Eddie Amoo (seen here on the right), singer-songwriter with The Real Thing, chats with Kevin Cooper about performing at The Cavern Club with The Beatles, his favourite covers of Children Of The Ghetto, his first appearance on Top Of The Pops and his forthcoming appearance at The Flashback Festival at Clumber Park.

Eddie Amoo is a singer-songwriter with The Real Thing; a British soul group formed in the 1970’s. Whilst starting his career as a doo-wop singer with The Chants, and despite making their debut appearance at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, playing three songs in the middle of a Beatles gig, they received very little recognition.

Leaving to join The Real Thing with his brother Chris, they were more commercially successful. They had a string of British hits as well as charting internationally with their song, You To Me Are Everything, which reached number one in the UK singles chart.

Whilst still performing regularly, and enjoying being a fixture on the Festival circuit, Eddie took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.


Eddie how are you?

I’m good thanks Kevin how are you?

I’m great thanks for asking and let me just say thank you for taking the time to speak to me.

It’s no problem Kevin, it’s my pleasure.

And how is life treating Eddie Amoo?

It’s great, life is treating me good. The Real Thing are busier now than we have ever been. We are working to a really good level and more importantly, we have a great DVD which is about to be released and everything is going really well Kevin. We simply couldn’t ask for anything better. And there is nothing better than the festival season is there.

Speaking of the festival season you are coming to Clumber Park here in Nottingham on Friday 21st August for The Flashback Festival.

Yes we are Kevin and we are really looking forward to it. The closer it gets to the date the more excited you get but that is what it is like all through the festival season because they are so exciting.

Well I have to tell you that it is a fantastic setting, weather permitting of course.

Please don’t say those words Kevin (laughter) please don’t say anything about the weather (laughter).   We recently played a festival in Liverpool at Aintree Race Course and have you ever seen three thousand people running for cover while you are on stage (laughter). Oh my god I will never forget it, it absolutely hammered it down. The weather is the only thing that frightens me about festivals; it is the one thing which we have got no control over whatsoever.

Well I will be there shooting the gig and will have my wellies in the back of the car so if you need to borrow them, just shout ok?

(Hysterical laughter) perhaps I could borrow them off you Kevin and have them on stage with me just in case (laughter).

So how did The Real Thing get onto the Flashback circuit?

The best answer that I can give to that is that the way we see it, is that it is a massive compliment to us that we are still performing at this level at all. It is a real compliment Kevin. Just for a second close your eyes and imagine the number of 70’s band’s that have had hits and only so many of those bands are actually going to be in work. You have to fight for the work as it is very competitive. And I think that is the best answer that I can give you Kevin. The best thing that we have got going for us is the fact that we are still in demand as a live band despite the fact that we are getting on a little bit (laughter).

I personally think that the Flashback Festivals are great and it annoys me when certain quarters of the British press still look down their noses at them.

Of course they do Kevin, but it has always been that way. The Real Thing have always been looked down on by the British press simply because of the type of band we are. The British press think that bands like us are cheesy but they thought that about us even in our heyday. We don’t get up to a lot of the stuff that the, shall we say, wild rockers get up to. We are not and have never been an image band so basically we don’t have the persona that the media support if you like. In other words we are dull and boring to the media (laughter). They will sometimes acknowledge that we are a good band but other than that they are not interested in us Kevin.

I have been watching you now since back in the 70’s. I was a massive David Essex fan and it was great to hear you play your set first and then back David for the entirety of his set. It was fantastic.

It was great Kevin, those were great days and we used to have some really good laughs with David. In fact David was part of the reason that it happened for us. If David hadn’t given us the audience which he gave us, The Real Thing simply would never have happened. I have to say that it was one of the luckiest breaks of our lives. Firstly meeting David’s producer Jeff Wayne who was responsible for The War Of The Worlds album in 1978, and it was Jeff who introduced us to David. That was one of the keys that unlocked the doors for us.

At that time you were being managed by Tony Hall. How was that?

