Within the 40 years since Too Shy turned a smash, Nick Beggs has performed with ABC, Belinda Carlisle and Howard Jones, in addition to being a particular bass presence in prog with Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett and his personal bands, The Mute Gods and Trifecta. Regardless of the ache of their time collectively, Nick tells Basic Pop he is aware of he’ll all the time be related to Kajagoogoo…
Nick Beggs is aware of everybody. Not simply in music, the place his professionalism and distinctive stage presence have seen Beggs play with musicians as various as ABC and Steven Wilson.
He’s additionally a welcoming soul who appears to know all the opposite locals on the pub in suburban Bedfordshire the place Basic Pop meets Nick to debate his 40 years of adventures in music.
“That is one of the best pub on the earth,” beams Beggs, not inaccurately, over a pint of porter at The Black Lion in Leighton Buzzard, the cosy market city the place Kajagoogoo shaped.
Kajagoogoo stood out then, and Nick – lengthy blond hair making him as immediately acquainted as when Too Shy made Kajagoogoo stars – continues to be a compelling character now.
No marvel there’s a photograph of Kajagoogoo on show on the Wetherspoons up the road.
“I’m usually chosen to be in individuals’s bands due to my stage presence, not simply due to the best way I play,” notes Beggs. “They need the unusual gonk man. I generally see audiences take a look at me and suppose: ‘What the fuck is that?’
“I bought over my ego within the 80s and I simply need to be a participant. However you’d be stunned how a lot my ego known as upon in different bands, as musicians will someday say: ‘Make a Nick Beggs form there.’”
It’s not usually the bassist is the star in a band however, alongside Limahl, Nick had charisma to spare in Kajagoogoo. Nick says of his musical strengths: “I’ve a superb A&R capability and I can see star high quality.” He even labored in A&R at Phonogram within the 90s, overseeing the boyband Let Free.
Speaking of star high quality naturally results in assessing Limahl’s function in Kajagoogoo. Earlier than the fractious singer joined, Nick and guitarist Steve Askew fronted Artwork Nouveau, additionally that includes future Kajas Stuart Neale and Jez Strode.
“A&Rs would present curiosity in Artwork Nouveau,” remembers Nick. “However then they’d see us stay. We lacked a frontperson who’d allow us to give attention to our musicality.”
Auditions for a frontperson have been held at their rehearsal studio – “Now the Tesco,” laughs Nick, mentioning of the pub window. A singer named Tim Barron was “fairly good, however I wasn’t positive.” Then a pal advised Nick of a singer who’d been to the Italia Conti stage faculty who had an excellent look.
“I might inform on the cellphone that Limahl spoke the identical language,” says Nick. “He knew the place he wished to go in music and was 100% dedicated to getting there, the identical as we have been.”
Limahl turned Nick’s lodger, with the writing of Too Shy an instance of how the pair might be in sync. Nick labored as a dustman and wrote with Limahl when he bought residence. The bassist wrote a refrain: “You’re too shy, hush, eye-to-eye.”
He says now: “It was Limahl who looped it. I had what I assumed was the primary verse, the ‘Trendy medication…’ lyrics. Limahl mentioned: ‘That’s the second verse’ and got here up with: ‘Tongue tied…’ Abruptly, there was a geography to the tune. Stuart had simply bought a Jupiter 8 synth, and he was nice at manipulating its sounds.”
For a would-be pop sensation, Artwork Nouveau had been just a little jazzy. That ambiance was nonetheless there in what might in any other case be a sensational debut single. Enter Nick Rhodes.
When the renamed Kajagoogoo have been signed by EMI, they have been supplied to numerous producers. “No person wished to
work with us,” laughs Nick. “Tony Visconti advised EMI: ‘Why would I need to work with this band? I’m a dwelling legend.’ Which he’s, so truthful sufficient.”
Duran Duran have been additionally on EMI, and Nick Rhodes fancied branching out, helped by Duran producer Colin Thurston. “Colin and Nick thought having their names on it will be too clearly pop,” Nick remembers.
“They have been going to name themselves Invoice And Ben The Manufacturing Males. As soon as we’d completed the album, the disguise appeared foolish. Nick and Colin have been proud of what they’d completed, so why not commerce on one another’s belongings?”
An beginner pilot, Colin was suitably calm and measured. “Any downside, Colin was all the time: ‘I’m wondering if we must always do that?’” remembers Beggs fondly. “It was like Colin had Brian Eno’s Indirect Methods playing cards in his head.”
But it surely was Nick Rhodes who turned Too Shy into a success. “Nick can image a file extremely nicely,” enthuses Nick. “He can see concepts and the place they should go. The Too Shy demo had a jazz guitar solo in and wanted a middle-eight.
“Nick went by the entire tune: ‘Yeah. Yeah. NO. Yeah. YES.’ He edited Too Shy completely till it gave the impression of a success. That’s how he labored all through the album. We’d comply with pink herrings, and Nick would say: ‘No, not pop sufficient.’ He’s nice at getting songs again on observe.”
