'80s - Edward Tudor-Pole (2013)
'Wunderbar! The Edward Tudor-Pole Story!'
Edward Tudor-Pole formed the band Tenpole Tudor in 1977, and eventually came to prominence after appearing in the film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle as a possible replacement for Johnny Rotten in the Sex Pistols. Indeed, he sang 'Who Killed Bambi?,' 'The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle' and a cover version of 'Rock Around The Clock' in the film and on the soundtrack.
Tenpole Tudor returned in 1980, signing to Stiff Records and releasing two successful albums, Eddie, Old Bob, Dick And Gary and Let the Four Winds Blow. They had three hit singles, one of them UK Top 10 hit 'Swords Of A Thousand Men.'
After parting ways with his band, he became a solo performer, and continues to play to audiences all over the country.
Exclusive Magazine recently sat down with Edward Tudor-Pole - and delved deeply, ever so deeply into his past. Knowing he was actually born Edward Pole, a name that goes all the way back to the Norman Conquest. And realizing that he even has a genealogical connection to the royal house of Tudor, I wondered if; for the purpose of this interview, if I should actually be calling him Sir Edward, perhaps?! "Call me Ed. My real name is Edward Tudor-Pole. Great Grandfather added the 'Tudor' century before last. I would not have done so even if we can claim descendancy. Who cares about those arriviste parvenu Tudors? We are Poles!"
Is it true that you were the brief replacement for Johnny Rotten in the Sex Pistols, at the point he started to go off the rails "I had been sacked from an obscure new wave band called the Visitors in 1979, because a journalist had written that the band were great except for the singer! I was forlorn. Soon after I got a phone call from a Visitors fan telling me that they were auditioning for Lydon's replacement in the Sex Pistols at a theatre the next day and that I ought to go along. This is the only time the bloke ever rang me and I've long forgotten his name and I thank him. My heart was hammering. The point is I knew I would get the gig. No-one could match me in them days for manic crazy aggressive energy. And so it was."
What drew you to the Sex Pistols and their music? "It was the ultra rebellious and punk attitude of the Stones that I felt such an affinity to as a boy that set my attitude to how music should be delivered. And the Sex Pistols were the first band since them that matched something of that spirit."
From an early age? "Well, when a friend and I were walking along some suburban street reading about them being scandalous in the Evening paper my friend said, sort of joking, 'You should be in that band, Ed.' For he knew what I was Like. I have had the punk attitude since I was 10."
When did you know you got the gig with the Sex Pistols? "I knew I was in when Malcolm spoke his first words to me which were, 'I want you to write a song called 'Who Killed Bambi.' So no time was wasted. I sat in my dingy basement squat with my guitar and tried to come up with some ideas. Malcom kept coming round telling me which bits he liked and which he didn't and telling me to persevere."
What was your first impression of Malcolm McLaren? "The guy's a genius! He didn't even ask whether I could wrtite songs. He simply assumed I could and he was right. That is respect."
Tell us more about the infamous song 'Who Killed Bambi' coming together "So when I'd got 'Who Killed Bambi' as good as I could without knowing what the hell it was about, and Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm's girlfriend and collaborator, who had checked me out, had improved some of my meaningless lyrical attempts, Malcolm hired a proper orchestral arranger, Andrew Pryce Jackman, to score the music. He suggested I put in an A chord in at a certain point, which was a good suggestion I was happy to accept. I went along with it all of course although it wasn't exactly the style of music I had in mind! Malcolm wanted a Mexican flavour!"
"I am only sorry I missed the Royal Philharmonic orchestra recording their parts. They were all packing away their trumpets and violins when I turned up to do the vocal. I still didn't know what I was meant to be doing. Malcolm drove me hard and we did take after take; he kept saying 'be more punk!' I went to ridiculous lengths to deliver what I thought he wanted and he made a composite choosing all the silliest lines from all the takes. I hated it."
