WHEN you can count such contrasting fellow artists as Axl Rose and Chrissie Hynde among your fans you know you’re doing something right.
And, though the original 10cc split up a generation ago, their celebrated music has been kept alive and kicking by founder member Graham Gouldman.
For a number of years he has been taking his band out on the road performing the very best from the back catalogue. The latest tour, a sprawling 33 dates, begins at Sheffield City Hall on Thursday, February 24.
10cc had a perhaps unlikely formation in Stockport, but Graham, Eric Stewart, Lol Crème and Kevin Godley then racked up numerous top 10 hits, including Art For Art’s Sake, The Things We Do For Love and Life Is A Minestrone, from 1972 to 1978.
Three of their songs - Rubber Bullets, Dreadlock Holiday and the sublime I’m Not In Love - topped the charts, the latter receiving a BMI citation for five million radio plays in the US.
A prolific writer, Graham also penned hits for The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits and The Yardbirds, later teaming with Andrew Gold as Wax for Bridge To Your Heart.
But he always returns to 10cc.
“It’s the songs really,” he says of the enduring appeal. “Their inventiveness, music, lyrics and originality.”
That said, the iconic I’m Not In Love, a departure from their usual output, might well not have been a single.
“It’s kind of a serious one really. We loved it, but we never thought of it as a single. Up until then we’d avoided writing a love song as it was a bit of a cliché, but we played it to everyone and they said it would be a massive hit.”
Joining Graham on stage these days are Paul Burgess on drums, Rick Fenn on guitar, Mick Wilson on vocals, keyboards and guitar, plus Mike Stevens on keyboards.
Paul has worked with 10cc from the beginning and Rick joined the live band in the mid ‘70s. Mike sometimes has to take time out to tour as musical director to Take That, then replaced by Keith Hayman.
“The band is amazing. I’m not keen on rearranging stuff, I want to hear the songs as originally recorded, and this band enables me to do that. I always look at concerts from the audience point of view. I want the show to be great for you and doing that keeps it fresh for me.
“This is as near as you’re ever going to get to hearing the perfect 10cc. Hit after hit after hit.
“It’s relentless and we show no mercy. It’s a great evening and, do you know, I’ve been to every one and loved it.”
That said, Graham struggles to settle on a definitive 10cc song. “There were so many facets to the band. Nothing represents 10cc and I like them all.
“There’s something about I’m Not In Love. It seems to have a spirituality about it and has a hypnotic quality that affects me even today - and I’ve played it god knows how many times.”
There’s a change to the show this time around in which Graham is his own support act.
“I come on first and sing a few of songs I wrote before 10cc, and gradually bring on the rest of the band,” says the musician who, now in his ‘60s, is still keen to produce new material.
“I’m doing things with new writers and I’ve been talking to Andrew Gold about working together again,” he confirms.
“We always loved writing together.”