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Eddie Holman Interview


  EDDIE HOLMAN, REHEARSAL, INTERVIEW AND GIG REPORT BY BIG MICK.

 

“We don’t compare our success with anyone else’s success because no one else’s success pays your bills”…. (EDDIE HOLMAN, Lowton, 270399).

 

27th March this year saw the highly talented and legendary EDDIE HOLMAN arrive in this country once again. Thanks to the dedication of STEVE FLETCHER, BERNIE O’BRIEN and KEV MURPHEY, we had the opportunity to see, hear and meet one of souls greatest icons. The place was LOWTON CIVIC HALL, the time was dinnertime, everybody ate chips, I was left out. Undeterred, I carried on until the interview had finished. This is how it went………..

 

Immediately as the editorial team and I arrived at LOWTON we were, again, press-ganged into arranging the table and chairs for tonight’s entertainment. The whole gaff was in the process of being re-decorated and the bar in the small modern room looked not unlike an MFI bedroom accessory. Once der management were satisfied with the arrangements we sat down and chilled out listening to EDDIE’s session tape whilst the man himself was chauffeured from his ‘digs’ to begin rehearsals. BIG TONY (or so his wife JILL says)  went to the chippy and on his return ate his no more than 3 feet away from me (his granny used to be in the GESTAPO, dead close her and TONY were). Soon, the moment came when EDDIE would stroll through the door and transform our very existence with his charismatic presence. The band was the same as JERRY WILLIAMS was fortunate to have backed him. They were already practising, as EDDIE walked in the band were half way through ‘hey there lonely girl’. Not wasting any time, EDDIE was on the stage and after a couple of words to the band he broke into song. You had to be there, his magnificent falsetto voice hitting the first high notes of ‘hey there lonely girl’ sent an errie silence through the room. All who were lucky to witness this event were spellbound, the hairs on my neck and arms suddenly shot up and my goose bumps had goose bumps of their own. The air was electric, EDDIE’s voice had lost nothing over the years, rather, his voice was honed to perfection. The ultra soulful voice went through track after track drawing enthusiastic applause from the privileged few here including the band. Eventually, I managed to steer EDDIE away from those who were left, but not until IAN LEVINE had filmed EDDIE for the documentary being made on northern soul. We found a room backstage, comfortable yet cold we began the interview. Soon the chill would disappear and nothing would matter but for the hypnotic persona of the man himself.    

 

BIG MICK.   Born in NORFOLK VIRGINIA, you moved over, with your family, to PHILIDELPHIAat the tender age of 3. A man of many talents, after leaving CHEYNEY STATE COLLEGEyou attended the VICTORIA SCHOOLof ART and MUSICin New York. You were in a number of musicals and in children’s’ TV for NBC. You certainly jumped into the world of entertainment with both feet, is this were you wanted to be at that time or were you still unsure in those early years in which direction you wanted to utilise your talents?

 

EDDIE HOLMAN  I was sure at an early age that I wanted to be in the entertainment business. One of the greatest shows I had ever seen was at the APPOLO THEATRE in NEW YORK. When we moved to NEW YORK my mother and my aunt took me around the shows. Two of the acts we saw just blew me away, one was LITTLE RICHARD who I’d just worked with this past August at the FREE RIVER STADIUM in PITTSBERG and the other was THE FABULOUS FLAMINGOS. One of the original FLAMINGOS sings with the DELLS, JOHNNY (with the high voice). So here’s a gentleman I worked with last January with the DELLS and he was the guy that inspired me with the high voice. I wasn’t singing in the high voice then but just to hear him, I said, ‘some where along the line I just gotta do it’.  (EDDIE starts laughing).       

 

B.M.  Not long after, success eluded you in NEW YORK with the LEOPARD label and then onto the ASCOT label were you worked with JOE RENE and the then JIVE 5 lead singer EUGENE PITT you possibly found the recording side of entertainment an uphill struggle around 1961 / 2. Looking back, could you say whether you found it hard to find the right music for you or were you still experimenting, not sure in which direction your artistic career lay?

 

E.H.  Well at that point in my recording career you were in the hands of the producer so it was really up to the producer to come up with what they felt was good enough for you. You weren’t doing the producing or the writing so you had to trust people like JOE RENE. The good part of the relationship with JOE RENE is that, my mother got me that record deal because it was a great ‘outlet’, it was a great opportunity. Even though I didn’t have any hit records with JOE RENE, I did get what was called a ‘turn table hit’. The first one I recorded for him was, ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’. That got played like it was a hit record.        What happened was, it introduced me to the record business, it got me to meet different people and kinda get a feel of what the record business is and how it works. So that was good and I would never forget JOE RENE for that.

