Looking back with Go West: British band nearly turned down biggest break – here’s why

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    Richard Drummie and Peter Cox back in 1995

    Richard Drummie, left, and Peter Cox back in 1995. (Image: Mike Prior/Getty Images)

    Instead, typical of the warring duo’s behaviour, vocalist Peter Cox and guitarist Richard Drummie disagreed over whether their song King Of Wishful Thinking should feature in the opening credits of the 1990 Julia Roberts and Richard Gere classic.

    In hindsight, it seems daft that Go West nearly said “no” to the song that helped revive their career.

    But at the time, Julia Roberts was a little-known actress and Pretty Woman’s premise of a man hiring a prostitute for a week appalled the band’s Richard.

    Fortunately, he was outvoted by singer Peter and the head of Go West’s record company, leading to the song becoming the biggest hit in their career.

    Richard recalls how he initially thought Pretty Woman was going to be set in the future, explaining: “When the offer was made to us, Pretty Woman was still known by its working title, 3000.

    “I thought that referred to the year 3000 and said to Ron Fair, the head of our record label, ‘3000? I don’t think we want our song used in a sci-fi film, thanks’. Ron explained 3000 was actually a romantic comedy, about a man who offers a woman $3,000 to spend the week with him.

    “I told Ron, ‘A film about a guy buying a prostitute? That’s a romantic comedy? Yeah, right.Who’s in it?’

    “When Ron told me, I said I’d never heard of Julia Roberts and wondered when was the last time Richard Gere had had a hit film. But I got outvoted by Ron and Peter, and thank God I did.”

    Richard Gere and Julia Roberts on the set of Pretty Woman

    Richard Gere and Julia Roberts on the set of Pretty Woman. (Image: Touchstone Pictures/Silver Screen Partners IV/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

    A smiling Peter adds: “It turned out OK for us in the end.”

    Go West were one of the most familiar bands of the 1980s, with their mullet haircuts and catchy pop ideas producing chart smashes including We Close Our Eyes and Call Me.

    But before Pretty Woman, Peter and Richard were in the doldrums after their second album, 1987’s Dancing On The Couch, flopped – despite stellar help from Kate Bush, who lent her unique vocal talent to their song The King Is Dead, an incredibly rare guest appearance by the reclusive pop icon.

    The duo’s regular guest guitarist, Alan Murphy, had played in Kate’s band.

    Richard explains: “In the studio, I said what the song needed to liven it up was a powerful woman’s voice, like Kate Bush.

    “Alan told us, ‘Why don’t you just get Kate Bush?’ He phoned Kate, saying to her, ‘Look, there’s this band I’m working with who need some help…”

    “However, Go West were recording their album in Denmark and Kate hates flying.

    Richard remembers: “Kate sent her vocals over on a tape that she’d wrapped in foil to preserve it. We were like kids at Christmas, opening that parcel.

    Kate Bush

    Kate Bush refused to be paid when she helped out band. (Image: TV Times via Getty Images)

    “We wanted to pay Kate for her time but Alan said she wouldn’t accept money.

    “I’m into antiques, so we bought Kate an art nouveau pewter vase.

    “We went to her studio in south London to say thanks. The vase was shaped a little bit like a trophy. Kate was delighted and said it was like she’d won the GoWest cup.”

    Now 66, Peter was 20 when he first met Richard, then 16, playing in Twickenham’s local music scene.

    The pair waited a decade to go it alone as Go West, inspired by the success of Tears For Fears and Hall & Oates.

    They had all but finished writing their debut album but were initially rejected by nearly every record company.

    Peter says: “We’d had promising feedback from EMI and met them, with just 56p of petrol in our car.

    “And then they said, ‘These songs are great so, hey, let us know what you do next’.” Utterly dejected, the duo had one last try. Richard laughs: “We decided to give the record companies what they wanted and write the most hit-sounding song we possibly could.

    Richard Drummie and Peter Cox

    The pair played at the Rewind Festival last year. (Image: Scott Campbell/Redferns via Getty Images)

    “That was Call Me. The demo sounded like seven ice-cream vans coming round the corner.Any toddler would have gone mad for it.”

    They promptly became the subject of a bidding war.

    The pair soon enjoyed the 80s high life. Peter admits: “From our first success I can still tell you the name of every bar in every town we went to.” They won Best Newcomer at the 1986 Brit Awards but Richard “got stuck into the free champagne”, convinced Go West would lose to Norwegian trio A-ha.

    Richard admits: “I had no idea there were separate British and International Newcomer categories.”

    Subsequently, the duo were invited to write with their hero Robert Palmer for his 1985 album Riptide, which features classic hit Addicted To Love, famed for its video featuring identically pouting models as the singer’s backing band.

    Robert flew Go West to his recording studio in the Bahamas.

    Robert Palmer performers

    Richard and Peter’s hero, Robert Palmer, performs in 1978. (Image: Gie Knaeps/Getty Images)

    Peter reveals: “When we got there we learned Robert had had to go to New York. Being young and foolish we flew straight to New York to surprise him. He took us in a limo to the Hard Rock Café, where the blues legend Bo Diddley was playing in a corner, a few feet away from us. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any madder, The Eagles’ guitarist Joe Walsh came up to say hello. Now that was a memorable 24 hours.”

    Go West’s problems started when Dancing On The Couchonly reached No 19 in the charts and the duo’s rows intensified.

    Today Peter admits: “We have quite differing points of view. We’re not as in tune as we were a long time ago but that’s inevitable. We’re quite different people.”

    Trying to follow the success of their self-titled debut album, GO WEST were initially set to record Dancing On The Couchat Beatles producer George Martin’s luxurious studio in the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Instead, they ended up in a village in Denmark .

    Peter explains: “We were told that the Danish studio had all the latest amazing recording equipment.

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    “Looking back, Montserrat might have been a bit nicer – especially as our record company charged us 50 per cent of the cancelled

    Montserrat trip anyway.” Although King Of Wishful Thinking sent GO WEST flying up the charts in Britain and America, its accompanying album Indian Summer caused further tension, when the pair shared a house in LA during recording .

    Richard confesses: “That’s when I threw a glass at Peter. It was a lovely big house and we didn’t have any complaints. The trouble was, we’d butt heads in the studio, then come home and continue the arguments.”

    Although Faithful was also another UK and US hit, Peter quit to go solo while Richard returned to England. His partner Annie, who he’d met in LA, came with him.

    The couple, who have since separated, have a grown-up son and daughter.

    Richard reflects: “It was a surprise when Peter went off to do his own thing but if we’d capitalised on that American success I’d never have had a family.

    “I was 35 when my first child was born, so I wouldn’t change a thing.” After nine years apart, GO WEST reunited in 2001 and have toured solidly ever since, also releasing two albums.

    As well as a joint tour with fellow 80s survivor Paul Young in May, which was postponed due to the pandemic, the pair will play their hits with the 29-piece Southbank Sinfonia orchestra on tour next month.

    Richard insists: “We don’t row all the time. It’s when we’re writing that the pressure comes. We’ve learned to spot the earthquakes and when to step away from the car.

    “When me and Peter have a laugh, it’s fantastic, and there are a lot of laughs on tour. Why wouldn’t there be? On tour, there’s nothing to butt heads about, apart from which cocktail to have after a show.”

    GO WEST tour with Southbank Sinfonia from March 16 to 20 and with Paul Young from May 14 to 31. They play at Let’s Rock festivals throughout summer and will release a five-disc deluxe edition of their debut album, GO WEST, on May 6

    Published at Sun, 27 Feb 2022 16:36:31 +0000

    Looking back with Go West: British band nearly turned down biggest break – here’s why