Swindon Has A Man At The Top

Source: The Evening Advertiser [Swindon]

Writer: Bob Eborall

Date: 07 Sept 1971

The pop scene revolves around star images, and the most off-beat one for many day is the cloth cap, boots and pudding basin hair cut of a young man who seems to belong in the 78 rpm era - Gilbert O'Sullivan.

On the surface, everything is happening for Gilbert.  His latest single, We Will, is in the charts, and he now presents his first all-his-own-work album, Gilbert O'Sullivan Himself [MAM] which consists of his first hit, Nothing Rhymed, and songs with titles like Permissive Twit, January Git and Matrimony.

But what about the real Gilbert behind the carefully cultivated show business front?  I had the chance to find out when I chatted to him at a London launching party for his album, at the recording studio, while tracks from the album were floating around the room, and, disconcertingly at times, into my ears during our talk.

Gilbert is rather shy, quiet, and pleasant, and seems happy with his lot.  He says he is very pleased with the organisation around him.  He is obviously happy because he is being allowed to do his own thing, in his own way.

About his music, Gilbert explained in his soft voice, "I do something to enjoy it. - I don't really think about it.  My arrangements are done to suit the songs.  I just want to sing song - I don't mind where it is."

The lyrics to his songs are almost in the nonsense category and it is the nice overall musical sound which is making Gilbert into a star.

So I was not really surprised when he disclosed: "I listen to the old composers - Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart."

Success certainly hasn't changed Gilbert as a person, as I'm sure his mother and brother, who live at Frobisher Drive on the Walcot Estate at Swindon would agree.

Gilbert told me that he visits them as often as he can - "Usually once a month, when I take my washing down."

At his mother's house there is a garden shed which deserves a plaque because, as Gilbert told me, that was where he began writing his songs.

Today he writes them in the seclusion of his Surrey bungalow where he sleeps by day and works by night seemingly indifferent to and unaffected by his fame