Interview With PAT CASH

Pat Cash and Mick Burgess
Pat Cash and Mick Burgess

Pat Cash is a true giant of the tennis world and despite retiring years ago he is still in demand as a TV pundit at the major tournaments as well as being a regular on the “Legends” circuit. His true love however is Rock music, an obsession that grew from his childhood back in Melbourne on hearing Judas Priest for the first time. He spent some time between preparing to commentate at Wimbledon and checking out Aersomith in Hyde Park, to chat to Mick Burgess about his passion for music.

What was the musical environment like growing up in Australia?

There were quite a lot of live bands and that was the thing that we used to do. I suppose there were discos but we didn’t really venture that far. Certainly if you wanted to hear some music it was pretty easy, there were always plenty of bands playing in local clubs and bars. There was plenty of Rock ‘n’ Roll that was good but not much Heavy Metal, that was more of an underground thing.

There was one big record store in the centre of town right in front of Flinders Street Station in Melbourne called Flinders Street Underground or something and you went in there and there was this big huge girl in there dressed in black. This is where you could get the new Motley Crue album or the new Iron Maiden album or whatever. Gradually you could get albums from the department stores in Town but in the beginning if you wanted anything by Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath or Judas Priest, which is what I was listening to at the time; this is where you could get them.

Did your parents influence your musical tastes?

My parents are actually from a family of Opera singers believe it or not. My sister is an Opera singer, two of my Aunties are Opera singers and my Grandparents were singers. I sort of broke the mould really.

So what’s your Opera singing like?

Ha !! We won’t go there I think.

Do you remember that moment when you first thought “Wow, this is the music for me?”

My moment would have to be when I first heard Unleashed In The East by Judas Priest. You know at the beginning when the guitar sort of whirls up and then the drums come in. That was pretty much it for me. I was into Rock ‘n’ Roll too. I liked Cheap Trick, they were one of my favourite groups when I was growing up but it’s fair to say that Unleashed In The East was the first one that really grabbed me.

My brother was listening to a lot of The Beatles and he had Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti and albums by Steely Dan and bits and pieces like that but I didn’t really listen to them. It was only in retrospect that I listened to Zeppelin and realized how good they were. Somebody said to me I had to hear Thin Lizzy and that didn’t really hit the spot until I’d got into Judas Priest. I went back and listened to Lizzy and went “Wow!!” and it broadened out after that.

Who was the first band you managed to catch live?

Australia seemed to be missed out by a lot of the big bands. I think it was Thin Lizzy with Snowy White on guitar and Cheap Trick were around that time too. When Cheap Trick came to play I wanted to take my then girlfriend but she didn’t want to go but she said her best friend loved Cheap Trick so she asked if I wouldn’t mind taking her, so I agreed. We went to the show and had pretty good seats. When the lights went down and the band came on stage she jumped down from her chair and went straight down to the front for the rest of the night and I didn’t see her again. I waited around for a while and thought “screw this” and headed home. She had gone autograph hunting and I got a real bollocking when I returned home without her.

Who are the bands that you rate the most highly now?

I like a bit of everything really. I’ve always loved Blues stuff. There’s something about it and I try to find some real fast Blues players. That’s one of the things I love, whether it’s Stevie Ray Vaughan or Rory Gallagher. I just love Rory Gallagher. For a guy playing in the 60s and 70s to play like that, as fast and brilliant as he was, was just fantastic. I actually got the chance to meet him once, very briefly. I used to do quite a lot of charity gigs around Wimbledon time and we used to get a load of guys to come in, like the guys from Maiden, who are mates of mine. So I managed to meet him during one of these shows.

Actually I was a member of The Cult for about a minute too. They split up and there were rumours that they were getting back together again and they were playing at a charity gig which was mine and I was up there playing “Wildflower” with them so I always say that I was in The Cult for a while. I’ve heard they’ve just got themselves a new record deal. They’re a really good band.

