The greatest celebrities I’ve ever met

Celebrity has been with us for about 30 years now and it’s gone from strength to strength. From the very first famous person, helicopter pilot Jan-Michael Vincent, to bleached female cyborg Yazz, through the glory days of diminutive real-life wizard Harold Potter, celebrity has brought us many minutes of enjoyment.

There’s nothing more exciting than meeting a celebrity. I mean it’s way better than getting married, or becoming a parent, or running a marathon, or successfully pulling off a bank heist. It’s simply great.

And in my four decades plus, I have met my fair share of celebrities.

Now I’m not talking about planned engagements like my sit-down interviews with Irish laugh manufacturer Ed Byrne or the sadly-deceased former Minister Seamus Brennan. And I’m not talking about my incidental brush on a staircase with INXS or a casual “hello” on Dame Street with satirical comedian Hugh Dennis.

I’m talking about unexpected meetings with celebrity, rendezvous that were not foreseen and therefore left me little time to plan my palaver in advance.

So what is a “famous” person?

Famous people are defined as “someone what’s been on the TV or the radio or in the newspaper but not for reasons of murder or stealing or advertising of the Subway Diet”.

So without further ado, here are my top five unexpected brushes with celebrity.

#1

When? 1986Maurice Pratt

Who was it!? Maurice Pratt

Who? The most famous marketing director of 1980s supermarket chain, Quinnsworth.

How’d you meet him? They wheeled him in to our school to do presentations on sports day. He presented me with tennis medals I’d won earlier on in my career (1984 and 1985).

What do you remember? I still remember his marketing director-like professionalism as he shook my hand. I was, of course, blown away by meeting a celebrity like him at such a young age. He offered me a sweet deal on those fat pens with four different coloured inks too.

#2

When? 1993Justin Edinburgh

Who was it!? Justin Edinburgh

Who? Tottenham’s floppy-haired full back from yesteryear.

How’d you meet him? I was sitting in the crowd at a Tottenham pre-season friendly in Drogheda and he was in the row ahead of me.

What do you remember? I reached over and in my most polite voice asked him to sign my program. He did so while chewing gum in a manner than only cocky Grange Hill characters used to be able to. So Justin can write and chew gum at the same time. I lost the program but I remember his signature being quite dramatic and among the most impressive I’d witnessed at that time.

Here’s Justin getting sent off in a cup final for bitch-slapping a girl.

#3

When? 2002Richie Moran

Who was it!? Richie Moran

Who? Former footballer who played fleetingly for third division Birmingham City in 1990.

How’d you meet him? Through mutual friends in an English bar in Christchurch, New Zealand.

What do you remember? Having a great booze up with him. Well, until he shoved a short Scottish guy off a tall stool for addressing him as “boy”. Given Richie’s documented recounting of the racism he encountered as a player, perhaps it’s understandable why he took this Scottish colloquialism the wrong way. Richie regaled us with tales about Lou Macari and John Barnes and it was a lot of fun.  He subsequently wrote a book about his travels but I did not read it so I don’t know if he mentioned me. Probably not.

#4

When? 2008John Morrison

Who was it!? The Miz and John Morrison

Who? Only one of the hottest acts of the day in WWE sports entertainment.

How’d you meet them? Well I had to hang out drinking with the WWE head of security for six hours in a Stuttgart hotel bar.

What do you remember? Morrison and The Miz strutted in to the hotel lobby at about 4am, excitedly rambling on and on to their security guy, before Morrison stops mid sentence, points at me and says “Wait. Who the fuck are you?”. He then proceeded to offer me a signed photo before the pair made their way to the elevators to pack for their 6am flight.


#5

When? 2008Whitford Kramer

Who was it!? Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer

Who? Two thirds of the under-appreciated part of Aerosmith.

How’d you meet them? A friend in the know brought us to the London hotel where the band were staying ahead of their 2008 Hyde Park gig.

What do you remember? We met the rock veterans at the top of a staircase. Brad was very nice, chatting to our friends young daughter and making her day/year/decade. I tried to engage Joey in a cute story about how they were playing a few miles from my Dublin home next week but even though I could hear them from my bedroom I still bought a ticket. He looked at me stony faced and refused to shake my outstretched hand.

Since all celebrities are brilliant, my assumption is that this was not actually the real Joey.


JaredBut I’m only 41.  So I probably have another 10, 20, 30, 7 years left. Who knows?

I have plenty of time to meet more celebrities. If you are famous and would like to go for a pint, let me know. Not you, Jared.

