Friday, 17 June 2016


In 1971, John Lennon penned a letter to English folk star Steve Tilston, telling him that “being rich doesn’t change your experience in the way you think” after the young singer gave an interview voicing fears that fame might negatively affect his songwriting.
The letter was never delivered and it wasn’t until 2010 that Tilston was finally reunited with the message.
He talks about the story that inspired the film Danny Collins, and his latest album, Truth to Tell.

... about this lost letter from John Lennon - how on earth did you react when it was discovered?
Talk about a curve ball. Who could have seen that one coming? Certainly not yours truly. When it became a reality and not some kind of hoax, I experienced a maelstrom of different reactions: anger, regret and all points in between. As I’ve said before, it was ‘a road not travelled,’ something we all experience in life, but usually it’s a selection of choice, and I didn’t get the choice. Having said all that, although I didn’t get to meet John, I did get to meet Al Pacino, and there was a film made, so really I have no complaints.

Did you wish you had read it when you were meant to, as a young, disillusioned musician?
I wouldn’t say I was disillusioned; I’d chosen a musical path that usually didn’t lead to stardom and I certainly didn’t think of myself as a pop singer. It would have been good to have received the letter, because, no question, I would have rung John’s telephone number, but then a thousand ‘what ifs’ come into play.

Are you a fan of John Lennon’s music, as he was of your work?
Yes I was, in that I really liked The Beatles (it was everyone’s patriotic duty in those days), but I thought McCartney’s input was just as important. In fact, they inspired me to dip a tentative toe into the pool of songwriting, and that would’ve been before I’d heard of Bob Dylan.

The letter inspired the film Danny Collins - was it strange seeing your story on the big screen?
It’s not my story, my life has been nothing like the fictitious Danny Collins – not one cell in my body would have wanted that kind of lifestyle. The only connection is in the use of a letter from Lennon arriving 30 odd years late as the main device to tell a tale.

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