Why Gilbert O'Sullivan Owes It All To The Searchers

Source: The Liverpool Daily Post

Date: 25 Feb 2011

"OF COURSE I'm a big Beatles fan who isn't? but for me the band that really broke the mould were The Searchers," explains Gilbert O'Sullivan.

"The Searchers had their own sound. I remember listening to their music as a boy, and I think that was a big part of what inspired me to think that maybe one day I could be in a band."

Gilbert says he particularly enjoys playing the Phil, where he will be in March.

"It's a great old hall and the acoustics are beautiful," he says. "I know Liverpool very well, and it feels like home when I return each time. I was born in Waterford, in Ireland, so that Liverpool-Irish connection is always there."

As a boy, Gilbert then Raymond Edward O'Sullivan moved with his family to Swindon, and then to London in 1967 to try and further his musical career.

He signed a five-year publishing contract with CBS which called for one single a year, and released two singles Disappear/You in 1967 and What Can I Do/You in 1968.

"The 60s were an amazing time for music," he says. "Everywhere you went, there were bands, poets, creative people."

Gilbert came to the attention of BBC Radio 1 disc jockey John Peel, who gave him a slot on his radio show, Top Gear, and then spent part of 1969 applying to other record labels and management companies.

It was at this time that he formulated his Bisto Kid image; grey flannel suit, flat cap, school boy tie, football socks and hobnail boots.

Nothing Rhymed was his first top 10 hit, and an introduction to his witty lyrics. He enjoyed four years of major success, incorporating a dozen more hit singles, 10 of which reached the UK Top 10, and four top five albums.

Between then and now, he has recorded around 11 new albums, including the UK Top 20 single What's In A Kiss? in 1981, and toured extensively in Europe and Japan.

"It can be hard to choose a set list," he chuckles. "There are certain songs people always want us to play. Then there are the songs that we really want to play. You have to find a middle ground."

Gilbert travelled to Nashville, in March, 2009, to record new tracks for his new album, Gilbertsville, released last month. The idea for the title was prompted by a photograph that was taken in Iowa by his brother, Terry. It shows a road sign that points to a town called Raymond, Gilbert's real name, and also points to another town called Gilbertville.

"I've been so pleased with the response," he says. "When you work so closely with something, sometimes it's hard to see the overall picture. But people have been very positive.

"I'm looking forward to playing some tracks from it to the Liverpool audience."

GILBERT O'SULLIVAN plays Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on March 1.