we were going to have to work really hard to get that side heard by people. At the time we didn’t really buy into that but we were naïve.
Our record company at the time spent so much time and money trying to launch the other side of our music after ‘You to Me’ came out but no one would go for it. Ten years later people began to cover our lesser known songs and we realised that to get an audience to hear those types of songs we needed other artists who were better known for that style – like Mary J Blige – to sing them. We were so proud to see her sing one of our songs, especially that song.
Which do you prefer, singing live or recording?
I don’t think anything beats singing live. You feel like you’re a part of your audience and it’s electric. The only exception is that when you’re in the studio you can do things that you cant do live. There are things you can do with and to your voice and the instrumentation that just aren’t possible live. Everything can be layered and it gives the sound so much more texture than when you’re singing live.
Do you think you’ll ever get tired of performing?
I’ll never ever get tired of performing or recording. Every time you create something it’s a wonderful feeling. We’ve got our own studios at home and I still get a buzz now when I get an idea for a song, it’s beautiful sitting down and putting it together.
What do you like about the city of Lincoln?
I think it’s more a question of what is it the city likes about us to ask us to keep coming back! I love this neck of the woods but honestly we never really get much time to explore and have a look around. We’re usually in, performing, and out again.
The people in Lincoln have been great to us over the years – and we’ve been together a long time! We always have a good time performing here. Maybe we’ll get a chance to sneak away and have a look around after sound check this time!