For nearly 10 years, ‘Team Philpott’, as their followers fondly refer to them, have been on a quite bonkers crusade, writing good old-fashioned letters to pop and rock stars (sometimes even sent to their home addresses with prior consent!), either picking up on genuine ambiguities within their lyrics or often deliberately misunderstanding them for comedic effect.
The letters are eminently publishable in their own right, mixing sharp wit, confusion, and mundane daily chores with trips to the shops, daytime telly, Derek’s legs playing up, and unarguable logic in relation to questioning the offending chart hits under scrutiny.
What makes this project especially deserving of attention, however, is that it has achieved a feat never before attempted or probably even thought of. With the missives online for all to see on what was becoming a hugely popular website, the artists quite unexpectedly started to reply, writing back in just as witty and articulate a fashion, politely pointing out exactly where the original letter went wrong...or right.
Also, crucially, nearly all of the responses were procured via ''the back door of the industry'', via roadies, mutual fans, cousins of bass players, and even other famous participants telling the artists directly of the Philpotts’ written pressing inquiries. This marvellous online community, which stretched as far afield as Europe, Canada, Japan, the U.S.A, Australia and Stoke, even cultivated and organically evolved the whole surreal venture by offering up willing stars that the authors would probably not have thought of corresponding with themselves, establishing contact through personal connections.
‘Dear Mr. Popstar’’ proudly features 100 of the best letters and responses from famous and legendary names spanning the whole pop and rock spectrum, all relishing their involvement and revealing their own, in many cases, hitherto unknown humorous sides within what could well be the most interactive dialogue compiled between music stars and their audience ever undertaken. Of course, it is not always possible to reach certain targets, hence many unanswered observations are also included, as they were considered too amusing not to be.
Those to be saluted for their great sportsmanship are:- Deep Purple, Dr. from Dr. and The Medics, Nik Kershaw, Judas Priest, Starship, Tears For Fears, The Eurythmics, Wreckless Eric, Landscape, Smokie, The Strawbs, The Belle Stars, Van Der Graaf Generator, Martha and the Muffins, Thunder, Squeeze, Dean Friedman, Fairground Attraction, The Ruts, Neil Innes from The Bonzo Dog Band, DEVO, Melanie, Alannah Myles, Ian Gillan, Was Not Was, Republica, Then Jerico, Dr. Hook, Toploader, Cutting Crew, Lindisfarne, Spinal Tap, Mott The Hoople, Fuzzbox, Men Without Hats, China Crisis, Mental As Anything, David MacIver and Rupert Hine (Quantum Jump), Timbuk 3, The Rezillos, Saxon, John Otway, The Human League, Chesney and Chip Hawkes, Tenpole Tudor, Shakatak, Katrina and the Waves, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Heaven 17, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Matthew Wilder, Middle of the Road, Liquid Gold, The Christians, Paper Lace, Dodgy, Daevid Allen, Bruce Woolley, Country Joe and The Fish, Sad Cafe, The Housemartins, Francis Dunnery (It Bites), Johnny Hates Jazz, The Wurzels, Peter Noone, Suzi Quatro, Strawberry Switchblade, Danny Wilson, Racey, Electric Prunes, The Waitresses, Fiddler's Dram, Bauhaus, Climax Blues Band, The Jags, EMF, T’Pau, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Nu Shooz, Owen Paul, Steve Hackett, Steve Ellis of Love Affair, Hazell Dean, The Knack, The Maisonettes, Del Amitri, The Skids, Jesus Jones, The Soup Dragons, City Boy, Modern Romance, Wang Chung, The Kursaal Flyers, Fischer Z, Bruce Thomas of The Attractions, Scarlet Fantastic, The B52s. Junior, Spear of Destiny, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.
Ultimately, this book explores how when a song is released into ‘the wild’ the artist loses all control over it, especially pertaining to its interpretation. It is also testimony to the community spirit capable of being created over social media and how positive and fun it can be.
Dear Hazell Dean,
I found your song on the internet whilst looking for how to get to friends in Hazeldene, Chieveley.
In these celebrity and appearance-obsessed times it is admirable that you are searchin' (looking for love) for a man who needn't be handsome or have fortune or fame.
I fear however that you may be setting your sights a bit low, Ms Dean. You appear, rather than ''looking for someone to share your life" with' on nights out with friends or on tentative dates, to be ''seekin' '' a long-term partner either on the train, or, more worryingly, as reinforced by your disclosure that you ''want no disguises'', a Police I.D. Parade, as you ''move on down the line''.
