Adrian Boot One of the most successful groups to emerge from the '70s melding…
- Posted on Dec 13th 2010 4:00PM by Pat Pemberton
Getty | FilmMagic | Getty
"When they said it was Pete Townshend on the phone, I immediately thought it was Mickey Billingham, my piano player," Wakeling tells Spinner. "That was the sort of thing he'd say on a Saturday morning. So I was saying, 'How are you, Pete? Haha!'"
But then the man on the line claiming to be the Who guitarist then said he was sitting next to David Gilmour, the Pink Floyd guitarist, and Wakeling began to suspect that he maybe wasn't so full of it.
"I was like, 'Wow, if somebody is pretending to be Pete Townshend, why would they feel the need to pretend they were sitting next to David Gilmour to convince me?'"
Turns out, the two guitarists were hoping to record the English Beat song 'Save It for Later' -- a favorite of Townshend's -- for a benefit album, and they wanted to ask Wakeling about his tuning for the song. As Wakeling admits, that odd, open D tuning was a complete accident."
"I was just in shock," says Wakeling, who released the single 'Love You Give' to benefit autism last month. "Two of my guitar heroes, phoning me because of the song I'd made a mistake on."
It wasn't the first time Wakeling had a major endorsement of his music. Back in the '80s, the Police gave the English Beat a big nod when Sting wore a Beat T-shirt in the video for 'Don't Stand So Close to Me.' While the Police weren't very political, the Beat -- as they were known in the UK -- were.
"It was almost as if it was a way of being able to support some of the social things that we had a habit of saying without them actually having to go on record of having a political opinion about anything," says Wakeling. "I was very grateful of that. I thought that was lovely. And, of course, after the Police, Sting made up for it entirely and could rarely be seen, it seemed, for the next year without an entourage of indigenous people from all over the world being saved as we watched."
Later, the Beat would inspire No Doubt, who frequently wore the same T-shirt Sting wore, and Pearl Jam, who still perform 'Save It for Later' as a medley with 'Better Man.' A member of the Seattle act once told Wakeling that Eddie Vedder listened to 'Save It for Later' a lot when he was a radio intern, and the singer was supposedly playing it as he wrote 'Better Man.'
"It's just three hypnotic chords, isn't it?" Wakeling says. "You could probably find a couple of dozen songs that share that same trick as 'Save It for Later.'"
Still, Wakeling, who has been writing new English Beat songs for an upcoming album, is pleased to have influenced Vedder.
"If I gave a lovely chap like that an idea or a lift up on a cold afternoon, it's all for the best, I say."