They were great times for us Kevin and it was because of Tony that we met Jeff. Tony was our mentor and also the guy who said, this is what you have got to do if you are going to happen.

You were in The Chants before you joined The Real Thing weren’t you?

Yes that’s right Kevin. The Chants were a doo-wop group and that is why I call myself Eddie ‘Doo-Wop’ Amoo (laughter). We were a doo-wop group and we were basically discovered by The Beatles.

Didn’t The Chants play four songs in the middle of a Beatles set at The Cavern in 1962?

Wow, you have done your research (hysterical laughter). That was the start of my entry into the music business Kevin. The Beatles had heard about us and invited us to do an audition for them at The Cavern because they wanted to hear us. They were so knocked out with us that they invited us to sing four songs with them that night. We were an acapella group and The Beatles introduced us half way through their show and it was fantastic. It was at that point that I thought to myself, this is what I want to do. So basically that is where it all began for me.

The Chants were together for thirteen years with no success at all. We released a lot of records but we never had a hit. So basically that was the start of The Real Thing because while The Chants were happening, my younger brother Chris was watching The Chants career and when he got to a certain age he wanted to do the same thing himself and so that is when The Real Thing began and he invited me to join. The Chants were formed in 1962 and The Real Thing were formed in 1972 so Chris had ten years of watching The Chants and learning all about the music business for himself.

Chris and I had started writing songs together and he said that he didn’t think that it was going to happen for The Chants and so he invited me to join The Real Thing in 1975 and then in 1976, bang, You To Me and the doors opened.

Talking of Chris how are things going with the dogs?

The dogs are Christopher’s passion. Sometimes we will get home from a gig at 5 o’clock in the morning and Christopher will be straight onto his own bus with his dogs and off he goes to a dog show.   He is a member of the Kennel Club now and so he gets invited to judge competitions all over the world. So life for Christopher is not bad at all Kevin (laughter).

So just how does Chris find the time to fit the dogs in around the band?

With Chris the band will always come first but as everyone does, he needs something to help him to relax and with him, that is his dogs. Away from the music business Kevin that is how Chris manages to relax. The Real Thing do not work seven days per week Kevin, at the most we work three days per week which provides Chris with plenty of time to devote to his dogs. We just ask him to be a little selective with the shows that he will be attending. He will sometimes ask us to take a few dates out of the diary because they clash with a few big shows which he would like to attend.

Just to give you an insight into our schedule Kevin; on Saturday we were performing at a festival in Tring, and we were on stage at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. We played a forty minute set and then we drove to our next show which was in Torquay; a good 150 miles away. We went on stage at 9.30pm so as you can see we really do have a pretty hectic schedule and it is like that all of the time.

The Real Thing’s last album Saints Or Sinners? was released in 1980. Do you have any plans to record a new album anytime soon?

Yes Kevin of course as we have got a huge library of material but it is not that simple. We could go into the studio and record an album ourselves but there is absolutely no point if you are not going to get a record company to back you and to market the product. So the answer to your question Kevin is yes, we would love to do that, and we most probably will no doubt but it is really difficult. Although because of the advent of social media that does give you an outlet; you don’t have to go cap in hand to record companies now in order to get played. You can get an on-line thing going now.

In 1977 you wanted to release the album Liverpool 8 but your record company at that time PYE insisted that you change the title to 4 From 8. Were you disappointed with the record company because they wouldn’t release it as Liverpool 8?

Not at all Kevin in fact the total opposite is true because basically we were flabbergasted when PYE spent so much money on 4 From 8. But basically in a sense the album was marketed wrong because you cannot go from You To Me to 4 From 8, you just can’t do it. This was the most severe lesson that we had to learn. We used to think that if you had a hit people would accept anything that you did; they would listen to anything. However it is all about your type of audience Kevin.