And tell us more about the filming of the video for it "When it came to the day's filming in a mock-up of a cinema foyer built in the actual foyer of The Rainbow I was in my element. I was the hurricane in the eye of the calm; of course no-one told me what to do!!! Being on stage is the one thing I do understand something about. The music dictates how I move to a song so obviously it had to be completely over the top. I met all these old British comedy stars of films that I'd grown up with who were there as my supporting cast. Irene Handl, the greatest of them all, instinctively called me Tadpole. Everyone else laughed more than I did simply because with a surname like Tudor Pole it was a nickname I was familiar with at school. As was my dad at his school."
"Steve Jones, who I was really nervous of meeting ... how would he take to me being his lead singer? ... was extremely welcoming and friendly doing everything he could to put me at my ease. What a lovely gentleman he was and is. We had four rehearsals in the Denmark street place which put me back on more familiar ground, We rehearsed with Andy Allen on bass standing in for Sid who was in the U.S."
"So, we had Paul Cook on drums, me on vocals and the inimitable, one and only Steve Jones on guitar. That the band couldn't really play was Malcolm's line, and a great line, but Steve Jones had the most extraordinary full and intricate sound. He has a gift. They were a great band, really tight. The rehearsals were enormous fun. It sounded great to me as I, literally, bounced off the walls whilst singing. We started to build up a set although we didn't play any Lydon songs!"
Didn't you also do some vocals for a classic American rock 'n' roll song? "Yeah, Malcolm had me go in to do a vocal on 'Rock Around the Clock' to which the backing track had been pre-recorded. So it was just me and Julien Temple in there. People request that song at gigs but when you play it live it sounds just like Bill Haley. Lydon and Virgin had a court case against Malcolm who was investing all the money, including the band's share, into The Rock and Roll Swindle film instead of giving it out to the boys. For which he was guilty, but not for any reasons of greed. More to finance his ideas and plans and move forward."
Tell me more about Malcolm McLaren "Malcolm McLaren was the inspiring genius and ideas man who master-minded the Sex Pistols to mass exposure, outrage, adoration and huge sales. The band were responsible for the great music but the credit for their success lies at Malcolm's door. He is comparable only to that other similar rock & roll manager genius Andrew Loog Oldham, who pulled off exactly the same trick with the Rolling Stones. The 'bad-boy' cachet is pure gold in terms of sales because you appeal to every rebel in the land!"
"It is a myth that Malcolm was some exploitative music biz type of character just after the money. Above all he was an artist through and through, constantly dreaming up new plans and schemes each one more outrageous than the last. He would describe his ideas, captivating his audience and cackling with mischievous glee like a kid."
"To be in his company was a joy, a fascination, a wonder and a delight; and always extremely funny. You could argue he was the greatest artist of all of us. Listen to the variety and invention of the records he went on to make in his own right! When he was a student, him and a bunch of mates all dressed up as Father Christmas and gave out toys to children from the shelves of a toy shop on Oxford street causing chaos and delight in equal measure."
"This story sums up the essence of McLaren. He gave me my initial break, he was my tutor and to him I owe my life in music. As does Adam Ant, who admitted as much to me when we gigged together back in 2011."
And Sid Vicious ...? "People always ask me about Sid Vicious. What was he like? To me he seemed like a f**ked up junkie incoherent from drugs and under Nancy's thumb. How interesting can a junkie be? Not very. Heroin takes over a man's character and soul. To describe Sid is to describe a junkie. I only met him a couple of times; got nothing out of him. Smack is evil sh*t; dear reader, don't go near it. Malcolm was the vibrant character, Sid was pale, ill-looking and quiet."
Did Nancy Spungen travel everywhere with him? "Yeah, Nancy was with him at the auditions which were held in a West End theatre, and she was as obnoxious as everyone says. At one point she did a mock striptease on stage, stopping before nudity, saying, 'The rest is reserved for Siddy boy.' It was charmless, horrible and unfunny."
"One of the most extraordinary books I have read is Nancy's mother's account of her daughter who was a total pain from the moment she was born. It's called 'And I Don't Want to Live This Life' by Deborah Spungen. Nancy, it transpires, was horrific freak of nature, which makes it easier to have a least a bit of sympathy for her."
"Anyway, then two things happened in quick succession: Sid died in America and Malcolm was ousted by the court case from anything more to do with managing the Sex Pistols. The whole plan died then and there.
