JANUARY 2011 – DECEMBER 2011
Read Toyah's blog on the Official Page HERE
HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!!!
Christmas for me is in St. Albans, in the company of seven very naughty dwarfs, 900 screaming children (that includes the adults in the audience), chocolate in abundance (meaning it is all round me like an oral torture game teasing and enticing me to become a size 120 in the space of two chews and a swallow, if you get my drift) and tons of brussel sprouts. Less said about sprouts the better!
Panto season is a welcome change to the daily travel of touring and the panto company are lovely. The dwarfs are constantly fun, naughty and charmingly bonkers. They make the most of their size and hide in as many dark places as possible to scare the s--- out of you when you walk past. The run is pretty close to selling out and as we have quite a few 10.30am performances it is nice to know we will be playing to lots of appreciative noise.
Miraculously all my Christmas shopping is done and Robert is going to have a bumper day on the 25th December. The majority of his gifts will make him laugh as I’ve managed to find a few tacky and mad items including one that warns people he has been in the loo! A must when one lives with a champion brussel sprout eater!
In our attic at home we have rows of shelves where robert displays the jokiest things I have bought him over the years, items such as the “walking severed hand”, or “ remote controlled spider” or “ the chattering false teeth” and a “pot of snot”. It is like a ten year old boys private collection of treasured items under the bed before the hormones kick in and they all get replaced with used tissues and top shelf magazines!
We’ve decided not to have a Christmas tree this year because I used to put the decorations up with mum and to be honest I cannot face it.
Everyday I pick up my phone to call her (I still do this for dad too!) I even found myself in the middle of Debenhams looking for a Christmas present for her until I realised she wasn’t here.
So this year we have decided to donate the monies we’d usually spend on mum, dad and the Christmas tree to the Owen Reynolds fund, so Owen can buy vital medication from the states, and we have done this in mum’s name. Owen is a long time family friend, who’s mother- in- law Maggie, was mum’s best friend. A few weeks back I found myself in the same hospital mum spent her last month in, in the same nuclear department I used to take her to to be nuked. I was there to have my mysterious “limp” investigated. Having spent most of the British tour in October limping!
Whilst caring for mum in her last week and then when touring with the Humans I started to not be able to walk properly…………very likely the extreme stress of dealing with the loss of mum and that followed by the stresses of The Humans tour, both of which eventually had a physical effect on me. After many scans and x-rays up until two days ago, I had been led to believe that my hip replacement had to be revised and I’d need 5 months recuperation………….an absolutely F------ awful thought for a workaholic like me and also for someone who has to earn a living. Then luckily it was discovered I had an infection in my hip bone, MUCH more treatable than a total replacement operation………….and all caused by stress!
I like to think, after this year, I can cope with anything life throws at me………we will see. No doubt there will be many costume malfunctions and dwarf pranks in the next four weeks! I’m going out to buy 7 fart machines to place under their stage beds for revenge!
HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
Outside the Manchester Academy on the 30th October, I had a Bowie moment.
Manchester was one of many highlights on the TOYAH TOUR. The show was packed and everyone loved the set. There was an electric feeling in the air of positivity and joy, this is something we have experienced at all the shows in the last 8 weeks, but what I didn’t expect as I left the venue was ………The Bowie Moment.
In 1972 I went to see Bowie at Coventry Theatre, when he was mid-Ziggy Stardust Tour. It was a life-changing show for me and after I ran around the building and stood at the stage door to see him leave, only myself and my friend Debbie where there and as Bowie came out the two of us screamed our heads off to the bemusement of Bowie and Mick Ronson! As I left The Manchester Academy after last weeks show, outside the stage door where about 20 people waiting………..all under the age of 22 (I guess) screaming “TOYAH YOU ROCK!”. It was blissful, it shot me back in time to Coventry in 1972!
This last month has been bloody great. The Humans mini tour was just the highlight of my year. The playing, the shows, the audience feedback was a total high. I really like the fact that The Humans is now a totally different identity and band to Toyah. Sugar Rush has received fantastic reviews and we will be out on the road again in May 2012. The Bush theatre was just mega, with standing ovations virtually every song. And Derby Flower Pot was even better! I cannot wait to perform Small Town Psychopath again.
A huge thanks goes to Pete Newton who promotes the midlands shows, he has been heroic and an enormous support through out both tours. It was Pete who organised the Humans Pod Cast at the Birmingham HMV which will be broadcast soon.
Then two days after The Humans finished we hit the road with the Toyah Tour and everything went up and up and up, which I thought wouldn’t have been possible.
At the Brook in Southampton, I should have trusted the signs as how things would continue…………..the queue went around the block………….and ever since the shows have gone from strength to strength! The band have been playing so well, some nights the hair has stood up on the back of my neck and I have experienced something that I have never experienced in 32 years, the set just literally melts away into minutes, from the first song to the last feels like a four minute stretch because I’ve been enjoying each song so much.
One of the oddest things about this tour it has been beset with technical problems that have been down right bizarre but amusing. Cars bursting in flames, multipleflat tyres, computers crashing, lighting systems failing, fans cameras all breaking at the same time at thepre-show signings, this list goes on and on! This tour has been accompanied by weird happenings for a month. I like to think it is the presence of our ancestorstelling us we are in the right place at the right time, but more likely it is something emanating from our own emotional stress.
My particular stress being 7 weeks ago I developed laryngitis right at the start of the Humans USA tour and have had to work through it for the past month and a half, exasperated by a flu jab in October. God I don’t know why I have this jab……………….i just get further cold symptoms for months after! Luckily my voice stayed in strong form.
Next year we are touring The Changeling and Warrior Rock, planning the set list around the original Warrior Rock album. I remember The Changeling tour as being one of the greatest tours of my career, with the evening being an outstandingly powerful journey through many songs that are deep and dangerous. I’m really looking forward to performing Castaways again!
It may sound a strange thing to say but in 1982 I didn’t have the solid confidence that I have now when singing a song. For example on this recent Toyah Tour we performed Demolition Men for the first time. I never had the confidence to perform that song in 1981, yet this year I have loved every moment of that song and it has felt right to sing it now, so I am expecting the same experience with The Changeling, especially The Packt!
