Photo Challenge, no camera, no problem….
An accountant, a solicitor and a banker were in a Golf Club. They could have formed the first line of a joke or they could, and did, form one of the most successful bands of the 1990s.
The charts at that time were filled with Boy Bands, much to the annoyance of musicians who could actually play their own instruments. Alan, Manus and Tom, three mid-life-crises in lurid golfwear, decided to cast aside the tedium of their chosen careers and form a Man Band, and since they knew that no male band has ever been successful with only three members they persuaded Gerry, a Chartered Physiotherapist, to join them.
In celebration of their embracing of a life less ordinary (or making eejits of themselves, as their wives put it) they called themselves Free Spirit.
They applied to be on the X-Factor. Their performance of Hey Jude was a big hit, mainly because none of the audience were old enough to remember it, and so had no idea whether they were in tune or not. Gary Barlow said “wow” (he seems to say little else), Tulisa said that they “totally owned that song” (not factually accurate), Cheryl said something in Geordie (while looking gorgeous), and Louis signed them up.
They didn’t win the show, being beaten by a goldfish who swam around his tank in time to House Of The Rising Sun, but they became famous anyway, and soon released an album, Grey Is The New Black. This contained covers of songs by Pink Floyd, The Smiths, David Bowie and, bizarrely, Lily Allen, and topped the Christmas charts.
A tour was arranged and they played to audiences of women in their 40s who were thrilled to find a band that they could fancy without feeling like cougars.
They also had a healthy gay following, because Brian, their gay follower, worked out three times a week.
They weren’t ripped off by their manager, because they didn’t need one. Manus organised the contracts, Alan kept their books and Tom got them the best interest rates possible. Gerry was able to sort out any back problems that the others felt after two hours of dance routines.
For their second album they ventured into song-writing, striking a chord among their target audience with songs full with teen angst, in other words how tough it is to have teenage children. They won a Grammy for I Own The House But They Own The Remote, and another for Be Home At Ten Does Not Mean Half Past Eleven.
The band broke up suddenly in 2004, citing musical differences, but in actual fact because Tom’s wife found a pair of knickers in his pocket (in fairness to Tom, they had hit him in the face while he was on stage, and he had stuck them in his pocket just to get rid of them). After a farewell tour Free Spirit became just another stone on the beach of musical history, and the Flab Four (as a sniping press referred to them) returned to dull meetings, complex spreadsheets and daily commuting. Their female followers returned to fancying Patrick Stewart.
But now is the era of the comeback tour, so the lads are back out of the office and onto the road . They are all in their sixties now, and Alan has jokingly suggested that they change their name to Gerry and the Pacemakers, but their spirit is as free as ever.
As their own song puts it, I Am Still Hip, Even Though I’ve Only The One.