Des Tong


Des Tong

Des Tong joined the band when John Stimpson didn’t want to continue after 1980. Des was bassist with the band on Ole and has appeared on all subsequent recordings.

Outside of the band, he has his own production company and recording projects and has worked extensively with Alvin Stardust’s touring band.

He teamed up with the other band members as they completed Paul’s final recordings in Sweden.

Over to Des himself:

I always wanted to play the drums when I was a kid, but my Dad (who was a great pianist) had other ideas. One day when I was about 10 he came home with a battered old double bass he’d got from a friend and Tongo’s career in music began.

At that time my school didn’t have any music policy, and I used to have lessons in the cricket pavilion at lunch time. One day I was a couple of minutes late for afternoon registration and was hauled out in front of the class and told in no uncertain terms to stop wasting my time on something that would never do me any good in my future life. (I still remember the teacher’s name!) Strange that another ex-pupil called Mick Hucknall had quite a lot to say about his school days.

Anyway I progressed to an old Hofner Verithin Bass and formed a soul band with some mates called "The Reaction" playing in local youth clubs. Very soon I bought my first proper bass, a Fender Precision and joined my first proper band with established local musos called The Henderson Chambers Band

At the time I was working at the Midland Bank in Oldham and gigging 4 nights a week with the band. Pretty soon it became obvious that music was taking priority in my life and so I left to become a full time "Pro".

Soul was really big and I toured the UK backing major soul singers from the States such as Inez & Charlie Foxx, Fontella Bass, and Joe Tex, regularly appearing at the legendary "Twisted Wheel" in Manchester. On one occasion we did a "double" with the first gig at the Boston Gliderdrome in Lincolnshire on stage at 8pm and the second at the Twisted Wheel on stage at 3 in the morning! One of the acts we backed was a Liverpudlian vocal group called "The Chants" who offered me a job as their musical director. My first gig was in Brussels working with a 15 piece orchestra at a club called "Chez Paul au Gaiety".

From there we went to Palma, Majorca for a season in "Titos" and then on to Germany where we toured American bases. We supported the Four Tops and Curtis Mayfield.

Not a bad life at 20.

When I left the Chants I toured with Emile Ford as a Checkmate, and then backed an American Jazz singer called Mona Richardson for a season at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, and also performed at the London Palladium.

Various bands later I was part of "The Real Thing" touring the UK and Spain and spending most of my life in a Transit Van. I had a ball when I worked as MD for Jimmy Helms (later with LondonBeat) who became a great friend, but I found my services were becoming more and more in demand as a session player in and around Manchester.(Don’t tell anyone, but I played on Matchstalk Men by Brian & Michael which went to No.1).

I can’t remember all of the artistes I worked with, but around this time I was regularly working with Ian Wilson & Paul Young later to be Sad Café.

At one point I was in 5 bands at the same time playing soul, jazz-funk, rock, blues and old standards.

Then came Sad Café. John Stimpson had decided to move to the management side and as I was already playing sessions for the band it was a logical step to tour full time.

We were one of the best live rock bands around and during this time played both at Glastonbury and Reading Festivals as well as numerous tours of the UK and Europe.

A famous muso saying is "Too much month at the end of the money" and as a result we all started getting involved in extra projects. I’d had an offer from the BBC to produce Radio 1 sessions, (my first production was Simply Red’s first radio session) and went on to work with acts such as Erasure, Spear of Destiny, Richard Thompson and loads more I can’t recall.

I was being asked to produce various projects and Nigel Martin-Smith approached me to work with an act called Damian. He wanted a dance version of the cult track "The Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Show. Never one to resist a challenge I produced the track which went to No7 in the Charts and sold over 250,000 copies earning me a Silver Disc. (Not bad considering you can get a No1 with 40,000 sales now!!!)

I went on to produce Tony Christie, Edwin Starr and loads of local bands before meeting a girl singer called Cissy Stone. We wrote an album together and formed a band called "Rhythmism" playing loads of clubs and supporting Joe Cocker at the NEC.

I was still doing sessions and one of the most memorable gigs was playing at the NEC with Engelburt Humperdinck with a 32 piece orchestra in front of 40,000 screaming women!! And yes they did throw their knickers. Gross!!!!!

In 1994 I was given an opportunity I couldn’t resist. An old friend I had met years earlier in Birmingham had set up a computer games company called US Gold. They were expanding and needed a Head of Music to run various game projects but with experience in the Music Industry.

I now had my own "state-of-the-art" studio and was awarded 95% in the Games Magazines for the music on Johnny Bazookatone my first project. I also composed the soundtracks for another hit game "Rollcage", and created SFX and music for The Incredible Hulk.

In 1997 I helped form AudioMotion, Europe’s leading Motion Capture studio complete with animation and audio facilities. During my time there I worked on the films Gladiator & Enemy At The Gates, music videos: Sweet Like Chocolate, Dope Smugglaz, Scootch, and animation projects with Steve Coogan, John Culshaw, Lara Croft and recorded both Robbie Williams and Michael Owen for games.

We created a system to capture the facial movements of actors whilst recording their voice at the same time using reflective sensors on the face

I am still actively involved in composing music and creating SFX for many interesting projects, the latest being a DVD game of Catchphrase.

I have however also formed a management company with my friend Cissy Stone called Underarm Productions. Our first signing is a young singer / songwriter from Birmingham called Tara Chinn. She has just finished recording her first album at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. The album was mixed by Bob Clearmountain in LA.

She’s signed to a new label called Zest and she’s currently rehearsing for a short tour before going to the States where there is major interest, so watch this space...