Robert Bateman discusses his career with Graham Finch in Detroit (September 2001)
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 Shorter.

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 hospitalisation.

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."


Notes thanks to David Meikle.


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