Of the newer bands, I really like Blackstone Cherry, I think they’re fantastic. They’re pretty damn heavy. In fact it’s about as Heavy as it comes. When I first read the review of their album it said they were a “Heavy Metal Lynyrd Skynyrd” and I thought that was perfect for me, it’s right up my alley. When I listened to it, it’s more like melodic Heavy Metal and he has such a great voice, I’m really enjoying it. I also like good young bands like The Answer, they’re great. I’m really a Classic Rock sort of guy. I’ve just been listening to Deep Purple’s Made In Japan, I’m always chucking some Aerosmith on. I like the old stuff of course, “Sweet Emotion”, “Draw The Line” all of that kind of stuff.

I like most stuff so long as there’s a bit of melody in it, you know, with growing up with The Beatles and Cheap Trick it needs to have that sense of melody but then again I have been listening to Metallica and Megadeth a lot recently. They’ve got some rhythm to it and they still have some good tunes though. What I love about Megadeth is the blistering guitar and it’s really Heavy but there’s a melody there and it’s something you can sing along to. I’ll tell you what I don’t like though and it’s that “Cookie Monster” singing, I’m not really into that at all. Once I hear those “grrr, grrr grrr eat my cookie” sort of vocals then it gets thrown out of my collection.

It’s just great to get hold of a great singer and go “Wow”, whether it’s Coverdale or the guys out of The Answer, Blackstone Cherry and The Cult. These guys can sing, boy can they sing and it’s so great to hear them. I just love vocalists so Cookie Monsters just don’t do it for me. It’s part of being a musician and being a great band, having a great singer. It’s the icing on the cake.

How many albums do you have in your collection?

As far as records go they’re all back in Melbourne. When I was back there recently I went through the record collection and I found some real beauties. I found a Judas Priest one signed by Glenn Tipton. I found something by The Rods and Raven. I pulled out an old Samson one with Bruce singing. That was fantastic.

As for CD’s I’ve got thousands. I’ve had to chuck loads away when I moved house but a lot of them are in storage. There’s some pretty crappy ones in there. You know the ones where you go “Ooh, I like that song” and you buy the album or you buy it on the strength of a review and it ends up being pretty rubbish. Then buying music is my favourite hobby so if someone reviews an album and says it’s good then I’m willing to give it a shot.

What’s the most embarrassing/worst in your collection?

I don’t think I have that many in there at the moment but originally I’d have to say The Bee Gees but I do actually like the Bees Gees, they’re great and good singers too but I haven’t got as bad as liking Barry Manilow!!.

Have you got around to transferring your albums to an MP3 player?

Yeah, I’ve done all that. I’m not too bad with computers. My kids are pretty damn good with computers so they can help me out. I used to jog a lot with my MP3 player but not so much now as I like to have time to think. When I’ve got music on I can’t think and jogging is really the only time I get on my own. Sometimes I’ll listen to Jet or something like that while I’m jogging, you know pumping Rock stuff.

Australia have produced some great bands over the years such as AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, INXS and Jimmy Barnes. What do you make of these?

That’s who I grew up listening to, all of those guys. INXS are pretty mainstream but Rose Tattoo, I played their records to death. They’re good friends of mine now too. They’re great live, walls full of Marshall’s playing full on Blues Rock. Obviously AC/DC and also Cold Chisel are other unbelievable bands from Australia.

Are there any newer bands out there worth watching out for?

Electric Mary, have a listen to them, they’re fantastic. Also check out Bottle Full of Smoke, I think that’s their name. There’s also a guy called Jack Jones who is a bit of a superstar down in Australia in his own right, had a band called Southern Sons who are great. He also did an album with Gary Beers from INXS called Mudhead. What an album that is, this guy can sing unbelievable and he just shreds like you wouldn’t believe when necessary. He does a little bit with Electric Mary too. If you go onto their website you can get those albums and they really are worth getting hold of. Unfortunately Mudhead never made it mainstream and they ended up falling out and didn’t make another album which is a shame. It’s a pity they didn’t make it big but that’s the problem with Australia, there’s a lot of good bands but they don’t seem to be able to get out and about.

