• Rob Butterfield


For a week anyway…

Unlike my April 1st post about being in Coldplay this is actually a very real claim to fame. In 1999 I really was involved in a ‘music’ project that outsold Gary Barlow, for a week at least.

As mentioned in an earlier post ‘Welcome to the People Factory’ I have, over the years, had the pleasure of working with many talented individuals, not just live but in the studio too. This particular project would be part recorded and produced in my home-based ‘Blue Juice Music’ studio.

Through my music activities I had become very close friends with Canadian born radio DJ Tank Montana. At the time Tank had a very successful daily show on Chiltern FM, the radio station of Herts, Beds and Bucks. Tank was also a great drummer and we’d played together a few times in a fun covers outfit called Montana Rajit which also featured Tank’s radio show side-kick Chef Raj (my very good buddy Pranay Parmar).

Tank and Chef Raj would do various skits and sketches on the show which had become a very popular part of the broadcast. An idea had been hatched to launch a pre-Christmas CD for Chiltern FM listeners which would feature a few of the favourite sketches from the show along with some specially produced Christmas tunes which I’d put together in my studio. All proceeds would be distributed to various charities supported by the radio station.

We’d also call in the guitar genius of Chris George to assist in recording the tunes. I was introduced to Chris through Tank. Chris had recently won the prestigious Guitarist Magazine ‘Young Guitarist of the Year’ award and was, and still is, a truly outstanding guitar player. A few years later I’d join Chris’s band The Chris George Band touring the UK and beyond for about eight years as the official demonstrators for Marshall Amps – I’ll do a separate blog piece (or pieces) on those heady days when I get the opportunity.

We’d record/produce the album during late October/early November of 1999 in readiness for release prior to Christmas. We obviously had endless publicity for it through Tank’s radio show so were pretty much guaranteed to sell out the 1000 CD’s that we’d produce.

Now for the really cool bit. Around that time Gary Barlow was to release his second solo album 12 Months and 11 Days. When the album was released in October 1999 it debuted at number 35 on the UK Albums Chart , and after two weeks, fell out of the Top 100. It also debuted at number 19 in Ireland and number 67 in Germany before falling out of the charts the following week. It was a spectacular and well documented flop believed to be down to poor promotion and little airplay - and the fact that Gary had been targeted by the press and Robbie Williams citing that he was responsible for Robbie’s departure from Take That.

Consequently, on the week of release of Tank and Chef Raj’s Cool CD, Barlow had only managed to shift a few hundred copies of his latest release. We’d pretty much sell-out our release in the first few days officially giving us the legitimate claim that we had ‘out-sold’ Gary Barlow. Given the circumstances and the timing it was hardly surprising but, especially with Gary’s return to super-stardom, it makes for a wonderful after-dinner anecdote.

For me though, perhaps the best part of this story is that it would cement a great friendship between myself, Tank, Pranay and Chris – a friendship that is still strong today despite Tank returning to Canada and our meetings being all too infrequent. But when we do meet, we reminisce about the great times we’ve spent together; especially that time we out-sold Gary Barlow. Boom!

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