B.M.  In those early formative years, you got to work with many ‘greats’ amongst which was the tragic FRANKIE LYMON & THE CLEFTONES. What are your memories of what must have been a monumental time in your life and also, how long later was it that FRANKIE died?

 

E.H. Well FRANKIE, if I’m not mistaken died in around 1965/66 so when I first met FRANKIE, I’d say he lived about another 10 years. He was a young man, I mean he was a young teenager. I have a son older than him, I have 3 sons, 2 are grown and I have one that’s 16 going on 17. I know from raising grown men what phases you go through and I don’t know if he had the opportunity to go through the normal phases that normal teenagers would go through. He was a world renown-recording artist from a very early age, he started from 12 or 13 years old. One of the most amazing things that happened in meeting him was, I won the amateur hour at the APPOLO THEATRE. I singing, ‘why do fools fall in love’ while HERMAN SANTIAGO and FRANKIE LYMON and, forgive me, one of the other members – I can’t remember his name right now was standing to the side of the stage. I won and they were all hugging me, FRANKIE LYMON gave his phone number and when he made his first trip to ENGLAND he called me before he left. I said, ‘man, you’re going to ENGLAND, wow’ you know. I was excited for him and he was supportive, I mean, he really inspired me.  At that time, you can’t imagine all the pressures on him, I mean, he’s a star with a number 1 record. He’s wanted to do appearances all over the world so it must have been pretty strenuous and stressful for him so that’s probably were all that tragedy came from I guess.      

 

B.M.  Do you feel at your young age this could have been your downfall if things had worked out differently?

 

E.H.  Yeah, you know, nobody is better than anybody. The things you hear that have happened to recording artists, writers and record producers could happen to anybody.  Nobody is above those things happening to them, so you just have to be thankful it hasn’t happened to you or if you been through it and got out of it.     

 

B.M.  When you eventually returned to PHILLY, was it because you thought CAMEO-PARKWAY might have been more lenient towards your abilities to project your talents to an audience nearer to home?

 

E.H.  No, I would continue to go to CAMEO-PARKWAY for the auditioning because I felt it was a good label, a hot label and they had some hot acts and, you know, naturally you want to be a part of it. At that point I was writing material for myself. It just came to mind that the best thing to do was not to depend on some one else to give you a good song if you’re capable of playing the piano and had some ideas, work on them and do it yourself. My mother bought me a piano and I started working out some songs for myself on that piano with a song writing partner at that time, we just kept compiling material, you know, song after song. If you had a repertoire of about 25 songs and you’ve worked hard on those songs, at least 5 or 6 of them have got to sound, you know, different and possibly good. So that’s what we did.     

 

B.M.  CAMEO-PARKWAY were somewhat reluctant to take on a young EDDY HOLMAN at the time whilst riding high in the billboard charts with CHUBBY CHECKER, DEE DEE SHARP and BOBBY RYDELL. You were turned down a few times, did this just make you more determined to get your ‘foot in the door’?

 

E.H.  Well you used the word ‘few’ I use the word ‘many’ (EDDIE finds this amusing and just cracks up again laughing). Yeah I was turned down a lot by CAMEO-PARKWAY records and one of the reasons were that they had this one particular guy who worked in A&R and he was always the one to ‘see’ for the auditions. He would always give me the same old B.S. (bullshit – EDDIE didn’t swear here, B.S. was all he’d allow himself to say), same old jive, “oh well, you’ve got a great voice but I don’t think there’s anything we can do for you right now but you keep coming back”. That wasn’t very encouraging but I’ve always been a confident person and I wouldn’t let that stand in my way, the guys’ name by the way was DAVE APPLE. What happened eventually was we go past the CAMEO-PARKWAY days when I at last, met with PETE DE ANGELLIS. PETE and I formed an alliance an he’s taken care of me for the last 30 years. When PETE DE ANGELLIS did the arrangement and brought in the musicians to do ‘it’s all in the game’, ‘hey there lonely girl’, ‘I love you’ and so on guess who was on my record session?, DAVE APPLE, he was there playing guitar ‘cause he was a friend of PETE’s.  If I didn’t have the love and respect that I have for PETE, I would have insisted to PETE to get DAVE APPLE out of there. I let it go ‘cause PETE had been so good to me, and I said, ‘well that’s not my friend it’s PETE’s friend and if PETE wants to see he gets paid for this session then I’ll let it go”, and I did. But I admit I would never personally have hired him, I never have and never will.      

