|As we came to the end of our
interviews I asked Fred to reflect on his career and in
particular his favourite songs.
"A lot of people look back on their musical career
with regrets and I guess I'm no different", says
Fred. "An older head on younger shoulders could have
made me a wealthy man. I had talent but I didn't have the
money. Most of what I did had to be funded by others
leaving me with little control over the output and no
control over the income.
It was a vicious circle.
But I owe a lot to one man in particular, Mr Robert
Bateman. Robert took me under his wings when he was
working in New York City with Lloyd Price. He let me stay
at his home; he took me around the studios and he taught me how
to produce songs. It was him who
helped me use my talent to the best of my ability. Robert
Bateman was key in my life.
Undoubtedly my peak writing years were from 1967-71.
During that time nothing remained in the can. I was also
blessed to have wonderful partners at that time in Richard
Knight, Robert Eaton and latterly Ben Knight.
I also cherish my years with The Tops and in particular
my friendship with Lawrence.
If you had to ask me what my favourite songs are, I'd
probably say 'Candy'. You know what? I wrote that song for James
Then there's 'She broke his heart', which was written for Al(bert)
Williams, 'Beautiful feeling' by Darrell Banks, 'Never in
a million years' by The Honeybees.
Of the Brothers of Soul material, I would pick out 'I
guess that don't make me a loser' and 'Can't get you off
my mind'; I know that one is Dee's favourite song.
But if I had to give a special place to one song it
would be "I am nothing" by Al Williams. Man, I
love that song.
In 1990, an important event happened for me when I
became a Born Again Christian.
My new way of life gave me an inner strength which I
had to call on seven years later when I suffered a lengthy
For two years I struggled to regain my health and I
know for sure that it was my faith which pulled me through
that difficult chapter of my life.
Around that time I also lost my dear friend Lawrence.
Lawrence's passing and my own struggle helped me to get
some of my life's experiences into perspective.
Nowadays most of my energy is applied to Gospel music
and that's where my heart lies today."