In 1996 whilst attending a karaoke at the Alexandra arms pub in Kettering, Northants I noticed a guy sat with his friends who kept getting up to sing who had a fantastic voice.
He would sing a song then I would follow, trying to out sing each other. We got chatting and it turned out his name was Jamie Neale
We started to practice together and a couple of months after that we formed the duo Centre Stage (Jamie's mum came up with the name) later to be stolen by Butlins.
The first gig that Jamie and I ever did together was at the good companion's public house in Kettering, Northants and in no time centre Stage had become one of the most sought after duo's on the entertainment circuit in the Midlands.
Over the next year or so, Jamie and I travelled the UK performing at pubs and clubs etc, We were introduced to a guy called Chris Woods who had written a song called Haunted by your smile and asked us to record it as Centre Stage. (we thought those jackets were cool).
In mid 1997 after Jamie's mum got busy writing letters to try to get us some publicity, we were given the opportunity to perform on Michael Barrymore's hit show at the time My Kind Of People.
My kind of people was filmed at various shopping centres over the UK and on this day it was filmed at the Merryhill shopping centre in Dudley, Birmingham. It was a great day and it did us a lot of good.
We performed a song called "We've got it going on" and it turned out it was Michael Barrymore's favourite songs, as soon as we got off the stage we were approached by a LWT producer, he said that they were doing a new series of a My kind of music and they would like us to be on it.
On Sunday 18th October 1998, after passing various auditions and having quite a few rehearsals, we went to the LWT studios in London to film Michael Barrymore's My Kind
We started off badly but then caught up with the other contestants and won the hearts of the studio audience with our performance of John Montgomery's I Swear.
We somehow managed to win the show but failed to win the £10.000 jackpot, but managed to walk away with a whopping £4600 between us.
A week after the show was on TV we received a call from LWT, they had received a call from a local Management company who had asked for our details, LWT gave us all the info and we made contact with Steve Osbone. Jamie and I started to work with Steve performing at road shows, various party in the parks and other big events across the UK on a trial period.
Jamie decided to audition for a News of the world boy band search, that he saw in the paper, he was confident he would pass the audition and be picked for the boy band and refused to sign Steve's management because if he was picked for the band the contract would have stopped him from joining.
This was a hard time for me, we had come so far together and I knew if Jamie got a place in the band he would take it and I didn't want to be left with nothing So i decided to sign a three year contract with Steve Osborne as a solo artiste.
We needed to lay down some tracks for radio air play and to try to get a record deal in the UK so we decided to use the four tracks below and put them on to a Demo disk.
In 1999 local radio stations all over the UK started playing the tracks and for months we were on the road doing radio interviews etc
I also supported some famous acts at the time such as Oxide & Nutrino, The Animals, Maddison Avenue, Darrius, Rick Waller, and appeared on quite a few shows with Eastenders and Corrie stars that were famous at the time.
This was a really hard time for me, I was holding down a full time job with an upholstery company and had a young family to support and when I wasn't at work I was constantly on the road driving the width and breadth of the UK.
In mid 2001 one of Steve's business associates, Carolina Gulini of Game records Belgium, called to say they had started a new project and wanted me to go to Belgium and vocal the track. called "Heaven in your eyes". It was written & composed by Indy Lee Rodgers and Fred Vandermast formerly of The Poco Loco Gang who were very famous across Europe at the time.
We got on a flight and went to Belgium. When the track was finished it was licensed from Game records by Bonzai records, a small part of Lightning records which was a massive world wide dance label and still is to this day, I laid down my vocals on the track then we went back to the UK and patiently waited for several months whilst the track was mixed and alternative versions were created.
Around March 2002 Steve Osborne and myself jumped on a plane and headed off for Belgium once again. Carolina had arranged a three day tour of Belgium which included national radio interviews, chat show appearances, photo shoots for magazines, live pa's and loads of other stuff.
The most memorable part of the tour for me was when I appeared on a show called The Music Factory (The Belgium version of Top Of The Pops), it was filmed at a giant night club in Antwerp with an audience of around 500 people.
I remember when we turned up and I saw the running order of the acts that were also on the show that night, it included Ian Van Dahl, Roger Sanchez and a few other massive acts at the time, I went off to the toilet and sat in a cubicle with tears rolling down my face trying to hold back the emotion, feeling like I had achieved everything I'd ever dreamed of.
I never did mention this to my manager Steve i just hid till i knew i could handle it again. The next scary thing for me was that I had four dancers, two male two female and I had only just met them the day before for the first time, they had created a dance routine for the performance and I had only got an hour to learn and master it.
The recording of the show went well and I was really relieved that it was over, after three days with hardly any sleep I was looking forward to returning back to the uk the next day.
The trip had been exhausting and we needed i little break.
The following morning we arrived at the airport to fly home only to find that Sabina airlines had gone bust over night as did many other company's at the time due to the shock wave of the twin towers being hit in September, we transferred to a Virgin flight and flew home
A couple of weeks after the tour Carolina Gullini called Steve with some very bad news, Bonzai records was the latest victim in the after marth of the attack on the Twin Towers and had gone in to receivership & my European pop dream was
shot down in flames.
We continued pushing the four track demo across the UK but when the contract came to it's end I decided not to sign up again. I needed a well deserved break, the years I spent chasing my dream were fantastic as well as draining , it was really hard work and an emotional roller coaster ride , I decided to take a year of so off music all together, I needed some time out.
Around 2003 I decided to go back on to the cabaret circuit as a solo artiste covering music from the 1960's to the present day.
Since then I have added a number of different shows to my repertoire such as The UB40 Tribute Show & The Reggae Legends Show as well as still doing the 60's to present day show on the odd occasion.
I still keep in touch with Jamie Neale and his parents and see them quite often, I have not seen Steve Osborne for a number of years although we do talk on the phone occasionally.
Bonzai records re- opened in 2003 and are still going strong, as far as I can work out from their website. Carolina Gulini still owns and runs Game records & has had many successful and unsuccessful projects since Heaven in your eyes.
Thank you for taking the time to read my history page and I hope you enjoyed the music I have added. Creating this page has bought back great memories for me, thinking back over the years and digging out songs that I had forgotten I even recorded.