He became a world-class star just before 68, and so the Czech airwaves could not get to know him as well as for example Elvis Presley although they were good friends. However almost every Czech knows some of his hits whether performed by Lucie Bílá or other great voices. Did you know that this artist is behind the originals of many well known hits?
Who was your inspiration/musical role model?
I would say Nat King Cole and his golden round tones that were like no other. He was cool and his music became part of the soundtrack of my life. I mean that so many memories are attached to his songs. The first single I brought for my wife was When I Fall In Love. I had to buy a record player to play it and I had no money so it was paid off over time but we played it over and over again.
You was born in India - do you like returning in your homeland?
I love going back to India but life gets so busy. I am determined to put aside some time soon and hopefully take family next time.Last time I was there was for the Tsunami relief and before that was with a dear friend who was a British Airways pilot. We even went back to my old house and they welcomed us in and fed us well. All the fragrances and the colors were an instant reminder of my youth.
Did India influence your art?
Indirectly it influenced me. Musically I remember the sounds that came from some of George Harrisons songs after his time in India. I loved the Sitar and I wrote a song called Stay. See what you think….
Which one of your hits is your favourite?
Release Me would have to be my favorite as it started my life…it was the right song as the right moment in time. But I have been blessed with some amazing song writers over the years who have crafted words and melodies just for me that put me where I am today….still singing and traveling to wonderful places all over the world. The Last Waltz is a close second.
Do you know that the song „Release Me“ is a hit in repertoire of one of the most famous Czech female singers Lucie Bílá?
I find this so beautiful. I did not know it until now. I can only imagine what a thrill it must be for a song writer to hear their creation sung passionately in another language. The sign of a good song is that it can be covered by so many different styles and artists with their own magic and connect with their audiences and so being appreciated all over again.
I am very proud that my rendition is in the Guinness Book of world Records…on the charts for 56 weeks and blocked the Beatles Penny Lane from reaching number one. I’m sorry if that sounds like I am bragging but it was a moment that was unbelievable for me on my journey in music.
You have roots in India, you were living in Great Britain as well as in California – these are 3 different continents – in which of them do you feel the best?
I have treasured memories from all three places and I know how lucky I have been to have spent time in one lifetime in three such vastly different places. My family is mostly in Leicester England, so I’d have to say I am most drawn there. My children are all in America except one son in Australia but they all love going back to the UK.
Do you have a closer relationship to a particular place (continent, city)?
As I said hometown of Leicester England, but I love Hawaii and also Austria.
This is your first show in Prague but have you ever visited our capital before?
I have been to this wonderful place before. I had a fantastic trip to rerecord some of my big hits. I was with a couple of lifelong musician friends of mine and my wife had a dear friend with her. When I heard the musicians in Prague play…my jaw dropped…it just fell open, It was so beautiful . The talent was stellar and they gave such life to the great arrangements in their own way.
What do you know about the Czechs, what is said about them in the world? What I know is how warm and hospitable everyone was who we met.
I am so sad that I didn’t have much time outside of the studio to explore and enjoy. If my memory serves me, I was also on my second honeymoon with my wife during my last visit. We had renewed our vows in Barbados before the trip.
Have you ever eaten vepřo-knedlo-zelo (pork, dumplings and sauerkraut) and did you drink Czech beer? If so did you like it?
I have eaten all of those but I’m not sure if I ate them together. This time I will and I am taking suggestions on which Czech beer to enjoy with this meal. Beer is the first thing I have when I land in London…along with some chips/crisps. So perhaps I will have a new food habit in Prague.
What mustn't be missing in the backstage when you have a performance?
Me…ha ha! I always need my backstage time and I never see anyone before the show. So I guess peace and quiet and a place to put my feet up for my 10 minute power nap. I can sleep anywhere. It’s a trick I have learned on the road. It’s like a mother and her baby…you have to take the naps when you can because it’s go go go most of the time.
The only thing that I don’t want backstage is someone whistling. It’s bad luck in show business. If someone does it they have to break the bad luck by going out of the dressing room …spinning around three times , then kick the door and swear (say a bad word) . Don’t ask me how this started but I have always done this crazy routine.