27th, 2013 | Today all the Duran
Duran fans, including me, are celebrating Simon Le Bon's 55th
birthday, what a milestone! Congratulations Simon a very happy
birthday from us all!
Simon and us have something more than his birthday to celebrate...
in fact this year is Simon's fiftieth year on the scene!
A 50 years long career! Simon has started modelling,
then acting in commercials when he wasn't even 5-years old so
we can surely say that he has been on stage for 50 full years.
He certainly is the one who has been in the show business longer
than any other member of Duran Duran.
want to pay homage to this special anniversary celebrating Simon's
early years on stage as actor, choir boy and singer. Those years,
the 60s and 70s, are probably the more obscure ones so it's
worth to explore them a bit.
study about Simon Le Bon early career | I opened my
Duran Duran archives to share with you some cool documents,
some really nice and unseen photographic gems and I also interviewed
a couple of interesting gentlemen who worked with Simon when
he was just a little boy, the Music Director of the Pinner Paris
Church, where Simon started singing as a choir boy and Dougal
Rose, one of the actors who played alonside Simon in the Tom
Brown's Schooldays musical, back in the early 70s.
two nice gentlemen shared their memories giving us a slice of
history, telling about the atmosphere breathed behind the scenes
in those years when Simon started his first steps in the singing
and acting camps.
just hope this special installment, a study about Simon Le Bon
early career, will help to shed light on those years and will
also add some interesting information [and pictures] to your
Prodige | I have to say that working [for months] on
this piece, has been an incredible experience, possibly the
most exciting and fascinating of all the special installments
and interviews that I have published on this webzine
over the years, and the reason is very simple, Simon has a long
and incredible artistic history, he has done a lot of things
prior to his Duran Duran days, he was actually an "Enfant
It's been an incredible trip through the memory lane, trying
to locate info and newspapers, pictures and memories. And it
was lovely and very interesting to re-read some articles that
were buried in my Duran archive and re-discover and put into
perspective the importance of Ann Le Bon, Simon's mother, a
wonderful mom for Simon and a very talented artist who has always
encouraged his son and helped him to develop and improve his
artistic attitudes and his great natural vocal talent.
this page you might discover a few things about our favourite
frontman but I'm sure there's still a lot more to know about
those formative years [artistically speaking] of Simon Le Bon.
Only an autobiography, if he will ever write one, could bring
more light to those years.
This is just my little contribution to help fans getting a full
picture of the talented Sir Le Bon. I dedicate this page to
Simon, obviously, wishing him once again happy birthday, and
to all the Duran Duran fans out there, the old ones like me
who [duranly speaking] lived the 80s, and probably remember
and know half of what is reported below, and to the new generation
of fans, the ones who weren't even born in the 80s and probably
don't have a clue of the long singing and acting career that
Simon has behind him.
a knit, Simon modelling a ‘Sunshine Special' on Woman’s
Realm magazine in 1964. The article
was tilted "knitting pattern". At the grande age of
4 1/2 years.
Le Bon was a singer herself before she got married
and she taught Simon to sing.
She also encouraged him in flute, piano, drama and ballet lessons.
“He has a fantastic voice as a boy soprano,” she
“ We used to go to auditions and he waited for his turn,
he was just an oridinary little boy.
”But once on stage he just switched on. He had a brilliance
“I can see why he sends the girls wild when he’s
He has a lot of charisma.”
Ann Le Bon 1985
history | Simon
is the eldest of three brothers, coming from a showbiz background,
his Grandmother was one of the original Tiller
Girls, his mothers aunt once danced before the Queen with
the famous Ziegfeld Follies and his Grandfather was part of
the respected Ernest Read Choir.
Family is descended from the Huguenots [a 16th Century group
of French Protestants], Simon's aunt believes their coat of
arms can be found on the Huguenot crypt in the Canterbury
a very young age Simon showed signs of being artistic.
Ann Le Bon recalls “Even at a very young age
Simon was very, very sensitive, very artistic and imaginative.
He used to say poetry from the time he was 2 1/2 years old.
He even said things for me to write down.
He was almost writing poetry at that age.”
began to mature he developed a strong interest in arts:
Le Bon recalls: “I noticed he devoted most of
his time to drama and singing. He went to acting lessons at
a very young age and started doing telly commercials from around
the age of five.
He made his debut as the ‘dirty’ shirt in a Persil
advertisement. He also did ads for Coke and
a french coffee manufacturer as well as posing
for knitwear patterns in a womens magazine.
