Robert John Godfrey On His Retirement from the Enid
Robert John Godfrey explains his decision to step away from the band he formed over 40 years ago…
Robert John Godfrey was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012, and he vividly recalls what led to this coming to light.
“I’d driven somewhere to pick up some things. But when I got back into my car, I couldn’t recall where I lived. It worried me so much that when I went to the doctor for a planned check-up to do with my diabetes problem, I mentioned this, and the doctor ordered tests immediately. It was then that I was told I have Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, so far it hasn’t affected me too badly. But I know it’s only a matter of time before this takes hold. There’s no escaping it.”
Godfrey has taken steps to ensure that The Enid will carry on without him once the disease takes a firm grip. “I’ve handed over all legal and financial dealings to do with the band to the others. And when The Enid play at the Cadogan Hall in London on April 2, it’ll be my last performance as a regular member.”
So is Godfrey going to give up all connections with The Enid? “Not at all. I’ll still turn up for shows, and probably be seen at the merchandising stand. I also hope I shall be able to play live with them on occasion. So it’s not as if I’m planning to retire.”
“I think this might be the first time that the leader of any band has thought ahead in such a way,” adds Joe Payne. “What we have now is a situation where The Enid can carry on without Robert, and that will hopefully ensure we have the impetus to make certain this entity can continue for many years. I suppose I’m now guiding the band, but what Robert has done is give me the inspiration to feel that when the time is right, I can hand over the legacy to somebody else.”
I’d driven somewhere to pick up some things. But when I got back into my car, I couldn’t recall where I lived.
There will be a special solo show from Godfrey next year to mark his 70th birthday. “It will be a very intimate performance,” says Payne. “Just Robert playing the piano, with maybe one or two of The Enid also involved. That’s the way he wants it.”
Godfrey is also sketching out ideas for new music. “My next project will be The Bridge 2,” he says. “What we did with The Bridge was showcase Joe’s talents, and this time I want to do the same thing with Jason Ducker, who has been the guitarist in the band since we reformed in 2007. He has so much ability, and what I want to do is bring this out, the way we did with Joe last year. Jason and I have a very close connection. One reason for this is that while I remain an agnostic, I have a huge respect for his love of Catholicism. I appreciate Jason’s devotion to his faith and can’t understand why some people scoff at anyone who admits to having belief in religious convictions. I’m sure Jason and I will bring his Catholic dedication to the fore on this album.
“I still have a lot that I want to accomplish musically, so you will certainly be hearing more from me! I feel rather like Sir Edward Elgar in the later stages of his life, when perhaps he wasn’t creating anything new, but did symphonic arrangements of works from Bach and Handel, as well as making sure some of his early compositions were properly recorded.”
Payne insists that Godfrey’s influence on The Enid remains strong. “I fully expect Robert to have an input into everything we create, as long as he’s well enough to do so. None of us want to lose his inspiration.”
As for the next major work from The Enid, Payne admits that has yet to be decided. “We’ll be playing the whole of In The Region Of The Summer Stars live this year, simply to mark its 40th anniversary. But while we’re thinking about a new album, nothing has been mapped out. We’re waiting for someone, and it could be anyone, to come up with a concept for it. Once that’s in place, we’ll sit down and develop it, the way we always do.”