Behind the stars- Jim Carroll

Behind the stars Jim Carroll

Story & photo:Helen Brown

Jim Carroll is a musician who has played the keyboard for many stars in the 60s and 70s, featuring on around 30 hit singles, and he has lived in Burngreave for over thirty years now.

He has played on hits featuring Dusty Springfield, Cat Stevens, Love Affair, and Keith West to name but a few. And that’s not considering the jingles and links he has written that have played heavily on Radio Sheffield, and in the early days of Radio Hallam. He has even written music for TV commercials such as the ‘Crumbliest chocolate in the world …’ that many will remember.

Jim’s career is absolutely fascinating. His life as a musician started when he just fourteen years old, having taught himself to play. He was invited for an audition at the old ‘Dial House Club’ in Sheffield. When successful he started playing there after school for about £2.10 an evening, which he says was technically illegal as he was a minor though he didn’t realise that at the time. Three months after he first auditioned at the club he was playing for ‘Terry’ by Twinkle on ‘Top of the Pops’! It was his first appearance of many at their original studio in Manchester, which Jim says was much smaller in real life than they made it appear on television.

As well as being on ‘Top of the Pops’ and playing at many clubs and cabaret bars, Jim featured in hit singles recorded at Abbey Lane’s famous ‘Studio 2’ in London. He also played live at many concerts. One night he opened the ‘Fiesta’ club in Sheffield with Terry Clayton and The Shadows, one of many bands he went on to work with.

Jim also remembers going on tour with the Walker Brothers in 1966, which involved playing at the Gaumont Cinema in Sheffield. Jim says “It was mayhem, I didn’t sleep much! We did twelve shows in eighteen days.” He went on to explain that as the Walker Brothers were very big at the time the concerts were madness “60s fan mania meant you couldn’t hear yourself think for the screaming”. He says that though he was only 16 the fans would still rip the shirts from his back as he left the venue with the band!

His favourite live tour was the Ike and Tina Turner Roadshow in 1971 across London and Germany. “It was two hours of blood, sweat and tears. We did five shows in eight days, and when I came home I was dead!”

Though he played on and recorded many hits with many celebrities and stars, Jim says that the song that means the most to him would have to be ‘Going Back’ by Dusty Springfield. “They played that at her funeral, the version that I played on, so that means a lot to me.”

Jim’s career as a keyboard player lasted 10 years, he gave it up aged 24, and since then it has remained a passionate hobby, though he still does bits here and there.

If he were to give any advice to budding young musicians in the area, Jim says:

“Play at home, get into it at a young age, and if you want to get into the music industry to just go for it and do it. I never had a producer or anything like that – you can do it alone, especially these days. But beware – despite the glamour it can be a nasty business and the backing stars work twice as hard for half the money!”

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The content on this page was added to the website by Graham Jones on 2015-10-06 17:13:27.
The content of the page was last modified by Graham Jones on 2015-10-06 17:15:35.

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