Simon joined the Boy Scouts but refused to return as he said
the other boys had kicked him, instead he joined the local church
choir at St Johns in Pinner High St, Middlesex. where he took
choir practice under the supervision of Mr Turvey the church
used to look forward to choir practice with Mr Turvey, the church
organist. He went twice during the week and twice on Sundays".
Ann Le Bon
in fact was where Simon made his first record, he was about
13. Unfortunately this was never to be released, just copies
made for him and Mr. Turvey.
local recoding company came along and recorded Simon with
Mr Turvey. I remember going along to watch them.
Simon sang ‘He Shall Feed His Flock’. You’d
never believe it if you could hear it now. " Ann Le Bon.
Rare acting Agency Z Card dated 1973. The page reports
info and list the specialities of the young singer
and actors members of the Doreen English Agency.
This is quite unusual as Simon appears in the photo
with his brothers Jonathan and David Le Bon.
The trio is presented as "Le Bon Boys".
The caption says "All sing and dance. Commercials"
Top left, Simon’s first performance - he did
a great song and dance in front of the camera says
Ann Le Bon. Below Simon 7-years old.
was just six when he was picked for the commercial of a Persil
washing powder. It showed one child kitted out in dazzling white
and his unlucky pal looking
grubby. Simon was the grubby one. But he didn’t see a
penny for his work. His parents were paid a fee of less thank
a teenager, although Simon had a lot of friends, he would spend
a lot of time quietly sprawled out drawing and writing stories,
many of which were published in the school magazine. Above-left
an illustration by Simon, from the school magazine Quill. Follows
a picture of Simon when he appeared as Little Lord Fauntleroy.
In the center and on the right two picture of Simon 12 year
the pic the Gondoliers Production Team March 1972.
Taken at Pinner Grammar School.
Some schoolmates still remember Simon singing solo Once
in Royal David’s City at the start of
the annual carol concert in 1968.
Simon attended Pinner Grammar School,
the same school as Elton John. Simon
was branded a dreamer by the teachers,
teachers used to say he was a dreamer.
One told me if he had a piece of blank paper, he’d
think about all the wonderful things he was going
to put down on it and then, at the end of the lesson,
he’d thought so much about it he hadn’t
written a thing.
“Another teacher told me if Simon could have
just three lessons a day - music, art and drama
- he’d be a brilliant student.
so, he left Pinner with siz ‘O’ levels
and two ‘A’s in Art and English. Simon
always did his homework at the last minute. I left
it entirely up to him. He was very reasonable. He
knew that if he hadn’t done it, he hadn’t
I never chased him because he always had so much
“But he had to try and fit it in because he
realised he needed some academic qualifications.
He didn’t want to be a one-sided person.
Simon appeared in several amateur
stage productions such asThe King and I
when he was 7, The Gondoliers,
Bless The Bride with the Harrow
Light Opera Company, Little Lord Fauntleroy and
A Man For All Seasons.
the programme of "The King and I" of the Harrow Light
school) Simon realised he needed some academic qualifications.
He didn’t want to be a one-sided person".
Ann Le Bon 1983
and reflections from the school magazine.
These were published during the 70s in the Pinner Grammar School's
mag "The Quill"
plays at the Pinner Grammar School 1971 / 1977
Le Bon, first on the right, as an angelic looking page boy in
The Gondoliers, March 1972.
One of Simon schoolmates in Pinner recalls: "I remember
a library period with Mrs Williams in my first year when in
walked a second year wearing a cravat. Mrs Williams made us
all sit in a circle and got Simon Le Bon to tell us all about
his appearances on stage and try outs for TV commercials. Simon,
was definitely a performer even then.
Le Bon as Henry VIII gave a remakable portrayal of the bluff,
extrovert king, arrogant & intolerant
of all opposition.
Apart from a few lapses into a faultless
London accent, he really sounded like a monarch’.
got a chance to speak to Geoff Barr, Archivist at The Pinner Old
Students Association, and he was kind enough to help me with this
project and this is what he found out for us:
the acting side, Simon took part in 4 school plays as follows.
Barr says: "The black and white photo [above right] possibly
shows Simon in the role of Heny VIII, seated alone on the right
hand side but I do not have a confirmed identification."
have been in two bands before. One was a 1977 punk band called
'Dog Days' which was based in Harrow. We played
one gig at Harrow Technical College - then decided to knock
it on the head.
We used to to go down really well, although we were really dreadful.
It was because we were all local boys I suppose. I have still
got some tapes, and if I listen to them they make me cringe.
We were really awful, the songs were good but we just couldn't
play them properly, so in the end they sort of pulled the plug
That was the worst gig I have ever played."
