Sunday, 17 May 2009

15 Minutes

Andy Warhol famously postulated that ‘In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes’, and although I still seem to waiting for my golden quarter of an hour to turn up, there is no doubt that some ‘ordinary’ people have had theirs and then some as the limit gets extended by fate to infinity (and beyond). I love those old black and white iconic photographs of unknown people that are now instantly recognisable years after they were taken – the two women on a windy Margate seafront trying to keep their skirts down whilst eating ice-cream springs to mind. Other, perhaps more serious examples would include the student in Tiananmen Square and the raising of the US flag on Iwo Jima.

But it’s not just photographs that allow the statutory 15 minutes to extend over the decades in contravention to Warhol’s law. There are many instances in music where the average man-in-the-street is called upon to contribute a small favour which inadvertently becomes part of a rampaging monster.

This thought occurred whilst I was listening to 10 cc’s ‘I’m not in Love’ where in the middle section a woman’s voice scolds, "Be quiet, big boys don't cry...” Who said that? I did a bit of research on this and it turns out that they were spoken, not by anyone in the band or associated with it, but by a woman named Kathy Warren, the receptionist of the Strawberry Studios where the band recorded the track, probably in between doing her nails and answering the phone. It is instances like this where Kathy’s 15 minutes of fame is extended to 15 years and maybe 15 centuries for all I know on the back of a massively successful single, that show how fate moves in a very mysterious way indeed.

Further examples are provided by the voices recorded for ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ by various members of the Pink Floyd management, road crew and sundry studio doormen. They had their 15 minutes almost immortalized by one of the biggest selling albums of all time but probably didn’t expect to at the time. Reportedly, Paul McCartney’s responses were considered too cautious and thus missed out. I’ll bet he’s kicking himself now (or not).

It is a rather pleasing irony that those who specifically set out to make themselves world-famous have often failed miserably, yet those that have no such intent have had notoriety thrust upon them. Of course, they weren’t paid for it, but who said fame pays?


musicmaniac said...

Your blog has good contents.I'm impressed.

Charlie said...

Kathy Warren would make an great answer to a trivia question that almost no one would know the answer to. Great research Martin!

musicobsessive said...

Maniac - thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you like it.

Charlie - You're right! I must remember to put it in the next school quiz night...haha!