Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland); 7/19/2004
Exclusive By John Dingwall
HE is the forgotten Scots music legend who was part of showbiz royalty, enjoying chart-topping hits and rubbing shoulders with Hollywood's biggest stars.
Glasgow-born singer BA Robertson hung out with Tom Hanks, Billy Connolly, Rod Stewart and Disney boss Jeffrey Katzenberg at the height of his fame.
But he disappeared from view, retiring from the public eye in the mid-Eighties, after his father died.
Now the reclusive musical genius is heading back to Scotland for the first time in 23 years, but says he has no regrets about turning his back on fame for the sake of his family.
He revealed: 'I stopped performing when my father died. Like a lot of Scots blokes of my generation, I'd spent a lot of my life trying to prove to my dad that I was good enough to be his son.
'The date of his death and my son, Rory, being born were just weeks apart. I went to America where I had a great time. I just faded away.
'There was no big plan to stop and there is no big plan to start again.' BA moved his family to Los Angeles in 1988, where he became neighbours with his old pal Billy Connolly.
He currently lives with his wife Karen and two kids, Rory, 18, and daughter Poppy, 15, in Ireland. BA recalled: 'I didn't have any success until the late 1970s. I met Billy Connolly because we had the same manager.
'Billy was very good to me when I started and very encouraging.
'Ironically, he and I both finished up in Los Angeles and the kids were in the same class at school. I turned up at a PTA meeting and Billy came up to me and said, 'What you f***ing doin' here?' 'I spent a lot of time watching his act. To me, he is still the funniest man in the world.'
While Billy built on his comedic legend, BA accidentally became the most connected Brit in Hollywood - after scooping a producer job at Disney.
He was invited to set up offices at the Walt Disney Studio, by studio bosses Bill Mechanic, and Jeffrey Katzenberg after pitching a film idea to them.
Soon he became a Hollywood player. He laughed: 'I pitched Michael Eisner in his office. People just don't get to pitch Michael Eisner or to walk in off the street.
'I didn't know what I was doing. But I just went in and was what Hollywood folk call 'being good in a room'.
'They put me on the lot immediately and I worked for Bill.
'My life was high powered.Somebody said I was the most connected Brit in Hollywood and it did look like that.
THE 53-year-old added: 'I took Tim Rice to meet Michael Eisner and that's how he and Elton John got to work on the Disney soundtracks.
'I had my parking space between Tom Hanks and Bette Midler. Tom no doubt forgot about me, but we used to stand in the lunch queue together.
'I made Simply Mad About The Mouse for Disney and did some music for Baywatch 'I had two lives. I was a writer and a performer and I stopped performing.
For my family it was that simple. It gave me an opportunity for my children to grow up in a calmer environment.'
Fed up with appearing on TV, he concentrated on songwriting and again everything fell into place.
The stars he has written for reads like a who's who of the entertainment world. Burt Bacharach, Bond maestro John Barry, Harry Connick Jnr, Michael Crawford, Billy Joel and more recently Blur's Alex James, all sat down with BA for help with their songwriting.
He also penned more than 20 international hits for other artists, including Carrie for Cliff Richard.
He has now decided to tell his life story at this year's Edinburgh Festival.
Turned raconteur, he will sing a selection of the 300 songs he's had published, interspersing them with anecdotes about his life.
He also hopes a batch of songs written with Blur's Alex James could soon see the light of day.
But he denies he is taking baby steps towards a fully-fledged comeback with his Edinburgh shows.
As he relaxed in his Spanish holiday home, BA joked: 'It's been 23 years since I was in Scotland. Some wag said that I was delighted to be invited back and I am coming every 23 years whether people want me to or not.
'I don't really know why I am doing it. If you look back and analyse things you make them seem more significant than they were.
'There are a lot of things I did that I didn't mean to do and I'll be talking about some of them and my family.
'I had a simple upbringing. It was a strict family. It was bizarre back then to want to be in showbiz from a background of Sandyhills in Glasgow.
'I hope the show will be fun. There will be a certain poignancy because I am coming back home.
'I have fond memories and that's part of the reason I'm coming back. I'll bring the family for a a holiday, have a craic as the Irish would say.' #BA Robertson's I Didn't Mean To, I Just Did, from August 6 to 15 at Edinburgh's Metro Gilded Balloon, Teviot, at 8pm.Tickets priced pounds 9 and pounds 8 concession from 0131 226 0000 or 0131 668 1633 or online www.edfringe.com/ www.gildedballoon.com
BA has notched up more than 70 silver, gold, and platinum record awards.
His first of six chart hits came with Bang Bang in 1979, selling over one million copies and peaking at No.2.
Knocked It Off followed, reaching No.8 and spending two weeks in the chart. In 1980, he had Top 20 hits with Kool In The Kaftan and To Be Or Not To Be before 1981's Hold Me, with Maggie Bell.
In 1982, he enjoyed success with Have A Dream with the Scotland World Cup Squad.
He has written more than 20 hits for other artists, including Wired for Sound for Cliff Richard which saw him nominated for an Ivor Novello Song of the Year.
He met Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford in 1985, and began a long-term writing collaboration. He introduced Paul Carrack to the embryo Mike & The Mechanics.
As writer and musician, he featured on all five Mike & The Mechanics studio albums and wrote Silent Running and The Living Years.
He recorded his first album, Wringing Applause, in 1973and made four more, Shadow Of A Thin Man, (1976), Initial Success (1980), Bully For You (1981) and R&BA (1982).
He was also a frequent guest broadcaster for the BBC and commercial networks from 1980 to 1985.
He presented his own TV series, BA In Music, and guests included music legends Ray Charles and Buddy Guy. He also fronted Jock & Roll, charting the history of Scottish pop music and conducting the last on-camera interview given by Alex Harvey before the legend died in 1982.
He then moved to the US in 1988 and a career in the movie business followed.
BA is now making music again, working with Blur's Alex James.
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