The 'Little' People
Many people say that you should never meet your Hollywood idol; well I say the same for your musical heroes. It always saddens me when I hear stories or experience situations that destroy the image of those I admire musically. Too often the classical string players on stage with the big names in pop are treated appallingly, not just in a financial sense but also on a personal level.
There is a number of my favourite pop artists (and classical artists) that I know don’t look after their classical players on stage with them, some of them are current number one selling artists and very big names. Once they are famous, they no longer care for those on stage with them as they have their thousands of adoring fans out the front. Before they get famous, they join us in the pub after a concert or for dinner before or at least say hello in the corridor, maybe even a conversation! Unfortunately many become strangers and too high and mighty for the others on stage with them once they have adoring fans surrounding them.
Having said this there are some artists who genuinely care about and interact with their backing players, one being Sting and another being Alfie Boe. I toured with Alfie for six weeks around the UK a couple of years ago. Over the course of this tour he got to know all those in the orchestra on stage with him. We remarked how nice it was that he joined us for dinner and got to know us, to which he said something to the effect of: “of course I want to get to know the people I make music with every night and who support me on stage during the concert, you guys are really important and I don’t want you to be strangers”.
Sometimes when an artist gets big, they have a lot of other things going on and their agents, in particular, try very hard to keep them away from us - I don’t know what the agents think we are going to do but most agents don’t like the ‘star’ interacting with the ‘little people’. At any rate, I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat the ‘little people’ whether that be someone who needs your seat on the train or the waiter serving you in a restaurant; how someone treats the ‘little people’ says a lot about them as a human being, famous or not.
The next time you go to a concert, please spare a thought for the ‘little people’ and let’s hope that the promoters, the industry and the artists themselves start to care more about those who support and hold them up on stage and perform with them; they too work hard for a living, to develop their craft and deserve to be treated with respect, financially and personally. As they say: strong people lift others up, they don't put them down.