 

 

 

B.M. Your debut single back in 1961, ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ on the LEOPARD label, as an early attempt on vinyl didn’t quite make any ‘waves’ in the charts. Compared to the release on CAMEO, ‘this can’t be true’ in 1965 which an old friend of yours, JAMES SOLOMAN co-wrote with yourself, what subtle differences between the two tracks can you identify as the reason ‘can’t be true’ turned out to be the successful hit it was?

 

E.H. Well, ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ was written by JOE RENE and his wife MALOU RENE. JOE RENE had a number 1 record with BOBBY LEWIS called ‘tossing and turning’ a very big, big record – number 1 record in the STATES. So what he was trying to do was take the principles of what he did on that record with BOBBY LEWIS and apply them to a young teenage recording artist and that song, ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ had a ‘feel’ that the BOBBY LEWIS hit. It was also a turn table hit, what I mean is that disc jockeys played it every where like it was a hit record even though it wasn’t a big hit record. So, it got my ‘feet wet’ to what was going on in the music business and it let me know that I was there to stay.  ‘Can’t be true’ was successful because it was written for me and like a suit of clothes it was made for me by a tailor. It was tailor made for me, no one else could do it and that’s always my goal when I make a record I sing it my way. My way, nobody else can do that. I don’t have to have a song that’s covered by a lot of people, I really couldn’t care less about that. I just want to know that I’ve done something special and something different that people like and they’ll remember me for doing. That’s why ‘can’t be true’ I feel was a hit, not because it was a better song than necessarily than ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ it just fitted me like a suit of clothes.      

 

B.M. You wrote the hit record, ‘EDDIE’s my name’ whilst still in college. I bet you got quite a lot of attention from your fellow students after that, what do you recall from that exhilarating moment in your youth?  

 

E.H. ‘EDDIE’s my name’ the reason we came up with that was because back in that time all the singers had a ‘theme song’, something they could be identified as their opening song.  So that was just an attempt at the time to come with something that was your own ‘suit of clothes’ that, no matter where you sing, or what ever show you were on you had that ‘song’ to come on with to introduce yourself with.           

 

B.M.  What kind of attention did you get from your fellow students, I mean, here’s a guy in college with a hit record who’s just one of the guys. How did the other students react.

 

E.H.  Well you know how people are when you’ve got a hit record and the girls, well you know, I’ve always had a lot of girl friends. What happened was, things got really intense once you started making records, even girls I’d once gone out with were fainting and falling out and stuff, you know at the shows. It’s nice to be liked but it could be at times, how do you say, get in the way and your mind isn’t on anything else but just doing what you gotta do and getting out of there but I made it through it. (EDDIE chuckles to himself at the memory of girl fans mobbing him).      

 

B.M. ‘I surrender’, ‘I’ll cry a 1000 tears’, ‘don’t stop now’, ‘free country’,  ‘my mind keeps telling me’ and ‘I love you’. You are quite a versatile person in your approach to your given talents, what do you draw on to help you focus in the right direction with regards to writing and singing?

 

E.H.   Well again, I try to write and do a melody in a way that it fits me, you know, I can’t be somebody that I’m not.  I’m not a JAMES BROWN type of singer so I don’t write a JAMES BROWN type of song.  I like the love songs and I love the ballads and I always believe in singing positive things, there’s so much negativeness in the world you don’t have to reiterate all that and going over and over.  Some of the music I hear today, all they talk about is the bad things, there are some good people around and some people who are trying to do the right thing and those are the things I like to sing about, I always like the positive things in life.        

 

B.M. You were co-responsible for the northern soul classic, ‘she’s wanted’ which LARRY CLINTON recorded. What’s the story behind that popular track?

 

E.H.  When we wrote the song I thought that I would do it myself when I did the demo track on it, you know.     What we used to do when we had a 3 or 4 hour session and we’d chosen 1 or 2 songs to do in that time, if we had some time left and we had something that we would have considered to do we would do it.  We’d do, like a rough track on it and that’s what we did with the LARRY CLINTON song, ‘she’s wanted’. The track came out a lot better than we thought, we thought that we’d have to go back in again and do it again. So it came out really strong, and I thought that I’d have done that song myself but what happened was I was having success as a ballad singer and that’s what the DJs knew me for. They wanted to hear EDDIE HOLMAN sing those love songs in the high voice because that’s what my ‘calling card’ was, you know.       It was decided that, maybe I shouldn’t do ‘she’s wanted’ but hold that for another artist and that artist happened to be LARRY CLINTON. The late LARRY CLINTON I should say, he’s past away more than several years ago, LARRY is no longer in the land of the living. But what I remembered about him is he had a big voice, a powerful voice, a very down to earth kind of individual. He was a tough individual too by the way, he was a rough and tough fight ‘em and shoot ‘em kinda guy, you know. I don’t mean that in a negative way I’m just trying to give you some idea what his personality was like, he was a gangster and I understand that in his death he had met with foul play, he was a rough man. He wasn’t the kind you would call a gentleman (EDDIE tries to stifle a laugh as he remembers the funny side to LARRYs’ lifestyle) he was a tough guy but he had such a wonderful voice. I feel sad that he couldn’t have left that kind of life alone and use those talents that he had and he’d probably still be around today and probably working over here doing some shows on the northern soul scene, you know. You know my mother used to say he’d made his bed and he chose to sleep in it.

