Chatting with Carl Davis

20130207-004602.jpgAhead of his return to Belfast for the Wild Wild West concert with the Ulster Orchestra in the Waterfront Hall, I had the pleasure of interviewing the legend that is Carl Davis.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t realise he was a bit of a legend until I read his biog and! This guy has had quite a career and in his late 70’s he’s still going strong, in fact as we finished the interview, he was heading off to a rehearsal of his new Ballet with the Birmingham Royal Ballet. So at an age when many have already long retired, Carl is still a hugely creative, and active man.

It all kicked off when he was just 7 years old as he began his first music lessons, and that’s where his comparison to me ends!

At 7 years old, how did you know you wanted to begin music lessons?

It’s something that’s driven inside, it was just part of me. I was creative and loved music and all that it entailed, and that included TV, Film, Ballet, and dressing up! Hahaha

Yes, I noticed you have a reputation for extravagant clothing.

Haha yes, and I always encourage the orchestra I’m working with to join in, so with Wild Wild West expect a bit of rhinestone cowboy, at least from me anyway.

What can we expect from your western night?

Wild Wild West follows the birth of a country , it starts off on the east coast, and moves west through the conflict of our land, the destruction of the lands of the native Americans and really the building of a country. With music from Oklahoma, Annie get your gun and much more, we end up on the west coast, and Hollywood. That’s where everything ends up, in Hollywood, in the movies.

You have performed in Belfast before, do you like coming here?

I love coming over to Belfast, I just love the Belfast audience, the people are so warm and welcoming. The last time I was here was for a James Bond night and Barry Norman was there with me to introduce the movies. This time I’m back with one of my more off the wall shows and also it’s first time playing in Belfast.

You moved from New York to London in the early 60’s. That was a big move for you in your early 20’s.

Yes it was, and I remember coming to London and everything was just so grey. It was just before the whole swinging 60’s started. That passed me by at the start of it, in fact I remember the record company and I turning down the chance to work with the Beatles very early on. We dismissed them as one of those flash in the pan pop groups that wouldn’t last.

You ended up working with Paul McCartney later on didn’t you?

Yes, we worked on the Liverpool Oratorio together over a two year period in the early 1990’s. He was fantastic collaborator to work with.

During my conversation with Carl, he came across as really passionate about his music. To be honest, I didn’t really need to ask questions, but just listen as his story unfolded.

He reminisced about the 40’s and 50’s in his childhood city, New York and about the vibrant scene in the post war years. He talked about how much London had changed from the grey city he arrived in. He talked about how great Paul McCartney is and their time working together.

The passion for music, theatre and dance was very evident and his excitement about coming back to Belfast and to be working with the Ulster Orchestra to tell the story of how America was born, to the sound of the western music, and let’s not forget the Rhinestone Cowboy look he’s planning as well!

In the meantime, before Carl arrives in Belfast for his 23rd Feb concert, he has a few Bond nights to play, and his new ballet to finish off rehearsing in Birmingham.

A very busy, and amazingly talented and inspiring man.

Tickets for this are available from £10-£28 at the Waterfront Hall box office or online at

Post Author: Belfast Times

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