Right I am now off for the last Toyah Sheep Farming To Anthem show this year at the Islington o2 Academy! Hopefully there will be no technical hitches. The show is full so I can’t wait for the chorus on War Boys!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD!
(that will be in the set next year too!)
LOTS OF LOVE TOYAH XXXX
Hello there and aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!
The last 48 hours have been unbelievably awful. Quite a statement considering my mother died one month ago and that takes some beating but when four of the venues of the HUMANS tour called to say the ticket sales don’t go to double numbers how the hell am I supposed to feel………joyous……….i think not!
With these four venues we took a one-off view of offering to negotiate the band fees down so the venues could stay open but the venue managers said that would cost them too much, just to stay open. So rescheduling was the only option for four of the venues. This is the recession. It is hitting everyone. Basically the gigs where booked too late and not early enough for them to be sold and TOYAH SHEEP FARMING TO ANTHEM TOUR has taken all the bookings, extraordinarily so.
Thank goodness London, derby and West Bromwich are doing well! We've also confirmed a HUMANS album signing at 6pm before the West Brom gig.
The TOYAH shows are going great guns. Thank you to all of you for your support, only two well known “so called fans” have been very personal and unhelpful and we all know who they are and we all would prefer them not to be at the gigs anyway, you…… my friends and the band included.
Boy oh Boy it has been a testing time! But the good news far outweighs the bad. The USA gigs where great. The reviews are great, the reaction to SUGAR RUSH is fantastic.
It is selling incredibly well. Record sales are out numbering live ticket sales and that doesn’t happen often! I’m talking more than double figures by the way!!!!!!!!
We are a new band and this last week has been a teething problem and one that has a solution………..the lesson is learnt.
AND there is so much in the pipe line, really exciting things. There’s going to be a webcast concert , lots of touring in 2012 and we start HUMANS 3. So thank you, thank you for your support.
The rehearsals in Seattle started off well. It was super hot and every building had air conditioning set to -20! So very quickly I developed a cold and then laryngitis. In Boston I talked the lyrics for most of the show rather than sing them but by Philadelphia I had my range back and the show was mind blowing. We were supported by a great young band called KID , who were super sweet and supper polite.
Their music crossed between Pink Floyd and Velvet Underground and I found myself lusting after all of them. God I felt sad and old! A little like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard but slightly cuter!!!!!!!!
This being a short tour and on a shoe string we stayed in motels and we were not at all disappointed, they all could have featured in SMALL TOWN PSYCHOPATH. Driving into one joint in Portland Maine a red neck picked a fight with Bill at a red light. Luckily Bill, who can be quite obstreperous, hinted he had the squits and we drove off leaving the red neck dumbfounded and then when we got to the motel the shower curtains had clear plastic windows at eye level in case anyone got into the room with a knife………….nothing disappointed.
One joyous fact was the music and band concept worked. The new album truly demonstrates this and we were leaving audiences in rapture, many saying it was the best concert they’d seen in years.
The music is both very normal and extremely strange at the same time. I’ve been describing it as waking moments in the middle of a deep sleep, fragmented consciousness. One New York reviewer said “this is original Toyah”, which hadn’t occurred to me. The origins of the music are exactly how I wrote SHEEP FARMING, instinctive and strange, following slightly illogical streams of thought in a homogenised world.
Ahhh New York. I was shaking from head to toe with fear. It meant so much to me. Our venue, The Highline is a cabaret club, perfect for us. As we walked on stage I was feeling slightly insignificant, a common companion in recent weeks, I’ve been through too much emotionally to say I feel strong right now and I keep wanting to phone mum to say hello then remembering she isn’t here any more.
To be honest when we did Fragment Pool, a song about dad dying, I almost lost the plot and had to hold the tears back. But some how this fragility helps the starkness of what we are doing. It’s been raw. This is the album that has orphaned me, it’s a big marker in someone’s life.
All this topped with getting lost in Newark twice, both times when we were supposed to be in different cities I’ve developed a very strange sense of humour. Bill would say I’m bordering on hysterical, I’d say I am bordering on a madness that everyone else in the world has to live with on a daily basis, just trying to survive the 9 to 5, running a family and dealing with bureaucracy!
My optimism is boundless, even in a week like this one. Great fun was had on the Isle Of man and even more at Carlisle Gay Pride and a lot more will be had for the rest of the month with the TOYAH SHOWS.
I thank you for buying tickets and I thank you for your support. AND we look forward to seeing you either at THE HUMANS or at the TOYAH shows. Both guarantee being very lively.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
HELLO AND A BIG HUG TO YOU ALL,
Thank you so much for the messages of support and sympathy. Mum passed away at 3.55 pm on Friday 2nd September.
The last 9 months have been stressful but in particular the last 10 weeks have been close to hell.
Good God my mother was a fighter and the staff at ST.RICHARDS HOSPICE fell in love with her.
One beautiful and strange story………. The Willcox family moved in on the Tuesday morning, keeping a 24 hour rota by her bedside and we made a lot of deep friendships very quickly with those in the surrounding rooms. One particular neighbor who came in a day later on the Wednesday, a man in his 50’s was in the room next to mum. His wife ate with us and we plied her gently with wine in the evenings.
No matter how prepared you think you are when the moment comes it surprises you. Mum passed away at 3.55 and the curtains and door to her room were shut so we could grieve privately But mum's best friend Maggie, who stayed in mum’s room all week ran and opened the door by mum’s bed which led into a garden. She did this because the nurses said that they instinctively and tangibly, felt patient’s souls exited out the room this way. My brother-in-law came in at 4.20 and told us that the man in next room had passed over too! Knowing my mum, she walked straight round and took her neighbor by the hand and they went together!
This last month has reminded me that love, family and compassion really are the things that count at the end of the day.
My promise to mum is to live life to the full and not let the side down, so here goes……………………………….
The next eight weeks are intense. Really great things are happening. The response to YOMANDA feat, Toyah FALLEN has been wonderful with pretty serious industry people predicting it could be a top ten. We shoot the video this week, on the cliff tops near Eastbourne, a beautiful concept of two fallen angels in a human landscape. Jez Eaton (the creator of the large feather collar and devil headdress) has loaned us a substantial amount of her new autumn collection to wear. We were supposed to be filming in Oslo! But the remnants of Hurricane Irene will make visibility nonexistent! LOL!