Simon's first professional stage appearance was at the
Cambridge Theatre, London where he appeared
alongside Roy Dotrice in Tom Brown's Schooldays
playing the part of one of Tom's friends at Rugby School.
was a soprano but his mother feared for his
voice and that if he pushed it as it broke he could have no
voice left, so Simon gave up singing with the church choir
from which he had been awarded several trophies in various
who has operatic training, continued to coach Simon with his
singing and along with valuable lessons from drama and his
stage work, Simon had the groundings for a strong voice for
experiments in the rock/punk scene | Simon's first
performed with a punk band called Dog Days
when he was 17, at one gig they were fourth on the bill and
were not allowed to play on the stage, they had to play on
to some sources Simon also sang with Bolleaux
- a pub style R&B band, [but this info is still unconfirmed]
Eddie and the Hotrods - a rock band and a
Electro punk band called Rov Ostrov.
heading for University Simon spent some time working on a
kibbutz in the Negev desert in Israel in
1978, where he encountered a completely new way of life, there
he learnt to drive tractors, lumberjacking, orange picking
and looking after children, he loved it he considered it absolute
paradise, 4 hours work in the day then swim, sunbathe followed
by chatting up Israeli women.
I have traveled a bit peviously. I went to Israel for on or
two weeks and actually ended up staying for three months in
a kibbutz. It was just great. I was really glamourous hard
work. I was a Lumberjack most of the time and I'd go again
if I had the time. [Quote from a 1981 unknown interview published
in the 1982 Rock Show calendar].
while Simon was studying Drama in his freshman year at Birmingham
University, Edgbaston that Fiona Kemp [a girlfriend working
as a barmaid at The Rum Runner] gave Simon's phone number
to John Taylor whose band "Duran Duran" were looking
for a singer.
turned up for an audition wearing pink lepoard skin print
trousers, a 60's brown suede jacket, sunglasses, pointed boots
and carrying an exercise book with lyrics such as "Underneath
The Clocktower","On A Dead Child",
"Nightboat" and "The
Chauffeur" the other members of the band played
him a backing track they had been working on, Simon listened
to it twice and within half an hour "Sound of
Thunder" was complete, within a month they had
ten songs written and ready to take on the world.
Bon agreed to "try [Duran Duran] out for the summer"
and his first show was on the 16th of July 1980 at the Rum Runner
club in Birmingham. Within six weeks the band was playing steadily
around Birmingham and London, and a national tour supporting
Hazel O'Conner led to a record deal with EMI Records in December.
Le Bon never returned to his acting career.
All the rest is history!
Le Bon, some experiences as actor and singer on TV in the 70s
as a teenager,
words by Ann Le Bon, 1983
Simon had a lot of friends and grew into a very
Still a the same time he had a quiet side to his nature and
liked his own space.
a teenager, he was a reasonable lad. I never had to say him
‘Simon, you be in by 11 pm or else’. I couldn’t
because he had a mind of his own. But he didn’t have ‘bad’
friends, and as long as I knew where he was and who he was with,
everything was fine.
”As a mother and son we had, and still have a very good
relationship. We trusted each other and that’s important.
“But he was a real boy and got up quite a few pranks.
I can remember him and a friend going to the coast one bitterly
cold winter’s day to see a group.
“He didn’t come home that night. I was worried because
I knew he didn’t have enough money to stay in a hotel.
”He turned up the next day and told me he’d missed
the last train home. ‘But how did you keep warm? I asked.
’We slept in a gent’s loo, ‘ he replied, ’and
to keep warm we jammed the hand dryer on so it blew out hot
air all night!’
“That was Simon - quite ingenious at times.”
SIMON ON TV IN THE 70S
Above an unseen picture of a young Simon Le Bon filming 'First
impressions' with Perry Clayton and Lisa Vanerpump. Picture
was taken in a Birmingham hotel room.
Impressions | It's a series of ten films produced by ATV intended
to introduce children to a range of different ways of finding
out about man. The films are linked with slide/tape programmes
and pupil packs developed by the Schools's Council Integrated
Studies project, which were available from Oxford University
Press. Intended for children aged 10-12 years. A teachers'
handbook is available with the films
Christian | Simon Le Bon
Andrew | Perry Clayton
Mrs Wallis | Elaine Wells
Mr Henlein | Graham Lines
Carla | Lisa Vanderpump
Wine of Youth, Season 6, Episode 6, BBC2 Playhouse 
In 1979 Simon was also in the cast of Sweet Wine of Youth
[Playhouse, BBC2] The episode was broadcast on December 12th,
atop a ladder, fixing large white letters to the front of the
Nicolson Street church, a young Birmingham University drama
student helped transform what is now the Southside Community
Education Centre into
the Nicolson Street Theatre"
Simon recalls his early days as actor and his first trip to
Edinburgh and his funny role in the rubbish show “Dragoman”.
was in 1980, Simon says: “Do you know the church on Nicolson
Street?” he asks excitedly. “And do you remember
it used to have white letters on it wich said:
”THE NICOLSON STREET THEATRE”?
