Madness in Tenerife
Brian Wilson was born on Friday 13th January 1961, the same day as Suggs who is instantly recognised as the lead singer of the Ska band “Madness”.
Brian was born in the Boro and was educated at Ayresome Infants not far from Ayresome Park, once graced by many talented footballers including the legendary Brian Clough.
But young Wilson soon went under, “Down Under” that is as his parents moved to Australia. Brian attended Fern Tree Gully Technical College in a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. Another famous person born in Gully was cricketer Shane Warne.
But the family didn’t settle in Australia and returned to Billingham and Brian was enrolled at Northfield School in 1974. The school numbers amongst its former pupils a plethora of footballers and Paul Smith the front man of Indie group “Maximo Park” and Brian “Madness” Wilson. Brian’s only interest was music and he achieved top marks in that field, with result in other subjects poor, described by one teacher simple as “must do better”.
It was no surprise that his first job was selling hi-fi’s at the Comet store in Portrack Retail Park where by chance he met Chris Rea. His hits include “The Road to Hell” which hardly describes Brian Wilson’s journey. Chris was buying a new set of headphones and as he served him, Brian never one to miss an opportunity, slipped his demo into a cassette player. “I think he thought cheeky but over the years we kept in touch. I saw him rehearse and helped write a lot of the material for “Whatever Happened to Ben Santini” his debut album released in 1978. Chris Rea later released “Fool (If You Think It’s Over) as a single from the album which earned him a Grammy nomination as “Best New Artist in 1979”.
Fast forward 40 years and Brian Wilson, following in the footsteps of Chris Rea has been nominated as “Best New-comer 2019” in the Tenerife Entertainment Awards, sponsored by Oasis F.M., the English language radio station in Tenerife. The big event is in October and the “Life Group” of newspapers, which has a circulation of 30,000 a week in South Durham and Teesside, will be flying out their feature writer John Riddle, a frequent visitor to Tenerife, to support Brian.
Meanwhile although Brian Wilson has worked as a wagon driver and on the taxis during the week, at weekends he always plied his trade as a musician. It is on his musical talent that the ex-pats and holiday makers in the Canary Islands will judge him.
His CV reveals he played with a band named “Skitzofrenic” and later with a Hartlepool based band “Scratch” who included in its ranks George Hart of the “Heartbeats”. They appeared on “Opportunity Knocks” long before the days of Simon Cowell and his talent shows. George and Brian Wilson formed a duo “Phaze” and young Wilson learned a great deal from his older partner, appearing at local clubs including “Richies”, the Owton Manor WC, the Hourglass and the Headland Social Club.
About 15 years ago Brian gave up his day job in the scaffolding business to go on the professional circuit as a solo guitarist. The first year was difficult knocking on pubs and clubs doors literally begging for work but then it all took off. Brian Wilson became one of the busiest acts on the northeast circuit.
Brian takes up the story, “My wife Bev and I decided to move to Los Cristianos and give music a go on the island. I found most venues asked “Who Do You Do” as tribute acts are most popular and I accidently stumbled upon the idea of “Madness”. I knew my sax playing and impersonation of Suggsy with a decent accent would appeal to those enjoying fun in the sun. I was onto a winner” explained Brian.
Brian Wilson left the rain and wind of Teesside for a new life in Tenerife. His act is fully booked and when he heard he had been nominated for an award Brian’s response was, “This is just too much, it’s madness”, he laughed.
Whenever he gets the chance to relax off stage Brian Wilson tries to find a bar showing the Middlesbrough game. He was invited to join “our reporter” in the Devon Arms in Los Cristianos on 23rd October when the Boro are live on the box away to Huddersfield Town. Should be quite a night in “The House of Fun” as, John Riddle was born in the West Yorkshire town, although he is a Hartlepool United fan.
The hope is that Brian “Suggsy” Wilson, complete with “Baggy Trousers” will be celebrating on all fronts if Boro win and he has picked up “The Best Newcomer Award 2019” in the Tenerife Entertainment Awards.
Brian Wilson’s “Madness Show” can be seen at venues including Happy Days in Los Cristianos, Princess Di’s on the Patch, Amandas in Torviscas, Seven Island is San Blas St. Eugenes, the Soul Lodge, Calypso in Las Americas, Sloop Bar and the Whisky Jar.