Is it difficult with your schedule to get to many gigs these days or do you still manage to fit a few in?

Only if I’m lucky, if I happen to be in town. I think the last one I saw was Glenn Hughes a couple of weeks ago. Half the time, if there’s a band I want to see it’ll be sold out so I have to make sure I get in there and get the tickets early or use a few connections of mine. I’m a bit unlucky but I do miss it. One of the best gigs I saw, and I just got lucky one day flicking through Time Out, was Love Hate, remember them? They were fantastic, it was a real blast from the past and their first two albums were ones that I played to death at the time.

The first band I ever saw in the UK was Y&T at their legendary Marquee show. It was 150 degrees and I was playing a match the next day at Junior Wimbledon and I came out of there to catch the train home and I was just covered in sweat. It was an amazing gig.

As well as being a fan of music you also play the guitar. At what point did you decide to learn the guitar?

I was about 17. It was pretty late really but Mick Cocks from Rose Tattoo got me my first guitar and taught me a few basic things, how to play 12 Bar Blues and that sort of stuff. That’s how I started getting into the Blues. He just had his Marshall cranked to 11 and that was it. Bit by bit over the years I’m getting better but very slowly. I just never seem to get the time to pick the damn thing up. If I had a place that I could go where it was all set up, have the CDs there and all the tablature and I could just learn the songs and spend a couple of hours every other day it would be great but I just don’t have the time with having kids and moving into a new flat. I haven’t even played a round of golf for over a year so when I tell my friends that… they go “Gee, you have been busy!!”

A guitar is an instrument that requires a lot of time and effort to master. How did you manage to fit this in with your tennis commitments, which in itself must have been very time consuming?

It was actually good on the road as I just took my guitar with me. That was where I started learning. If you were playing the next day you’d train for a good sharp hour then you’d have the rest of the day in your hotel room. 20 years ago hotels had a few movies on but not a lot else. They had “ C N fuckin’ N” as I called it. That’s all we had, flicking around the channels, that was it C N fuckin’ N!!! That was towards the end of my career and before that we didn’t have anything so me and the guys, Vitus Gerulaitis, John McEnroe and whoever, we ‘d ask each other what we had learned. Those guys were into more American stuff like The Cars. We used to hang out and play music together. I was the worst of the lot of them but Vitus was a pretty good player. He loved his Rock music and used to hang around with bands like Van Halen and would get them Wimbledon tickets.

Can you remember the first “real” tune that you knocked out?

That’s a good question, I can’t really remember to tell you the truth. I don’t honestly know but I’m pretty sure that it would be an AC/DC song. Maybe “TNT” or something like that.

Who are your main guitar influences?

There’s so many great guitarists out there, everyone from Alex Lifeson to Rory Gallagher and the Blues guys through to the classic riff guys, Jimmy Page, Joe Perry and Ritchie Blackmore. That sort of stuff you can riff to and you can really enjoy crunching out those songs. I like some of the Blues based guys and some of the faster players like the guys from Metallica, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, that sort of stuff. Tony Iommi is a good player too. That’s the sort of stuff you can learn as a kid, the riffs are not too fast. You can forget about the solos, they’re a bit out of my league but you can play the riffs. In fact both of my boys are into music, one’s playing guitar and the other bass and they learned “Back in Black” and Purple’s “Speed King”. Dave Meneketti from Y&T, now there’s a guitarist, boy can he play. Have you heard his Blues album, On The Blues Side? It’s just unbelievable, it’s one of the all time great Blues guitar albums. He just shreds, he’s so quick and he can sing so well too. I appreciate Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, that’s just like… wow!! You just want to throw away your guitar when you hear that, I just wouldn’t even attempt it.

Steve Vai did a great album with Graham Bonnet in Alcatrazz years ago.

Ohh!! That’s a fantastic album, funnily enough that’s one of the albums I’ve been listening to a lot lately. I think it’s called Disturbing The Peace that one. I love “Wire and Wood” and “Stripper” from that. It’s an unbelievable album. Graham Bonnet is a great singer too.

