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Darren Wharton is een meneer die mij al geruime tijd weet te imponeren. Allereerst deed hij prachtige dingen binnen de gelederen van de legendarische band van Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy). Daarna wist hij mijn gevoelige snaar te raken met de melodieuze band Dare. Toen ik zijn laatste wapenfeit, een live dvd, in handen kreeg leek mij dat het geschikte moment om hem voor een vraaggesprekje te strikken. Meer dan zes maanden geleden stuurde ik hem mijn vragen en ze kwamen maar niet terug. Ik was hem dan al ook glad vergeten maar onlangs is hij toch nog achter zijn typemachine gekropen om mijn vraagjes van een antwoord te voorzien. Lees zelf wat hij zo te melden heeft.

Door: Eddy | Archiveer onder hardrock / aor

band imageI read in your bio that you started your first band when you were just fifteen years old. Can you tell me something more about that band and did you actually play with Simon Wright from AC/DC in that band?
Well not really, Simon and I went to the same school, and were both in the school band, but I was in the year above. However we were good mates. I remember laughing with Simon in our local Pub, The Millers, about the fact that I joined Lizzy first. And who's band was the most famous. It was good fun and I guess an amazing coincidence that we both were so lucky to join two of the most successful Rock bands at that time. Simon and I still keep in touch, we speak on the phone from time to time. He also came to see us at the House Of Blues when we played LA on the Lizzy Tribute tour.

From who did you learn to play your instruments and which bands and musicians from the time you were starting impressed you?
I started playing on an old upright piano we had in the back bedroom when I was a kid. My dad plays piano, and had me taking classical lessons when I was about six years old. It wasn't till I was about 14 that I started to listen to Jazz players like Jimmy Smith, Herby Hancock and later at the age of 15 I started to get into Rick Wakeman and John Lord

Did you have to spent lots of time each day in learning your instruments and were you very disciplined with it?
An hour a day after school, but actually when I stared to play well they couldn't keep me off it and eventually they bought me an organ, which was really cool. It had built in drums and bass pedals... wow!

You also have a great voice, did you have to take lessons in singing also?
Thanks for that… Never took lessons. However we were a musical family and I remember singing a lot in the car when I was a kid when we use to drive down to Wales for our Holidays.

In 1980 you joined the legendary band from Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy. How did you manage to get a job with this band and how did it feel to play in a band with Phil Lynott?
As with most things like that, a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time. At age 17 I was working in a Manchester nightclub called Deno's. This was the bar Phil sung about in 'The Boys Are Back In Town' ("…Down at Deno's bar and grill... drink will flow and blood will spill…"). I was playing grand piano there. A friend of Phillip's saw me playing one night and told me that Thin Lizzy were looking for a keyboard player, and asked me would I be interested. "Just a bit”, I replied. The next week I was auditioning in London, at Good Earth Studios. The boys had just begun the 'Chinatown' album. Me and Scott got on really well, I think what Phil liked about me was that I supported Manchester United. That was it, andthe week after we were in Norway, Oslo ice stadium. It was for me the beginning of a fantastic four years.

Can you describe how long you played with that band, which albums you were on with them and with which other bands you toured when you were in Thin Lizzy?
As I said my first album was 'Chinatown', which was just a couple of synth parts. It wasn't until we started work on the Renegade album that I was able to get involved as a writer. I had this weird riff on my OBX synth, which sounded like a whale call. Phil really liked it and it ended up being the intro to 'Angel of Death' and I opened the whole Renegade tour with that riff. After that, Phonogram released several compilations like 'Lizzy Killers' and the 'Adventures of Thin Lizzy'. We also released another live album "Life". In 1983 Jon Sykes joined the band and we began work in Dublin writing songs for what was to become 'Thunder and Lightning'. Unfortunately, this was Thin Lizzy's last studio album.

What made you quit this band and did you already had plans for your musical future when you got out of Thin Lizzy?
I didn't quit Thin Lizzy, it was a managerial decision for the band to take a year off. Unfortunately, Phil had decided to form another solo band called Grand Slam and it was at this time that I started to develop my skills as a songwriter. As the months passed by, we all began to wonder if Thin Lizzy would get back together at all. After speaking to Scott in late 1985, there were rumours that maybe the band would be getting back together, but there were also rumours about Phil's health.

Where were you at the time you heard that Phil died and what went through you at that moment?
I had spoken to Phil before Christmas 85 inviting him to a showcase I was playing with my new band Dare at the Embassy Club in London. Phil never made it to the gig and it was on 4th January 1986 I had a phone call at home in Manchester from the Thin Lizzy office telling me that Phil had died and I think looking back it was just shock that carried us all through that terrible time.

