Apart from being one quarter of Britain’s greatest original guilty pleasures, 10cc, Graham Gouldman has also enjoyed a successful and diverse career as a producer and songwriter. Since the early 60s he’s written hits for a diverse array of artists including The Yardbirds, Jeff Beck, The Hollies, Cher and the Ramones.
Throughout the year he will be touring Britain as ‘10cc Featuring Graham Gouldman And Friends’ [seeing as he is the only original member left in the band]. Classic Rock caught up with him between rehearsals, to talk about other friends and influences in his long and illustrious career.
The last time I saw 10cc was at Knebworth, with The Rolling Stones in 1976.
Ahh yes. I remember it well. We went on late. It was a weird thing. Just before we were due to go on, one side of the PA system went down. There were all sorts of rumours flying around about sabotage, and how the Stones wanted to go on as late as possible so it would be dark and they would be able to use their light show to more effect.
You wrote The Yardbirds’ hit For Your Love. What are your recollections of that band?
Well Jeff Beck I always remember, because he always had a guitar with him. Not in a case, but on a strap over his shoulder like a gunslinger [laughs]. I remember going into a pub and he would be sitting there just playing to himself in the corner. He’s a genius, so he can do what he wants. As for Clapton, I remember on one occasion he mumbled something about For Your Love, which I think was the last straw for him and the reason he left The Yardbirds. I can’t remember if he actually said anything, it sound more like a sigh. It was all a bit odd, really. It almost made me feel apologetic for writing the bloody thing.
You also did a lot of work with John Paul Jones.
John and I first met when I used to come to London and do demos of songs. We did an album together called The Graham Gouldman Thing, which was supposed to be produced by Peter Noone [lead singer with 60s pop group Herman’s Hermits]. The concept was all about the artist producing the songwriter. Peter did us a big favour and never showed up. So I got on with it with John, and he did some fantastic orchestral arrangements. He’s another genius [laughs].
What do you remember of your days with 10cc doing Top Of The Pops?
That we really stood out. It was all glam, and there we were in our denims looking like…
No, the way we wore them was more Jean- Michel Jarre. We wore our denims with panache and élan [laughs].
How did you end up producing the Pleasant Dreams album in 1981 for the Ramones?
They were our bedfellows at Mercury Records. The first thing I said to them is: “Why do you want me to produce you?”. And they said it was because their roots were in the 60s. I connected with them in the energy and the simplicity, which I’ve always strived for, even though a lot of the songs I’ve co-written are incredibly complicated. Really, my ultimate goal is to write a song with one chord in it.
They were very reliable, very conscientious, always wanted to get it right. I brought Joey over to our studio in Stockport to do some of the vocals.
Of your major musical influences, are there any you’ve met?
Yeah, Paul McCartney. I met him when we were recording [10cc’s1974 album] Sheet Music. He was in the studio next-door with his brother, Mike McGear. We would play each other stuff we were working on. It was such a brilliant time. And I think it reflected on our album. It’s got an edge to it that came from Paul being around. I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for The Beatles, it’s as simple as that.
FIVE FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT GOULDMAN
His first single was a cover of Buddy Holly’s Look At Me, released by The Whirlwinds in 1964.
He and future 10cc bandmate Kevin Godley first got together in 1965, in a band called The Mockingbirds.
He recorded four albums with Andrew Gold, between 1984 and 1990, under the name of Wax.
Goudma says his biggest influence is his father.
Gouldman will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in New York on June 12 this year.