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In 1973, Declan chose to move to London and pursue his career

7 July 2022

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I chose not to risk losing my day job and we parted company. The last Rusty gig was to be in Widnes on February 9th, 1973.

We knew it would be happening and I’d spent months auditioning replacements.

My diary entry on February 10th, 1973 reads ‘beginning to resign myself to the fact that I’m never gonna find anyone to replace Dec’.

We did do one reunion gig later that month at Warwick University to honor a previous commitment. He travelled north and I travelled south and we met in the middle. We were paid seventeen pounds.

Fast-forward 1974-1977 and My Aim Is True

I still have the letter sent to me with the single “Less Than Zero” by an excited Declan. He’d signed to Stiff Records, the single was well reviewed and the album to follow would get five stars across the board.

His own autobiography relates in great detail to this era, so there would be no point in my covering the same ground.

Would things have panned out the same way had we stayed together?

I doubt it and I personally think that two possibilities might have happened:

1. Stiff would have seen me as the weak link as a song writer and made me change my name to Pete Best or at the very least Andrew Ridgeley.

2. I would have held him back in his dogged approach to convincing Nick Lowe and Stiff to give him that break.

Would I have played in the street outside the record company offices until  I was arrested? Highly unlikely, I would have run away the moment there was a chance of any conflict. 

Would I have allowed my name to be changed and a full image make-over?

I don’t think so. Stiff knew what they were doing and history has proved them right.

Back in Liverpool, I was working 7 nights a week and in one particular year did over 500 gigs. Doubles on Fridays and Saturdays and a triple every Thursday.

At least I was now comfortable enough to give up my day job and work was plentiful.

Jake Riviera, Dave Robinson And Stiff Records 

Elvis Costello was now branded as the future of English rock n roll in much the same way as Springsteen had been just a few years previously.

Stiff had kept the background history of this kid Costello very much a secret.

The press had no idea where he had come from or his previous form.

I was approached by a local music magazine in Liverpool who knew exactly where he’d come from and could prove that just a few years earlier he had been playing Lindisfarne and Bob Dylan covers with some bloke called Allan Mayes.

They were also about to go to print with the full story including his real name which Stiff had incredibly still managed to keep under wraps.

After they approached me, I called the Stiff offices and left a message that I was being coerced into revealing as much of his background as I knew.

That week, Costello was on the cover of all the major music publications and was about to play his first major London date supporting Santana at the Crystal Palace Bowl.

He called me the night before the show; 

‘Dave and Jake at Stiff have got your message and they want me to tell you that reveal any non authorised information to the press and legs might be broken’.

That’s a completely true story.

In recent years, I’ve reminded Dave Robinson of this story and he replied something about it being 1977 and we were all trying to be a bit punkish.