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It’s been a long time coming but the wait is over. The debut album from singer-songwriter Michael Armstrong, released 29th June 2015.
Co-produced by music maestro Keith Bessey (Elton John, 10cc, The Ramones) the album includes guest appearances from guitar legends Albert Lee, Elliott Randall (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers) and Phil Palmer (Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan) amongst others.
The collection of 12 original songs and two very special cover versions are steeped in the echoes of Michael’s many musical influences including the likes of Billy Joel, McCartney, Dylan, Jeff Lynne, The Eagles and Supertramp. His story-based songs are uniquely lyrical, melodic and memorable. The release is highly anticipated by both fans and media alike. It has been 25 years in the making …..
Michael’s UK tour as special guest to Peter Howarth, lead singer of The Hollies, continues to be hugely successful and further dates are planned in 2015 for the third consecutive year (see Michael’s tour page), along with his own solo shows across the UK and Europe.
Michael Armstrong - The Album - Out Now …..
‘Music is my first love’
- Jeff Lynne
‘The songs are my lexicon, I believe the songs’
- Bob Dylan
‘What to do with something you’re given, and how do you transform it into something worthwhile’
- Donald Fagen, Steely Dan
‘One of the biggest thrills for me still is sitting down with a guitar or piano and just out of nowhere trying to make a song happen’
– Paul McCartney
‘I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity’
- Billy Joel
Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Steely Dan, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Jeff Lynne, Super tramp – all legends and some of the greatest songwriters of our time. Michael Armstrong grew up living and breathing every note, every chord change and every lyric from his musical heroes. It opened up a creative outlet that allowed him to pour his heart and soul onto a piece of paper written in the make shift studio of his family home. Here he taught himself the guitar and piano and in those early years his future career path as a songwriter was moulded.
Flash forward 20 years and the quotes of the famous songwriters from above still echoed in his head. They were driving him as he managed the family construction company by day and toured the gig circuit by night, but as he married, had his children and worked flat out in building up a successful company he could not shake off the songs and the born gift of story telling he was clearly destined for.
Then things changed…….forced to close the company amidst family ill health and economic turmoil, Michael was presented with an opportunity that would see his life alter beyond all recognition. It was now or never. A chance meeting with his future manager sparked a series of events that would lead to the release of his 2012 debut EP and literally take him from the building site to Buckingham Palace, where he found himself at the Queen’s Jubilee Concert side by side with his musical idols including Paul McCartney, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.
National airplay, great reviews, industry and media reaction , plus another golden opportunity enabled Michael to pursue the dream of his own album, and immersing himself in the music business, he was able to present his songs and gain access to some of the finest players around, making this a debut album like none before……
Co-produced by music maestro Keith Bessey (Elton John, 10cc, Cliff Richard, The Ramones) the album includes guest appearances by many guitar legends including the iconic Albert Lee, Elliott Randall (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers) and Phil Palmer (Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Robbie Williams), plus the amazing vocals of The Hollies front man Peter Howarth, among others.
2015 saw the release of ‘Michael Armstrong’. It’s been a long awaited labour of love but it was certainly worth it. 12 songs of quality and beauty, written with intensely sensitive and intelligent aplomb, alongside 2 very special cover versions. From the autobiographical love song to the wireless ‘The Radio Years’, to the tongue-in-cheek country ballad ‘The Innocence Of Men’, from the commuter train chaos of ‘Back To Work’, to the wry look at immigration ‘Johannesburg’, Michael’s unique lyrical wit and honesty lift these memorable tunes onto a level rarely heard before. These are songs that everyone can relate to. These are songs that tell a story. These are songs that will last a lifetime.
Michael’s debut album has been causing quite a stir since its summer 2015 release and has led to recent appearances on national TV, national and international radio and to sell out shows across the UK. Following on from hugely successful tours during 2015 supporting Leo Sayer, Vonda Shepard and The Hollies’ Peter Howarth, this release coincides with his 2016 UK Tour from January to May supporting iconic 80’s band T’Pau – ironically the first band that Michael ever saw live! Now, as he plays alongside them it really is a story that has come full circle.
