Playing In Remembrance Of Martin Sharp And The 7 Degrees Of Eric Clapton.
It was a Monday night in 2013, I was teaching at my music academy at Liverpool when my phone rang, it was Clare Burgess.
Denny and Clare Burgess managed my “Guitar Heroes” show and Denny’s brother Colin was the drummer in the show.
Clare was calling to ask if I’d do a favour. She had a funeral that she needed me to play at and at very short notice. I said of course and asked who’s funeral?.
“Martin Sharp” she replied. Denny and Clare were close friends of Martin.
I’d met Martin Sharp but didn’t know him well. I knew that he was Australia’s great “Pop” artist (some say Australia’s Andy Warhol) and I knew about his “Yellow House” at Kings Cross with the murals he’d painted on the walls (that was criminal that it was knocked down so people can’t enjoy it today!).
I also knew he was involved in renovating Luna Park in Sydney, about the “Oz” magazine that he was involved with both in Australia and England, and I knew that he’d co-written songs with Eric Clapton where he designed the cover for “Disraeli Gears” the album that Clapton had recorded with his band “Cream”.
You might ask yourself… is it possible that one person achieved and did all this in one lifetime?
It’s a fair question but that’s not all Martin did and that was evident by the number of people and lives that he’d touched that was on display at the funeral.
Christ Church St Lawrence was packed to the rafters and everywhere you looked there were dignitaries, politicians and celebrities. I was told that there was a queue of people down George St just wanting to celebrate this amazing life.
My role was to accompany Angelica who had written some songs with Martin so we were to perform 3 of those songs.
Angelica was Martin’s personal assistant and because his health was in decline he relied heavily on her, so they spent a lot of time together, much of that time spent playing and listening to music and writing songs.
Angelica and I actually talked about maybe recording some of those songs sometime.
It was an event packed funeral and at one point a message from Eric Clapton was read.
Eric said that he was saddened by the passing of his “brother” Martin and was sorry that he couldn’t attend.
There’s quite a story as to how they met…
Eric Clapton and A House Full Of (Intelligent) Australians.
Eric Clapton’s girlfriend, the French model, Charlotte Martin, knew Martin and his girlfriend (another French girl) and happened to be her best friend. When the two guys met they instantly liked each other and formed a lifelong friendship.
Martin had a big house in London where he had rooms for rent and those rooms were full of other Australians, in London to pursue careers.
Clapton said that he’d never met an Australian before and after meeting this house full of Aussies he thought all Australians must be really smart!
I wonder who was staying in that house? Maybe Clive James and Germaine Greer??
Eric Clapton asked if he could move in, he wanted to be around all these smart Australians, which he did.
Clapton tells how on one occasion he was playing around with the riff from the Lovin’ Spoonful’s song “Summer In The City” with his new Wah Wah pedal when Martin Sharp asked him about what he was playing.
Eric told him that it was just something that he was working up to which Martin said that he had some words that might fit the riff and complete the song… and that’s how “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” came about.
When we survey and explore the output of these two great artists, Martin Sharp & Eric Clapton, we see an enormous and impressive body of work from both of them.
It’s really curious and so interesting how their lives intersected and Eric Clapton was to have many interesting intersections with other enormously talented people.
He had such a long and varied career…
I’ve tried to capture something of that with my “Eric Clapton Medley” which I wanted to be a panoramic overview of his career.
I start out by quoting the riff from “Boom, Boom, Boom” from his Yardbirds period and end with the riff from “Badge” the song he wrote with George Harrison.
I’ve tried to pack as many of his great songs in between with each of those songs having a great story behind them.