Then before I fly to Seattle for the US tour I have Club PAs at Wig Out and New Foresters, both of which I am looking forward to enormously, especially performing FALLEN, which is a joy to sing………………by the way on the day we recorded it, I did the main vocal on the first take, in one take, with Paul Masterson by my side re-living the lyrics in a strange mime of appreciation…………..he is the sweetest guy.
The nerves are building in relation to the American dates, especially for New York. This is the first time in my career I have performed to a paying American public and as confident as I am about SUGAR RUSH, basically I am still quaking in my boots about this debut. That said……….I CANT WAIT……….BRING IT ON!
Last months shows were great. REBELLION was fabulous! The venue, THE BLACKPOOL WINTERGARDENS was totally perfect for a punk festival of vintage punk music. Everyone was great, really friendly. The crew, the organizers, the audience and the other bands on the bill where bloody exciting and doing great things……….it felt current not retro at all.
REWIND SCOTLAND and REWIND HENLEY were AWESOME! Scotland was extra fab because my husband came too and did my security, a job he far prefers to being a “rock god”. He guarded the cakes, guarded the singer, guarded the dressing room but even he couldn’t stop people talking to me as I walked on stage………..”hello Toyah, how you doing? Nice to see you. Looking forward to this? What you up to at the moment? Can I have a picture with you?”…………..
Seriously I walked on stage at Scone Castle and for about 20 seconds I couldn’t remember the first line to the first song………….why do people talk to you as you walk on stage????????????????? If you could see what goes on backstage. There is always extreme professionalism from the crew and musicians but some how someone who shouldn’t be there always manages to be there………..asking questions!
HERE AND NOW ASCOT was mind blowing. I didn’t expect the crowd to be so enormous. It was the Dubai Cup. Hubby reported 20,000 on his web site………he missed a “0”. It was 200,000. Even more important that the odd “F” word didnt slip out!
CLUMBER and WICKHAM were lovely too. The sun out. Great company backstage and the actual shows exhilarating. I found solace in my work this last month. In fact REWIND HENLEY was the most relaxing day I had had in months! But the prize goes to MANCHESTER PRIDE where the atmosphere was so special. There was a true air of “shared experience”, comaradery and love. Very moving indeed.
So I am off to learn THE HUMANS repertoire and the future feels bittersweet but wonderful.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
It has been the usual month of extremes in Willcox Towers. Because Mum has now been in hospital for a month it has been an existence between the phantasmagorical world of showbusiness and that of harsh reality.
My sister is “high up” in the NHS management stratosphere and it has been an eye opener for her to see mum directly effected by the strategies she has had a hand putting in place, to the point I like to think mum’s journey will have a positive effect on future NHS management of the elderly and extremely ill. Overworked, overstressed and underfunded establishments versus compassion and nurture.
There have been very odd moments like holding mum’s sick bowl whilst a complete stranger asks “are you Toyah Willcox?”
“Do you still work?”
“Well if you call singing in front of 20,000 people and being followed by 15 photographers and filming programmes for the BBC work…………yes I
“Oh yes I saw you on telly last night.”
“Was I asleep? Or was I WORKING!”
It’s funny how fame renders bodily functions to the sidelines but my mother now understands why I have so adamantly protected her from those who only want contact with fame rather than contact with humanity. In the first week of her hospitalisation she was thrilled people kept asking if I was who I am (and I was too) but now things are more
serious it is quite frankly inappropriate.
Then there’s the phone hacking scandal……….
“My phone was hacked!” says mum, as she points to the newspaper.
“Yes but by a totally different paper!” says I.
“What are you going to do about it?” says mum.
“Wait for Karma, it’s doing a pretty good job at the moment”, and also wait till I write my next autobiography, like every biography to be written in the next ten years there will be a whole chapter on hacking, story invention and name slurring………..and critics who write reviews without seeing the show!
My mother remains feisty, even with her head in a sick bowl.
Over in the parallel universe of music and film the shows have been going great guns. Oxford, Harrogate, Bromsgrove, Rewind, The Rock n’ Bike show and the Soho House screening of PO3 had a great reactions. We now have TOYAH shows being offered in Germany, Norway and USA. I have never enjoyed the “old music” so much. And memories are flooding back such as how quickly I had to write the lyrics. In most cases I had two hours to pen lyrics in the morning and record them the same afternoon, the pressure was unbelievable but I was too driven to have let something like “time pressure” get in my way.
And as for the B-sides, they were written on the spot. A phone call would come in from the record company and they’d say we need three B-sides so off we’d go, into the studio and write the first thing that came into our heads. The B-sides where always fun because we could get away with anything without the record company saying …”but will it get airplay?”
A lot of the last four weeks was taken up filming ANTIQUES ROAD TRIP for CHILDREN IN NEED. OMG I did abysmally! I am ashamed! I was bossy and forthright and rubbish! But Tony Blackburn did cheat!
I have driven automatic cars for 25 years and on being asked to drive a Morgan for the show I was clueless as to where my feet should go. Everyone tried to teach me, but I’d keep forgetting which foot peddle was the break! So Tony did all the driving.
We had two wonderful days in York, fabulous city and two surprisingly good days in Pickering, lovely town!……….I recommend Deans Court Hotel in York and the White Swan Inn in Pickering, both are great! It’s interesting filming on location because no one factors in for rest rooms, so the men run off to the bushes and the women cross their legs all day………..ouch!
My sister has just called. Mum comes home on Thursday. She hasn’t been home for a month. My sister, myself and Heather the housekeeper, have cleaned mums home from top to bottom, it sparkles and the gardener has done the garden. This is great news. She will be happier in her own home even though the hospital staff have been fabulous. I can go back to learning The Humans Sugar Rush songs with a lighter heart.
Can you believe it is August! It only seems like yesterday the leaves where falling off the trees. I’m off to grab myself some summer! I look forward to seeing you guys at the gigs, we adding some changes to the songs here and there………
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
I don't know if I am doing something really silly or really inspired?
