My name is Murray and I’m a PR person.
If you’re anything like my mother you might not know quite what that job entails.
The simplest explanation would be that when a musician is starting out I try to get them featured in the newspapers – and then when they’re famous it’s often to keep them out of the very same publications we’d have sold our grannies to be in years before.
It’s a strange job and one that still seems like a fluke to me, but then I did start my working life packing surgeon’s gloves in a factory on Dunsinane Avenue in Dundee and was once told by a tutor at Edinburgh’s Napier College that I was completely, hopelessly unemployable.
To be fair to the beleaguered Mr Crichton I remember what I looked like at the time and he probably had a point; trying to look like Siouxsie Sioux when you’re a 21 year old male would never be seen as a fast-track to a career in anything but fleeing from gangs desperate to wipe that self-expression off your painted pus with a hefty punch.
Studying in Harris Academy’s David Bowie class of freaks 1972 – 1976 would inevitably lead to problems, not least when the new art teacher announced to the class that I looked like a beautiful girl.
I should have been mortified but in truth I only wished Bowie had been there to hear this confirmation of my coolness and to see what his children were importing to a Dundee still reeking of patchouli oil.
To fall into a career that involved dressing weirdly, listening to music and then talking about it all day became not only a blessing but a lifeline – although working for a firm that produced condoms and surgeon’s gloves might be seen as a more worthwhile contribution to society.
Nevertheless, my path was set – it was to be Coldplay over condoms and the Stone Roses over surgical appliances.
And although the job has caused me much stress, it’s also given me a 36-year career doing something I love.
As Kylie said, I should be so lucky….
Despite this success my mum Margaret remained bemused about my work even when I myself was written about or when Yoko Ono would call on the house phone during the Christmas holidays.
Mum’s partner was somewhat bewildered by the phone anyway and would shout out in panic “Mag, Mag, it’s yon Yoko Hono on the ‘phone again fae New York”.
Mum and I were once in the Wellgate Centre when she met an old friend from Lochee.
This woman had known us from when we’d escaped from my alcoholic father in Dunkeld to start a new life in a bug infested tiny tenement flat with an outside toilet in Liff Road.
We were so poor the only comics I had were Jackie, Bunty and Judy, all passed on from the girls along the landing and it was their mother who was now expressing delight at my success in London.
Mum was completely bewildered by this novel concept of praise for her kids and responded by explaining that I was never too old or successful to get a skelped arse. I was 26.
From Grace Jones’ bath to Dusty Springfield’s cat litter tray
The job then. When Grace Jones chose to do interviews in the bath I was the flustered guy trying to protect her modesty with a constant stream of bubbles.
The first time I met Grace she emerged naked save for a white face pack, purring “I’m Grace”. I choked and spluttered “I know”.
When the Stone Roses reformed I was the man who chaired a press conference that was so nerve racking I almost forgot to announce their name before they walked on stage.
And when Dusty Springfield dedicated her comeback album to her cats – “may they all rest in that great litter tray in the sky” – I would defend it as a perfectly normal thing to do.
Over the years I’ve been lucky to work with some of the best and most interesting names in pop music and formed close bonds with many of them, relationships that endure today.
From Radiohead, Kate Bush, Coldplay, Muse, Chrissie Hynde and Suede through Kylie, Robbie Williams and Pet Shop Boys, stretching to the USA with Garbage and Yoko Ono/the John Lennon Estate, it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride, and one that I’m still enthralled by.
Controversy is part of the game in pop music and I love it.
How could you not embrace controversy when representing artists like Noel Gallagher, Morrissey, Lily Allen, and Scotland’s own Shirley Manson?
These artists taught me the importance of finding your voice and embracing the unorthodox to the degree that I remain resolutely anti-establishment even at an age when I have a free bus pass.
I hope you’ll join me in future columns as we all try to make sense of these crazy times.