The Be Stiff interviews: Jona Lewie

11 Jun

Photo by Nigel Dick

Jona Lewie on playing New York’s Bottom Line as part of the Be Stiff Tour in 1978.

“I was glad of all that live experience. It is like a tennis match where you don’t win. You come out thinking, ‘Right. I’ve learned a lot from that match’ and that was more my attitude. I went forward and even more from having played at The Bottom Line and by then my act was really quite brazen. You had tables and chairs at The Bottom Line where people sat down to drink and have a little bit of food perhaps, that went right to the stage and right out to the little venue. And I just ran out and ran along the tables where all their coffees and drinks and food was, jumped down on to the floor, went around and back on the stage again and carried on singing. And on one of the nights, I just threw myself into the audience. I’ve seen that happen with other people since, so I was quite brazen by then; I’d developed my act. It wasn’t even an act, it was just impulse and desperation to try and make it and try and crack the States. In the sixties, the culture was, ‘If you can make it in the States…’ And indeed, my album was getting airplay all over America, apparently. But frankly Stiff blew it. They didn’t manage to get a label deal with Arista, who they were in negotiation with and there was a reason why Arista was put off them.”

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