Sunday, 23 September 2018

Portraits show Springfields star Mike in a new light

Talking to Mike Hurst about his career in music is like opening a book on hit singles

Talking to Mike Hurst about his career in music is like opening a book on hit singles.

Not just as a performer in the Sixties group The Springfields but as a record producer, songwriter — and now as a chronicler of the history of popular music.

And next month Mike will be combining all three of his talents as he returns to the stage of the Kenton Theatre with a new Springfields show.



It will encompass Mike’s half century in music — the songs he loves, the hits he helped produce and his days as a member of the chart-successes that were the Springfields.

It is a journey that has left him with a wealth of memories but a desire still to perform and with an almost missionary zeal to tell young people about music, in talks to schools and colleges.

Where the seed first began and where the roots have grown, and why today’s music owes a debt to the past.

But on Sunday, November 1, at the Kenton, the route is straight down memory lane.

“The first half of the show will be me playing some rock’n’roll classics from the Fifties and Sixties,” says Mike. “The second half will be the Springfields songbook.”

Making up the other Springfields will be Andy Marlow and Alice Pitt-Carter.

The original trio was Dusty and her brother Tom Springfield and Mike. They had hits like Silver Threads and Golden Needles, Island of Dreams and Say I Won’t Be There — and in 1962 they were voted top British group.

“Then we split up. It was a short time but a very successful time,” says Mike, leaving you wondering what might have happened had they gone on.

“When we broke up I thought I would be fine, but I was not. I was once called the forgotten Springfield. It hurt, but you learn your lessons.”

Dusty enjoyed immediate success after the split and became a huge star.

Mike still played but had greater success as a producer. He toured the northern clubs and remembers asking one club owner when he was on. “Between bouts three and four,” came the reply.

“Between us we were responsible for more hits than any other British group ... other than the Beatles. Dusty helped us live on through the name,” he says.

How ironic that Dusty spent the last years of her life in Henley and is remembered by a headstone in St Mary’s churchyard.

Mike’s thirst for ways into production saw him overseeing Marc Bolan’s first Decca recording, The Wizard. Success came easier for Marc than another Hurst protégé — Cat Stevens — who was dismissed as rubbish by one record company executive (although Mike’s recollection was of a more down-to-earth word).

However, the young singer-songwriter’s perseverance eventually paid off.

“He turned up on my doorstep and I said: â??I will take a punt on you and make a record with you.’ ”

They took I Love My Dog to Decca, where the man who turned down the Beatles, Dick Rowe, this time made the right choice.

Mike’s story is peppered with anecdotes like introducing David Frost to Paul McCartney and introducing the Beatle to Jane Asher. Of producing stars like PP Arnold, The Move and Spencer Davis. All a far cry from what might have been in another life.

“My mother wanted me to be in the church, I wanted something to do with animals — it all turned out very different,” he muses with a smile. Mike and his wife Marjorie have seven children between them — Tim, Alexis, Caroline, Muffin, Bryony, Jonas and Adam — and 18 grandchildren.

One of them, 18-year-old Ellie Peers, is studying at art college and has produced stunning artworks of her grandfather.

It has been a tremendous journey, although this latest stop is an easy journey up the road to the town that is almost Hurst-on-Thames. At the end of this year Mike will have been living in the town for 50 years, so a reason to celebrate on November 1.

Tickets for Mike Hurst and the Springfields are £18 with concessions available.

To book, call the box office on (01491) 575698 or visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk

The box office in New Street is open from 11am to 3pm on weekdays and from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.



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