"Do you just do Meat Loaf?".
A question i've heard more times than I care to count.
When I reply that I sing lots more besides Meat Loaf I never know if they are dissapointed or relieved.
I've been singing a long time now, but how did it start?
How did I ever find myself on a stage singing a 10 minute power ballad with a red hankie clutched in my hand for dear life, never mind anything else?
Does it matter, because it's the results that count, right?
Well, for anyone who is interested in how I got to be doing what I do, and my journey through the world of show business, here it is. I dare say you might even get some insight as to why I do what I do, and how I feel about my work.
For those who are not interested, you can go look at another part of the site without a word of complaint from me, because it's the results that count, right?
Oh BTW, I suppose I better introduce myself, my names Neil, and i'm a singer/entertainmer based in the Liverpool area.
From a very young age I felt the pull of the stage. As a child, I liked to think of my parents living room as my own personal stage, and treated anyone who happened to visit to my Jimmy Cricket impression. Seriously, you were lucky to get out of that house without the dread cry of "come here, there's more" in a badly executed Irish accent.
I'm a natural born baffoon.
When I was 12, I was on holiday with my family in Florida, and we visited a shop where a guy was demonstrating and selling magic tricks.
This obviously appealed to the ham in me, and inevitably I soon had bunches of flowers stuck up my sleeves and a card trick for every occasion.
Magic served me well. It was a fun hobby and a way onto the stage.
I met some very talented people who taught me a lot.
I found I was pretty good at it, and I even won the odd competition.
It's something I still keep my hand in with.
At 16 I left school to embark on a career in show business.
At 18 years old I was the assistant entertainment manager on a cruise ship.
I worked with some great entertainers who'd been in the business for many years, including a lady who had once represented her native Denmark in the Eurovision Song Contest.
During a visit home in between trips at sea, I bumped into an old school friend of mine who insisted on dragging me to a karaoke that Saturday night.
Believe it or not, I wasn't keen on the idea, but he talked me around.
That chance meeting was to be one of the biggest turning points of my life.
Now there were more stages to conquer, more audiences to entertain, but this time it would be by singing.
I started going to karaoke every chance I got. To sing as much as I could.
At first I wasn't very good. Back on board ship i'd get up with the band to lay down House Of The Rising Sun. I think the band were running a book on how many people would run from the room when I got up. It wasn't a pretty sound.
The problem was confidence. I'd never sung before, and I had no belief that I could, so my natural responce was not to try and treat it as a bit of a gag.
One day I decided that I WOULD try, and I surprised myself. It wasn't great, but it didn't sound bad, and people seemed to actually like it.
I kept visiting karaokes, kept singing, kept improving, kept learning. I watched the karaoke hosts. I leart from them. I learned from what they did right, and just as important, I learned what they did wrong, and made a note to myself to avoid the bad, lazy, and unproffessional habits of some.
I hosted my own karaoke. I took what i'd learned by watching and added to my knowledge by learning while doing.
My singing had come on a long way (it should have, i'd spent long enough doing it).
I put my own set lists together and performed them.
I'd been a Meat Loaf fan for years, and it was natural for his music to feature regulaly.
Meat Loaf is still what i'm best known for.
I started doing singing gigs and found I enjoyed them. Enjoyment is a big thing in entertainment. It's not a job you do, it's a vocation you LOVE. You can't expect other people to have fun if you're not having fun yourself.
You can tell when an artist is not in love with what they're doing. They perform like they're long bored with their own act. It becomes sterile, bland. Performance turns to just noise.
My wife, Joanne, can tell you what has become a half joking (and half not) catchphase of mine, "if it's not fun, it's not worth doing".
Don't get me wrong, it's hard work, and I work hard doing it.
If I don't finish the night sweating and feeling both exhausted and elated, I haven't done my job.
And when it's all over it's time to pack all that equipment up, load it into the car, get home, unload the equipment (and that amp and those speakers are very heavy after a nights singing), pack everything away, and then walk the dog.
Are you feeling sorry for me yet? lol
You really shouldn't.
I work hard at my gigs because it's what I do.
I do what I do because I still love my job. I love entertainment.
The audience and I feed off each other.
No matter what the art form, be it singing, painting, sculpture, or even balloon animals, without someone to listen, to watch, to read, it's all a dead circuit. It's the audience that brings it to life and makes it jump.
To give less than 100% is to cheat the paymaster that pays my wages, the audience who've bothered to turn up to see me, and myself.
Well dear reader, I hope these remblings have been interesting to you and given you an understanding about how I feel towards the proffession I love.
This bio is certainly longer than I expected (I write bios like Jim Steinman writes power ballads) but I confess it's been fun to reminisce and put down some of my thoughts on digital paper.
After all, if it's not fun, it's not worth doing ;)
If you've come this far, go and make yourself a cuppa, and add a couple of your favourite bickies.
You've earned it ;)
Rock on, and I hope to see you at a gig near you soon.