Monday, April 26, 2010

TTHC interviews "The Distance" producer, Simon Climie

In 2008, Alabama soul met UK pop in the French countryside.

Alabama native, Taylor Hicks traveled to France that year to collaborate with renowned London musician and producer, Simon Climie, for Taylor’s first release, “The Distance,” on his own label, Modern Whomp Records.

Simon was kind enough to give an extensive interview to TTHC and talked about Taylor Hicks, music, and success.

“…The first thing that struck me was his passion for Music...and in particular “Song Sense” where he really has vision , and the ability to recognize what’s special about certain songs and how to bring that through...”

The British songwriter and producer is the former lead singer of the 1980s UK pop duo, Climie Fisher. With his partner, Rob Fisher, they had top five charting records, that Simon describes like a “Hall and Oates type of thing—two guys making good music.”

“I started as Songwriter ...without a huge ambition to be a “Rock Star” - And when I met Rob Fisher at Abbey road - … We wanted to write songs and both loved experimenting in the studios....It was fun having a band... like there was a force there that was definitely bigger than the both of us....”

Simon released his own solo album, Soul Inspiration, in 1992 for Sony’s Columbia label. He branched out into a role in the production side of the business, producing and writing songs for a number of 1990s pop artists. He is best known for his work as a collaborator with Eric Clapton on albums such as Pilgrim, Reptile and Riding with the King.

“His most recent work with Clapton is on Clapton and J.J. Cale's album The Road to Escondido, which was released in 2006. Apart from Clapton, he also worked with former Doobie Brothers member Michael McDonald on his Motown albums. He produced the 2009 album by the American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, The Distance.” (wikipedia)

Also a prolific songwriter, Simon co-wrote The Distance tracks, “What’s Right is Right,” “New Found Freedom,” and “Once Upon a Lover.

In the music production business, Simon is recognized for a “common thread of quality” from his work with Eric Clapton to his own Climie Fisher Group.

Read much more from Simon—his take on the legendary artists with whom he has worked, how he put Taylor to the test, and his own defining piece of work.

Simon Climie's Interview on our message board, Connections:

Photos: One of Simon Climie's studios in the U.S.; Simon (right) and Rob Fisher; Simon's loft studio.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Celebrating the Legends~~Tom, Charles, & Randy

It’s a week of legends for Taylor Hicks.

He met the first—songwriter and musician, Tom Hambridge—in a Toronto diner. He meets two more on Sunday as he sings the National Anthem at the Indy Grand Prix in Birmingham, AL—basketball legend Charles Barkley and country music superstar, Randy Owens, of the legendary band, “Alabama.” Charles Barkley will be Grand Marshall of the motorsports event and Randy Owens will perform the most-loved song in the Southern state, “My Home’s in Alabama.”

On Twitter: “@TaylorRHicks: Met Tom Hambridge-Legendary Producer, writer of 19, in Toronto diner. He is with Buddy Guy tonight. Cool. Fri 09 Apr 13:26 via txt”

Tom Hambridge is a renouned Nashville songwriter and musician, and composer of “19,” the emotional song recorded by Taylor on his album, “The Distance.” Hambridge is an ASCAP Award-winning, three-time Grammy nominated producer, singer songwriter and drummer.

“Tom’s compositions have been recorded by musical greats including: Buddy Guy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Thorogood, Taylor Hicks, Rodney Atkins, Van Zant, NRBQ, Shemekia Copeland, Susan Tedeschi, Joe Nichols, Montgomery Gentry, Delbert McClinton, Keith Anderson, Billy Ray Cyrus and many others! Also a very active solo artist, Tom has released four critically acclaimed CD’s and been featured on the Disney soundtracks of 'Cars' and 'Rattattoui.'" (

Charles Barkley is an outspoken basketball legend.

I was there for the glorious days in the 1990s of the Phoenix Suns with Superstar Barkley. I was also there when Charles spoke at the opening of a new Boys & Girls Club. He came in like a rock star. He was. I remember what he said about role models.

He said he wasn’t one.

He said it was the parents who should be the role models. I don’t think he was avoiding the role of responsible behavior. I think he was rightfully placing it where it first belongs—on parents.