But I certainly know what I am doing is hugely enjoyable and teaching me an awful lot about myself. What can this questionable action be? Wearing the original stage costumes from 1979 to 1984.
It kind of takes the term "VINTAGE" to a whole new level. Will catwalk models be doing the same next year with Dior, Channel, Katherine Hamnett and Westwood?
These costumes have sat in storage for 30 years. They deserve a new spark of life, another bite of the cherry and if I'm out there playing the music why not have the costumes too? It is rather nice to be groping around in the dark again doing quick changes. The last two shows have had a form, a charisma and a vibe that has to be down to the fact that the costumes and music have truly embraced the era. Sean Chapman's brilliantly visual hair peices and stunning make up design have caught the original "Toyah" look with eye grabbing vibrancy.
AND I love that the show is truly retrograde. We start at year 1981 with quite grounded theatrical songs and regress towards the punk era, with the show building in intensity and sheer exuberance, back to the music of 1978! It feels quite odd exiting stage for a quick change, six in all, but the entry back always gets a huge WOW from the audience and even on my own I've got the changes down to 30 seconds.
I could almost giggle at the struggle of getting one sweaty costume off and another on while the band are playing away on stage, yet somehow it is starting to feel very right and irreversible. After all I've been doing this as an actress for over 32 years so why not within the context of a concert. It is making me feel so more connected to my roots.
The first time I saw Bowie as Ziggy, as a desperately disposed teenage in search of verification and identity, his costume changes where mind blowing yet if you stripped away the glamour what you would have been left with? A very sweaty artist peeling of layers and applying a new layer as Ronson played on.
Having added this dimension to this years shows has grounded me and give the evening a form I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams ……………. and there SO many more costumes to make use of in my costume store! Also, I must add, the band have never been better. Gob smacking playing from all concerned.
Leicester Square Theatre was great and the feed back fabulous. One e-mail came in saying "I couldn't believe how powerful an emotion swept over me when I saw the original costumes………….
I didn't expect it but it bought tears to my eyes." The show suits the smaller intimate venue too, very satisfying.
I managed to squeeze a visit to Seattle in between Leicester Square and Oxford. Having not seen my soul brother Bill Rieflin in the flesh for over 12 months I was starting to get serious withdrawal symptoms. Bill and I were filming for USA DISCOVERY. A programme about weird burials and somehow the producers had gotten hold of an interview I gave 30 years ago about TIBETAN SKY BURIAL and they wanted to talk to me about it.
Unfortunately they talked to Bill too, who offered to speed things along by murdering me and inviting TinkyWinky to come and do the burial honours. I love the fact that Bill doesn't give reverence to anything. We managed to write four new HUMANS songs without killing each other, plus have some serious catch up time together.
SUGAR RUSH is scheduled for a September 27th release in the USA with dates pencilled in NY, PHILLY and over on the west coast, then we have 4 shows in the UK from the 3rd October until the 6th Oct, but more are being added all the time. I can't wait because SUGAR RUSH is very different to HUMANS 1, it is going to surprise a lot of people in a good way.
Paul Masterson sent me a great instrumental track to work on…….. IF EVER A DAY SHOULD COME, asking for a big vocal. This was a really enjoyable challenge as the track already had huge tension within it because of a very intense and dramatic top keyboard line, so I set about writing words and came up with FALLEN.
We met up in Essex at the house and studio of THE DIRTY RICH (http://www.thedirtyrich.com/) I found the whole set up adorable, they have so got it right…broadcasting from the mansion each month. Dave Pemberton engineered and we got the main vocal in one take, on the first take!
Paul was a very happy man. I kept the vocal performance as a contained torch song, no overindulging in over stressed volume and layers, the idea being the top keyboard line does all the drama. It is very, very, very diva! And what's more, it will be ready in a week or so, for the summer!
July is really busy. I'm working on a 60 minute docu for the BBC, co-coordinating the Humans stuff for NEW YORK and start the summer shows. Eclectic hectic!
Harrogate and Bromsgrove, on the 22nd and 23rd will be very theatrical. I'm going to add some new OLD costumes. Luckily my friend Rebecca has offered to dress me in Harrogate so I will be really speedy!
My favourite song in the set DEMOLITION MEN, it is soooooooo 80's! And REWIND SCOTLAND…………big hair!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
There is mischief in the air as I prepare for Blackpool Pride and texts roll in from my gay female friends making suggestions for new songs in my set. Divinyls’ “I touch myself” seems to be top of the request list………..honestly girls, I am an OLD woman, I should be singing “ If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake” or “ Anything you can do I can better”, but no matter what I suggest, the connotations seem to cause more riotous texts!
One thing's for sure, there will be three surprises in my Gay Pride set this year.
There has been a lot of good news in the past weeks. POWER OF THREE seems to be finding its feet after the usual uphill struggle in film distribution land. People have started to talk about it and it seems to be targeting its rightful audience. Ironically, in a world where over half the population are over 50 it is deemed dangerously ambitious to make a film about women turning 50 and starting a new life. If I were to put the film in to context in my own words it would be “The film genre of THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT meets the hope and determination of CALANDER GIRLS”. It is very much a “woman’s” film.
The film is quirky, made for virtually no money, surprisingly good-looking in this case, and rallies women to take control of their futures and that is what makes this film worth its weight in gold.
The Canadian producer has found the “sorry no, you can’t do that” culture of Great Britain a little disheartening at times. On many occasions ‘we the cast and crew’ have had to revive her through hearty e-mails to keep fighting for the cause. My last being “daughters need their mothers to see this film, because in this technical age daughters educate their mothers to a certain extent and life in no way ends after 50!”
It’s all well and good for me, a 53 year old, to say "life begins at 50!" when in reality life begins every single day we wake up no matter what age. The real message of the film is life never ends…………..it’s about MAKING THE MOST OF WHAT YOU HAVE LEFT SO DON’T WASTE A MINUTE. And that is the message of PO3. If you get a chance to see the previews in either BATH or BIRMINGHAM - try and bring your mum!