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[Album Review] “Music From Another Dimension” (Deluxe Edition) – Aerosmith

Album Title: Music From Another Dimension

Artist: Aerosmith

Year: 2012

Running Time: 80m 38s

Track listing: 1. LUV XXX; 2. Oh Yeah; 3. Beautiful; 4. Tell Me; 5. Out Go the Lights; 6. Legendary Child; 7. What Could Have Been Love; 8. Street Jesus; 9. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You; 10. Lover Alot; 11. We All Fall Down; 12. Freedom Fighter; 13. Closer; 14. Something; 15. Another Last Goodbye [Deluxe CD] 1. Up On The Mountain; 2. Oasis in the Night; 3. Sunny Side of Love

I’ve finally unveiled rock legends Aerosmith’s grand plan for protecting their legacy – subliminal revisionism.  I recall being somewhat underwhelmed by 1997’s “Nine Lives”; a brash, sprawling follow-up to multi-platinum mainstream hit-machine “Get a Grip”.  Four years later it seemed like a minor classic in comparison to the eclectic “Just Push Play”.  Now, in 2012, even “Just Push Play” may be considered under-appreciated when laid side-by-side with “Music From Another Dimension”.

It’s the record that almost never got made what with Steven Tyler falling off stage, Steven Tyler going to rehab, and Steven Tyler becoming a mainstream TV star.  In fact the only time the other band members entered public consciousness was when Steven Tyler was talking trash about them or they were threatening to form some sort of New Aerosmith without him.

And if you thought all that tension and middle-aged angst would translate in to an inspired, angry opus, you’d be dead wrong.  The presence of Jack Douglas – legendary producer of “Toys in the Attic” and “Rocks” – suggested a return to the attitude and swagger of the mid 70s.  But there’s very little he can do with the dearth of strong material and a band that seem at odds with themselves.

It’s part-Aerosmith album, part-Joe Perry solo record, part-Steven Tyler solo album and the deluxe version even features a debut lead vocal from bassist Tom Hamilton. If it sounds like a patchwork, it really is – an overlong one.

There are high moments for sure.  Joe Perry’s infectious, Stones-inspired “Oh Yeah”, enhanced by horns and female backing vocals, finds the group in their element.  Similarly, the seven-minute “Out Go the Lights” recalls the good-time groove of “Get the Lead Out” and “Lick and a Promise“, while Brad Whitford’s “Street Jesus” is a very good 21st century “Jailbait“.  “Lover Alot” – in spite of it’s seven (!) co-songwriters – is an efficient rocker without pretensions and I’m willing to admit that its complete antithesis – Diane Warren-penned ballad “We All Fall Down” – does overwrought sentiment very well.

Then there’s the near-misses.  “Beautiful” combines a punchy rhythm, with Tyler’s menacing semi-rap (‘I was earjacking, eavsdropping/down on my knees so I can hear what she was sayin’ … Now I got to thinkin’/About my high-speed, dirty deeds’), a fantastic guitar section from guitarists Brad Whitford and Perry but just when the song should be exploding with a crescendo, it gets dragged down by an insipid chorus.

Opener “LUV XXX” is a little lackluster in spite of its crunching riffs and reasonable hook, while the formulaic “Legendary Child” walks that fine line – a lazy rehash of “Walk This Way” or a sassy tribute to their own history?

But the ballads, oh the ballads.  In isolation any one of the country-like “Tell Me”, the uplifting but by-numbers “What Could Have Been Love”, Carrie Underwood duet “Can’t Stop Loving You”, or piano-driven album closer “Another Last Goodbye” would be fine.  But there’s five of them.  On a fifteen track rock album.

The end of the record seems almost like it was tacked on when no one was looking.  Two sturdy Joe Perry vocal vehicles (“Freedom Fighter”, “Something”) and the noirish curiosity “Closer” (co-written by Joey Kramer) are okay but don’t seem very necessary.

And if it seems like the album will never end you can make it last even longer by shelling out a few extra bucks for the deluxe edition.  Hamilton’s 80s rocker “Up on the Mountain” is a victory for the popular axeman who survived throat and tongue cancer while Perry picks up the mic again for “Oasis in the Night”.  The eighty minute carnival ends with the “Jaded“-lite pop song “Sunny Side of Love”; a surprisingly good radio-friendly hook – certainly miles better than those “Girls of Summer“.

The album lacks hits.  There’s not really anything as good as “Beyond Beautiful” or “Jaded” and in fifteen years time we’ll still be hearing “Pink” on rock stations.  But for all that, it’s encouraging to see Tyler and Perry writing together again (“Luv XXX”, “Out Go the Lights”) and great to hear meaningful contributions from Whitford, Hamilton and Kramer.

It’s overlong, clunky and mostly average but I’m sure in a decade I’ll wonder how it wasn’t considered for a Grammy.