Pop art photo of Jim Penfold by Gered Mankowitz
The year was 1976, Jim Penfold, Neil Aplin, Duncan Reid (later of ‘The Boys’) and a couple of school pals formed a band. 36 years later, on June 9th 2012, Jim Penfold and The Hollywood Killers are going to be performing at London’s legendary 100 Club on Oxford Street.
Photograph for 100 Club flyer by Will Wilkinson http://www.wilkyphotography.com
I chatted with Jim, the band’s founder and front man about the early days, and the time he found himself in the woods with Gwyneth Paltrow…
So Jim, you’ve worked with a lot of well-known people over the years, could you name drop a little for us please?
Sure. When we first started the band we were called ‘The Matinee Idols’ and our early gigs were promoted by Simon Fuller who later went on to manage The Spice Girls and S-Club 7. We’ve also had a few people come and go in the band over the years, one of which was lead guitarist Rob Manzoli who went on to have great success as part of Right Said Fred. In 1984 I was in a short film alongside Jason Connery and a then unknown Jack Dee for our song ‘Teenage Dream’.
Jason Connery and Jack Dee you say? Tell me more
Well I can show you. Last year I remade a video for the song using some of the old footage…
Teenage Dream (2011), produced by Will Wilkinson at Blackboard Productions http://www.wilkyphotography.com
Going back to the very early days, who were your main musical influences?
Definitely the Beatles, and particularly Paul McCartney. In 1977 we played a gig at a wine bar in Rye, and later on that evening Denny Laine and Wings came down there for a drink, and we jammed and hung out with them for a bit after the bar closed which was great. I kept hoping Paul would come down to the bar to join us too, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.
I understand you’ve also done some music for television and film, is that right?
Yes, I wrote and performed the music for Charley Boorman’s series ‘Race to Dakar’, and also the theme song and three sound track songs for a film that Charley was in with Richard E.Grant, called ‘Cash in Hand’.
Have you ever performed in front of royalty?
We have indeed. In 1982 we played at The Berkeley Square Ball in front of Princess Margaret. The headline act that night was Dame Vera Lynn.
Vera Lynn, wow! Next you’ll be telling me you’ve been immortalised as a bronze statue somewhere, haha.
Well funny you should say that, I have been. It was created in 1997 by Mark Coreth and sits outside the Globe Theatre on the River Thames, right next to the Millenium Bridge.
What sort of radio play have you had over the years?
Quite a bit. 1978 was a good year – John Peel really liked our song ‘Goodbye Suicide’ and used to play it all the time on his show. In the last couple of years, Chris Hawkins of BBC6 Music has on three occasions on his show replayed our performance on the 1982 Radio 1 in Concert.
So what’s all this about Gwyneth Paltrow then?
I’ve done a bit of acting over the years. I had a part in ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’, and also had walk on parts in ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’, ‘Superman IV’ and ‘Inspector Morse’. But it was during the filming of ‘Emma’, where I played the head gypsy, that I had to attack Gwyneth Paltrow in the woods – I’m sure she remembers the moment as fondly as I do.
And what can we expect from you at the 100 Club in June?
We haven’t played at the 100 Club for over 20 years, so I’m really excited to be going back there, I love the place. We’ll be playing all the old favourites and some newer tracks too. Neil Aplin on lead guitar is the only other member of the band apart from me who was in the original line up. He has tried to leave the band several times over the years, but I always drag him back kicking and screaming. The rest of the band are Dan Conquest (keyboards), John East (bass/backing vocals), Oli Turner (drums) and Ben Court (percussion/backing vocals). We also have two fantastic young, up and coming bands supporting us – Trebuchets, and Theya and the Ghosts. It should be a great night.
Photograph by Will Wilkinson http://www.wilkyphotography.com
Do you think you’ll ever retire from music Jim?
I can’t see me ever retiring. Playing music is the one thing that makes me truly happy. It’s a lot of hard work, and there are a lot of ups and downs along the way, but that one moment on stage where everything comes together makes it all worthwhile.
Well there you have it folks, if you’re around London on June 9th, why not come along? I know I’m looking forward to it, and not least because my wonderful partner Neil is THE Neil Aplin on lead guitar (did I not mention that?).
Do you think we have time for one more song Jim?
I think we do Vanessa. This is one we’ll be playing on the night, ‘Hole In My Room’. I hope you like it.
Hole In My Room (1989). Video by Dominic Allen.
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