ROM SHEEP FARMING TO ANTHEM: CLASSICS REVISITED LIVE 2011 My mind is dominated by Leicester Square, we are adding 3 new “old” songs, ones that haven’t been performed for about 29 years and one which has NEVER EVER been done live. I am loving them. For the first time I will be doing costume changes during the show………… well you won’t get to see those, they will, I promise, happen off stage but hopefully I will arrive on stage with my front to front and back to back and nothing tucked in my knickers!
It is a Hair / make up / costumed “tip of the hat” to the era when girls said NO to floral prints and frilly sleeves and re-invented individualism for themselves.
Having lived off raw cabbage, carrots and fennel for the past month I can happily say the original outfits fit! All the planning and reminiscing required to have this together on time has reminded me very strongly of how David Bowies costume changes during his Ziggy era were always thrilling and even more so because his shows were in seated venues which held the focus necessary to make an impact. The Toyah costumes of this time are a lot easier to deal with than Bowies skin tight knitted suits and spider outfits but he sure inspired everything I did back then.
Yes, I am definitely seeing the 17th June as major highlight in this already bustling year.
Thank you to every one for the birthday and anniversary wishes. Robert and myself managed to escape to France for the week. My main aim was to sleep, having broken my own record of no sleep for two weeks by having not slept at all in April and half of May. This insomnia lark is no fun and when it really kicks in it is there for a long run…………6 weeks in the twilight zone was enough to make me want to chip my teeth out with a nail file.
We had a fantastic time, sleep, food, sight seeing. Just 300 yards from my home in Menton there is a museum being built to Jean Cocteau who did a lot of his work whilst living in this town, and I feel like I have lucked out big time being there. This is where I wrote most of the HUMANS stuff and a lot of my contribution to CRIMSON QUEEN was penned in Menton. It revives me. And talking of the HUMANS, straight after opening the GPN exhibition which includes Dean Stockings work, on the 20th June I hope on a flight to Seattle to do a documentary project with Bill Rieflin and start demoing material for HUMANS 3.
LET THE FUN BEGIN!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
Hello and Welcome and AHHHHHHHHHH!
I've just overfilled the garden pond to the extent that the fish are having a look around the rose bed and choosing their insects for lunch off the rose petals rather than the surface tension that holds their watery world apart from ours. It's been a bit like this lately.
Willyfred, the much loved Prince of Rabbits ate a brand new dress with flower print material. He has no sense of smell and lousy eyesight but he can recognise a flower, bit like the husband. Both don't know which are real and which are fabricated. AND then there's the incident where I managed to boil a rotten egg, ever done that? It is a vile experience but I did enjoy my husband thinking something was wrong with his digestive system for the 24 hours it took for the aroma to leave the kitchen. He kept apologising every time he entered the room………
I never told him about the rotten egg because in his diary recently, dgmlive, he said the rabbit smells and NO ONE disses the rabbit!
My hand is up in admittance that I enjoyed 7 hours of the royal wedding on TV having met Princess Di on five occasions. On our last meeting the topic of conversation over lunch was how she wanted her sons to be free to enjoy the world. I felt a great sense of pleasure that her oldest son obviously has a free will (excuse the pun) and got it so right on his wedding day. Then memories flooded back of my wedding, 25 years ago this May. It had to be top secret because my husband "to be" was and is phobic about publicity of the celebrity kind. The only dress I could find and buy without causing suspicion was a pink ankle length ball gown, very Bo Peep!
I spent the week prior making all the food. I paid for my own wedding band, and I think my husband's too.
Endured endless phone calls from his ex's trying to tell him he was making a mistake and also enduring his extreme nervousness in finally committing to someone because in the past he never committed to anyone (take that you bitches!) It almost rained on the day but just as we started the ceremony the sun came out. Then when we left the church a lone photographer had cottoned on that a policeman was guarding the church next to our house for a reason and he got his shot as we left, prompting my camera shy husband to do a runner and I didn't see hubby again until the reception………….an omen for things to come……….marrying a touring musician was equal to entering the convent with no intention of remaining chaste whenever the hubby was in town.
I not only gained a husband that day but a new public name, I went from PRINCESS OF PUNK, singular, to THE ODD COUPLE, plural, in one fell vow and for once the press weren't far off the truth! I'd venture to say normality only entered our domestic lives in the past ten years and still it's a pretty odd normality. Even though we share a main house my husband has his own house across the square and I have my own in London and in the in the next village amongst others and heaven help him if he leaves his dirty washing on the floor in any of them.
Our home in France (well mine actually) is 8 floors above the beach and at certain times (like when the snoring has been particularly loud) I throw his underwear over the balcony! Marriage? It's enough to question ones sanity at times. Which leads me on to JEDWARD.
Marriage allows you to choose whom you spend the next 50 years with but what if you are twins? Having just spent the day with Jedward at Pinewood I came away thinking "do they ever get tired? Do they ever get fed up with each other? Do they ever NOT talk?" or as Keith Lemon put it "don't you ever shut the f**k up?" They are only 17 years old, they work incredibly hard, they had time for everyone and everyone wanted a bit of them and they obviously have had singing lessons because their singing that day was 100% improved from their X-FACTOR days. But boy I found them scary.
They have kind of hop scotched over the preliminary stages of fame where you learn that if someone is 24 years older than you and people are kow towing to them ie: Louis Walsh falling over himself to talk to me and ask about my latest work and explaining to them who I was, that they'd realise………….you share the stage with people not obliterate it with verbal overflow?
I predict they are going to do well as long as they keep learning and they ARE learning fast but heaven help them when their fans move on to someone else………….that is the toughest transition of them all. I wish them great success with EUROVISION for Ireland as I do BLUE for Great Britain. I LOVE EUROVISION and want people in the EU to stop tactically voting against Britain.
HMV Birmingham was a great gig. I loved it! And it was my hometown. The audience where just fascinating, a mix of diehard familiar faces and young STEAM PUNKS. I am so enjoying doing the old stuff and boy it is old, 33 years old some of it. It has taken on a completely different meaning in this day of advanced technology and the knowledge that in my life time there will be expeditions to the Moon and Mars. I can't wait for Leicester Square. There is going to be a lot of memories there. The old costumes are going to surface and some of the most requested songs from fans. SOOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED! Everyone is invited from the original Punks to the new fold.
