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Sunday, 13 January, 2002, 14:15 GMT
Haskell's 'old school' rules
Haskell has hit out at his record company
Haskell has hit out at his record company
BBC News Online's Ian Youngs interviews Gordon Haskell, the 55-year-old singer who promises to continue rocking the UK music chart in 2002.

Gordon Haskell does not like what has happened to the music business between the 1960s and today.

Almost 40 years ago, he was recording with Jimi Hendrix and King Crimson. And this Christmas, as we know, he almost beat Robbie Williams to the Christmas number one.

Haskell, who proudly says he has made his records the old-fashioned way, claims to have struck "a blow for the old school" and is scathing about the modern music machine.

I always knew that Joe Public liked what I did

Gordon Haskell
He did not even want to record How Wonderful You Are because he was sick of being rejected by record companies, he said.

"I knew it was a strong song and up to a standard that I was trying to attain privately."

"I'd never had any grief with Joe Public, they had supported me at gigs for 17 years and I always knew that Joe Public liked what I did."

He was not wrong. After his manager persuaded him to record the song, it became the most requested track of all time on BBC Radio 2 when the station picked up on it.

That finally made record companies sit up and take notice, and East West reportedly forked out 2.4m to sign Haskell, although he cannot hide his disdain for the corporate industry.

Like the Sex Pistols, in a way, being a bit rebellious

Gordon Haskell on himself
Haskell says the label had previously rejected the song because it was "not up to standard" - although East West says negotiations were always ongoing, and they did not reject him.

He had a strong hand in negotiations, and claims to have toyed with the company, which gave him a "fabulous powerful feeling", he says.

"A naughty feeling. Like the Sex Pistols, in a way, being a bit rebellious," Haskell told BBC News Online.

"We will continue to be that irritating because when you have had to wait so long, there's some kind of pleasure in making lawyers and accountants squirm."

Haskell narrowly missed the Christmas number one slot
Haskell narrowly missed the Christmas number one slot
He says he had a "wonderful" image of the record business in 1966.

In 1971, he was signed to Atlantic Records by Ahmet Ertegun - the man who discovered Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.

"There was a man that knew his music," Haskell says. "There aren't such people in the industry any more. They've come from other industries.

"The 80s attitude that you could send somebody to university and let them come out and run Railtrack or the NHS or the music business has really screwed up Britain."

People with a love of music will know a hit record when they hear one, he says - but there are few of those people at the top of the music industry now.

"They don't have a love of music, they have a love of figures, and they're very cold fish. You can't have a relationship with them."

Haskell does not hold much respect for Robbie Williams
Haskell does not hold much respect for Robbie Williams
He gives his record company credit for advertising his new album, Harry's Bar, on TV - something he and his manager Ian Brown, whom he refers to as "the pig farmer" in reference to his former profession, could never have done.

Harry's Bar is expected to enter the UK chart in the top three, and his laid-back jazz-rock ballads are as much a breath of fresh air to the music world as his old-school attitudes.

As for his modern-day rivals, he only says of Robbie Williams: "I was just as stupid when I was his age".

And his belief in speaking out stays solid to the last.

"I'm sick of these rock stars. They've got 100m in the bank and they never say a word."

'Proud and contented'

But his newfound fame will not change him, he says.

He has already given away 1m to his family and says his main aim is to improve as a songwriter.

"That will always serve me well, and it will also make me secretly proud and contented that I haven't been wasting my time," he says.

"But the businessmen are having another conversation. They're talking about returns, and I'm not the slightest bit interested."

Gordon Haskell
How Wonderful You Are (30 seconds)
See also:

04 Jan 02 | Reviews
Gordon Haskell: Your views
04 Jan 02 | Reviews
Haskell is better late than never
23 Dec 01 | Music
Robbie tops Christmas chart
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