Artwork from the archives

Wending my way through some ancient folders on my laptop, I stumbled upon a multitude of my old artwork from the days when, as a freelance artist and writer, I would frame my work and sell it at exhibitions in the Southborough area of Kent. They used to sell surprisingly well – and not just to the more eccentric types!

As I am about to start painting and drawing again seeing this art was intriguing. You are invited to check them out. If there’s any you like I can do prints at a reasonable price! Just contact me.

Incident at the Rio Cafe by Phil Mansell

Incident at the Rio Cafe by Phil Mansell

'Pub' by Phil Mansell

‘Pub’ by Phil Mansell

'Sax Mad' by Phil Mansell

‘Sax Mad’ by Phil Mansell

'Waiter!' by Phil Mansell

‘Waiter!’ by Phil Mansell

'Coming up to the finishing post' by Phil Mansell

‘Coming up to the finishing post’ by Phil Mansell

'Card Trick' by Phil Mansell

‘Card Trick’ by Phil Mansell

'The Amazing Ventro & Pablo' by Phil Mansell

‘The Amazing Ventro & Pablo’ by Phil Mansell

'Card Trick' by Phil Mansell

‘Card Trick’ by Phil Mansell

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My Plays are Now Available from Stage Scripts

I’m pleased to announce that several of my plays are now available from Stage Scripts, a long established publisher of plays, musicals and pantomimes. For perusal copies and information about performance rights go to the Stage Scripts website.

stage-script-plays-1

 

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New Website for My Plays

According to Claudia by Phil MansellAs one door opens…

I was pleased to hear from the Endeavour Theatre Company in Australia who were keen to produce my play ‘According to Claudia’. This was welcome news after my publisher ceased trading due to ill health.

Just in case other theatre groups want details of my plays I’ve set up Phil Mansell Plays to provide the information they need. Feel free to peruse it!

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Using Scrivener to Hit My Word Target

As I mentioned in my blog about my art, I have taken a break from writing plays and set myself the challenge of writing an adventure story aimed at pre-teens (or Middle Grade fiction, as it is often known).

Packed full of tools

Packed full of tools

I am of course using my favourite writing tool, Scrivener. I love this program – it’s packed full of great features that enable me to store reference material, plotlines and character descriptions all in one place, so that I can look at them quickly and easily.

However, it has another useful tool which I’m only just beginning to make use of – the word count button.

Keeping an eye on the number of words I wrote wasn’t that important when scripting a play. But as this is a book for children aged 9 – 12, I want to limit myself to 1,000 words per chapter – to maintain the pace and keep those young readers interested.

sciv 3

So I press the word count button in the bottom right of my work screen and up pops a window in which I set the number of words.

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Then as I write I can see at a glance how close I am to reaching my target number of words – and know I have to work up to a cliff-hanger for the end of the chapter.

Scriv 2

A simple tool – but very useful.

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Capturing A Paul Daniels Magic Moment

The news of the death of magician Paul Daniels reminded me of the time I took his photo – and managed to capture the moment he astounded a member of the public.

Paul Daniels astounds a fashion lecturer at Newport University's  May Ball. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Paul Daniels astounds a fashion lecturer at Newport University’s May Ball. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

It was back in 2008 when I was Press Officer at the University of Wales, Newport. I had to cover all sorts of events – including the annual May Ball. The Students Union always tried to attract big name bands and entertainers to the event which was held at the beautiful Caerleon Campus.

That year Paul Daniels was in one of the bars demonstrating close-up magic. As I walked through I saw he was doing a magic trick with playing cards for Tracey, one of the fashion lecturers.

Photography, it is said, is all about “capturing the moment” – and I certainly did that. The look of astonishment on Tracey’s face as Paul Daniels completed the trick is wonderful. This is one of the photos I am really proud to have taken.

The Elvis tribute band rocking in the marquee. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The Elvis tribute band rocking in the marquee. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Sadly, I was so busy that evening that I didn’t really get a chance to talk to the magician who was once a staple of Saturday night television. There was lots to cover – including a funfair, students in fancy dress and an amazing Elvis tribute band in a marquee on the lawn.

I covered the event with my photographer friend Betina Skovbro – who taught me everything I know about taking good press photos. So, thankyou, Betina – and thankyou, Paul Daniels, for providing me with a lovely photo opportunity.

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Being Rejected by Sir George Martin Makes the News!

Amazing the power of social media. Yesterday I wrote my blog about how the late Sir George Martin turned down my band, The BOI, and sent out a tweet about it. Next thing I know a reporter from the local newspaper contacts me – and today it makes a big splash in the news.

BOI story finally makes the news!

BOI story finally makes the news!

It’s quite amusing, really. These kind of stories usually follow a pattern: after being turned down by a dozen record companies the band went on to be signed up – and went on to be the biggest thing in rock and roll.

Rejection letter from Richard Branson's then new Virgin Records. (Phil Mansell Collection)

Rejection letter from Richard Branson’s then new Virgin Records. (Phil Mansell Collection)

Instead, this one is full of pathos, mentioning that we were turned down, not only by George Martin and Apple but also by Elton John’s Rocket Records, Virgin Records and John Peel’s Dandelion Records! We hardly covered ourselves in glory.