Well I stuck those white letters on. I cut them out of paper
and stuck them on with glue.
They were up there for at least a couple of years because we
came back two years later with another show and they were still
that first visit to the Capital, the singer continues, “I
was at university doing drama at the time. I had just joined
the band - we’d played a couple of shows but I wasn’t
yet sure if I wanted to leave university. ”The show was
called Dragoman. It was rubbish, but it was fun. I played a
ringmaster who half way through changed out of his ringmaster
outfit and put on a dress, hence the title. It was actually
a tight little woolly cardy and short skirt and fishnet tights
and I loved it, “he laughs." As reported on duranasty
in 2009 and originally published in The Guide [Evening News]
old press articles and reviews
beautiful rendering of “The Holy City” gained him
92 marks - the highest individual mark of the whole festival."
great review in the local rag, The Post, dated June 9, 1971
| "Simon would seem destined for a theatrical career."
adjudicator of the “Weekly Post” Newspaper
Cup competition in the Ruislip
and Northwood Music Festival, Mr. Harvey Alan, Hon.
R.C.O, was so impressed with the quality of the winner
that he asked him to “sing for his supper”
and repeat his performance.
Twelve - year - old Simon Le Bon, of *** Avenue, Pinner,
[*Ed. street name edited for privacy reasons] was the
winner of the coveted trophy and his beautiful rendering
of “The Holy City” gained him 92 marks - the
highest individual mark of the whole festival.
Simon, who attends Pinner Grammar School, would seem destined
for a theatrical career.
His mother, Mrs. Ann Le Bon, is a member of the Harrow Light
Opera Company and both her parents had stage and film careers.
In fact her father is a tenor with the widely respected Ernest
Much of Simon’s success can be directly attribuited to
his mother as it is Mrs. Le Bon who is Simon’s singing
And as well as winning the “Weekly Post News-papers”
Cup, this combination of teacher and pubil have won
many other accolades.
In April, Simon was awareded the Richmond Festival Cup
for choir boys’ solo, and only last week he was asked
to sing at the Watford Festival Prize winners
Concert where he won the cup awarded for boys and girls solo
Eleven-year-old Simon Le Bon has little time for the usual interests
of his age. He has discovered that he has a flare for singing
When he was aged five Simon who lives at *** in Pinner [street
name edited for privacy reasons] studied drama at the Studio
School in Pinner.
And then at the age of seven he took part in his first major
performance - the Harrow Light Opera Company production of “The
King and I.”
Last week he took part in the company’s production at
the A.B.C. cinema, Harrow.
Simon, who attends West Lodge School in Pinner, is a member
of the Pinner Paris Church Choir and his fine treble voice has
won him trophies at music festivals.
Last year he won the poetry section for his age in the Watford
Festival. He received a siver trophy at the Richmond
Festival for his solo performance
and also came first in the poetry section.
He also gained first place at Amersham for
a solo performance.
Simon finds he has little time for his other interests - football
and art - as his time is taken up with drama lessons or choir
He comes from a musical family, his grandmother was one of the
first Tiller girls and his mother Mrs. Ann Le Bon studied music
for many years.
he says he planss to continue his study of music and drama to
continue the family tradition.
hit the headlines in 1970 when the local paper - Midweek
Observer & Gazette - discovered his flair for singing
get a larger version scan of the article!
Le Bon 14 from Pinner, has been awarded numerous trophies
in various festivals, for his singing and acting.
Simon Le Bon, who is fourteen-year-old, at present appearing
in one of London’s brightest West End musicals - Tom
Brown’s Schooldays” - comes from Pinner.
Simon’s grandmother started her career with John Tiller
and seven sisters all in the theatre in the early 1900’s,
which has probably contributed to the natural talent and ambition
for the stage that Simon has had since the age of five!
Simon has appeared in several amateur productions including
the musical “The King and I” when he was 7 and
also “Bless The Bride”, with the Harrow Light
He also sings with Pinner Church Choir and has been awarded
numerous trophies in various festivals, for his singing and
Simon first professional appearance is in “Tom Brown’s
Schooldays”, in which he playsone of the young Tom’s
friends at Rugby School.
Along with thousand of other boys, he faced the harrowing
experience of an audition and was talented enough to be one
of the lucky chosen few.
