Within the 40 years since Too Shy grew to become 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 Traditional 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 Traditional Pop meets Nick to debate his 40 years of adventures in music.
“That is the very best pub on this planet,” beams Beggs, not inaccurately, over a pint of porter at The Black Lion in Leighton Buzzard, the cosy market city the place Kajagoogoo fashioned.
Kajagoogoo stood out then, and Nick – lengthy blond hair making him as immediately acquainted as when Too Shy made Kajagoogoo stars – remains to be a compelling persona now.
No marvel there’s a photograph of Kajagoogoo on show on the Wetherspoons up the road.
“I’m usually chosen to be in folks’s bands due to my stage presence, not simply due to the way in which I play,” notes Beggs. “They need the unusual gonk man. I typically see audiences take a look at me and suppose: ‘What the fuck is that?’
“I obtained over my ego within the 80s and I simply need to be a participant. However you’d be stunned how a lot my ego is named 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 very good 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,” recollects Nick. “However then they’d see us reside. We lacked a frontperson who’d allow us to concentrate on our musicality.”
Auditions for a frontperson had 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 certain.” Then a pal instructed Nick of a singer who’d been to the Italia Conti stage faculty who had a fantastic look.
“I may 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 had been.”
Limahl grew to become Nick’s lodger, with the writing of Too Shy an instance of how the pair could possibly be in sync. Nick labored as a dustman and wrote with Limahl when he obtained house. 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 believed was the primary verse, the ‘Fashionable drugs…’ lyrics. Limahl mentioned: ‘That’s the second verse’ and got here up with: ‘Tongue tied…’ Out of the blue, there was a geography to the music. Stuart had simply obtained a Jupiter 8 synth, and he was nice at manipulating its sounds.”
For a would-be pop sensation, Artwork Nouveau had been a bit of jazzy. That ambiance was nonetheless there in what may in any other case be a sensational debut single. Enter Nick Rhodes.
When the renamed Kajagoogoo had been signed by EMI, they had been provided to numerous producers. “No person wished to
work with us,” laughs Nick. “Tony Visconti instructed EMI: ‘Why would I need to work with this band? I’m a residing legend.’ Which he’s, so truthful sufficient.”
Duran Duran had 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 had 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 had been proud of what they’d finished, so why not commerce on one another’s property?”
An novice pilot, Colin was suitably calm and measured. “Any drawback, Colin was all the time: ‘I ponder if we should always do that?’” recollects 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 successful. “Nick can image a document 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 music: ‘Yeah. Yeah. NO. Yeah. YES.’ He edited Too Shy completely till it seemed like successful. That’s how he labored all through the album. We’d observe pink herrings, and Nick would say: ‘No, not pop sufficient.’ He’s nice at getting songs again on monitor.”
Beggs agrees that, 40 years on, Too Shy sounds a fairly unusual music to succeed in No.1. He factors out: “It’s not likely a music – it’s a document. It’s a very good document, however not a very good music, even when it did outsell The Police that 12 months, which is simply loopy.”
Regardless of additional High 20 hits with Ooh To Be Ah and Hold On Now, and debut album White Feathers reaching No.5, success was nothing like Nick had imagined. The rationale was easy: Limahl and the remainder of the band simply couldn’t work collectively.
“Limahl grew to become untenable fairly shortly,” sighs Nick. “He was a tough character, and one of many first issues he wished to do was change the writing cut up. The remainder of us grew up collectively, and there was an settlement on equal dibs. Why not? We’re nonetheless buddies 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 lots of galvanising concepts.
“Limahl was simply so tough. Some horrible moments occurred. Kajagoogoo had been on the prime of our sport: hits, High 5 album, sold-out tour. For us to say: ‘We are able to’t do that’, you may think about how dangerous it was. It was hellish, and it diminished 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 had been tentatively approached as alternative singers, earlier than Nick’s bandmates prompt he ought to return to being a singer.
“After Artwork Nouveau, I had large reservations,” he admits. “However the guys had been actually supportive. We went in a jazzier path, which I favored. Islands is a extra subtle album.
“I can’t hearken to White Feathers, due to each the music and its circumstances. The factor I’m most identified for is the factor I’m most sad about. That left me in a nomadic state, looking for a degree 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 responsibility. 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 strategy 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, in the event you put the identical folks collectively, the identical issues will rear their head, irrespective of how a lot time has handed. We’d finished 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 not too long ago launched Fragments with Steven Wilson bandmembers Adam Holzman and Craig Blundell as Trifecta.
“In the event you’re on the street with gifted folks for lengthy intervals, it’s silly to not take benefit,” smiles Nick. “You’re in such shut proximity, not writing with them can be a missed alternative.”
It’s a collegiate perspective 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 widespread 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 house when he was 10 and his mom died when he was 13. Beggs displays: “Life had been a catastrophe, so how may 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 turn out to be “a non secular bigot”, a hardline perspective that affected his relationships, not simply along with his bandmates. He has rejected faith since.
Beggs’ refreshed outlook has made him a fantastic adventurer, at house each as Belinda Carlisle’s musical director (“I used to be going by a divorce, and Belinda was so sort. She’s lovely”) and as a bassist for Steven Wilson, singer/guitarist with experimental area 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 have to be doing a supergroup!’
“But it surely was the primary time I’d met Steven. Then, 10 days later, he referred to as to ask if I’d wish to play on his solo album. Steven is an expensive pal, a very good man.”
Having wrapped up Kajagoogoo of their neat bow over a decade in the past, Beggs not too long ago completed a tour with Howard Jones.
He’s taking part in on new albums by Steven Wilson and Ginger Wildheart, and made his personal album taking part in his beloved electrical bass-style Chapman Follow an orchestra. There are a lot extra eclectic occasions forward.
“There’s nonetheless a lot I need to do,” demurs Nick, who nonetheless sees Stuart and Steve – and, often, Jez. “I haven’t obtained near what I need to obtain.” Possibly not. However at the very least he’s again on the best path.