 

B.M. Compared with some of the more ‘uptempo’ tracks associated with you, you ‘cut’ many ballads.     Which do you feel comfortable with, or was it due to the mood and your surroundings which you may have felt compelled to ‘flow’ along with at that moment in time?

 

E.H.  No, I’ve always been a great ballad singer from a kid, ballads have always been for me, you know.   The only reason I do uptempo songs is just for a change, diversity. There’s some places I work and they just want to hear, like, 10 ballads in a row – one right after the other.  You’ve got to have something for everybody. Many of those fast tracks on the northern soul scene were not necessarily written for me. In other words I didn’t sit down with SAUL and say, ‘let’s write one of these fast tunes for EDDIE HOLMAN’ it was more or less a case of not to be doing the same thing every time, a little change and a little diversity so you’d not get worn. We were writing these songs for other people and some other acts were recorded singing those songs.

 

B.M   I suppose as an example of diversity, the song ‘I surrender’ was recorded as uptempo and also as a ballad.

 

E.H. Yeah, as a matter of fact, tonight we’re gonna do ‘I surrender’ the original way it was written. The original way it was written was more ‘laid back’ than the way we did it with PETE DE ANGELLIS. I had sat down at the piano and played it for PETE but I played it the uptempo way. (Here EDDIE does the human ‘beat box’ thing the 60s way to the tune of ‘I surrender’)  PETE said, “I like it, let’s do it”. (EDDIE laughs).            

 

B.M. You were close to the guys in the group, THE VOLCANOS who then went on to become the TRAMMPS. You went to school with some of these guys and nearly cut a record together as the VICEROYS. EARL YOUNG, I believe, worked on many of your recordings over the ensuing years and was known as the drummer for the TRAMMPS and the inspiration behind the TRAMMPS. How did this fruitful friendship continue over the years, and how much did EARL influence your style in song writing or was it the other way around?  

 

E.H.  EARL YOUNG and I became good, good friends and we respected each other and, you know, we did things to help each other. EARL is still around today and is still a friend. I remember one instance, career wise and recording wise things weren’t going so good and were going slow and I needed a ‘deal’. My friends EARL YOUNG and RONNIE BAKER played all the bass and NORMAN HARRIS played all the guitar on anybody’s record that looked like it had anything like a hit, they had to be the guys to play it. I needed a deal and EARL YOUNG, RONNIE BAKER and NORMAN HARRIS got me that deal quickly because we were buddies, all I had to do was ask. I don’t see too much of that out there today, when they needed help you’d help and when I needed help they’d help.           

 

B.M.   So the influence was a mutual thing you had between you.

 

E.H.  We’ve influenced each other, I used to stand next to EARL when EARL used to play on my records and direct were I wanted the back beat and when I wanted something else done, he’s a world class drummer, you know. If he just plays on your ‘stuff’ it’s great, he had that much respect for me I knew that I wanted him and I won’t accept anything less than what I want and he knew I knew where I placed those back beats.      When I do those ballads I do them just like I was dancing with a young lady that I had a lot of feelings for and I was holding her and I knew just were I wanted that certain (CLAP !!) BAM !! I wanted the beat right where it should be. Now EARL respected me for that, you know, we never had any problems putting things just were they should be on my records.

 

B.M.  How did the closure of CAMEO-PARKWAY affect you and your plans at that time, were you already aware of the impending closure and if so, were you making plans for the future when the inevitable day finally came?