THE HUMANS : SUGAR RUSH is very close to release and dates being set up! More on this soon.
In the mean time I'd like to thank Carli of www.susumama.co.uk for loaning me fairy wings for the Canterbury Fairy Ball, because without them I couldn't have travelled there. Fairies do exist!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
Hello and THANK YOU!
Thank you to everyone who supported the 80s Super Group during Lets’s Dance For Comic Relief! 1.2 million raised, that is astonishing. I haven’t had so much fun since doodling penises on my maths O’ level paper in 1974. The show was both terrifying and fabulous. I really wanted to win. I really bloody wanted to WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really wanted to look like a member of Pans People but hadn’t a hope in hell.
My particular favourite person was Ade Edmondson. He was always calm, very dry, keeping his thoughts under a bushel until I pointed out that Noel Fielding has to be a drummer because he can’t walk in time to music. This tickled Ade who was forever suffering from the tightness of his tutu in the “man’s department”.
Noel Fielding, a lovely man with a fabulous mother, had us in fits, but I have to say put him and Limahl in the same dance group and you’d have had instant comedy heaven. It would have been like Attila The Hun meets Louie Spence for a tango. Bless Limahl, he worked so hard and yet he’d still be in the wrong place at the wrong time. His head popping up off the beat like a Meer Cat on acid.
As for me, I looked like a plastic surgeon inserting the largest breast implants in mid air for 3 minutes. I’m not a born twinkle toes. I suppose I have to say my most favorite moment was inviting Steve Jones (on camera, during a rehearsal) to feel my breasts because they were real, whilst standing close to Katie Price (who was a sweet hard working and incredible beautiful girl who has a split personality, the sweet girl and the filthy mouthed girl) Steve turned bright red and couldn’t stop laughing. Needless to say we got told off.
It has been a month of geographical logistical hell.
After the final of Comic Relief I had to be in Dominica, in the Caribbean, the following day, so no sleep for me. 5am on the Sunday and I was on the plane to Antigua and then a domestic prop plane to Dominica. Where I experienced a little old lady asking the stewardess in charge if she minded locking the plane door once we were in the air !!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone on the plane laughed as the stewardess got out of her seat and sealed the door…………I was too tired to care. No one had warned me that I was about to land on one of the most dangerous airstrips in the world. YIKES!!!!!!!!!
The island, which is utterly stunning, is mainly rain forest atop old volcanoes and the plane had a clearing on top of an old volcano to land on. The wing tips touched the treetops as we came down and for a minute I thought we were landing in the trees, then suddenly a runway appeared.
Then an hour’s drive in a mini-van down the mountain on dirt roads,
picking up the drivers friends, the airport customs staff and the brother of the Minister For Tourism who’d just arrived from Miami.
Everyone on the bus wanted to know who I was and why I was there, what I did for a living, my e-mail address and if I liked their island. I loved their island! There were no streetlights until we hit Roseau, the port town where my hotel was. It was a glorious “otherworld”. I could imagine Johnny Depp coming ashore for his rum! True Pirates Of The Caribbean territory. 17 hours travel in all………knackered!
At 8am Monday morning the P&O AZURA picked me up off a tiny jetty with most the island there to greet the ship and I had the day to prepare myself for two talks that evening, the first at 7.15, the second at 8.45. By 10pm I collapsed in a heap and managed to think about the last 48 hours.
After four hours sleep I realized I had to learn 8 old Toyah songs for The Cavern in Liverpool and two Beatles songs for a new project called “Ladies Love The Beatles”, (neither intended to be directly related!) which I was to record with Chris Neil the following week.
By Friday 18th March I found out I wasn’t booked in on the Virgin flight home to Gatwick from Barbados where the Azura dropped me off, well if I was the website didn’t recognize any booking…………talk about panic. I was due to land in Blighty at 8am Saturday and be soundchecking in Southport at 4pm for the first gig of the weekend! But I wasn’t to be found in the bookings. Eventually after much sweat and a bribe in American dollars I was on the plane!!!!!!!!!!!
The Cavern in Liverpool was a fantastic gig. It started so brilliantly when the club organiser took me outside to show me The Wall Of Fame outside the Beatles Museum……….there was a brick with my name on next to Robert Fripp, Jimi Hendrix and Robert Plant.
Good gracious I was so chuffed. The last two years have been so hard for many different reasons but one of them was the vast disappointment in the BBC when they didn’t even acknowledge me in the series Queens Of Pop.
The thought that some producer decided to re-write history at my future and past expense will remain one of the low points of my life for the rest of my life, then on Sunday at the Cavern…………THE BEATLES CAVERN OUTSIDE THE BEATLES MUSEUM NO LESS!!!!!!!!...........I am honoured with a brick in the Wall Of Fame. This totally restored my faith in the industry. JOY!
Then the gig was a blinder. I’m not sure why because I wasn’t on particularly stupendous form. Jet lag was well and truly setting in and we had some difficult numbers in the set that hadn’t been performed for almost 30 years but the audience wanted those numbers and Blue Meanings was utterly , mind f-------- spell binding, if I say so myself. Even Bird In Flight moved people to loud rapturous applause.
And what an interesting audience…………all age mixes………all rock genres, goth, punk, students, oldies and their sprogs………the complete spectrum.
In fact I can’t wait for all the other gigs because things can only get better! We will be adding more material and swapping and surprising as we go from the first three TOYAH albums.
It’s a busy time, there is a lot of Telly happening, a lot of new gigs coming in, there’s a TOYAH SHEEP-ANTHEM TOUR in October and we have just heard THE HUMANS will be touring later in the year too……….great stuff.
I sang for the NSPCC last weekend in Newcastle, it was a smashing event and I had four dance students on stage with me who where aged around 17 and all dressed like 80s punkettes, they were wonderful and danced their leg warmers off. I felt like a revered antique in their presence as they circled me…………what a giggle. 15,000 pounds was raised!
And to top a crazy month off with a cherry on the top, I had fun, games and shenanigans in Britain’s Best Dish for ITV with Sam Fox and Nancy Sorrel………….the gossip we girls had! With surprising results!