Was there ever a point where you thought music might have been the direction you headed into?

I wanted to, that would’ve been fantastic but I just didn’t do it as I was doing well at tennis and was enjoying that but I’m definitely a frustrated Rockstar. I suppose it was better that I played tennis, as who knows what sort of state I’d be in now if I played music for a living. I’m much healthier this way!!

You have your own band, The Wild Colonial Boys. When did you put that together?

Well that’s one of the names and sometimes it’s the Pat Cash Band. It’s a loose thing really and every now and again we get together and do a couple of charity things. Andy Barnett from FM comes along and plays. In fact we had a couple of charity gigs where FM were my backing band. We did some cover versions for a bit of fun. It was really just like me joining FM really. There’s also a Welsh guy called Spencer Jones who has sung with Andy in Barnestorming. In Australia I’ve got a couple of mates who I play with. There’s one from a band called Roxus, a melodic Heavy Metal band who were a bit like the Bon Jovi of Australia for a few years.

Most ask if I still have a band but it’s not really a band, it’s just some guys getting together every now and then to play some music. It all started with Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden, who’s been a mate of mine forever since the Number Of The Beast tour or even the one before that. Steve Harris, the bass player, plays really good tennis and Adrian plays well too and it just grew from our friendship and deciding to get a few mates in to play. It’s all relaxed and a bit of fun that started off doing charity events then doing some local gigs.

What sort of material do you play?

We play “Song 2”, “Hush”, AC/DC stuff. Basically we play Classic Rock stuff like Bryan Adams and Nirvana. That sort of stuff where people can come along and stomp their feet and jump up on stage. We do it for a bit of fun. I spend most of my time in the crowd messing around. We just want people to go home after having some fun. People will say that we were better than they expected but that’s because the band is really good and then there’s me!!!

So you’re available for bookings then?

Yeah, pretty much so. On my website there’s a section where you can book the band. Mind you I haven’t done a gig for a couple years so I’ll need to put some practice in. I was playing until last year when I moved into my new flat and I’ve just got my guitar back out of storage.

Have you recorded any material?

I did record a song a long time ago and thought about throwing something out when I was right at the peak of my career. Y&T did a song called “You’re Mamma Don’t Dance” and I mentioned it to Mick Cocks from Rose Tattoo and a couple of the guys back in Australia and they said why we don’t cover that. So we did and got some guest appearances from some tennis players and it was a fun sort of song. We shopped it round a few labels and then 6 months later bloody Poison put it out and had a huge hit with it. Mick said to me “You and your bloody mouth!!” I gave it to a tennis mate of mine who is good mates with a guy at Warners and then Poison from Warners came out with this song. So it was like “You idiot!!” I’m sure they nicked it from us. Our version was way better than theirs too!!

Do you trade a game of tennis for a jam?

I have done so. I’ve played with a few over the years. I actually gave Robert Plant his first ever tennis lesson. He loves tennis but he didn’t teach me how to sing though!! He loves tennis and plays a lot and is always coming along to tennis events. He’s a lovely guy. There’s a funny story when I was teaching Mick Cocks to play and I said “Come on let’s go and meet Robert Plant” . The promoter was a mate of mine and he gave me this headband with some horns on it and Robert came out and said “I thought for a minute you were Jimmy Page there!!” It was very funny.

Are there any musicians or bands out there who you’d love to play with?

It would be endless, there’s just so many. I’d love just to go into the studio and watch some guys jam. I’ve watched David Gilmour and that was just a pleasure. He did some charity stuff with us as well. I’d love to play with the guys from Thin Lizzy, you know, Scott Gorham. I wouldn’t even be bothered about playing I’d just love to get up there and watch them do their stuff. These musicians are just really nice people and for some reason they seem to like golf and tennis.

As well as yourself, Vitus Gerulaitis and John McEnroe were well known for their guitar antics, in fact you did the Full Metal Racket record a while back?