It is suspected that your judgement may have been impaired by ''never sleepin''' and that there is no guarantee that a stranger on the Underground, or for that matter, from the Underworld is likely to be ''sweet and kind'.'
''Whatever You Do, Wherever You Go'', Ms. Dean, I implore you to be cautious in your quest and not to explore ''every place you can''.
Dear Mr Philpott
Think not of “Searchin’” as a light-hearted missive, extolling the virtues of promiscuity.
No! This work should be considered a seminal piece – a late 20th Century celebration of the seeking of love above all else.
Looking for love
All the time I can.
Looking for love
I've got to find a man.”
This is not a transient pop song, but should be compared as contemporary to the popularist lyrics of Byron, Browning, Rossetti and Wilde.
Were these great romantics ever concerned by the trivialities of sleep sir? I think not.
As the great Oscar Wilde himself wrote:
"You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear."
Additionally, aspersions cast on my predilection for members of the criminal fraternity are most unwelcome and unfounded,and I would therefore be grateful if you could leave me to my insomnia and romantic musings in peace.
Further to this, over the past 35 years I have received 100’s of photographs of dull establishments bearing any vague semblance of my name, in its many variants. The highlights of which include a B&B in Blackpool, and cattery in Crewe and a hovel somewhere slightly South of Brighton.
Why people presume these will interest or even slightly amuse me, I do not know.
Would you enjoy receiving a steady and annually persistent selection of “Philpotts Avenue’s”, “Philpotts Crescents” and “The Philpott Home for the Perpetually Ridiculous”? The novelty wears off very quickly I can assure you.
Quite frankly Mr Philpott the locating of your friends at Hazeldene, Chievely, is of absolutely no interest to me whatsoever.
It has been a pretty full on and emotional few days for us - after years, months, weeks and days of anticipation the first wave of books has gone out to the 655 subscribers who bought this project to life.
We're so proud of what we've managed to achieve together, from the germ of an idea a decade ago, to an online community, to a campaign through to an amazing book which looks so much better than…
Folks! We have reached a monumental milestone. ALL of the the books are printed and ready to go. The only thing that was needed was a signature in 380(ish) copies to send out to pledgers who had selected that level and dad and I made our way on a long and arduous journey to HQ in order to get this done. Here's a picture of us hand signing those 380. It was a long day but a very special one. This is…
We are stunned and delighted to confirm that we have been offered a book launch at the prestigious venue The Dublin Castle on Wednesday 3rd October. This will be a 'double header' with Mr. Bruce Thomas, legendary bassist from The Attractions and contributor to Dear Mr Pop Star, without whom 'Pump It Up' and so many other classic songs would not exist. You will, we promise, have received and probably…
**VERY EXCITING NEWS** We wanted to let you all know that we've just heard that Dear Mr Pop Star is going to print NEXT WEEK! This means that pledgers and pre-orders...that's you.. will get their special edition copy very soon! The general release of the trade edition is scheduled for September 20th but yours will be the nice special edition and you will have it before then!
We would like to thank…
Here is a draft of the cover you will be holding very, very soon. It will be wrapped around a book obviously - otherwise this whole thing would have been a complete waste of everybody's time!
Remember that the Pledger's Edition is SUPERIOR to the trade edition which will be appearing in the shops around late September time, so if you are also thinking of Christmas presents - as if you…
Unlike everybody else that has seen it, Gladys is extremely unimpressed with the First Drafts of ''Dear Mr. Pop Star''...Sorry, Gladys
Good Afternoon to you all!
Just a quick note to let you know that the Supporters list for Dear Mr Pop Star will be closing on 6th May.
If you're quick you still have time to pledge in order to get your name (Or someone else's name if you are buying as a gift) in the back of the book.
If you miss the deadline you can still pre-order a copy but the chance to be part of our pledger's list will…
As we hurtle towards publication we have yet more good news.
We are days away from First Drafts stage, after which there will be a final proofread and then ''Showtime''!
Even at this vital last stage we have been able to bag 3 more lovely pop stars for your delight and delectation.
Their replies are magnificent (and the letters not too shabby either) and bring us up…
'Dear Mr. Pop Star' is at design and typesetting stage now and looks amazing. We are all working hard to make it as brilliant as we can. Here's a 'sneakie'
We are very pleased to share this interview with us which was posted today on Brook Cottage Books. It is the first of many interviews and features that we have planned. We'd like to thank Debbie Johnson for featuring us:
We are completely open to all requests for press/interviews/radio, large or small…
Exciting news just in from our publisher - we are now DELIGHTED to reveal the official front cover of 'Dear Mr. Pop Star'.
