Sussex jazz musician smashes world record for singing upside down
The Hastings-based pianist and composer hosts a regular Jazz Breakfast at Sussex Yacht Club in Shoreham and it was just down the road, at The Crown & Anchor, in Shoreham High Street, that he made the world record attempt yesterday evening.
Assisted by Nils Solberg on guitar, Mike hung upside while playing the piano and singing jazz classics like Let The Good Times Roll by Ray Charles - beating the previous record by nine minutes.
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Mike said it was one of the most intense 15 minutes of his life – and that comes from someone who has toured America with Cleo Laine and the John Dankworth Quintet, and worked with many other big names, including Matt Monro, David Essex, the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, the Syd Lawrence Orchestra and Liane Carroll.
Mike, 67, is no stranger to hanging upside down, as he started the daily practice more than 20 years ago to improve his bad back.
He said: "It’s quite a habit by now. I don’t think I sound any worse than I normally do – and anyway, when it comes to the world record, I’m not sure the quality comes into it!"
Mike developed a taste for challenging himself and his musicianship in imaginative new ways to mark his 60th birthday in 2016, when he cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats towing an electric piano and raised almost £12,000 for Children in Need.On that occasion, he recorded himself playing the violin upside down in response to a challenge from a friend.
This latest adventure came about when Mike was invited to take part in another Guinness World Record attempt as part of Sky Arts' Portrait Artist of the Year. He was one of hundreds of people to simultaneously draw and paint Sir Lenny Henry for a programme broadcast on September 30.
"Because of that, I got interested in idly checking out world records,” he said. “I looked for upside down violin playing but it seems no-one has ever attempted that. To my great surprise, the world record for singing upside down stood at three-and-a-half minutes. That was later beaten by a girl in India, who did four-and-a-half minutes on live TV. Well, I’m three times her age and I can do three times as long, so I thought I’d have a go at beating it.”