I was a lot less disappointed than Malcolm. I never really wanted to be the second Johnny Rotten. My childhood dream was always to write the songs and lead my own band. I was in a good position; my foot was in the door but Malcolm was bereft; he had lost everything except his capacity for coming up with new ideas: the latest being that him and I should go to Paris and make a video of me having sex with underage girls and SINGING AT THE SAME TIME!"
"'But, but ... Malcolm, I want to form my own band!' said I."
"' We've done rock & roll bands, Tenpole. It's time for something new!'"
"'You may have done rock & roll Malcolm, but I haven't. And anyway, I am not sure I could get the horn under those conditions!'"
"'Oh don't worry about that! We can sort that out!'"
"Anyway, I declined, and with the publishing advance for Who Killed Bambi I went on to form and lead my own band, Tenpole Tudor."
So where did the "Ten"pole aspect of the bands name originate? "On the way to the Sex Pistols audition I changed Ed to Ten on a whim. There were too many Eddys; Eddie Cochran, Eddie and the Hot Rods, etc. Later, Malcolm [McLaren] changed it round to Ten Pole Tudor. I had no say in it!"
I know you don't like talking about these days as much, but when you suddenly hit gold with three (3) hit singles in a row from your debut album Eddie, Old Bob, Dick and Gary in 1981, and were all over TOTP, how had the band changed from the one that had been born back in 1979? "We had success way too soon. We hadn't paid our dues."
For some of your public performances, especially TOTP, you yourself used to wear a full suit of chain mail armour! Wow, now that must have been awkward to sing and move about in? "Yup, you've got to be so strong! Life can be long!"
And talking about those singles, can you please describe what your influences were behind the creation of such songs as 'Swords of a Thousand Men,' 'Wunderbar,' and 'Throwing My Baby Out With the Bathwater'? "When trying to come up up with a song, and I like the tune, then we'll think of words to go on it. Some are sh*t, like 'Wunderbar's!"
So, with a follow-up album, Let the Four Winds Blow that also did quite well, why did the band then break up the following year? "They were a bunch of c*nts, apart from Dick who tried to throw me out of my own group. It's a long and horrible story!"
OK, sorry ... well, what I find interesting is that once the punk aspects of Tenpole Tudor had died down, you not only led a Cajun-inspired version of the band, but began performing in jazz and swing bands! So, being that you are very eclectic when it comes to music, where does you heart lie musically these days? "I have always thought of punk as an attitude: like Jerry Lee Lewis had and Keith Richards. And like I've had since I was a kid. A refusal to be told what to do by assholes. A sort of 'don't f**k with me or I'll kill you' type thing!"
"I have always loved music of all sorts. I grew up with The Stones, Beatles, Who, Kinks, etc. Followed the scene all the way through, in real time. That has been a privilege! Anyone who has a musical ear is not going to like just one sort of music! The older pop guys like Bach and Mozart are great too. I love listening to my son (18) who loves Thelonius Monk, Oscar Peterson, etc. play the jazz piano. He thinks rock is too simplistic,", he laughs.
"Music comforts my soul. I have to practice many hours a day on my guitar including scales and excercises as trying to do the job of four men and rock the house on one guitar requires a high level of virtuosity. You have to play all the time to be really ON it. So I listen to what that magic piece of wood I've had for 30 years can do. Unless I astonish myself then I don't think I'm playing well so I practice more. I was born to play the guitar and no-one can play it like I can - but it took me 40 years to get good."
These days you focus primarily on acting and your one-man-shows. Although you have reformed Tenpole Tudor from time to time, even releasing the latest album, Made It This Far. Have you ever considered joining those '80s tours that go around the UK every year, perhaps? "I am moving ahead and I play for today. We are not some type of old-folks nostalgia memory lane show like so many bands are. I haven't run out of ideas yet. Moving ahead. What I do now is the story. I've been at it for ten years. The electric one man rock & roll stadium show, playing every weekend. It is by far the most epic thing I have ever done. Who else can rock the house on their own?"
"But, of course it is the audience who are the show and Malcolm was right when he said that they are more important than the band. You can't be better than your crowd; if they are good they make you play better and better. In the end they are doing all the work. The act is a trigger, the audience is the gun. It's a two way street."