 

E.H. Well before CAMEO-PARKWAY closed I had really had a lot done for me - meaning that I had been all over the country. I was established as a recording artist and most important, not to brag or anything, I was a legend, I was a living legend at 19 years old. Here I am working with people in their 20s and their 30s and their 40s on shows, I’m 19 and I’m a legend because ‘this can’t be true’ – no one had done anything like it or tried to do anything like it. So, CAMEO was good in that sense but at that point I wasn’t worried whether I would come back again I just knew it was a matter of, you know, the right song at that point. When you’re kinda working and writing things for yourself you know that you may not have that right song now but you will get it, it will come around. When CAMEO-PARKWAY closed I had no fears or any doubts or anything like that. We did a couple of other sides like the BELL record ‘I’m not gonna give up’ that was one that I wrote and BELL picked it up. It wasn’t a big ‘smash hit ’ or anything like that, you know. Another song that was done very well and done good enough that people were still amazed.  How I got the opportunity to move on to ABC records, I actually signed with ABC about the spring of 1968 – no I’m sorry it was about the summer – no forgive me it was the spring.  We did 3 songs, one of them being, ‘I love you’ the title track to the ‘hey there lonely girl’ album and that came out, backed with ‘I surrender’ an the single on a ‘45’.  (In the UK it was backed by ‘all in the game’). That stayed on ‘bowling’ the charts so long over 6 months that the company decided to come up with more money to do more recordings because nothing ‘bowls’ the charts that long.  So they spent more money and the second go around we did ‘hey there lonely girl’, ‘it’s all in the game’ and I forget the 3rd, I’d have to see the list of the songs to get the ‘feel’ of what the 3rd song was.  It was just no question of whether we were gonna get a ‘hit’ or not because PETE DE ANGELLIS was a great, great producer and arranger and the combination of us working together was just great.     

 

B.M. Eventually you did the track previously cut by RUBY & THE ROMANTICS, ‘hey there lonely girl’ which made good here in the UK in 1974 and originally called, ‘hey there lonely boy’. Is it true to say that you did not want to do this gem of a ballad until record producer, PETER DE ANGELLIS talked you round?

 

E.H.  PETE didn’t actually talk me into doing the song, I really didn’t want to do it.  I wanted to lean more towards originals, you know, as opposed to doing something somebody else had done before.  I thought they had done a great job and they sold 100,000 records and that was a hit record.  PETE asked me to take it home to my wife SHEILA and let her hear it because he knew I respected my wife’s opinion.  I took it home and my wife said, “if you sing that song it’ll take care of you for the rest of your life”. She was right because we’ll be married 33 years come October 29th and ‘hey there lonely girl’ will celebrate it’s 30th birthday on the same day.  We’re more successful with it now than we were when it was a fresh success.  By being a ‘standard’ we’re in some pretty big commercials and some big movies and things that really generate an awesome amount of residuals so it’s really unbelievable, you know.  If somebody had told me 30 years ago……. yeah I knew we had a ‘hit’ record when we did it, that it would be still around 30 years later, now that I didn’t know and I’m very thankful for that

 

B.M.  What was the reason why ‘hey there lonely girl’ was released over here to become the ‘hit’ it was after being recorded so long before in the USA, was it a timing ‘thing’ or was there another reason?

 

E.H.  The reason, from what I was told, was that when ‘hey there lonely girl’ was actually released it had been the 5th time it had been released in the UK so it would have to be timing. Now, when I spoke with people at ANCHOR records which was the label which released it over here and distributed by ABC, when I spoke with the folks from ANCHOR and they were telling me how excited they were about re-releasing it and so-forth. I said something to them, I said, ‘you know, ‘hey there lonely girl’ was released in the STATES on October the 29th 1969 on my 3rd wedding anniversary so you should consider releasing it on that date over here and I think you’ll be surprised what happens.  So that’s what they did, they released it officially October 29th 1974 and I was there to do the release party.  As a matter of fact, those pictures you showed me earlier from that magazine (BLUES & SOUL No 148, American edition Nov. 19 – Dec. 2, 1974, priced then at 25p) were taken around that time.  I was here in the UK for a party in one of the popular nightclubs in LONDON. It went on to be a ‘hit’ here which didn’t take long to do, it sold lots of records and it went up the charts and I began to tour that year, over here in the UK and it’s had been really great.      

 

B.M. You are quoted as saying in an interview in 1984 that you idolised RAY CHARLES and wanted to sing like him. Who else along the lines of NAT KING COLE etc, whom I believe was another artist you admired, influenced you in those early days and whom now you look upon for inspiration?

 

E.H.  I’d have to say JACKIE WILSON. The reason why is, RAY CHARLES is a great artist and NAT KING COLE is a great artist also but the late great JACKIE WILSON I had the opportunity not only to work with him but to share his dressing room on a long tour upon his insistence.  It wasn’t mine, I didn’t say , ‘look JACKIE, can I share your dressing room with you, you’re the star of the show and I know you have a great dressing room?’.  No, he said he wanted me to share his dressing room and I did and I learned a lot from him.  What I know as an artist today is, a lot of things in which he influenced me with regards to performing and being a performer and being a singer.      

 

B.M. What motivation did you need to become the success you are, who gets the credit?

