TELLING STORIES: Songwriter Steve Thompson is the guest at Gainford Local History Group on Monday, January 14
TELLING STORIES: Songwriter Steve Thompson is the guest at Gainford Local History Group on Monday, January 14

“A FRIEND of mine sent me a book – Memory Lane Tyneside – a history of Tyneside in pictures. I am on page 17. When you find yourself in history books, you must be getting on a bit.”

So says songwriter Steve Thompson, who has penned hits for everyone from Sheena Easton, Elaine Paige, Celine Dion and Elkie Brookes to influential heavy rockers Venom, Raven and the Tygers of Pan Tang.

He will be recounting stories from his life and times in music when he is the guest at Gainford Local History Group on Monday, January 14.

Having been “languishing for a number of years” Mr Thompson, 66, says he currently very much on an upward curve, creatively speaking.

This is in part due to popularity of his talks and the Steve Thompson Songwriter show – in which he and his band play the hits he has written for others, as well as some new material.

He has also moved music publishers, who are interested in hearing new songs, while “people are pestering me to write a book” which, he says, is a daunting prospect.

It was while working at the steelworks in Consett that Mr Thompson started out in a rock band called Bullfrog.

Despite making a name for themselves, initially across the north east and then further afield, the band “never quite cracked it” and it was at this point he turned to songwriting rather than performing.

“I had always been intrigued by songs and took an analytical approach to them. I was amazed how people could make this noise come together,” he says.

“So I decided to go in this direction. It’s what I wanted to do and once I had picked up a challenge like that, I could not put it down.

“I listened to the masters – Lennon and McCartney, Bacharach and David – studied and kept going until people started picking up on my songs. Once the door is ajar, that is all you need.”

In 1982 he enjoyed a top 20 hit with his song Hurry Home, performed by the band Wavelength.

The same year another of his songs, Please Don’t Sympathise, was included on the Sheena Easton album Madness, Money & Music, while a year later, the same track was recorded in French by Celine Dion for her 700,000 seller Les chemins de ma maison.

Over the years, Mr Thompson has written songs aimed at certain artists and had performers contact him for tracks.

“In some cases it is a song that you pitch to the artist because it might be right up their street and on some occasions you are invited to,” he explains.

“The Sheena Easton song was specifically written for her and she picked up on it. Elkie Brookes was looking for songs. She had heard some stuff and contacted me and asked if I had anything else and could I come up with a single

Inspiration can hit anytime, anywhere, he says.

“The most recent song I wrote came to me in a flash when I was out riding my bike.”

He is looking forward visiting Gainford having taken to giving talks.

“I have found that I really enjoy them. It’s fabulous. I’ve been doing U3As, ladies’s lunch clubs and retirement clubs.”

WIs, he says, are particularly keen on tales of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Then a couple of years ago he developed his stage show.

“I have written these songs for other people over the years and a friend said why not put a show together of them.”

He will be flying solo at the Gainford Local History Group meeting, which takes place in the village hall. Doors are open at 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start. Visitors are welcome and admission is £2.50 per person, including refreshments.