‘Don’t Look Down’, recorded with producerJulian Littman and featuring British blues legend Paul Jones on harmonica, is the first new material since the ‘Sad Song’ single from 2016. Digitally available at all the usual major outlets, the new track comes backed with ‘Backaway’ which was originally recorded in 1975, but has been remixed with added horns.
Inspired by Cliff and The Shadows, in his early teens Brian was the lead singer of a UK band called The Coasters in 1961 and at the same time also enrolled in an amateur theatre group called The Studio Theatre. He joined Folk Blues Incorporated (FBI) when he was nineteen and came to London, playing in folk music clubs in and around the city. In 1966, Protheroe began his acting career and spent the next five years in various theatre companies developing his musical skills as well as becoming an experienced actor.
In 1973, Protheroe was playing the part of a pop singer in a play, Death on Demand, when a Chrysalis Records rep heard a song he had written for the show and the label signed him. The debut single ‘Pinball’ was released in August 1974 and peaked at number 22 in the UK Singles Chart. He released three albums over the next couple of years, but a developing acting career had found him and he temporarily shelved his career in music and focused successfully on theatre, television, and film.
The advent of the internet saw a resurgence in interest for his music and he released the ‘Citysong’ album in 2005 followed by a greatest hits collection called ‘Pinball and Other Stories’ in 2006.
A recent addition to ‘The London Playlist’ on Robert Elms BBC Radio London Show, Noel Gallagher recently cited ‘Pinball’ as an influence on the opening track on his ‘Chasing Yesterday’ album from 2015 after being introduced to the song by Morrissey – he told Q Magazine:
“We were in this bar and Morrissey’s bought this CD with him, a mix CD, not a CD of his stuff and he gets one of his people to turn that music off and put this on, and we were chatting about whatever and the music would be going on and we wouldn’t be paying much attention to it and he’d suddenly go ‘name this tune, name me this tune’ and it’d be like ‘urm… I don’t know’ and he’d be like ‘uh, it got to number 16 in 1974!’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know’ and he’d be like ‘this is Brian Protheroe – Pinball’, and I’m like ‘right, great.’
So anyway, this track, I was in the studio some 6 months later and I was doing this B-Side for this track and it was this Bob Dylan sort of thing, fingerpicking, it was an alright song, it was a bit non-descript. One night before we left, to my engineer and my drummer, who are twin brothers, I said ‘Have you heard this track Pinball by Brian Protheroe?’ and they said ‘no’, so we played it and a light came on and I thought, what if I played this track in that style and then I went home that night and re-wrote it a little bit and came back in. It’s the opening track of the album and it’s called ‘River Man’ and it’s amazing. When I see the great man next I shall thank him.”
Brian Protheroe’s recent work in the theatre includes the lead in JB Priestley’s “The Roundabout” in New York, and a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford on Avon – on Television in a recent series of Whitechapel and on film in Hampstead with Diane Keaton.
For the last few years Brian has narrated First Dates and First Dates Hotel on Channel 4.