My obsession with music started when I was a child, when I first picked up a guitar, and when I fell in love with the music of The Beatles. Although the band had long split-up, my parents owned the red & blue greatest hits albums on cassette and this was all I ever listened to in the car, singing along and harmonising with my brother. We would watch ‘Top of the Pops’ on a Thursday night, and listen to the chart run down on a Sunday evening, waiting to find out who held that prestigious No.1 slot. It was all I cared about. I lived and breathed music.
After becoming quite a proficient drummer by the age of 12, I decided I wanted to write my own songs and emulate my heroes and idols. Maybe this would be my chance of meeting and joining them on TV and at shows. I took guitar lessons and as soon as I could play three chords I had my first attempt at song writing. Thankfully I improved over time. Not happy with just playing the guitar and drums, I taught myself to play the piano by listening to Billy Joel and Elton John songs during rugby practice at school, which the teachers allowed as I was clearly no sportsman!
As soon as I could drive, the first place I headed for was Liverpool, the birthplace of The Beatles. I dragged my poor girlfriend around all the sites: - their homes, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, on the Magical Mystery Tour bus, the museum and of course The Cavern.
Whilst paying my dues and performing my newly penned songs along with my band, across some of the country’s dirtiest and frightening venues, real life began to take its toll. Marriage, children and a mortgage meant that my part-time job in the family construction business was becoming a necessity and not just a fall-back for my life as a wandering musician. John Lennon once sang “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.
Not one to give up, I continued to write, record and perform my songs at every opportunity, always on the look out for someone who could make that dream come true…….and then it happened.
A chance meeting with a music business impresario who loved my songs; wanted to manage me; wanted to make a record.
I found myself with a recording deal and the chance to make my debut EP in, of all places, Liverpool?! It couldn't have been more perfect and we bedded down at Elevator Studios to make a recording that would ultimately change my life. The vibe of the city, the people and it's rich musical heritage inspired all of us.
Next I found myself mingling with some of the biggest stars in the business. Singing and working with Sir Cliff Richard, Mark Knopfler, Chris de Burgh, and then the man, the very reason I ever picked up a guitar or sat down at a piano, with the thinking that one day I might be able to write songs that would lead me to meet my idol, Sir Paul McCartney. This childhood dream was impossible, yet it came true in the Summer of 2012 at The Queen's Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace. McCartney was of course headlining and I got the chance to hang out with him back stage after the sound-check when he caught me looking longingly at him and introduced himself with "Hi, I'm Paul"! You're told that you shouldn't meet your idols, but he could not have been nicer and more down to earth. I was able to give him a copy of the CD we had recorded in Liverpool, where-after he nick-named me 'Rock Star'! Unbeknownst to him, perhaps until now, I cheekily managed to sneak onto the stage that night and join him and the entire ensemble in the sing-a-long finale 'Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da' .……by posing as one of 'The Military Wives'!!
The EP led to me being able to record my full debut album and this in turn unbelievably led me back to Liverpool for something I will never forget. On the 14th June 2015, my band and I were invited to my album preview performance at The Cavern Club. The place was buzzing and the event was attended by some prestigious fans. Amongst them were Nigel & Debbie Greenberg. Debbie’s father owned and ran The Cavern in its heyday when she was just a young girl. There are still photos on the walls there of her with the Fab Four! Nigel owned the recording studio above it and their stories of those heady days are just fabulous. Another attendee was Freda Kelly, the woman who was The Beatles secretary and trusted friend throughout their reign, and is now in charge of The Beatles fan club. We were also blessed with the company of Colin Hall who is the live-in custodian of Mendips, John Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool, which is now part of music and cultural history.
By Michael Armstrong