 

E.H.  Well to be successful in the ‘music business’ you have to be focused on what you’re doing and in order to stay focused on what you’re doing through the ‘ups’ and the ‘downs’, you have to be a strong person that’s why many fall by the ‘wayside’.  That’s also why many get caught up in many things, you know, try to do many things and escape the real world. I’ve always had a love for God and growing up ‘in the church’, loving God from a child up to ‘Grandfatherhood’.  I’d have to say it’s love of God and Gods love of me that made it possible for any good things that have happened to me in this ‘business’, oh, and my Mother. My Mother, VIOLA, she sacrificed so I could take my music lessons and get the ‘exposure’. My Mother knew how to get me the ‘exposure’, she was very aggressive, very aggressive indeed.     

 

B.M.  At ABC, you were busy recording tracks such as, ‘it’s all in the game’ which was a hit for the FOUR TOPS and ‘since I don’t have you’, ‘don’t stop it now’ and of course, the ballad ‘Cathy called’. Shortly afterwards, you recorded the theme song to the film ‘Love Story’, ‘where do I begin’. Even though you were recording many tracks at ABC you chose not to renew your contract but instead move on to GSF. What was the reason behind that decision?

 

E.H.  Well LARRY NEWTON who was the President of ABC records when I signed for ABC, eventually left ABC and he helped form a label called GSF records and because of the relationship with LARRY NEWTON it appeared to me to be the move to make at the time.  We did one song, the first one charted about the mid to low 80s, there was one called, ‘my mind keeps telling me’ which did real well for us.  The late great RONNIE BAKER, I call him ‘the hit maker’, wrote that song specifically for me in mind.  I’ll never forget, he called up and said, “man I’ve gat a song for you, can I play it?”, I said ‘yeah you can play it’ and he played it.  I said, ‘I like that’ and he said, “I’ll be over and we’ll get together and I’ll give you the words and if you want to do it, let’s do it”.  GSF put the money up so we went ahead and did it.  RONNIE BAKER is also co-writer of one of the songs on the northern soul scene, ‘night to remember’ that was co-written by RONNIE BAKER and, oh gee, I forget the other guys’ name that helped him write that song, they wrote that for me to do.  It charted in the 90s, it wasn’t a real big hit but it was the kind or record because of the era and time it was done I got much work from it.  For instance, in one 6 month period alone, I was working in NEW YORK every week carrying a ten piece band at that time and WARREN’s back ground singers and rhythm.  I’d be at one club one week and it’d be with the TRAMMPS, the next week it’d be SISTER SLEDGE and we’d all be playing the same ‘circuit’ over and over and the people just kept bring us back and back so that was a good deal for me.             

 

B.M.  You quite unashamedly, and possibly quite rightly so stated that your ‘FALSETTO’ style of singing inspired the likes of the DELFONICS and the STYLISTICS, and you were also quoted as saying, “ I am the Father of that sound from PHILLYDELPHIA”. Did you ever work with RUSSAL THOMPKINS, the lead singer of the STYLISTICS?

 

E.H.  Sure, we’re neighbours.  (Jeeze, what a coincidence, I always loved the STYLISTICS). We have been neighbours, RUSSAL THOMPKINS and I in the same neighbourhood for about 23 years.  Occasionally I’m booked with the STYLISTICS and the DELLS and the DELFONICS, matter of fact, when I return home from ENGLAND I have a few days off.  I’d probably stay over here a bit longer but, I don’t know if my fans and people over here know that I’m a Baptist Minister, an ordained Baptist Preacher.  I serve at the Mount Moria Temple Baptist Church in South Philadelphia, I am having to go back home and preach on Good Friday and since I’d been serving at Mount Moria I haven’t missed a service on Good Friday. The following week there’s a big concert being held at the First Union Centre, it’s gonna be awesome. Of course I’ve worked with everybody on it but last year, it was called Philadelphia 1, I was already obligated and booked so I couldn’t do it last year.  This year, the promoters and the people involved in it got to me earlier during the winter where I committed to it, you know. On this show the STYLISTICS will be on it, JERRY BUTLER, FABION, DION, BOBBY RYDEL, I could go on and on.  It’s a way of saying, ‘thank you Philadelphia’ for helping our careers and this is on April 10th at the First Union Centre and they’re advertising it on W.O.G.L. radio station there and it’s in the news papers so anybody who’s anybody who can get there will be there.  It’s gonna be a ‘sell out’, I mean like, the tickets are going really fast.

 

B.M  Moving to ‘SILVER BLUE’ records, a subsidiary of ‘POLYDOR’ records and then later moving, once again, but this time to ‘SALSOUL’. What’s the story behind your indifference at SILVER BLUE?

