Steve, Al, John and what might’ve been

Singer-songwriter Steve Tilston.
Singer-songwriter Steve Tilston.

With part of his past fictionalised in a film starring Al Pacino, a meeting with the American actor arranged by broadcaster Andy Kershaw on BBC’s The One Show, and a new album following hot on the heels, 2015 has been pretty hectic for musician Steve Tilston.

The internationally-known singer and songwriter from Hebden Bridge, has been delighted with the publicity it has brought, but is equally looking forward to a home gig in September.

He plays a solo show at Hebden Bridge Trades Club, Holme Street, on Friday, Sept 4 (doors 8pm, tickets £10/£8 members), with half the proceeds for Manorlands hospice, Oxenhope.

Steve’s reputation as an innovative performer hasn’t dipped since his early 70s debut album An Acoustic Confusion, with comments he made about the nature of wealth and stardom in cult music magazine Zig Zag at the time catching the eye of one John Lennon.

Young Steve had pondered whether you could remain true to your muse if you achieved wealth and fame, prompting Lennon to reply “being rich doesn’t change your experience in the way you think. The only difference basically is you don’t have to worry about money.”

Including his phone number and contact details, Lennon, who died in 1980, sent his note via the Zig Zag offices in 1971 - but it never reached Steve, who only found out about it when it appeared at a memorabilia auction around 10 years ago.

This year director Dan Fogelman’s film Danny Collins, based on the incident, has proved a hit.

Pacino plays a star who has betrayed his principles (and that’s where fact and fiction part company where Steve’s own career and music are concerned), belatedly learning of a Lennon letter to him at the outset of his career and wondering if he would have approached life differently if he’d seen it before his vision was obscured by stardom.

The Lennon letter to Steve for different reasons has left him frustratingly wondering what would have happened had the pair been in contact back then. However The One Show meet with Al has given Steve national publicity for Truth To Tell, which continues an unbroken series of high quality releases spanning 40 years.

“There’s been a lot of interest on the strength of The One Show and the film. I got a full page write-up in The Guardian after the film’s London premiere, where I met Al Pacino. He gave me a great big hug, was very friendly and asked me where he could hear my music,” said Steve.

“I’m looking forward to the Trades Club show. I’ll be using six-string and my ten-string guitar on a mixture of material, a few new ones and lots of old ones, maybe half-and-half,” he said.