Sunday, 7 October 2012

Otway the Movie

Otway the Movie

After many months the wait was over. I had put my name down, got the ticket and was informed that my humble name would be included in the credits as one of the producers of the movie no less. Imdb here we come!
And during the early days of this long lead up I offered the suggestion to The Movie Team (the production team behind this venture) that I hoped the project would answer why John Otway has continued throughout his career never to be acknowledged by the Palace for his long-life disservice to Rock 'n' Roll. 

John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett
Début album from
John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett
John Otway is a legend. To many loyal fans who not only feel the delicate charms and tender lyrics of the songs from his classic, yes classic, début album but also his self-styled on stage antics and acrobatics that prompted me years ago to refer to him as the Russ Abbot of Rock. 

Otway has been performing since the early 1970's and had what is now known amongst the Otway community as "The Hit". "Cor baby that's Really Free" made the charts in '77 and along with appearances on Top of the Pops and the Old Grey Whistle Test secured a long-term and very loyal fan base that included myself. The duo are an odd couple on stage but work like magic. Wild Willy Barrett's virtuoso guitar playing and Otway's mad cap antics always make for an entertaining  performance that make each gig good fun. 

Their self named début album was produced by Pete Townsend and is still in my favourites list after all these years. From the tender Bluey Green and Trying times to the bouncy (still makes me giggle) Louisa on a Horse, and the fast paced Racing Cars (Jet Spotter of the Track), this has always been a great record to come back to again and again over the years. 

Have a listen to the track Bluey Green via this video....

OK......that's a very brief history lesson of the early days of John Otway's career and although he's done lots since it's that period of his career that has bounded me over the years to being a huge fan of this not huge star.

Back to the Premier...
Otway the Movie Odeon Leicester Square, London
Otway the Movie
Odeon Leicester Square, London

In the long run-up the Movie Team sent occasional emails which got more frequent nearer to the day. "10 Days to go" titled the last one and laminates arrived in the post shortly after which were to be worn on the day. Gosh how official, it's a big occasion for sure and I was a producer of course. The Movie Team also issued the request to be at the cinema no later than 11.00 as the film was not yet finished and the last part of the project would film the people arriving for the screening which would be edited onto the end. A novel and great idea. Name up in the credits AND a possible cameo role no less. This man was taking us all the way to the top. 
John Otway
The Star
I got there around 10.30 and there was already about 300 waiting outside. Soon hundreds more were queuing for the doors to be opened. Actually, queuing for the ropes to be opened so we could all walk up the red carpet towards the Odeon cinema in Leicester square. The cameras were in view and rolling as the build-up continued, waiting for the star of the now hit movie. A cheer went up and Otway appeared on a balcony above the entrance to the cinema. More people arrived and now packed tightly all around the entrance.
John Otway
Somersaults at 60

A little later the star then emerged from the main entrance and was greeted by big cheers from well wishers and people wanting autographs, handshakes and birthday hugs. A quick chorus of Happy Birthday was 
Birthday Boy
thrown in as John posed for photographers and did a short filmed interview on the red carpet. This was followed by his trademark somersault which he did several times to great ovation. What Otway performance would be without his famous performance trademark? Then a cardboard car emerged from the crowd side of the barrier which took John and several fans around in a celebratory lap of the red carpet. All good fun and zany games.

The VIPs were then requested who filed in from one corner of the gated area and followed then by the producers. It was unreserved seats in the country's largest cinema which filled up quickly and the bar was doing brisk business as the anticipation rose for curtain up. Many attended in appropriate premier attire and many in their party gear ready for fun.
John Otway the Movie Odeon Leicester Square, London
John Otway on stage 
Odeon Leicester Square, London
Just before the lights were dimmed Otway emerged one last time for a standing ovation from the crowd who were requested to wear cardboard masks. These cut-outs were of the star's face printed on it and the footage would be added onto the end of the movie. Another rendition of Happy Birthday went around the cinema which was packed at this stage.

The lights went down and the film rolled which started with a young Otway playing on stage  in his home town of Aylesbury in 1976 signing Beware of the Flowers. The song subsequently ended up as the seventh most memorable lyric over the past 2000 years voted by BBC viewers in the run up to the millennium. The movie of course covers this story along with alot more adventures of this can-do mad cap artist.

I won't add any spoilers to this blog but what you come away with is that John Otway has drive and ambition and shows that everybody has an equal chance for his or her own stardom if they really really (no pun intended!) want it. The people surrounding Otway are there to help deliver of course and are there to enjoy the involvement and fun of the ride he always promises.

It was great fun attending this event and nice to be part of a project that, hopefully, breaks Otway into the world of the silver screen en route to his next hit!

I'll finish with a link to the well known appearance from the Old Grey Whistle Test which is where I first enjoyed Otway and Wild Willy Barrett's charms and genius.........

And finally !!!!!!!!!! HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY to JOHN OTWAY !!!!!!!!!!
Happy Birthday

Here's Channel 4's report on today.

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