FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTSER: 'Mick Jagger persuaded me to stay'

PP Arnold marks the 50th anniversary of first arriving in this country when she joins the line-up at Chichester's Priory Park Festival (Friday, July 8-Sunday, July 10).
PP Arnold
London 12.12.08
photo credit/copyright Judy Totton SUS-160622-074201003PP Arnold
London 12.12.08
photo credit/copyright Judy Totton SUS-160622-074201003
PP Arnold London 12.12.08 photo credit/copyright Judy Totton SUS-160622-074201003

“I was an Ikette,” recalls PP who plays on the Saturday. “I came over here with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, and I was invited to stay by Mick Jagger and by Andrew Oldham who was the Stones’ manager. We came over to tour with the Stones in 1966. We were one of the first support slots, and they were fantastic to work with. We just had a great time, and we became close friends.

“I just happened to mention to Mick that my plan was not to return to the States to play in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue because of lots of things that were going on and that I was not happy with, and then next thing I knew I was signed to a label. I had to think about it a bit. I had never thought about becoming a solo artist. I had never really thought about going into show business at all. I think it was just destiny. These things just happen to you! I was just a young mother. I had two young children, and I was just out of a bad and abusive marriage. When I came to the UK, my children were four and five. I was a travelling package! I was a mum before I became an artist.

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“But it has always been like my life is out of my control, for me to be coming out of the civil rights revolution in America and into the rock ‘n’ roll revolution in England. In those days, there was serious segregation in America, and to come to England and to be integrated into the new society was just great.

“It was still an issue in England, but it was not an in-your-face issue like it was back in America, and so there I was in England. I didn’t know anything about the music industry. I didn’t know anything about the music business.

“With the Ike & Tina Turner Revue I had escaped the situation I was in, and I was just singing. It was the only job I knew, and I don’t think I even really knew who Mick Jagger was, but he was a good man and became a good friend.”

All stories PP will tell when she releases her autobiography next year: “I have nearly finished it now.”

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It will evoke the excitement of the music scene she found herself part of: “It really was so exciting. You have got to understand that I was a young black woman. I had never integrated into white society. I came to the UK and I was a very introverted young woman… and all these things were going on. There was all the cultural stuff and all the political stuff, and it was great to be part of it. To come over at the same time as Jimi Hendrix, my fellow brother from America… that just really helped me. Jimi helped because he knew what he was doing. Jimi just encouraged me to go with the experience. I was just so fortunate that suddenly people seemed to like me. I was just so shy back then!”

She worked particularly with Steve Marriott, of Small Faces fame, singing on Tin Soldier and a version of Itchycoo Park: “I made a very strong connection with Steve. We worked a lot together. I really miss him. I know that if he were still here now, we would still be working together. People think of me as a soul singer. But all my record producers were English. I am very much part of that movement. People sometimes call me The Modmother! And I just feel so incredibly blessed to still be working now.”

Tickets on www.chichesterlive.co.uk.

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