In his spare time, Simon likes to paint, he is also interested
in music and writing poetry and the study of heraldry. [Harrow
Post, July 1972]
cinema in Harrow
interviews Dougal Rose,
one of Tom Brown's Schooldays boys
Rose is an Actor, Musician, Presentation & Media Coaching,
Check out Dougal's work on his webpage www.about.me/dougalrose
front of the Cambridge Theatre, London, where he appeared
in Tom Brown’s Schooldays alonside actor Roy Dotrice.
firstname.lastname@example.org | How was London and the West
End in the early 70s?
Rose | It was exciting. There were leading shows starting
up like Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. London wasn't
as clean then as it is now, but it was vibrant. Billboards
had photos of Marc Bolan, David Bowie and David Cassidy.
Who where the producers and the director of Tom
Brown’s schooldays. There was a theatrical company
behind the show or they were all individual artists?
show was created by Jack & Joan Maitland, directed
by Peter Coe who was a well known and respected theatre
director, and financed by MAM Management who represented
Tom Jones and Englebert Humpledink.
I think this was their first attempt at backing a West
End stage show. They spent too much money on the set and,
consequently, the show finished two weeks before it's
running period because it wasn't making enough profit.
you all have to do an audition to get in the cast, was it hard
to pass the selections?
all had to do an ex-factor type audition to show we could sing.
I sang 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing'. Then those who
were being selected for parts had to read a piece of script
too. The London Evening Newspaper reported that about 10,000
boys had been auditioned. I don't know how true this
Can you describe a typical day of work at the Cambridge theatre
for the Tom Brown’s school days show?
rehearsals we would work from about 10am to 4pm, learning the
songs, dance routines and script. The rehearsals were intensive
for about three or four weeks. The main part of the set was
a big metal frame with spiral staircases and a bridge to represent
the school. It moved electronically and fitted together in sections.
So a major part of the final rehearsal days were focused on
ensuring the dance routines worked safely with the set.
Did you guys rehearse a lot? Did you all have to follow
any singing lessons to improve your technique? Did rehearsal
happen at Cambridge theatre or in some other places?
think the rehearsals were split - initially at The Adelphi [I
think], and then at The Cambridge when it became free. We weren't
given singing lessons because we were all chosen for our singing
and acting ability in the first place, but an American choreographer
taught us the dance routines. He was a very brash character
who could be humorous when he wanted and equally pick on someone
to ridicule if he was in a bad mood, or if people failed to
pay attention. We were also given stage fighting lessons for
some of the scenes that involved. The opening scene of act two
involved us all playing a mock game of rugby, so that took quite
a bit of rehearsing!
pictures from Dougal's personal scrapbook of memories,
Simon doesn't appear in any of his pics but I think they
are a nice photo document and give the idea of the joyous
atmosphere behind the scenes of the musical. In the picture
below instead you can spot Simon, the guy who looks upward
in the second row.
remember Simon saying he
wanted to be a pop star!"
was the atmosphere in the theatre in general, among the kids,
the adult actors, the production and the crew? Do you have good
great memories. For me, it was the best time of my life. I'm
sure it would be a good memory for Simon too. We were all 13-16
years old doing something we loved doing. A small fan club started
attending regularly and we often signed autographs at the stage
door after the show. We dated some of the girls and I found
a lifelong friend from the show in Richard Willis, and a number
of us are still in touch.
Can you remember the excitement of the day the show
started, the day of the premiere?
so much, although I know I was nervous. I remember being told
the next day that the write ups in the papers could have been
better. I have many memories though. We explored the theatre
a lot, including sections you shouldn't really go to, like high
up above the stage. We made water balloons to throw out the
dressing room windows. I remember Simon saying he wanted to
be a pop star!
It was a resident show, always at Cambridge theatre, how many
shows you did in all, can you remember?
was only ever created to run during the summer holidays at The
Cambridge. It might have moved on from their if it had been
popular enough, but although it was successful, ticket sales
were lagging towards the end because of a hot summer and M.A.M.
had over spent on the set.
About the Tom Brown's Schooldays 12" vinyl soundtrack
album… it was released by Decca in 1972. According to
our files the album was done at the Decca Recording Studio,
near Charlton Athletic football ground [The Valley] in London.
Can you confirm and share some memories of the days you guys
recorded the tracks?
you are correct. It was all recorded in one day in an enormous
studio to fit in the orchestra and artists all at once. Very
quick without much time for any re-takes. They added some extra
singers for some of the tracks, which was a mistake because
they didn't really add anything in my view.
the fondest memory you have of Simon Le Bon and the kids “working”
with you in general?
the great great fun we had and comradeship. We were living the
dream - in London - during a great summer, and we did make the
most of it.
it was a musical, did the “Boys of Rugby” had to
dance too or just sing?
said above. The dancing was mainly marching around in unison!
