10cc: "We realised we could record anything and people would be interested"
From their early days to chart success with 10cc, it’s been an eventful ride for Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. Prog looks back over their illustrious career with the men who were there...
“We did fix ourselves in a good place in modern music,” reflects Eric Stewart. “I think we carried the mantle of The Beatles in that everything we wrote, recorded and released, whether it was a single or an album, was completely different each time we went in the studio. We didn’t have a George Martin around to keep us in check though, and the amazingly different ideas that we kept coming up with – musically, lyrically etc – would sadly eventually tear us apart.”
Indeed, as four gifted musicians who were all accomplished songwriters, 10cc should have been the next Beatles. They had the brains. They had the balls. They even had the Gizmotron, for God’s sake! If the band weren’t conceived by immaculate conception or artificial insemination then much of the kudos should go to Stewart as a savvy visionary.
Having made some money as lead singer and guitarist with The Mindbenders, Stewart had the foresight to partner with Peter Tattersall (former road manager for Billy J Kramer) and invest his savings in constructing a studio at number three Waterloo Road, in the middle of Stockport. Tattersall had recognised the need for a professional studio outside of London, to cater for the ever-expanding music industry in and around Manchester and all points north.
Stewart, like Tattersall, had always harboured an abiding interest in the engineering and production side of making music, and it was Stewart who dubbed it Strawberry Studios after John Lennon’s own homage to Strawberry Fields. A few months later, Graham Gouldman joined the partnership, investing earnings he had made from his success as a songwriter penning hits for the likes of The Yardbirds, Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies and Jeff Beck.
It was Graham who introduced Kevin Godley and his art school friend Lol Creme to Eric Stewart, who soon realised the pair had a close working relationship. As Creme recollects, “When we were 14 or 15 years old, Kev and I wanted to be Simon & Garfunkel, we loved all those harmonies and wanted to write cool songs. The music and the lyrics were very important to us. And we were tuned in to the same wavelength: we were two halves of the same person. We could finish off each other’s sentences.”