We are at Design and Editorial and have even MORE pop stars on-board. It's shaping up to be better than we could've hoped!
We will give you more information in due course, so please stay tuned!
It has been a long time! But we only post when we have news! And what news we have!
We've just received the copy edit manuscript from our publishers and frankly it is a staggering sight to behold. Not only have Unbound done a beautiful job of making it shiny and pristine in the crossing of 'I's' and dotting of 'T's' (you can see that they had their work cut out)…
Hello to all of you lovely people that have made these book happen!
All’s well here and progressing nicely. The bonkers and surreal text is with the copyeditor who is busily working away. We’ve had to wait a bit to get the editor that Unbound really wanted, but .. Hurrah! It is shaping up beautifully and we will keep you posted as ever
Just out of courtesy letting you lovely people know that we are in production and tweaking, etcetera
The book is now 105% funded and rising as new people are still taking advantage of pre-ordering their copies, thus guaranteeing their names in the back of the book and procuring a Pledger's Edition tome months before the book hits the shops - and of a higher quality too.
We have also managed…
Our final manuscript has been received back from the Mighty Unbound replete with a beautiful sparkling edit with which we are utterly delighted.
At this stage - that of a surreal lull prior to a splurge of acitivity - we are equally delighted to relate that many BBC Regionals and other radio stations have already ''green lit'' extensive features and interviews just prior to publication, plus…
WE ARE DELIGHTED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE BOOK IS FINISHED AND THE MANUSCRIPT WAS SUBMITTED TODAY
FINAL CONTRIBUTOR LIST
Dr. from Dr. and The Medics, Nik Kershaw, Judas Priest, Starship, Tears For Fears, The Eurythmics, Wreckless Eric, The Strawbs, The Belle Stars, Van Der Graaf Generator, Squeeze, Dean Friedman, Fairground Attraction, The Ruts, Neil Innes from The Bonzo Dog Band, DEVO, Melanie…
Ladies and gentlemen, after 202 days of campaigning, literally thousands of messages and emails and moments of extreme doubt and worry, we are proud to finally announce that we have reached our target and we are 100% funded. WE HAVE A BOOK!
Extreme thanks and eternal gratitude to the 571 people who got us here and all those who shared the link far and wide! Pat yourselves on the back, we'd do…
Hello to you all,
Here's a long over due update on the progress of Dear Mr Pop Star. We probably should have checked in sooner, but we've been exceptionally busy and have passed some really important milestones in the meantime.
After a lot of campaigning and with a lot of help from our friends we're delighted to announce that we've hit the 93% mark on our funding! We're thrilled and…
Hello all 448 of you!!!
We are 74% Funded!!!! As if the content were not amazing enough, since last update we have had SPECTACULAR REPLIES from Nik Kershaw, Judas Priest, Fairground Attraction, Modern Romance, Wang Chung ands Fiddler's Dram!
Hello all 418 of you!!!
We are 69% Funded!!!! This is due in no small part to a flood of pledges that came in from brand new fans courtesy of Dr. from the Medics' fantastic video 2 weeks ago and, it must be said, a MASSIVE donation from long time fan and champion Mr. Maurice Thomas who donated a proportion of his HOUSE SALE to the project
Finally, we attach below a revised list of contributors…
In addition to the marvellous video above we are delighted to tell all 383 of you wonderful people that
OOOh...we're (over) halfway there!
Hello to all 340 of you! Since last update we are now just over 50% funded which is a massive milestone
As if that was not good enough news even more artists are onboard (we are not telling you who just yet - bird in the hand all that) and we have received spectacular replies from:-
Matthew ''Break My Stride'' Wilder
Eddie and the Hot Rods
Dear The Moody Blues, in order to help the environment and create more space in your houses, and with the advent of modern technology, may I suggest than rather than write letters that you are never meaning to send, you may be better advised to compose the pointless missives as emails which can then be saved to the 'Draft Folder' on your computers
Hello to all 318 of you! Since last update…
I hope that you will forgive my observing that since naming yourselves in the 1980’s it could be argued that technological advances have rendered your present monicker slightly passé. "It Doesn't Have To Be That Way", Erasure. With the archaic necessity of rubbing out spelling mistakes virtually supplanted, via the near obsolescence of both the typewriter and pencil and papers, by…
These people are helping to fund Dear Mr. Pop Star.