Charles is never at a loss for words. He and Taylor banter back and forth when they meet. They have even discussed Charles running for Governor of Alabama with Taylor as his Lt. Governor. (Seriously?) I expect we will see some good natured exchanges somewhere this weekend.

Charles was standing at the side of the stage at Taylor’s concert Saturday night at WorkPlay in Birmingham, September, 2009.

“My Home’s in Alabama” is an Alabama anthem.

It was the song with which Taylor won his high school talent contest. It was the song his band “Passing Through” sang when Supernaw invited them up on stage. It brought down the house. (“Heart Full of Soul” by Taylor Hicks)

It was the song that Taylor sang in Birmingham, 2007, at the Alabama Theatre on his first solo tour that is etched in the hearts of everyone who was there.

Randy Owens, the lead singer of the legendary band, “Alabama” will do the high honors Sunday.

“In 1980, the band, now called Alabama, quickly reached country superstardom. For the next twenty-two years, Alabama had a tremendous impact on country music, attracting a younger group of listeners, crossing over into pop radio, and paving the way for groups to be successful on country radio."

“Alabama released 21 gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums, had 42 No. One singles, and sold a total of over 73 million records.” When the band retired in 2002, Randy Owens continued a highly successful solo career.

Owens lives on his own cattle ranch outside Fort Payne, AL, and is a heavy supporter of humanitarian efforts such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital establishing “Country Cares for St. Jude Kids.” Owens, and his wife Kelly Owen, were the primary benefactors for the construction of the Kelly Owen Women's and Children's Pavilion at DeKalb Regional Medical Center in Fort Payne.

I’m told that Randy is a very nice guy. A legend in music is even larger in living life—making a difference where it counts.

With Charles, Randy, and favorite son, Taylor Hicks, Alabama is doing all right this weekend.

No wonder they sing with much pride:

“My home’s in Alabama.”

Start celebrating, Alabama! Let’s go racing!

For more information about Alabama’s race weekend, visit Taylor’s MySpace page:

Randy Owens:
Tom Hambridge:
Taylor Hicks: “Heart Full of Soul” by Taylor Hicks

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Taylor Hicks ~~ Down to the Final Five

It’s down to the Final Five.

Taylor Hicks will finish his run as Teen Angel in “Grease” when this Big Dance closes in less than two months in Cleveland, Ohio.

On the final leg of Broadway Across America's National Tour of "Grease," the musical company travels to Toronto, ON Canada, Hershey, PA, Jacksonville, FL, Fayetteville, AK, and finally, closes in Cleveland, OH, on Sunday, May 23, 2010.

Taylor told an interviewer last week that he had done over 1,000 shows in almost 50 cities since he started “Grease.” He opened on Broadway as Teen Angel on June 8, 2008. He launched Broadway Across America’s National Tour of “Grease” in Providence, RI, on December 2, 2008, and has been on the road with the Rydell High gang ever since.

In pictures and tweets from his touring, fans have gone along to dinner, trudged through blizzards, seen inside the cone, and enjoyed the sites from cities around the country. Only a few more weeks of media, pictures and tweets from the road remain. Then it is on to the future.

This is one of those things that won’t come along again.

If you are in these areas, see “Grease,” or see it again. It is a highly successful Broadway show for a reason, and Taylor Hicks was asked to star in the show for a reason. Check out all those reasons while you still can.

You will have great fun doing so. I know!

VIP packages with Meet and Greets are available for the Final Five. The presale tickets and packages for some of the shows have SOLD OUT. If you are going, and want to meet Taylor, you best buy your VIP tickets now.

The Final Five:

April 7—18 ~~ Toronto, ON – Canon Theatre
April 20—25 ~~ Hershey, PA – Hershey Theatre

April 27—May 2 ~~ Jacksonville, FL – Times-Union Center
May 4—May 9 ~~ Fayetteville, AR – Walton Arts Center
May 14—May 23 ~~ Cleveland, OH – Palace Theatre ~~ Closing of “Grease”

For more information visit Taylor’s website at:

Don’t miss your last chance to see Taylor Hicks starring as Teen Angel in “Grease.”

From our Research Department we have this footnote for Taylor. He can enjoy a plethora of attractions in the last five cities:

Cleveland, OH—ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME (again)

Photo by San~~The Pantages Theatre, Hollywood, CA, 3.17.09.