If you got one chance right now to say something to Phil you never said to him but you wished you had, what would that be?
I would like to thank him for giving me the greatest opportunity any young guy could ever wish for.

It would be great if you could share some thoughts with us about how it was to work with a guitar-hero like Gary Moore?
Gary is an amazing talent, but I have only ever worked with Gary on stage not in a studio environment.

When did you start with Dare and how did you get your record-deal with A&M Records?
After Phil's death my band Dare became my main objective and after building up a strong following in our hometown of Oldham in 1987 we had three major record labels come to see us play at a local gig. We had songs like Abandon and King of Spades, which I had written for Phil and from that one gig, we were offered a deal by three majors, A&M, RCA and MCA records.

Did you feel this company was doing a great job for the band in promotion?
A&M were an excellent company who treated us really well. Both A&M albums were recorded in Los Angeles, one with Mike Shipley and Larry Klein in Joni Mitchell's personal studio and the second with Keith Olsen at Goodnight LA.

Whatever did happen between you and Vinnie Burns, you seemed to be a golden couple to me?
Not much really, just a bit of a fall out in Berlin, but album sales were down, with Blood from Stone and unfortunately we lost the deal with A&M.

If I am correct, you had a hit with 'Abandon'. How did it feel to see something you wrote get so well-known and see it climb the charts?
Abandon did well as our first single, but didn't quite crack the rock market as we had hoped. I think the success we had in Europe was more due to the fact that we opened for Europe on their Out of this World tour...which was a blast.

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Earlier this year I reviewed your live-album 'Live In Munich'. First of all I like to know was Munich your first choice to do a live recording or did you listen to live recordings afterwards and the Munich recordings were the best?
No, this was a one off gig we did in Germany, it was the worst storm they had had there in ten years. I wasn't pleased with the gig to be honest, and if I would of had a choice I wouldn't of released it as a live album. We didn't even get chance to be involved in the mix, but MTM had gone to a lot of trouble to record the festival so my hands were tied.

I think it's very strange that I cannot find the title 'Abandon' in the list of tracks you played on the album. When I listen to the album, you are actually playing the song, is this a misprint or is there some other reason this song not get mentioned on the album cover?
There were a few mistakes made by the new drummer on that song. I had asked MTM to leave it off the album, but there were a few misunderstandings and the song was mistakenly lest on there. But at the end of the day I don't think it matters.

Dare is already having quit a long relation with MTM. Are they very supportive when it comes to giving the band the right promotion and the chance to tour?
MTM is a great company. Mario & Sebastian are good guy's they are very passionate about their music, we are good mates as well.

You just toured with Asia, how was this tour and can you share some fresh memories from it with us?
The Asia boys were great, I really enjoyed the shows. One good memory was when we all got on stage for the last show in Cardiff and sung the 'Heat Of The Moment'...

Who did get you on this tour and how was it to play for an Asia audience, were you received well by them?
Yes the Asia audience I felt were good. We also had some of our crowd as well so that always helps. All in all it was cool.

I saw you play a few years ago on the Aardschok day in Den Bosch in The Netherlands. What I remember from that gig when I was watching you, the band had much trouble with the sound on stage. Do you have some memories from that concert?
Not really, I remember feeling that Dare weren't heavy enough for the festival, but I seem to remember we did OK.

Sometimes ago you did join the Thin Lizzy tribute tour but with the most recent tour I did not see your name on the list anymore, what is the reason for this?
It was mainly to finish off my Dare album 'Belief'. Scott and John were going out for 16 weeks at a time; I had to make a decision: Dare or Thin Lizzy Tribute. For me it had to be Dare. I love Thin Lizzy but since fronting my own band, it wasn't enough for me to just play keyboards behind Scott and John Sykes. I love the guys but Dare was my baby, just like Thin Lizzy was Phil's.

Being a musician, how does it feel when you write songs that they land on an album and there are people listening and enjoying whatever you wrote, knowing the lines, sing a long at concerts, cheer for you?
It's what makes it all worthwhile. There are a lot of people who spend a lifetime in the business and never get to release anything. That must be a hard pill to swallow. Any writer who has their work released, it is the ultimate reward: to know that people like what you do. There wouldn't be any point otherwise.

If there would be a famous band of your choice asking you to be the keyboard-player in it, of what band are you thinking and dreaming then?
Maybe Pink Floyd...

The same question I like to ask but now you are ask to be a singer for a famous band?
Maybe Genesis...

I like to end with you giving a small reaction to the following words or names:

Music: My life

Love: Life

Money: Wouldn't mind...

Dare: On-going

Phil Lynott: It was an honour

Fame: nice if you can get it....

Future: Coming soon

Family: Love

Fans: Great respect

Darren Wharton:

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