2 minute read

Success Comes Slowly

Hope From Liberty

While touring with Bluesology, Reg saw a poster announcing that Liberty Records was looking for new talent. At the time, Reg was fighting depression and feeling especially unhappy about his current musical path. But Reg decided to give this audition everything he had.

Weeks later, when Reg sat in the office of Ray Williams, the scout for new talent at Liberty Records, all of Bluesology's upbeat material flew out of his head. Instead, Reg began to play slower, sadder music that matched and vented all of his current dissatisfaction, like Jim Reeves's “He'll Have to Go.” Though Ray Williams knew the young man sitting at the piano was not what one would call “hip,” he could not help but be impressed with his ability to play piano and sing. There was something about Reg that Ray simply liked. Perhaps it was intuition or fate, but Ray Williams suggested that Reg make a demo tape to take to his boss at Liberty Records.

Sitting with Ray, Reg admitted right away that he did not write lyrics very well. Indeed, he was pretty bad at them; however, Reg loved writing the music. Somewhere in the back of Ray Williams's mind he remembered a letter he had received a few months before from a man named Bernard Taupin. Bernard had expressed the exact opposite of Reg's problem: He could write great lyrics but could not compose music. He made a mental note to contact Bernard in Lincolnshire, England, so the two could meet.

Bernard Taupin: Poetry Makes Music

Bernard Taupin was raised in Lincolnshire, England, and early on fell in love with the written word. As a young boy, he read anything he could get his hands on, from Winnie-the-Pooh to The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. He soon graduated to writing stories himself. Though Bernie loved writing, he never thought he would pursue a writing career until one night he heard Bob Dylan's “The Times They Are A-Changin'” on his father's radio. The next day he quit his factory job and began to write musical lyrics.

By the time the letter from Liberty Records arrived at Bernie Taupin's home, he had seen so many dead ends with his music he was not immediately excited. Even though the record company wanted an interview, Bernie had received many letters like this one. He set it aside and decided he would go see Ray Williams in a few months.

Meanwhile, Reg was again pessimistic about his whole career, feeling lost and unhopeful. In the beginning, Ray Williams had seemed promising, but things appeared to be going downhill fast. Reg also felt another blow when Ray said his bosses had listened to Reg's demo tape and were not impressed. However, Ray explained to Reg that he thought they were wrong. Ray then introduced Reg to Nick James, Kirk Duncan, members of the band the Hollies, and Dick James of Dick James Music (DJM). The Hollies, named after the singer Buddy Holly, had been trying to break into the music scene since the beginning of the l960s. They had established more connections with important people than Reg had. Their music was also considered innovative like Reg's, so they were helpful to bounce ideas off of and work with.

Additional topics

Musician BiographiesElton JohnSuccess Comes Slowly - Bluesology Gets A Manager And A Record Deal, Making It Big?, Bluesology Adds A New Section