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Bridgeton's Finest

Frankie Miller's voice probably first hit me when "Caledonia" was used in a Tennent's Lager advert in 1991. Then I remembered "Darlin'", a hit for him in 1978, and the research began into his back catalogue (I love that bit). What emerged was an incredible body of work from someone who came from one of the oldest and toughest parts of Glasgow. I still love wandering around Bridgeton, imagining Frankie going for a fish supper, or whatever, as a wee lad!

I'm sure there's still many who think "Caledonia" was all he was famous for. So if you are one of them haste ye to YouTube and delve in.

"If I Can Love Somebody" a song written by John Hiatt (another wonderful singer), highlights everything I love about his voice: the grit, sensitivity, soul, passion, attitude, and power. As with all truly great singers, there's no-one else who sounds like him: instantly recognisable from the off.

This song, with its simple melody and delicate backing instrumentally, needs a voice that fills space. That's not just related to the tone a singer might have and the overtones and resonance present, but a physical presence and command that translates into the voice itself. With Frankie, you can hear and feel the grit and hardness of life. He is 100% there and gives it his all, yet can pull straight back again to show vulnerability (the way he sings the sections from "If I can love somebody"). The right feel and approach is present on goal (key) words. Taking them in sequence: "backs", "again", "out alive", "hold on", "hearted", "hard", "sees", "rise above", "struggle", "never-ending", "live", "dreams", "saved". The final "me" breaks my heart!

Tragically suffering a brain haemorrhage while in New York in 1994, where he was working with Joe Walsh of The Eagles on a new band, he has been unable to sing or perform. From 1995 to 2001, I was Assistant Music Officer with Arts Council England. One day, a chap came in looking for funding to work with someone to help them write. My jaw dropped when I heard who it was and, needless to say, the funding was granted! I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Frankie and was so overcome, I gave him a big cuddle! He didn't seem to mind...What a guy.

BBC Documentary:

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