Beggs agrees that, 40 years on, Too Shy sounds a reasonably unusual tune to succeed in No.1. He factors out: “It’s not likely a tune – it’s a file. It’s a superb file, however not a superb tune, even when it did outsell The Police that yr, which is simply loopy.”
Regardless of additional Prime 20 hits with Ooh To Be Ah and Grasp On Now, and debut album White Feathers reaching No.5, success was nothing like Nick had imagined. The explanation was easy: Limahl and the remainder of the band simply couldn’t work collectively.
“Limahl turned untenable fairly shortly,” sighs Nick. “He was a troublesome character, and one of many first issues he wished to do was change the writing break up. The remainder of us grew up collectively, and there was an settlement on equal dibs. Why not? We’re nonetheless mates 40 years later, so it was proper. However Limahl wished all of it with me. He even mentioned to Steve: ‘You’re not a songwriter,’ regardless of Steve bringing a variety of galvanising concepts.
“Limahl was simply so troublesome. Some horrible moments occurred. Kajagoogoo have been on the high of our sport: hits, Prime 5 album, sold-out tour. For us to say: ‘We are able to’t do that’, you possibly can think about how unhealthy it was. It was hellish, and it lowered me to being somebody I didn’t recognise.”
At a disaster assembly, EMI understood the band’s woes. Limahl was out. Sal Solo and David Grant have been tentatively approached as alternative singers, earlier than Nick’s bandmates urged he ought to return to being a singer.
“After Artwork Nouveau, I had enormous reservations,” he admits. “However the guys have been actually supportive. We went in a jazzier path, which I preferred. Islands is a extra refined album.
“I can’t take heed to White Feathers, due to each the music and its circumstances. The factor I’m most recognized for is the factor I’m most sad about. That left me in a nomadic state, looking for a stage of kindred spirit and success.”
Beggs is blunt about why Kajagoogoo reformed in 2003. “VH1 wished us to do Bands Reunited,” he explains. “I’d purchased a brand new home and wanted to pay the stamp obligation. I used to be completely mercenary about it.”
Nick additionally wished to attempt to construct bridges with each Limahl and drummer Jez, who had slowly sided with the singer.
After a number of false begins, the reunited band toured efficiently in 2008, ending once more in 2010, when Beggs was requested to play in former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett’s band.
“Steve’s name was the proper approach to finish Kajagoogoo,” Nick causes, including Limahl wasn’t a lot simpler second time round. “Limahl has two settings: darling and exasperating. I discovered from the reunion that, for those who put the identical individuals collectively, the identical issues will rear their head, irrespective of how a lot time has handed. We’d completed a tour, there’d been reissues and new materials. It wrapped issues up in a neat bow, so it was: ‘Nice. Bye!’”
Beggs launched two albums as The Mute Gods with Marco Minnemann and Roger King, and lately launched Fragments with Steven Wilson bandmembers Adam Holzman and Craig Blundell as Trifecta.
“When you’re on the street with gifted individuals for lengthy durations, it’s silly to not take benefit,” smiles Nick. “You’re in such shut proximity, not writing with them could be a missed alternative.”
It’s a collegiate angle partially formed by the dissolution of Nick’s post-Kajagoogoo band Ellis Beggs And Howard with singer Austin Howard and future Spice Women songwriter Simon Ellis. “The frequent denominator in each bands ending was me,” he admits. “I wanted to retrace my steps to see how I’d short-circuited them.”
Nick had been closely invested in Christianity. His father left residence when he was 10 and his mom died when he was 13. Beggs displays: “Life had been a catastrophe, so how might I make sense of it? I discovered that reply in Christianity. But it surely was self-medication, merely a plaster. It wasn’t the reply.”
Re-evaluating his life, Nick noticed he’d grow to be “a non secular bigot”, a hardline angle that affected his relationships, not simply together with his bandmates. He has rejected faith since.
Beggs’ refreshed outlook has made him an excellent adventurer, at residence each as Belinda Carlisle’s musical director (“I used to be going by a divorce, and Belinda was so type. She’s lovable”) and as a bassist for Steven Wilson, singer/guitarist with experimental enviornment rockers Porcupine Tree.
Nick and Steven met a decade in the past, after a Steve Hackett present. “There’s a photograph backstage after Steve’s present,” says Nick. “There’s me, Hackett, Wilson, Fish and Mark King. Everybody who noticed it went: ‘Wow, they should be doing a supergroup!’
“But it surely was the primary time I’d met Steven. Then, 10 days later, he known as to ask if I’d wish to play on his solo album. Steven is an expensive pal, a superb man.”
Having wrapped up Kajagoogoo of their neat bow over a decade in the past, Beggs lately completed a tour with Howard Jones.
He’s enjoying on new albums by Steven Wilson and Ginger Wildheart, and made his personal album enjoying his beloved electrical bass-style Chapman Stick to an orchestra. There are loads extra eclectic occasions forward.
“There’s nonetheless a lot I need to do,” demurs Nick, who nonetheless sees Stuart and Steve – and, sometimes, Jez. “I haven’t bought near what I need to obtain.” Perhaps not. However at the least he’s again on the proper path.