Surname Gary Kemp
Known for Songwriter and guitarist of the Spandau Ballet; Sy Spector in The bodyguard; Ronnie Kray in The Krays; Guitarist and singer in Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets.
Current City London.
Really want to be there A concert hall full of beautiful people watching a show. I may or may not be on stage. At the moment I don’t mind, just give me everything!
Excited about My new solo album, INSOLO (16th of July).
My current music collection has many Solo artists in it: St. Vincent, The Anchoress, Lana del Rey, Rachel Eckroth …
And a bit Prog. Actually a lot of prog.
Don’t judge me for I like yacht rock.
preferred format Always vinyl at home. It’s the Arena albums designed to fit in: two 20 minute acts, unless it’s Prog, then it can be four. And of course with great art it comes to a halt. Gatefold, please.
5 albums I can’t live without:
Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
On July 5, 1972, my life changed forever. We were sitting in a friend’s house in London and watching a British music show called Top of the Pops on a black and white television when a thin, androgynous being with unfashionably short, spiky hair and a tight, shimmering romper came on our screen. Two things happened that I never forgot: he put his arm around the shoulders of the blonde guitarist next to him, revealing his painted nails while the two sang suggestively into a microphone, and then he pointed at the barrel of the camera and into my soul and sang, I had to call someone so I pecked you-oo-oo and I knew he meant me. I was immediately his student. He was different from any artist there had been before, and I fell in love with the creature in all its strangeness.
The album, with its loose concept of an alien, suicidal rock star coming to earth, is steeped in ambisexuality and glam erotic, delivered by burning moonage riffs from master guitarist Mick Ronson (an influence on my lead style to this day) with Bowies high, cutting, London-sounding voice, both cool and enticing, cuts through the ambience. When my generation came in 1980 to present their style to the world, it was our reference. He had set the theatrical bar high.
If I listen today I have to dress up again to see him play and run around the stage doors looking for the band. I tried to pay homage to that with a track on the new album called Waiting for the Band, which is a hymn to being a fan. The central part of the song takes us into the auditorium while the band takes the stage. I found some old interviews with Bowie fans from the ’70s and put them under Theo Travis’ saxophone solo and they bubbled like ghosts, trapped in their own euphoria forever.
Performance Rockin ‘the Fillmore
I wanted to put a live album in the five and this is my most played album in the genre. Humble Pie is rarely mentioned in dispatches these days, but boy could they swing! The show became a template for how to excite an audience. Marriott’s vocals are supersonic – high and full of vibrant soul – but the whole band draws on this remarkable document from their live show. My brother Martin (he played with me at the Spandau Ballet) and I listened to this endlessly in the mid-1970s and dreamed of doing shows ourselves one day. We both wanted to copy Stevie and be able to say a lot, “We’re going there on Monday, but I want to tell you, we don’t have that much gas this time, it really was a gas.”
I do a regular podcast with Guy Pratt (bass player with Floyd, Gilmour and Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets). It’s called Rockonteurs (available on your favorite podcast platform!) And we had Peter Frampton with us. Peter is the young, florid lead guitarist on this album who happened to also make an even better-selling live double album.
A saucer full of secrets
I have to record this album because it has had a twofold impact on my life: once when I heard it for the first time as a young man, impressed by its musical freedom and anarchy and its scenic listening adventures, but secondly when it became the basis for my more recent musical Journey as guitarist and singer in Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets. The very first “band” experience I had in the early 1970s was in a friend’s basement, where I and a few other kids jammed our way through “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” for most of the day. So it was weird but exciting, almost 50 years later, when we were playing on stage with Nick at the Beacon in New York, we were joined by Roger Waters on that exact song.
I love playing the title track of this album with Nick and the band and creating the tonal mess that the track starts with. It’s beautifully juxtaposed with Rick Wright’s majestic chords finding their way out of the vortex bringing peace and order and majestically rising into the crescendo of euphoric triumph that ends the track. I usually put a solo at the end as well.
The album also bears the last farewell to Syd with his quirky, foolish “youth band blues”. I don’t think Ziggy or Johnny Rotten would have existed without Syd.
A few years ago I read Mark Lewisohn’s extensive first part of his Beatles trilogy, All these yearswhen I started crying. My wife asked me what I was crying about. I told her that Paul had just met John for the first time and that the truth was that we wouldn’t be living in this beautiful house if that hadn’t happened. Everything would be different. Before the Beatles, all rock music was American and the Beatles changed that and I became just another kid who grabbed the baton from the bands that came before me and were inspired by them. The story of the Beatles is this The best story ever and this album is where it ended. Obviously, let it be came out after that, but this was their last recorded work and I think some of their most successful. George’s “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun” are outstanding tracks. Who would have thought that as a major songwriter of his time he would be on a par with John and Paul. But for me the medley on Side Two is one of the greatest works in music history and captures all of its facets as a band, from hard-rocking guitar to highly emotional moments with heartfelt melody to the humor and storytelling that they embraced so much in your work. They were a band influenced not only by American rock and roll, but also by vaudeville, the UK Music Hall and the surreal comedy of the Goons.
With all of this, I could have picked any Beatles album and told you why it was my favorite.
Liège & Lief
When I’ll be on this lonely island forever [with only 5 albums] then I need something that will remind me of Britain and its green hills and mythology. Since I was at school in the 70s, I’ve been enchanted by British folk and folk rock when I went to folk clubs to watch people sing with my fingers in my ears. It’s storytelling and the feeling of longing for something I’ve never participated in, from stories of suffering and pastoral beauty, about encounters and tragedies. I remember some of my first songwriting spinning around A British book of ballads to the music as I only had the lyric version at home.
In this incarnation of the Fairport Convention, the band has embraced the genre like never before, led by the ethereal voice of Sandy Denny, one of the greatest singers England has ever made, and answered by the wistful, weaving violin of Dave Eisenstein. Behind this is one of my favorite guitarists of all time – Richard Thompson – who meanders his dark majesty through the songs. And then there is dance in the form of reels and jigs so I can hop around when I’m sick.
If it were all lost in a storm, it would be one album out of those five that I would try to save.