Any thoughts about touring over here in the US for your American fans, perhaps? "I would love to play in the USA. I love America. I rely on the great tour manager in the sky to sort out my schedule. So I hope it happens. It has to be financially viable I guess. I have no management. I just have my guitar and like when Willie Nelson said after he had to sell all his assets to pay a multi million dollar tax bill, 'They didn't take my guitar, so I still have everything,' ha ha. Right on!"
You were born in Lambeth, London, so you are a Cockney, correct? Being that is correct, what's the most Cockney thing that you've ever done? "I may have been born in Lambeth, but that's where the hospital was. We moved around a lot within London many times so I have no affinity to a particular area. I live in London but am not a 'Londoner'. My affinity is with the whole kingdom around which I constantly travel, meeting the various tribes, hearing a different accent every week, talking to the people. This all reinforces the strange fantasy I have always had that I am the King of England. I love all the people
and have observed that all humans are pretty much the same everywhere and in the main good hearted and kind."
"I get on very well with delinquents and villains many of whom are drawn to Punk; not for musical reasons, obviously. My only sorrow is we don't get any blacks coming; after all I am playing the black man's music!"
"Strictly speaking you have to be born within the sound of Bow bells to be a cockney and I don't think Lambeth is, being south of the river. But I don't have a cockney accent. Most of the cockneys have moved out to Essex, the county east of London and you hear that glorious dialect less and less in the city which after 1000 years is a shame. Mass immigration drove them out. Nowadays the children at regular schools learn to speak a black, hip-hop stylee jive talk."
"At a bus stop recently, on my way to the rehearsal studio, a Jamaican guy, seeing my guitar case, struck up a friendly conversation. After a bit he said, 'Man, you are so ENGLISH!!' to which I replied, 'London is the capital of England, you know, so you are bound to meet the occasional Englishman!!' The good thing about multi cultural London is that it makes it very difficult to be racist. As everyone you meet originates from a different place to you or each other, you'd have to hate everyone! I take a person as I find them, some are nicer than others and where they come from has nothing to do with it, obviously."
"Nevertheless it is a shame that cockneys, who see it differently, left in droves. They are a unique breed of characters who seem to like me nearly as much as I like them. Love is perhaps a better word, in the sense that I definitely file cockneys under 'family'. It is understandable that distinct tribes do not want to be diluted or separated. I can see both sides, and there hangs the social dilemma of our times."
So, are you an Arsenal, Chelsea or Spurs soccer supporter?! "I don't follow club football. I live near Arsenal, but in my heart I prefer Newcastle in the north east of England. That fine city has given me so much hospitality and when I played there on a saturday when they had won their game it was extra crazy amazing. I like the World Cup and games when the teams are named after countries."
"Would any of your readers care about English club football? I would rather watch Tennis or Snooker on TV for entertainment value!"
Finally, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, we here at Exclusive Magazine love Penguins (the birds) - so, I was wondering (as we're putting together a children's book for charity of the good/funny answers), if you had any love for them; or a funny story associated with one, perhaps?! "This is my favourite question! Actually, a lot of my conversations with fans are about our children and swapping stories. Becoming a father was the making of me and it has been nothing but fun bringing up my son and being surrounded by all his friends at 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 etc the company of the very young I always find delightful. Any child in my charge I can guarantee their happiness. They are constantly funny and entertaining and gave me such a welcome break from those ghastly people the over-25s become. I miss all those evaporated people. But I'm damned if I can recall an example of those linguistic delights.
Henry once said, aged 7, 'Dad, I've just invented a new super-hero: Jacketman; he throws jackets at baddies'!"
"I like Spike Milligan's one of when he was in the outside lavatory and he heard someone trying the locked door. 'Who's there?' he said. After a short pause a little girl's voice says, 'Someone else'!"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
So, if you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of a Tenpole Tudor Greatest Hits CD, just answer this easy question: Tudor Pole has appeared in numerous films and plays, as well as appearances on TOTP, and was the presenter on which popular UK TV show (replacing Richard O'Brien) from 1993 until the show's end in 1995?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before October 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: TENPOLE TUDOR SIGNED CDs to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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