The multi-talented Leroy Hutson performed at London's Indigo on August 19, 2010 before a sold-out crowd of soul music fans who greeted him with a standing ovation, sang along and danced during the music man's first UK show since 1989. David Nathan got his reaction to the show during this Saturday evening post-show chat with Leroy and discovered that he was his first ever interviewer (back in 1975 for "Blues & Soul")...
David Nathan: Well, it’s a Saturday night in London, and most Saturday nights I’m probably not sitting in a hotel room talking to anybody for soulmusic.com. But this is an exception, because this is two days after I saw—I witnessed—something that most soul fans outside of London probably wouldn’t believe: which is, I watched Leroy Hutson, in front of an audience of about two thousand people, give him a standing ovation when he walked onstage, at Indigo, as part of the Giants of Rare Groove concert. And it was a phenomenal experience for me—
Leroy Hutson: Yes, it was.
DN: —and I happen to be sitting here now with Leroy, who is preparing for his return to the United States, so I am taking a few minutes of his time to ask him, since he and I have known each other for a VERY long time—
LH: Yeah! [Laughs]
DN: —just how you felt about the Indigo concert, and about being in Britain, and Europe, in general?
LH: It was, without a doubt, the most phenomenal show and occasion that I’ve experienced in my career. Without question. I had no idea that I’d get that kind of reaction or that my fans were that loyal. I mean, it was just phenomenal. From beat one, the audience stood through my whole set—the entire set, upstairs and down—and I don’t think I’ve ever seen or experienced that before. So it was just incredible; I am so grateful.
DN: Well, there’s a song called “Heaven Right Here on Earth”—did you have the experience…
DN: And of course “Heaven Right Here on Earth,” for those who don’t know, was a song that Leroy wrote and produced on a group called Natural Four during his years at Curtom. So did you have that experience, in that moment, of heaven here on earth [laughs]?
LH: Absolutely. I must say that it had to be akin to that, at least, you know? I haven’t come down, and this is two days later. And my colleagues, and the people… all the promoters, and everybody involved—we are all in the same place: it was just a phenomenal time, man. Like I said, I am humbled and I am grateful to have been the subject of that kind of adoration.
DN: Well, I’m sure people have already asked you this in the last few days, so I’m just going to ask you the same question: why did it take you so long to come back?
LH: Well, as we discussed at dinner [laughs], I’ve been doing various things with my life. I decided, after traveling and doing the road for so many years, to become a hands-on dad for a while. I just didn’t want to be one of those people whose kids could say, “My father wasn’t there for us,” you know? So I literally decided to stop all that for a minute and give some time to raising my son and my two daughters. I ended up managing my son for several years, and he’s now got his legs under him and he’s doing wonderful things in the industry, and that. So now I can concentrate on myself again.
DN: Right. Well, one of the things that you and I talked about at dinner, and of course one of the things that was obvious, was because, after the show, your merchandise table was absolutely jam-packed with—probably—almost the entire audience, I would think, who wanted to say hello and get autographs and also to buy some Leroy Hutson CDs. And one of the things that you mentioned, of course, is that you now have the right—you now have all your masters from those years back. And I’m very happy you gave me your box set. So for the benefit of those who, obviously, weren’t there, would you like to tell us a little bit about what you plan to do with the catalogue now that you have it back?
LH: Yeah. They can purchase those CDs on my Web site—and hopefully on your Web site, we haven’t talked about that yet, but we can work this out so that your fans, and your audience, can actually go right directly to your site and purchase these CDs, if they want. But at leroyhutsonmusic.com you can order any of them—T-shirts, posters, and all of my CDs are available for sale.
DN: Now, I think someone asked you this the other day when you had a press conference: do you know if there’s anything in there that hasn’t ever been released?
LH: In my catalogue?
LH: Oh, yeah… well, no. To be honest with you, I have yet to listen through all the masters to refresh my own memory about what is actually there. So I’m a couple weeks to a month from actually knowing that.
DN: So there may be some unreleased Leroy Hutson material in there?
LH: There just might be, yes. I’m hoping—I’m hoping, because I do have a lot of people asking me that, yes.
DN: Now, do you remember the last time you performed in the United States?
LH: In the U.S.?