Was is all live singing on the pre-recorded music or even the
music was live?
whole lot was played and recorded live.
There was a stage-microphone to amplify the artist’s
In those days there were mics along the front of the stage and,
I think, above too.
Can you remember any funny anecdotes happened during
the show or rehearsal?
of the boys fell through a door and knocked part of the stage
over during a scene in the headmasters study. Roy Dotrice was
very quick to ad lib "nice of you boys to drop in"!
Tom's Brown - Boys
main costume design drawing
Were you guys all friends? There were also some pretty
girls acting in the show, any love-stories born behind the scene
of the show?
were all mates. Some of us became something of a dating ring.
I don't remember Simon being part of that. But I dated two of
the girls, and I also dated Lesley Ash who had become a fan
of the show.
You guys became quite popular among the kids that year,
the show soon got attention from the teen press, you said “we
couldn't believe that we actually had to sign autographs on
leaving the theatre”… what kind of impact had on
you that fame?
was just nice and helped with a level of confidence. Acting
for me became rather up and down - periods of highs when it
got you noticed, followed by lows when you weren't. I don't
think that was a good thing for me eventually.
Do you still have the school scene-outfit? Was it comfortable?
The outfits were horrible. Really scratchy. I hated waring the
During the weeks the show was on in the West End you
were the London sensation, the press loved you… you were
even called by a newspaper [which one?] for a photo shoot with
Charlie George who was one of the top football players of the
time with Arsenal. Can you share some memories of that day meeting
the football star?
pretty sure the Charlie George photo was in
The Sun. He simply came to the theatre to be interviewed and
we were all asked to join him for the photo. So we would have
been told about it the day before. The photo shoot only took
15 minutes or so, but we were excited because Charlie George
was kind of the David Beckham of the day.
to get a larger version of the above article
stage setting, was metal and came on stage mechanically in
three or four stages. It was big and high [at the very top]
with spiral staircases going up each side, looking a bit like
a prison. It was an expensive set for the time. Wasn’t
a bit dangerous for you kids to stay up there?
a bit on the flimsy side and, in fact, there had been an original
plan for boys to march across a bridge that ran across the
top from one side of the set to the other. It was decided
that the bridge might not cope with this night after night.
I remember a couple of people refusing to do it anyway for
fear of the height. I think one of them was Russell Grant.
you guys kept in touch during the Summer of 1972 and/or over
us went to the same stage school, so we were in touch for
a few years after. Richard Willis and I remained lifelong
friends, and I'm in touch with others through Facebook.
did you think when you first saw Simon on TV singing “Bop
Bop Bop Bop Bop Bop Bop… this is Planet Earth”,
Duran Duran’s debut single, back in 1981, and saw him
on cover of teen magazines such as “Jackie” and
“My Guy”? Were you impressed?
realise it was him until 'Girls On Film'. Stupidly, I was
at Top of The Pops when they did that song, but never thought
to go and say hello.
are a polyhedral person: actor, musician, you work on presentation
& media coaching but also on music Production. What’s
your favourite activity?
music and recording. I love the process of making a recording,
and I love performing in bands too.
had your own pop-rock band in the 70s, Radar, can you tell
us something about that time of your life? Where can we listen
some of your music?
are Radar tracks on YouTube placed on there by me. It was
a great time. Three of us just wrote music and recorded our
songs on to cassette and pretended to be pop stars. Radar
never made it as a band, but I made other recordings produced
by Herbie Flowers [who was with T.Rex at the time] and with
Alan Merrill from The Arrows, who wrote 'I Love Rock n Roll'.
you ever attend a Duran Duran concert and what’s your
favourite Duran song?
never, I liked Girls on Film best.
Last but not least, last year was the 40th anniversary
of the show, you didn’t celebrate it… Would you
be up for a Tom Brown’s schooldays Reunion for it’s
45th anniversary in 2017?
some Tom Brown's schooldays memorabilia: the programme, the
flyer, Simon's mention in the programme in the "Other Boys
of Rugby", the cd and the original vinyl of the musical.
in 2007 I asked a question to Simon, through the official
website, about his partecipation to the Tom Brown's Schooldays
recording, he was kind enough to answer the question. I think
it's worth posting it in this context:
March 26th, 2007
Simon, I recently got a 33" vinyl produced by Decca Records
in 1972 called “Tom Brown’s Schooldays, original
London cast recording”. I did remember you were in the
cast in fact you are mentioned in the back cover under the “Other
Boys of Rugby”, which i assume was a choir. So, the question
is, can you still rember in which of the 9 songs included in
the soundtrack you actually performed as part of a choir? There
are 3 songs credited to “The Boys of Rugby School”
and no mention to the “Other Boys of Rugby.”
