VP: Today my guest is a singer/songwriter with a unique sound it’s Michael Armstrong.
MA: Thank you for having me.
VP: I have been going through your life story and it makes interesting reading.
MA: Yes I have met some interesting people and had some fun times.
VP: Your Career in music started when you came in second place to Gary Barlow in a music competition on ‘Pebble Mill at One’
MA: I was still at school and I was thirteen or fourteen years old I have always been crazy about music and at that time at that young age I was attempting to write songs and they weren’t very good but I was doing my best and my music teacher suggested that enter the competition that ‘Pebble Mill at One’ was running and so I submitted one of my songs. I remember at the time that this guy from Manchester was the person who won it and I came in second place and this guy from Manchester got to go on the show and sing his song. To be honest I had completely forgotten all about it. Then fifteen years later I was reading Gary Barlow’s autobiography and he talks about one of his first breaks happening when he won a songwriting competition! All of a sudden everything fell into place! I was that close to being in ‘Take That!’ (laughs)
VP: Oh you would have to get the proper leather shorts and everything!
MA: (laughs uproariously)
VP: That was what they did wasn’t it? They had all these fun outfits and threw custard pies at each other.
MA: I managed to steer clear of that maybe I was lucky I didn’t win.
VP: So do you have any memories of Gary at all? Or is he just a blur in your mind?
MA I never put the two ideas together the competition was just a blur in my mind it was only when I read his book I put two and two together. I met Gary Barlow about five or six years ago and I didn’t dare to bring it up and mention it to him I kind of wish I had of done now!
VP: He probably would have loved that! You have played in support of Michael Ball Paul McCartney and Mark Knofler what are your favourite memories of these times?
MA: I have performed with them all and met them and worked with them. The best story has to be the Paul McCartney story because Paul is my hero he is the reason that I wanted to write music and play music. I was working at the Queen’s Jubilee Concert in 2013 and I was working there with Cliff Richard. Paul McCartney was headlining that day as he does in front of Buckingham Palace and there were all these super famous people there milling around: Elton John and a young Ed Sheeran, Stevie Wonder and of course Paul McCartney I made myself known and he was a really sweet guy and I got to spend a couple of days with him and probably drove him mad, to be honest, and in the evening show McCartney headlined and the song he played was Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da and as he played the song all the stars came out to join him to sing the chorus. So I am standing backstage and they were all there. Elton John Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams Kylie Minogue and Tom Jones. Everyone who performed! They were all walking out to the stage and I thought it’s now or never. So I just joined the line of people and I walked down to the stage as well and I got to sing Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da with Paul McCartney! Which was fabulous until the song finished and then I realised that I might be in trouble considering I was an uninvited guest. Before I knew it I was being asked to line up and then I was introduced to The Queen. She went around shaking everyone’s hands.
VP: That’s brilliant, isn’t it? I remember that is that the time that Ozzy Osbourne ended up with Kermit the Frog on his shoulder?
MA: Oh Goodness I don’t remember that.
VP: Sharon Osbourne said I waited all these years to meet the Queen and when I finally do my husband stands there with Kermit the frog on his shoulder! Did you get to say much to Paul McCartney when you were doing this?
MA: Yes he chatted a lot he was very down to earth and he was asking me about what I was doing there and working with Cliff and I gave him one of my CDs! He was a lovely guy and it made my day for sure. Made my life.
VP: How lovely and did you get an autograph or anything like that?
MA: You know I didn’t. I knew he was going to be there and I had the cover of ‘Abbey Road’ in my pocket for him to sign and for some reason, I just didn’t feel like it was right as we were getting along and chatting and I didn’t want to come across as this crazy fan. I do deeply regret it I must be honest!
VP: Yes because it’s in the moment and you think: ‘Oh I am doing this.’ I am talking to Paul McCartney but when it’s gone it’s gone isn’t it? You think oh I wish I got an autograph.
MA: Yes also so many things I wish I had said that I didn’t say.
VP: I can just imagine Paul McCartney being like that. Being a nice person to talk to and just normal as well.
MA: He was really lovely I remember he came back in the tent area where we all were and he had his grandson with him who was holding his hand as he walked in and his grandson spotted Tom Jones and shouted ‘Grandad Grandad! Look it’s Tom Jones!’ and Paul said ‘Yes do you want to meet him’ and took him over to meet him. I just loved it because grandad was just grandad even though it was Paul McCartney and all the little boy wanted to do was meet Tom Jones.