DN: Yes. When was that?
LH: That was a while ago… it was actually in 1992.
LH: Yeah, it’s been a while.
DN: Do you think that after experiencing this, here, you might want to do that, there?
LH: Yeah, well I already have—as a result of having geared back up, so to speak—I already have dates planned for the Thanksgiving holiday in Rochester, New York and Syracuse, through some promoters, so yeah. It’s going to be happening again soon.
DN: Wow, so in other words, would it be true to say that your European experience has now become a catalyst for you to do some more live performing in the States?
LH: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m not going to kid myself and think that I’ll get the kind of reaction in the States that I got here—I mean, I have a true fan base here. I’ve been told that for years and I’m experiencing what it actually means, as a result of having come and done this tour. But the U.S.—everybody knows—the U.S. is a little different, the way that the artist is treated and thought about. There are very, very loyal and knowledgeable fans here in Britain—they follow your career; they know your music. And I’ve literally had people come up to me and tell me things that I had, literally, forgotten… about myself [laughs].
LH: Which is an amazing thing, you know?
DN: Yes. Now is there any particular song that you did the other night that was a surprise for you, with the kind of reaction it got? I mean, was there any particular album track? ’Cause one of the things that was amazing to me was that unlike some artists, you were able to do album cuts. Most people would just stick to their singles, and they figure, well, people know the singles—that’s it. Okay, good. But you were able to do some tracks that…
LH: Yeah, that are not mainstream. To be honest with you, I was… well, shocked is not a good word. I was taken aback by the reaction to “Lovers Holiday” and “You Never Know.” I would never have thought that people knew those songs, or—I mean, the audience was actually singing all of these songs. They knew all the lyrics—it was just incredible.
DN: Well, I confess that the upstairs balcony, which is where I was, when “So in Love with You” came on? I mean [laughs]…
DN: We were all trying to out-sing each other—we were singing along and we were all trying to see who sounded the best in the balcony.
DN: So, now… have you ever had that happen?
DN: Not even at any—at no show, ever?
LH: Never, ever. That’s what I’m saying: this was such a unique experience. It was, it was. I’m still trying to figure it out [laughs]! It was great.
DN: Has it inspired you to come back?
LH: Are you kidding?
DN: No. [Laughs]
LH: [Laughs] Absolutely. I’m sure I’ll be back within the year.
DN: Well, great, great. We could probably… if we wanted to recreate our dinner and sit here for another two hours—but we’re not going to. I just wanted to really say thank you, so much—for dinner—
DN: —but also, the opportunity for us to catch up again. As I was sharing with Leroy at the beginning of our evening, it really tickled me to remember that we did our first interview, for Blues and Soul, in 1975.
LH: Yeah, and you need to let your audience know that you were, in fact, the first person ever to interview me.
DN: From Britain.
LH: No, period.
LH: Ever. You didn’t know that, huh? [Laughs]
DN: No, I didn’t know that. Wow. Okay, well, that’s you and one other… you know, you’re in interesting company, because the first interview that Natalie Cole ever did was also with me.
LH: Is that right?
DN: So you and Natalie were my firsts [laughs]!
DN: But it’s just really—for me, personally, just amazing to see what I say the other night. It just really was. And to remember interviews that we’ve done; music that I’ve listened to. As I shared with you the other night, my favourite album is, still, Closer to the Source, just because it has such a strong spiritual connection—and you mentioned that in the press conference. But those songs really mean something to me. So next time—in my ideal world, you’ll just do a whole set of [laughs] Closer to the Source! It might not work for everybody else, but anyway... But just to say, Leroy, it’s really great to see you in London and see people responding—and I can’t wait for you to come back and do it again.
LH: Well, I can’t tell you how good it is to see you, man. It really does my heart good to know that you’re back, and you’re having a great time too. And your audience needs to know that you are one of the gems for us in the industry. All the artists respect you for your integrity and your artistic prowess.
DN: Well, thank you. Thank you very much. Well, this is, in the words of the Whispers: It’s a love thing [laughs].
DN: Well, have a safe trip back, and we’ll look forward to hearing from you soon, and certainly, having everyone check out your albums and CDs and MP3s at leroyhutsonmusic.com. Right? Take care now.
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.