With Gilbert O'Sullivan You Never Can Tell
Writer: Linda Newman
People may have laughed at the cloth cap and big boots that appeared with Gilbert O'Sullivan when he first came on the scene, but in spite of all that, he notched up a big hit with 'Nothing Rhymed' and his cap and boos are still with him as he sang his way into the charts with his beautiful song 'We Will', which like his other songs, he wrote himself.
When I met Gilbert, that particular outfit was missing, but the short back and sides was unmistakably there and he told me excitedly about his album which he'd just finished working on.
"I'm very pleased with the album and it's taken three months on and off, of really hard work. There are twelve songs on it which I've written myself, including 'Matrimony', a topical song, 'Thunder And Lightning', a good up-tempo number and there are a couple of love songs too, including an introduction and conclusion which is directed at the listening audience.
"I think the lyrics and music are equally important and I spend as much time on preparing both. I don't find it all that difficult because it's something I can just do.
"Some people have asked me what the song 'We Will' is about, and all it is, is a Mother talking to her two kids."
I wondered how important Gilbert's image is and how much longer he's thinking of keeping it?
"I always will be using it. There are enough people who promote a sexy image and if I wanted to get into tight trousers, I could too. But there's only one person who's stupid enough to use the particular image I've got - that's me. Actually, it really went down a storm in Holland and Belgium - they really went for it in a big way."
What are Gilbert's plans for the near future?
"Once the album comes out, I will be doing live appearances. The idea is that people will recognise the songs from the album and they'll be familiar instead of cold.
"A lot of my material is based on audience reaction because some of my songs need laughs and that's why I'm very much looking forward to going on stage. No I'm not nervous at all - it's on stage that my image will really work.
"I've got knickerbocker suits and things to wear and it's just a laugh really - and it's totally representative of me. I'm lucky, because I can do practically anything and get away with it, because as Gilbert O'Sullivan, I could walk on to the stage leading an elephant, if I wanted to!
"With an audience, you can have fun and when someone dresses like me, you can do stupid things and have a bit of a laugh. But of course everything is based on music.
"The idea was to create an image that people could associate with and I hope one day things will get to the stage where I'll just have to have a coat stand, an oil lamp and a boot on the LP cover with nothing else at all and people will know it's me."
Okay, it comes across that Gilbert likes to be a bit of a funny man on stage, but what is he like when he's just being himself?
"Normally, I'm quite serious, but when I dress up I become a bit of an extrovert. I enjoy what I do and because I'm the only one of my kind, people can't compare me with anyone like they can with the 'sexy' brigade!
"I'm basically a shy person and I can't tell as joke, however good it may be, for the life of me - I just always make a muck-up of it. But as Gilbert O'Sullivan, I can make people laugh and get rid of my inhibitions."
"No, nothing at all! As long as I can write and sing, I'm all right. In fact, I have met some really nice people in the business and I have yet to meet anyone really callous and I've been in show business for five years now."
"Particular favourites are people like Mary hopkin, Marc Bolan, Norman Smith and Gerry Munro, who are all very nice ordinary people."
Gilbert seems to be a bit of a loner, living on his own in his Weybridge house, but he just says:
"I just like living on my own because I don't mix very well. I just like to sit at home and watch TV and read the papers. I've got a few friends in London who come down to see me, and all this may seem very boring, but I like it because that's the way I am."
Do any girls figure on the scene?
"I've got some good friends who are girls, but there's no-one who is what you might call 'special'. I'm not in love with anyone at the moment. Yes, I want to get married eventually and I'd love to have lots of kids."
"I love children and maybe that's because I come from a family of six and we're all very close-knit. We had a tough time as kids, but I think it does you good. In a way, I was the black sheep of the family because I had long hair, which upset my parents a bit. Now of course they're dead proud and my Mother's like a celebrity and like any other Mother would be, is very proud of her son."
"Actually, my Mum doesn't know quite what to make of it all, because a few years ago when I was at art college she was on at me all the time to get my hair cut and then at twenty-three years of age, her son has an amazing short haircut and wears short trousers!"
Just goes to show, that you never can tell....