 

E.H.  I had no good feelings about SILVER BLUE, not the record label but the people involved it, a guy named JOE DIAMOND, or something like that.  I had no special love about SILVER BLUE or POLYDOR because those products I did with SILVER BLUE were released on POLYDOR as well as SILVER BLUE that’s how the distribution deal was set up.  You see, I’m used to taking my own destiny in my own hands, when I need a record I get a record, at SILVER BLUE you just went along with the programme.  Now SALSOUL records, on the other hand, the deal with those guys was a little bit different. I had good memories about that label because EARL YOUNG, RONNIE BAKER and NORMAN HARRIS was setting that up me to get with the label.  The label spent $60,000 on an album, ‘a night to remember’ and they gave me $10,000 and they bought me a P.A. system, tour support, you know.  They just did a lot for me at a time when I really needed a lot done and so I have good feelings and good memories about them.  I thought the guys at SILVER BLUE were ‘BUMS’, I’m not really into putting anybody down but a ‘bum’s’ a ‘bum’ and that guy’s a ‘bum’ (sarcastically) I wish I could remember his name.       

 

B.M. What regrets do you carry with you over your expansive career, if any, something you may have done or said which, if you had the chance, you would change relating to a particular song or associate?

 

E.H.  I wouldn’t change anything because my career’s been good, it’s been good for me, it’s been good for my family.  It’s not everybody’s business, you know, what your business is but it has been good to me and I’m just glad I listened to my wife and did the song, ‘hey there lonely girl’ because it’s put me in a league alllllllllllllllllllllllll by my self.  It takes good care of me and my family, I’ve raised 2 grown men who have their own families, I have 7 grandchildren, I have 1 son at home, you know, it’s been a blessing to be able to do good things for your family, you know.  We don’t compare our success with anyone else’s success because no one else’s success pays your bills.  If I had top change anything I would be more ‘hard core’ in the way I did things, I’d just them harder with more of my money.    

 

B.M. I think I read somewhere once, you had embarked on song writing and performing on the GOSPAL forum. As a Baptist Minister you obviously must be a ‘spiritual’ person, were you looking for a focal point in your life, a sense of ‘inner warmth’ and ‘being’, or possibly a ‘direction’?

 

E.H.  Well let me put it to you this way, the hand of God was ‘on me’ before I was even born.  In other words, if you’re ‘called’ to be a Minister, if you have ‘the calling’ to even become a Minister, it’s something that takes place before you even know that it’s taking place. Your family knows and so, from a baby it was prophesised that I’d be a Minister some day.  What happens is that, your training in church and the way you go about doing things and ‘carry’ yourself have a lot to do about your ‘calling’.  Let me just say this, I never made a record until I received Jesus Christ as my personal saviour.  I have not recorded, could not record and God would not allow me to record until I was ‘born again’. Now I was a teenager when I was ‘born again’ and received Christ, my personal saviour.  Once I did that the Lord allowed me to make records and why did he do that…. well you saw what happened to FRANKIE LYMON didn’t you?  If FRANKIE LYMON had had God in his life things may have made a lot of difference, if things had got a little too stressful for him he would have been able to call on the Lord. He had to endure all those temptations and it’s not God who does the tempting it’s the Devil who does the tempting, you know.  I just want to show you how my relationship with God has been a source of encouragement, a source of comfort throughout my career from a child. I was fortunate enough to make a Gospal album which was released over here about 1985on CHARLEY records and they ‘picked’ that up and did a distribution deal them from the STATES.

 

B.M.   Did you receive payment form CHARLEY, I know JERRY WILLIAMS is still waiting.

 