Yeah, we did this thing for charity for the Armenian earthquake. I talked a couple of the guys in Iron Maiden into putting down a track. When I suggested to the charity owner, who had also done the “Smoke on the Water” charity song, to do the song “Rock and Roll” , meaning the Lou Reed song, he went “Oh, yeah, Led Zeppelin!!” I didn’t think we should try to cover a Led Zeppelin song. He made the phone calls and John McEnroe came to play guitar but we wondered who the hell we’d get to sing. Andy Barnett, from FM who played on the record, said why didn’t we get Roger Daltery and I thought good luck to you mate. He approached Daltery and he said he’d do it. He was unbelievable in the studio. I went into the studio and could hear his voice through about four walls and three soundproof rooms and I could still hear him as you came into the reception. I thought “Holy smoke!!” that must be a recording coming out of speakers throughout the studio but it wasn’t, it was him in a little room blasting it out. It was unbelievable how big a voice he had. I thought he did a great version of that especially for a Led Zeppelin cover and especially as that song is not easy to do. It came out pretty good seeing as though I was on it. I did some rhythm parts and John did some rhythm parts and they got someone who could really play to play the lead. I played a bit and did a few twinkly bits at the end. Unfortunately it didn’t make much money as the Lawyers ran off with most of it. Can you believe that?

What is it about tennis that attracts Rockers? Footballers seem to have such dreadful taste in music but tennis just seems so Rock ‘n’ Roll. Why is that?

It used to be, I don’t know about that now though. It may be because it’s slightly rebellious. I suppose tennis was a bit of a glam Rock ‘n’ Roll sport back then with Bjorn Borg, he was the first Rock star of tennis then McEnroe and Gerulaitis came along after that. I think it’s changed since then.

Instead of Cliff Richard singing at Wimbledon have you ever been asked to crank out a couple of tunes?

I think when it’s time to leave they might invite me along to clear the stadium. I’ve actually played with Cliff as well and you know what? Cliff is really good. I was surprised when I saw him playing during rehearsals and he could sing and play good guitar as well. He’s been around for an age and he’s a nice guy too.

You’re also involved in a couple of charities?

Yeah, there’s a couple of charities I actively support. One is called GOAL and is a Third World development and relief charity based in Ireland. It covers disasters and famine relief and it’s a very successful charity. I do some fundraising for them in the UK. You can actually see the good that they are doing. I’ve been out to Calcutta in India to see how well they are doing for the street kids out there. The other one I do is the Orchid Appeal which covers men’s cancer. It’s about awareness and research. Once a year we do a “Men in Pants” walk where you put your boxers over your jeans and go for a walk and try to raise money and awareness for that. One man dies every hour from testicular cancer in the UK which is hard to believe. If you check yourself for lumps and you find something you can get it treated. If you don’t, you might be gone. It’s all about raising men’s awareness of these issues. They’re getting close to finding a vaccine too which is exciting.

You have Wimbledon in the next two weeks. What have you got planned for the coming months?

I’m playing an event out at Celtic Manor in Wales which is a beautiful golf resort but they play a little tennis out there too and that’s the week after Wimbledon. Then I’m bouncing around Europe and The States playing in these Legends events and doing a bit at the US Open as well so I’ve got a very full schedule and I’m playing more tennis now than I have for many, many years. I think people like to see the old guys playing. They know their names and they’re pretty relaxed but there’s still some serious tennis. I think people like to see people they know, they know their style and like to reminisce a little bit. Can you name more than 3 or 4 players on the circuit today? It’s hard even for me, there’s Roddick, Henman, Murray, Nadal, Hewitt and Federer but beyond those, that’s about it. There’s some great players around at the moment but people still like to see some of the old names like Sampras, Ivanisovic, Jim Courier and McEnroe still plays. He’s incredible, he still plays so well. The standard is still very high but not as high as those around today. Nastasie still comes out every now and then for a giggle but Jimmy Connors doesn’t anymore.

What about your band? Anything lined up there?

No, nothing planned at the moment but look out for us one day.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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