I hope you can make it to THE HORN and to HMV INSTITUTE BIRMINGHAM, they are great venues, really intimate where the music just shines, personally I can’t wait to sing Blue Meanings again! It is a mother fabulous stonker of a song!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
Rumba! Rumba! Quick Step! Rumba! Trip! Fall ………Plonk……Flat On Your Face! My body hurts in places where I haven’t had any sensation since Calamity Jane eight years ago!
I’m not allowed to tell you too much about my contribution to LETS DANCE FOR COMIC RELIEF, because I will have fast growing bamboo inserted under my toe nails by small children with a pathological hatred of adults who are only slightly taller than them.
But I ache...
The thing is, the dance that Limahl, Chesney, Clare and myself are doing isn’t hugely physical like break-dancing. Oh no! Our dance is a certain style where smallness is huge, where detail is everything, where being six feet three and seven stone would be of great advantage, especially if our legs finished at our necks.
Rather cleverly, four shortish 80s legends have been cast for Saturday the 5th March, thus making for hilarious comparisons to the Smurfs. And our movements, though small and deadly make every sinew, every tendon, every nerve ending…………………..sodding hurt!
The other morning we were breaking our necks, not dancing, but hanging out the window of the dance studio trying to get a glimpse of TAKE THAT and ROBBIE WILLIAMS, but we were not alone, even the director was with us on this one.
Our rehearsal studio is awash with names, David Walliams, Ade Edmondson, the entire cast of Downton Abbey…….it’s really hard to concentrate.
On top of this, my phone has more action than an athlete’s jock strap during a 24 mile marathon. Two stage tour offers, both turned down, not a pleasure to do but because there are other things afoot. Also this week, two major TV series but both being for ITV and I am not allowed to do both and there’s a possibility I might not get either because the dates keep moving AND it looks like TOYAH the band will have an official UK tour in OCTOBER.
I need to fit in a HUMANS tour stateside as well, so busy, busy, achy, achy.
This morning, I am getting ready for EESTI FEST at KINGS PLACE, LONDON. An improvised two-hour concert with Estonian musicians. Improvising words for two hours isn’t always easy so I’ve prepared about forty pages of ruff poems and ideas to act as little bridges into improve world. The joy about this kind of show is I can go anywhere, the wackier, the wilder, the more off the wall the better! I can tell stories, reveal inner-most thoughts.
Strangely, it has been a huge help revisiting SHEEP FARMING IN BARNET, THE BLUE MEANING and ANTHEM, for this year’s gigs, as all three are story-telling albums and I still feel a connection to the their creative processes.
The TOYAH band start rehearsals after COMIC RELIEF and the guys in the band are buzzing about it because it is all new stuff to them and they are loving the songs. We are also buzzing because there are so many offers for new dates coming in for this project. On a daily basis we are dealing with up to 10 to 15 enquiries, which is thrilling!
I’m sending a big hug to Hazel O’Conner, who lost her mother Joyce last week. This made me incredibly sad. Joyce was great, a real character and Hazel will miss her so much. Rather bravely, Hazel will be singing Re-Joyce at her mother’s funeral………….there is no way I could find the strength to do that. I couldn’t even speak at my father’s funeral, I’d have lost all control.
And as for my mum, thankfully she is doing well at the moment, considering what she is going through. She had a blood transfusion last week and we are guessing she was given the blood of a hyperactive, hyper-critical individual with an inability to stop telling everyone what to do because she is almost back to her old self………………………which has put a smile back on all our faces.
In the last 18 months, I have really bonded with my mother and have grown to love her very deeply after what can only be explained as a difficult relationship with her for almost 50 years. But I can now look at her and see the remarkable child, teenager and women she has been for 81 years and I feel this is the greatest gift I could have been given……….the chance to see the real her.
So, I must sign off and return to the dance studio with fear and trepidation ever present at the thought of forgetting my moves, or falling over, or losing my costume live on television……………yikes!!!!!!!!!
Have a great March……
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
Hello my friends
Cor Bloody Hell I'm busy! There's a healthy pile of scripts on my desk all awaiting answers from me. YES or NO to whether I want to tour or film. Interestingly at my age the roles I am offered are usually what I call "fillers", where my character is the subject and driving force of the plot but only seen towards the end………..where are all the baddy parts? I'm 52. I have bad thoughts 99.99% of the time so why do script writers think we women become more saintly as we mature………..we do not, we become more driven in my experience!
Life as a middle aged 'Icon' is a darn lot busier than when I was a 'twenty something thinking mans sex symbol'. Today I have just as much fun, attention and work with the added dimension of autonomy and the fact that once you're over 50 those immediately around you need your help and support a lot more.
This month already I have rehearsals for Comic Relief, the BBC Politic Show, BBC 4's re-launch of Top Of The Pop's documentary, Band rehearsals for the TOYAH 1978-81 shows, meetings with Pop Star/Opera Star, Eesti Fest at Kings Place AND all the legal meetings for THE HUMANS being signed in the UK and the USA.
The Humans have advanced suddenly with one of the USA's top agencies agreeing to take us on and also a publisher and a record label now 99.9999999% in place. The Humans are managed by one of the most savvy US Attorneys I have ever met, he has successfully and almost singlehandedly stopped exploitation of artists from record companies and promoters alike and it is great to have him as a fan and a support.
Likewise in the UK both Robert and my "music estates" are watched over by a great lawyer who has won a lot of battles for the glitterati of film and music. Our lawyer is the one guy I know who has successfully taken actions against almost every tabloid in the UK. This is a side of "show business" that no one ever really sees. Reality shows can't exploit the drama of the law meetings because of bias, but they are going on constantly.
You would never see Peter Andre or Louie Spence documenting every phone call, every e-mail and holding dossiers on the people they work with but it goes on and it is time consuming but that is because this business is prone to law suits.
Anyone who reads my husband's diary will know I'm married to a man who is 10% a musician and 90% "an absolute fu**ing war monger against the music industry"…………….aaaahhhh it's good to be surrounded by the right people. I don't think a meal time, a bed time, a bath time, a holiday time, a Sunday morning has gone by in 25 years of marriage without a battle plan being formed across the meal table, the rubber duck and the bed linen!