PYE spent a lot of money on 4 From 8 but there was no way that they were ever going to release Children Of The Ghetto for instance. It was asking too much of them; it was asking far too much of the record company. But it did give us a lot of credibility that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. Children Of The Ghetto is a big part of our show and we really can’t complain. So in answer to your question, I thought that PYE did very well for us in relationship to the type of band that we were, and what they had to work with. One of the reasons why David Essex liked us so much is that he really did like to hear us singing those songs like Children Of The Ghetto. He was really into that you know.

But I will always remember when David took us to one side when we were at number one in the charts with You To Me Are Everything. He said that he was made up for our success but that he felt sorry for us because we would never get the chance now to come through with the amazing songs that we had written. We were all pretty naive and didn’t really understand what David was saying; we were just wildly excited at being number one in the charts. We had made it, we were stars, we had happened and all the rest of it. But reality is different as we very soon learnt.

You mention Children Of The Ghetto. That song has been covered by a number of artists, do you have a favourite?

There have been some fantastic covers of Children Of The Ghetto Kevin, people like Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire, and Courtney Pine. The list just goes on and on. I love Philip Bailey’s version but my absolute favourite has to be Courtney Pine. As you get older your musical tastes expand and you become more musical in your tastes. You still like what is going on but I really do love Courtney Pine’s version Kevin.

Didn’t you rewrite the song especially for Philip Bailey?

That’s right Kevin (laughter) where do you get your information from (laughter). We wrote a completely different version of Children Of The Ghetto which is the version which we sent to Phil Collins which is the version that Philip Bailey eventually recorded. So in actual fact, Children Of The Ghetto is two songs. Mary J Blige covered Philip Baileys version which is our rewrite of the song. If you play the original version and then you play the version which we came up with in 1982 it is the same song but both versions are completely different. It’s funny Kevin because we ourselves revert between both of them. Sometimes we will perform our original version, then we will get tired of that and revert back to our rewrite. Its great (laughter).

In the 1970’s you won the award for being the most successful black Rock and Soul act of the 70’s. That must have been amazing for you?

It was totally amazing Kevin. I had been with The Chants for thirteen years and had basically got nothing then all of a sudden The Real Thing take off and everything that I had actually worked for and believed in happened. So it was an unbelievably fantastic feeling that year. It was great; totally unbelievable. But I will tell you something else, the best period that I have really enjoyed is the 1986 period with all of the remixes of our songs because then we knew that we were getting appreciated. You had a bigger understanding of the business and you knew what you had to do.

And at that point you also knew just how good the product was in the first place.

Absolutely Kevin, Absolutely. There have been absolutely hundreds of different versions of You To Me but none of them come anywhere near our version which is all down the Christopher’s delivery. Oddly enough a person who we work with sometimes, Sonia, actually recorded You To Me and had a minor hit with it so it’s quite ironic when we work together that she had a hit with our song. However, we don’t allow her to sing it when we are performing together (laughter).

What was your first appearance on Top Of The Pops like?

Unbelievable, but unbelievably stressful too (laughter). And because of the type of band that we are the BBC wouldn’t allow us to use our own band, we had to use the house band. That was very, very nerve-wracking (laughter). We had to arrive at 10am, and we did our first run through with the band. Then we did one more run through at round about 3pm and then we did the live take at 7pm. Basically what happens at Top Of The Pops is that everybody just heads for the bar (laughter). So needless to say, by 7pm the musicians are all pretty much oiled (laughter). It is never as good as your record, it can’t be Kevin and that’s the fun of it.

You never knew what was going to happen. We were terrified man but let me tell you, we walked out of there when we had done the final take and we were deeply upset because we thought that we had blown it. However, on Monday we started selling 30,000 records a day. It was just a fun show. One day we were standing there ready to perform when we saw at the side of us The Ohio Players who we were big fans of, and they were having problems with the technicians and they ended up walking out. They were not happy so there was all that sort of tension to contend with. But for me it was a buzz to do.

On that note Eddie thanks for taking the time to speak to me and I will see you at Clumber Park.

No worries Kevin we shall meet. I am looking forward to it man.

I will have the umbrella and wellies at the ready.

(Hysterical laughter) don’t say that Kevin, don’t mention the weather (laughter).