Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE writes…
ISOBEL CAMPBELL AND GAYE ADVERT made their names in the rock music world, the former as a singer with Belle & Sebastian before she teamed up with Mark Lanegan for a string of successful records, and the latter as bass guitarist with The Adverts, with whom she recorded their hit single, the controversial ‘Looking Through Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ – controversial as Gary Gilmore was a US murderer, executed by firing squad in 1977.
Each successful in their own branch of the rock world, one is still active as a musician, the other, Gaye, not, initially moving to work in social services, then as an artist in the medium of stained glass.
All very interesting, but what has all that got to with us, I hear you cry?
Well, they both also have a betting shop background.
Isobel Campbell won a nomination for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, the ‘Oscars’ of the music world, and was quick to refer back to her earlier days working in a betting shop,at the age of 18, recalling, ‘There were a lot of real characters around -people’s wives used to drag them out by their hair. Having led a sheltered life, it was like being thrown it at the deep end. But I loved it.’
She remembered her customers from those days, some of whom may have made it into her songs – ‘This old man came in once, and made such an impression on me because he was trying to lose, but kept on winning loads of money. He kept saying to me, ‘Take it, blondie, take it, just have it’ – I was tempted because I was an impoverished student! Working at the bookies was intense and hard going.’
Gaye moved out of the music world when The Adverts split in 1979. Being a big fan of noisy rock music, I was fascinated to hear on the grapevine that she was now working behind the counter in a London betting shop and made it my business to discover which one!
When I did I visited her branch to make her acquaintance, cunningly taking along with me a copy of the LP she and The Adverts made, ‘Crossing The Red Sea’ hoping that I might be able to persuade her to sign it for me.
Now into her third year in the bookmaking world, Gaye told me: ‘I never really enjoyed the media spotlight, either playing in front of an audience or being written about in the press – and it certainly wasn’t much fun being spat at by fans!’
She also dismissed rumours that she hadn’t even played on the group’s records – ‘I learned to play bass guitar, and it was me on our records. There were some great times – we toured Europe and played at The Rainbow, supporting my all-time hero, Iggy Pop.’
Gaye could not have been more charming and was very happy to sign the album for me – and it remains one of the more precious contents of my record collection.
On her website, gayeblack.co.uk she explains her current work: ‘I am now exhibiting regularly and curating the odd show. I have designed covers for records including the Paul Fox memorial album, PIL and Alvin Gibbs.
My work references my past, and explores contrasts – between attraction and horror, control and chaos, rough and smooth. I am inspired by surrealism and artists including Hieronymus Bosch, Goya, Leonora Carrington and the Chapman Brothers. Also horror films and books, extreme music, Victorian grottos, and my own dreams, which I have been basing work on recently.’
Another notable rock musician with a soft spot for horseracing I was delighted to meet was the Moody Blues’ vocalist, Justin Hayward, who I was able to interview in his home where he told me about his love of horses: ‘I used to come to Ireland a lot in the late 70’s and early 80’s, to be with the friends that I had made through being involved with horses, and sometimes to buy and sell bloodstock at the sales.
It had all started in the mid 70’s when my friend and I had realised a dream for both of us and had turned what was previously a rather broken down arable farm on the Wiltshire Downs in England’s West Country, into a beautifully equipped and professionally run stud where we looked after mares and foals (as well as thoroughbred racehorses who were resting out of training over the winter months).’
It is probably time these three musical stars got together and produced a song or LP about the delights of racing and betting – it is odds-on that I’d buy it/them!
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.