Head Up/In The Swim
Have A Try
A Boy’s Point Of View
you please clarify if you actually did some recordings for any
of these songs [even if only in the choir]) or if your name
is there only because you were part of the acting cast? It would
be nice also to hear some of your memories of the whole theatre
acting experience. Thank you so much! take care. Salvo in Italy
Salvo, I was a performing member of the cast in T.B.’sS.days
on stage at London’s Cambridge Theatre for 60 days –
that was the limit for a child aged 13 years old. Towards the
end of that run the entire cast spent the day at Decca Recording
Studio somewhere near Charlton Athletic F.C.’s home ground
– “The Valley”. We made the record which you’ve
just obtained. I actually have a solo line on the song “In
The Swim” which is “swing the right kind of bat”.
was a wonderful time of my life, a great experience of
independence which gave me a bucketload of confidence.
was a wonderful time of my life,
a great experience of
independence which gave me a bucketload of confidence."
Simon Le Bon, March 2007
album was released on cd on january 16th, 2006. It's
now available on amazon.co.uk
The story of dear little Tom Brown and his troublesome
boyhood at Rugby School has endured many adaptations,
but none as invigorating as this 1972 London musical.
Chris Andrews’ music for this spectacular, innocent
and unpretentiously entertaining show is zestful and
appealing, moving from sentimental to jolly to heart-rending
in the switch of a schoolmaster’s cane. Here at
last, in gloriously roomy Decca sound, we can relish
the love affair at Rugby School between the upright
(or should that be uptight?) Dr Arnold (Roy Dotrice)
and his doting Matron, sung by the wonderfully torch-singing
Judith Bruce. You can hear Dr Arnold ask the perhaps
worrying question ‘What is a man?’ (he is
supposed to be running a boys’ school, for goodness
sake), and you can share in his shimmering ‘Vision
of Youth’. A big show with a generous score. With:
Roy Dotrice, Judith Bruce, Leon Greene, Adam Walton
interviews Director Mr Turvey,
the man behind Simon's early steps into singing
a recent picture of Mr.Turvey,
On the right a picture of the Director sitting at the
organ in the Pinner church, the same organ used to practice
with the choir and also used to perfom on Simon's recording.
of Music Michae Turvey | Michael's first organist post
t was at the age of 15 near Lavenham, in Suffolk. He
eventually arrived in Pinner in 1963 whilst still a
student, and has stayed ever since! In 1965, the Pinner
Music Festival was inaugurated and has continued under
Michael's direction. The Festival has raised well over
£60,000 for charities in that time and has given
many local musicians a performing platform.
In 2005, Michael was awarded an MBE for services to
music and the community of Pinner and a London Borough
of Harrow 50th Anniversary Award for generous and unstinting
public service. In May 2008, Michael was also made a
Honorary Member of the Royal School of Church Music
(RSCM) in recognition to his work with the RSCM within
the London area.
email@example.com | Simon joined the local church choir
- St John's in Pinner High Street- in the late 60/early 70s
and used to choir practice with you, who were the church organist
at that time. According to his mother Anne Le Bon, a former
singer, Simon went to your lessons twice during the week and
twice on Sundays. Do
you have any memories of those lessons, where they individual
or group lessons with the entire choir? How much time the
lessons would last?
joined the choir on 9th December 1968 and left in
April 1972. His singing with me was in the boys section
of Pinner Parish Church choir. Every week, on a Tuesday there
was a boys only practice for 1 hour, [as there still is],
and on a Friday – boys for one and a half hours –
joined by the adults for 1 hour, and 2 Sunday services, plus
a considerable number of weddings on a Saturday. The boys
were rehearsed in a group, but also had individual progress
tests once a month.
the record demonstrates,
he had an excellent ‘quality’ voice as a boy"
old postcard from the 60s of the Pinner Paris Church.
memories do you have of Simon as a little boy? Was he an extrovert
or a reflective and introvert boy? Did you have a good relastionship
We always had a good
relationship – Simon was an outward going boy –
much helped by his drama work which his mother was very keen
on. As the record demonstrates, he had an excellent ‘quality’
voice as a boy.
Did you notice in him a particular determination to succeed
in singing compared to other choir boys of his age?