So here I am in "the nuclear medicine department, Cheltenham General Hospital," my mother is being nuked today and whilst I watch her turn grey and ill from the effects I am having to deal with the usual 40 e-mails that rush in on my blackberry most mornings.
The usual thing……….. people expecting me to fly across the world but don't understand why I need confirmation of a return ticket before I go on their job………..I explain that "even though I am a mature women and it's
ever unlikely it will ever happen to me, the sex trade works that way…..fly a woman out to a nice location and make sure she can never book a return ticket", and all the time my mother, recovering next to me, is wondering why I'm talking about the sex trade to one of my agents and on the verge of saying talk to my lawyer!
God how did Hazel O'Connor and her mother Joyce get through all the pressure, the uncertainty that comes with treating a disease like cancer. It is making me a total rat bag! The empathy I am feeling for my mother is making me ill and I am not the one being treated!
Work has become a welcome retreat. Revisiting all the old albums and setting up the set list for this year's From Sheep Farming To Anthem concerts. Knowing that some members of my band have never heard these tracks and I'm enjoying their feedback.
Also I have been able to dip into three good books when I have needed distraction. Chris Limb, who ran the Intergalactic Ranch House fan club, always sends me his favourite reads and for Christmas he sent China Mieville's KRAKEN………..really great read. It is accessible, flowing and totally unpredictable.
Another book, which I am trying to explain to my mother, not too successfully I must say, is PARALLEL WORLDS by Michio Kaku……………it is fabulous!
It practically admits science is verging on admitting atheism is about to be challenged by the photographic evidence coming back to earth from far reaching satellites……by this I mean the metaphors of the religious books hint at the actual scientific fact…… my mother wont have any of it! It's too far out of her orbit! If she cant feel it, see it, touch it, smell it, hear it, taste it then it is not there.
A really great bit of news arrived this week. The film POWER OF THREE has been re-edited with new footage and the added soundtrack of songs and music from IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON QUEEN and had its first screening in Canada last week to rave feedback and reviews! Hurray! Hopefully I can give you news on how to see it very soon.
I've just returned from a whirlwind two days, firstly I was the keynote speaker at the BIRMINGHAM CHAMBER OF COMMERCE "WOMEN WHO…….", which I really enjoyed and my speech went down a storm with all ages, I talked about ageism and sexism and reinvention. Then I caught a plane to Belfast and had a fantastic time with the boys at THE KREMLIN. Going on stage at 1.30am! Everyone was totally sozzled………..except me!
Have a great month…………
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I thought Christmas based at home would be relaxed, quiet and stress free………..no way!
It simply meant I was on call 24 hours of the day. I happily admit as emotionally hard as the last two years have been, I have been in the right place at the right time and not hundreds of miles away from those who need me, which if I was given a choice about, I’d rather be in the “thick of it” when it comes to family than observing situations from text messages and e-mail.
The universe conspires to give us what we need (and not always what we want) and by that I don’t mean X Boxes and designer shoes, I mean the universe places us where we need to be to do our work. The one Christmas I took off work two years ago was my father’s last Christmas and the one day I was home in July 2009 was the day I was able to travel to the hospital, following my father’s ambulance before he died.
In these two years I’ve realized that family ARE more powerful than career. I’ve not necessarily liked the idea, but fact is the emotional power of love is far more contributory to this universe than shopping.
Two days before Christmas day my mother had to have major surgery to remove a tumour and then she started chemo this week…………and regardless of having two shows a day at Malvern I am hugely grateful that I was around to be with her, even on Christmas day. Otherwise she wouldn’t have eaten properly and would never have gathered the confidence to leave the house again…………she needed me around to boot her into action…………believe me she’d rather I wasn’t there! But love can be as tough as it can be sentimental and I’ve been dishing out heaps this month.
I don’t know how my mother will fair, she has cancer cells in her lymph nodes but I put my hands up in praise that she has no fear and is totally ready to peacefully meet her maker………..her strength and grace has been a total inspiration.
Panto for once has been a distraction rather than an all consuming round of “boo’s and heckling”. Malvern is only 14 miles from where I live and for one night I got snowed in at Malvern and had to book a room in a hotel. From my bedroom window I could see the twinkling lights of my home town through the snow and thought “how ironic I could get to Sheffield, Canterbury, Milton Keynes in recent years through bad snow, but not home!”
For a whole week we had Sky news, BBC news and ITV news cameras outside our house telling the world that my home town was the coldest part of Britain on record! Minus 20! So cold that my car alarm sensors froze and were permanently ringing in my ears for a week’s driving. Our indoor loos were frozen over, even with the heating on 24 hours a day and our washing machine tumbler was frozen solid. My sister had to put the turkey to thaw in the bath because it remained frozen everywhere else!
What will 2011 bring………….I’m feeling bombastic and “kick arse” about the next twelve months. Kind of “this is my life, I will claim it and I’m not holding back for anyone, life is for living!” Out of spite to the bankers and wankers of this world I won’t be shopping much. I will return to post World War 2 austerity and invention. Restyling my “look” from the brilliant store of costumes I already have, clothes gathered over a 30 year period and some never worn……..I’m looking at my old fencing costume from 1979 at the moment and wondering if I can fit into it.
Diet wise……….vegetarianism is cheaper and still supports our local famers………and the biggest pain for me to adapt to this year is I will drive slower and not fill my petrol tank on a daily basis……………………petrol being so pricy is a political and cynical practice that effectively taxes those who have no choice but to travel…………basically 99% of us and I will do anything not to give my money to profit making polluters…………(yes I know I pollute too …..we all do as soon as we draw breath, pass wind and pee………but we don’t take huge bonuses).
My goals………make great music, play great music, write good stuff, get THE HUMANS on the road, get the TOYAH BAND on the road and put two fingers up to the snobs, the slobs and the “bad news gobs of this world”.
In many ways I had a fantastic Christmas. My husband bought me many surprises…………10 meteorites from various craters around the world being my favourite. But his company being the best part of the season. Work has been tough but rewarding. Now I want the fresh air of 2011.
I wish you all a great 2011.
BE PROUD , BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXX