I was delighted to find the original John Miles web site (I'd been planning to start one myself, actually!) and thence the link to this mailing group. And, as seems to be the tradition, here's an introduction to me (wake up at the back!).
My name is Bimal Jangra, and I'm Anglo-Asian, hence the unusual name. I live in Birmingham, England, and am an IT professional, with my own small company which provides IT Support for schools. I used to be a full-time teacher, but I now do some supply work so as to provide an income whilst the company takes off! I am a Microsoft Certified Professional, been married twice, had a benign brain tumour in 1989 (fully recovered after 3 weeks!), and play several instruments, including guitars, sitar, keyboards and anything else I can get my hands on!
More importantly, I've been a huge John Miles fan for years (although some of the stories and memorabilia other members of the group have sound amazing...). I bought the Music single when it came out, and basically bought everything else from then on, up to the present. I got a copy of the Upfront CD when it was released - I deal with a CD company based in Dundee, Scotland, which specialises in rock CDs as well as all manner of rare items and imports. The owner of the company is a big fan of quality music, including John Miles, and knows that I buy absolutely anything with JM on it. I recently obtained the Gaudi CD (funnily enough it seems to be deleted in the UK so I got it from CDNow's web site, where it was quite reasonably priced) which includes 2 tracks by JM. (Gaudi is the album by Alan Parsons Project in case anyone didn't know - sorry if I'm treating you all in the wrong way...) I have all of the studio albums that I'm aware of, plus everything on CD that I'm aware of, including the APP albums (Stereotomy is superb as a whole album, as well as the excellent JM title track!) I don't know how much I can get away with writing here!
JM has been one of the biggest musical if not THE biggest musical influence on my performing life: I am a semi-pro musician, and have played in a number of bands over the years (mostly Christian rock bands - but believe me, we really rocked!). I performed Music in my public debut in 1977 when I was 17 - it was totally dreadful, as I'd only been playing guitar for 4 months, and hadn't even got my own guitar! I had to use a borrowed one, and I couldn't sing in tune and play at the same time! Suffice it to say, I have improved (honest!) - in 1982 I performed Nice Man Jack at teacher training college (I used to teach science and IT) - I even tried to do it à la JM, starting on piano, moving to my £70 Les Paul copy for the middle rock section (with a friend playing drums), and then moving back on to the piano to finish off: it was quite an experience! I just wish I could play and sing as well as John - his voice has always struck me as being one of the very best in rock. I saw him on tour with Jimmy Page several years back, and it struck me then that JM could play guitar better than Jimmy Page, which is probably why JM wasn't allowed to play any guitar. The ultimate insult (I felt) came at the end when they performed Stairway To Heaven: Jimmy Page said that they would perform it as an instrumental because no one could sing it as well as Robert Plant... Sorry - but I saw Live Aid, and JMs voice knocks spots off of Robert Plant's voice, especially these days!
I've seen JM on every solo tour he's done in the UK, since the MMPH album came out, and he did a special gig in Wolverhampton for 70 pence! The ticket had a beautiful b/w photo of John with a lovely tiger-stripe Gibson Les Paul. Suffice it to say, I now have my own Gibson Les Paul Custom (I got it in 1983, new) and regularly practise JM songs.
Did anyone see JM on BBC TV several years back on a terrible Saturday morning breakfast kids program? He performed a solo piano version of Right To Sing (I have the picture disc single by the way!) live, and it was superb! I did video record it - he even plays the guitar solo on the piano, just to prove it wasn't mimed!
I could rattle on about John Miles for ages (you can tell, huh?!) - the last little thing I'll add is that I was at a wedding reception about a month ago, up in South Shields, near to Jarrow and Newcastle. The guy who's house it was actually has some 78rpm records that used to belong to John Miles, and he told me that JM regularly comes back to visit his mum, who lives nearby. Apparently he usually plays a gig in Shields when he's there, so I've asked this guy to give me a call as soon as he gets wind of any upcoming gig! It's a 204 mile journey, but I'd travel anywhere to see JM.
It's great to know that there are some others out there who appreciate the consummate professionalism and sheer brilliance of John Miles! Best wishes to you all, and feel free to contact me either through the mailing list or directly if you wish!
Bimal Jangra, March 2002