Turvey: Simon was very much like the other boys in the choir
– obviously enjoyed singing.
Simon recorded his his first record with you, he was
about 13 and the local recording company came along and recorded
four songs [please confirm the titles]:
Ave Verum, He Shall Feed His Flock, O, Taste And See, O, For
The Wings Of A Dove.
Turvey: I can confirm that these were the [only] pieces performed
always had a good relationship – Simon was an outward
you remember how the idea to make a record started? Was your/Simon
and his mother's idea or the record company just offered you
both the job because they heard some of your choir performances
and liked it?
Turvey: I am fairly certain the recording process began with
his mother’s enthusiasm and support.
chose the songs, you or the company? Did you play some other
songs for the record that ended up not being used?
Turvey: I think I chose ‘O for the wings’, ‘O
taste and see’ and ‘He shall feed his flock’,
either Simon or his mother chose ‘Ave verum’.
you have any memories of that specific recording day? Was the
recording done in the church or in the studio? Did you have
to re-do the song more than once to get the best result or you
got them good at first/second take?
Turvey: Most of the recording was done in one take – in
the Lady Chapel of the church – the organ was positioned
in the Lady Chapel at that time.
Was that your first professional recording experience?
Where you and Simon tense for the recording session and what
were the expectation for that record?
Turvey: No, it was not my first experience of recording and
the atmosphere was very relaxed. As far I was aware it was a
recording purely for family use.
you remember what the record company had in mind, just a local
distribution or a wide release?
Mr. Turvey: Probably it was for nothing other than
you paid for that recording? It would be funny if you could
remember how much.
Turvey: No money came my way!
you happy about the final result of the recording?
Turvey: Yes – for a first take is was very good
view of the interior of the Pinner Paris church, it's a postcard
from the 60s
you know why the record wasn't actually released to the public?
Turvey: We tried to get publicity and usage of this record for
church purposes, but Simon was under contract to I believe Decca
at the time and it was not allowed.
What would you say to him on the day of his 55th birthday?
done mate’ – see if can keep it up as long as
I’ve been fortunate to.
you have any nice or funny anecdote or story about Simon as
a kid that you'd like to share with our readers?
Turvey: Nothing particular to tell – he was one of a group
of 18 – 20 boys.
you remember until what age Simon came to your choir practice?
Did you completely lost contact with him after his phase in
the church choir or you saw him after joining the pop band Duran
Mr. Turvey: Simon sang with me until he was thirteen and a half
when his voice started to change. I’ve seen Simon a couple
of times over the years – he came to his brother’s
wedding in Pinner, and he often used to call into the church
when visiting his mother – signed the visitor’s
you remember the day and the feelings when you realised that
the singer of that pop band on tv was 'your' Simon from Pinner?
Mr. Turvey: I have no particular memories of this time –
I was contacted by various popular music magazines and teenage
publications of the time and even had young ladies from as far
away as Italy ‘camping’ in my porch seeking memorabilia
like a ruff he might have worn as a choirboy!
Is the organ that you used to play with Simon and the
other kids back in the days still there in the Pinner Parisan
Turvey: There is still a pipe organ in the church – but
in a more usable position and more modern. It was rebuilt and
repositioned in 1975.
have spent all of your working life in education and for most
of the time you have been Head of Music in a large North London
Comprehensive School where many students proceeded into a full-time
career in the music profession.
What is the main difference between today's kids and those who
have trained at the beginning of your career?
Turvey: There is not much difference in youngsters now and then
– it is the world around them and the expectations laid
on them at a much earlier age by examinations and electronics
which has changed. The chance of an easy going childhood is
have been awarded an MBE for services to music and the community
and for generous and unstinting public service.
In May 2008, you were also made a Honorary Member of the Royal
School of Church Music.
Simon has made a career of singing and is one of the most awarded
singers in the pop-music scene. He sang alongside Pavarotti,
won an Ivor Novello for his lyrics and is involved in many charitable
Does that makes you feel proud a little bit? What would you
say to him if you'd meet him today, on the day of his 55th birthday?
done mate’ – see if can keep it up as long as I’ve
been fortunate to. Pity you couldn’t come to my 50th anniversary
bash last year.
thanks to Mr M. Turvey, Dougal Rose, Geoff Barr and
Geoff Hudson at the Pinner Old Students Association, Perry Clayton
for the First Impression unseen picture. Without you all this
page wouldn't have been so rich!
also to Graham Spinks for the King and I programme and the Choir-Boy
record pics, to Ashley Rene for some transcriptions and to all
the mags and newspapers that I have collected over the years,
an incredible source of information and valuable archive material.
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