What it fails to mention is that the BOI entered a song-writing contest organised by a brewery, wrote a sing-along ditty called ‘Get It Down You’ (an anthem in praise of drinking beer, no less) and still failed to win! That didn’t stop us from becoming one of the first rhythm and booze bands.

Rare archive photo of Phil Mansell and Drew Millin of the BOI performing live. (Phil Mansell Collection)

Rare archive photo of Phil Mansell and Drew Millin of the BOI performing live. (Phil Mansell Collection)

Were our self-penned songs so bad? Here’s a chance to judge for yourself. Listen to Drew Millin’s recording of one of our songs turned down by Sir George and the others –  ‘Things Have Changed A Lot’. Comes with movie footage of the BOI at work, rest and play.

 

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George Martin Turned Down My Band!

George Martin working with Beatles on probably their greatest LP 'Sgt pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.

George Martin working with the Beatles on probably their greatest LP ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

The death of Beatles  producer George Martin marks the end of an era. He was as much a part of the Fab Fours’ legend as the lads themselves. Hard to imagine anyone else being able to take the sounds they wanted – and could hear in their heads – and transform them into such wonderful recordings. His genius as a producer provided the soundtrack for my teenage years – from ‘Please Please Me’ to ‘Abbey Road’.

Like many of my friends, I lived for music – and counted the days to the release of the next LP by the Beatles. In the ‘60s everyone wanted to be in a group, as they were called before it became trendy to use the term ‘band’.

Famous Antics, an early BOI album. (ARTWORK BY PHIL MANSELL)

Famous Antics, an early BOI album. (ARTWORK BY PHIL MANSELL)

It was only natural that when I formed a “beat combo” with my mate Rog that we would record and ‘produce’ our own albums – and send our best songs off to record labels hoping that someone would sign us up. And the one person we dearly wanted to be signed up by was George Martin. If anyone could turn our raw talent into gold it was him.

My band, the BOI, was formed after listening to Frank Zappa’s recordings of Wild Man Fischer on John Peel’s radio show in 1969. Freeform and improvised, Fischer’s songs were proof that almost anyone could have a go at making music.

Wild Goose Chase LP by The BOI (ARTWORK BY PHIL MANSELL)

Wild Goose Chase LP by The BOI (ARTWORK BY PHIL MANSELL)

So my mate Rog and I had a go even though we had no discernible musical talent whatsoever. Despite this drawback and armed with cheap guitars that cost ten bob, we managed to write some half-decent songs such as ‘Wimpy Bar Loving’ and ‘Paraffin Palace’. Things took a turn for the better when we were joined by Drew Millin who brought with him something new – the ability to play guitar. We soon wrote and produced our first collection of songs entitled ‘Wild Goose Chase’. We started to veer away from avante garde songs like ‘Technicolour Yawn’ to more melodic music influenced by Crosby Stills and Nash – and of course the Beatles.

The BOI (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL COLLECTION)

The BOI (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL COLLECTION)

As the band’s producer – using the pseudonym Yorick Zimmerman – I started sending out demo tapes of our best songs to the leading record labels and producers, including George Martin who by now had his own studios at AIR London. One by one, they all turned us down. (Probably the best response came from newly formed Virgin Records whose A&R man wrote that “the songs are very good and well played”. Praise indeed!)

The letter from George Martin (PHIL MANSELL COLLECTION)

The letter from George Martin (PHIL MANSELL COLLECTION)

But it was the letter from George Martin that I treasure the most. He wrote: “Dear Mr Zimmerman, Thankyou for your letter enclosing a tape of a group calling themselves The B.O.I. performing their own material. I am afraid that after careful consideration I do not feel that the group is exceptional enough to enable me to offer them a commercial recording. The songs are pleasantly formed but have no particular striking qualities. I am very sorry to be disappointing and am returning your tape herewith. Yours sincerely, George Martin.”

And there at the bottom, is the great man’s signature.

Raven Mad Records Logo (ARTWORK BY PHIL MANSELL)

Raven Mad Records Logo (ARTWORK BY PHIL MANSELL)

Of course we were disappointed but despite these setbacks we continued to make music and put together “albums” of our songs on our own Raven Mad label, reaching our peak with ‘Asleep At The Wheel’ recorded in Torquay in the summer of 1972 and featuring the vocal talents of fringe band members Terry Stephens who provided great harmonies and Dave Jones who wrote amazing songs like ‘Transvestite Hitch-hiker Blues’.

But all good things must come to an end and after the aptly named collection, ‘The End of Civilization As We Know It’, the band split up.

The End of Civilization as We Know It by The BOI (The Phil Mansell Collection)

The End of Civilization as We Know It by The BOI (The Phil Mansell Collection)

Drew went on to have a career as a singer/songwriter in Devon and is now something of a legend in that neck of the woods – his ‘farewell’ concerts at the Babbacombe Theatre were sell-outs. He can be found most Sunday nights packing them in at the Hole In The Wall pub where he sings with a variety of other talented musicians.

Drew recently released his first CD which included a song we wrote together all those years ago. It’s called ‘Things Have Changed A Lot’, a title that resonates today as we remember George Martin – the man who turned down The BOI.

Below is a video featuring Drew’s recording along with movie footage of The BOI.

 

Drew's CD makes the news. A cutting from The Herald Express.

Drew’s CD makes the news. A cutting from The Herald Express.

 

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