E.H.   Yes.  Yes I did, as late as 2 Christmases ago I received a royalty cheque.  I got paid, I can’t say many others got paid.  What they did, they had my bank account details and, you know, I got paid by CHARLEY. I know about the relationship they had with other artists and to say that they (CHARLEY) was not the right thing at the right time would be a lie and I wouldn’t say it any other way. Maybe they have a way or doing business in some ways that we might not agree with but they were good for EDDIE HOMAN.  Let me give you an idea of what I mean, I sent the record over to a guy who listened to it and said, ‘man I like this’.  He said, ‘look, I know a couple of guys who might be able to put this record out for you’.  One of the people he got was by the name of JOOP (pronounced YOPE, in his native land his name means JOE FISH, possibly DUTCH) VISER who worked for the CHARLEY label.  He was like, one of the ‘A&R’ people, he was the promotion man who promoted ‘hey there lonely girl’ in that country, he was also a jazz musician and played the saxophone.  Well, JOOP VISER, with his background, was working with CHARLEY picking and choosing different products that they could ‘put out’ so this particular guy I sent over the record to took it to him.  JOOP liked it so much he said ‘I’d definitely be interested in talking with EDDIE HOLMAN and seeing what we could work out to put his record out’.  So I was over in ENGLAND on tour at the time and I finished the tour.  I was staying right outside of BIRMINGHAM in NUNEATON and when I finished the tour I took a train right down to LONDON.  I met with JOOP VISER and we ‘hit it off’ right away.  They gave me a distribution deal and a nice advance, some nice money.  That was in April and the didn’t release the record until June, so now when they released the record in June because they did it right they sent me to the best photographer that you could go to at that time, the best in LONDON.  They paid for everything, they sent me to a good photographer, the paid to put everything together, they did the ‘liner notes’ right and everything.  Then when June came around, they brought me back over to ENGLAND to do one of the big public relation companies.  They took me to this company and hired them to take me all over ENGLAND to promote this record for , like, 2 to 3 weeks and we went everywhere.  We went to SCOTLAND, I was here in MANCHESTER, we were in LONDON, BIRMINGHAM we just went everywhere promoting it.  That’s what they did for me, you know and that record lasted a long time, a long long time.  I don’t have the ‘rights’ to it anymore but I can’t forget what they did for me.  If somebody says to me ‘I don’t know about those guys, they don’t pay’, I can’t say that, I’d be a liar if I said they didn’t pay me.  (EDDIE now cracks up laughing) Maybe, they didn’t pay me all they owed me but I got something, maybe a lot of other people didn’t get, I got money.  Getting money from CHARLEY was like getting teeth from a person with his mouth sewed up (this is hilarious to EDDIE).

 

It was at this point that, being the highly talented reporter and VIP interviewer that I am, I excused my self and turned off the recorder to change the batteries.  I inadvertently forgot to switch the damn thing back onto ‘record’ so the next 2 or 3 minutes was buggered up.  EDDIE did say that he would never have come over if he couldn’t meet me, BIG MICK and get my autograph and photo.  He also went on to say how God damn handsome I was for a fat git and if he had a daughter he would beg me to marry her.  Well, it was something along those lines……you’ll have to trust me as I was there and you weren’t.  What he did say was how much he loved the attention by his BRITISH fans and hoped he had made it all worthwhile for them.  EDDIE also went on to say how he appreciated the reception at LOWTON, it would remain with him for the remainder of his life and to sincerely thank everybody concerned from the fans to the organisers.  The show at LOWTON that night was certainly an eventful one to say the least.  Some clumsy person who shall remain nameless unwittingly set off the fire alarm at the precise moment EDDIE was due on stage. As I had, once again been pressed into the role of security personnel (bouncer and EDDIE’s ‘on stage’ bodyguard) I assisted in evacuating the building until FIREMAN SAM was convinced that the only thing that was burning was the red face of the person who remains nameless, eh STEVE FLETCHER !!!!!?  EDDIEs’ infectious character and persona was overwhelming as he went through track after track to the delight of the audience.  Rapturous applause echoed the appreciation as flashes from many cameras dazzled the red suited GENTLEMAN OF SOUL himself, sweat pouring from every gland EDDIE gave what must be one of the best performances I have seen in a long time.  I managed to organise a pint of iced water for EDDIE which he was more than grateful for and was only the first of about 3 or 4 such pints within about 30 mins (I’m just glad they weren’t anything stronger – it’d cost a bloody fortune!).  ‘This will be a night to remember’, ‘I surrender’, ‘I’ll cry 1000 tears’, ‘all in the game’, ‘hey there lonely girl’ – the songs came like welcomed old friends.  EDDIE laid on the atmos’ by ‘rapping’ to the audience between each ‘piece’, he held everybody mesmerised with his talent and warmth. No one was going to miss any of this performance, the crowd demanded more, flashbulbs dazzled the stage, the ‘band’ excelled in their support of this wonderful soulful apparition before us.   As the song says, “this will be a night to remember”, for those lucky enough to attend, this was certainly true.  It seemed everyone wanted to ‘touch’ EDDIE from their privileged positions coveted at the front of the stage, MARTIN WEBSTER gingerly, rose from his wheel chair to get closer to the man himself.  This was later to prove a minor problem as a few of us managed to help him up the stairs to meet EDDIE.  Jeeze MARTIN you’re a fat git, don’t ever call me, and I’m ONLY 20 stones!!!!!  I’m sorry for the cock up at the end of the interview but I hope the experience of all those who met and heard this fantastic GENTLEMAN OF SOUL will be etched your memories forever, enjoy, BIG MICK.