Ian Thorpe, the man at the desk
interviewed by Mike Finney of The Minstrel Newsletter

      Do you take the superb Amazing Blondel sound for granted? Do you ever wonder who twiddles the knobs at the back of the room? Next time you're at a gig spare a thought for sound engineer, Ian Thorpe, who will be working hard to keep John, Terry and Eddie sounding just perfect.

      "After twenty three years, they've lost nothing except their hair. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Amazing Blondel." The man acting as MC and introducing the band with such comments as, "Please turn off your mobile phones because they may interfere with John's pacemaker." is none other than Ian Thorpe. Ian is Amazing Blondel's sound engineer, roadie, tea maker, general assistant and one of their biggest fans.
      In his day job, Ian is managing director of W&T Ultrasonics, an audio company serving the entertainment industry. The company, based in Brigg, North Lincolnshire, was started by Ian's father, Bert and his business partner, Alan Watson, in 196l and provided sound equipment for many local and national bands throughout the beat boom of the 'sixties. Bands may have come and gone and musical styles have changed but UItrasonics have gone from strength to strength.
      "At present we have an on going contract to provide sound for The Blues Band" Ian explains "... and we provide sound equipment for a number of universities and entertainment venues." In recent years Ian has worked with top international names such as The Lighthouse Family and Tori Amos. While away on tour, Ian happened to bump into and old acquaintance of Amazing Blondel. "While I was with Tori Amos, on her world tour, Dave Stewart came to see the show in New York. After the show the opportunity arose to mention to him we had mutual acquaintances back in Scunthorpe. He was keen to know how John, Terry and Eddie were keeping and what they were doing." Dave Stewart, who went on to fame in the Eurythmics, supported Blondel as part of the folk duo, Stewart and Harrison back in the 'seventies and at one time even wanted to join the band.

      The connection between Ultrasonics and Amazing Blondel is not new. They have been servicing John and Terry's equipment (Sound equipment, that is!) since the mid 'sixties. "They first came to us when John and Terry were in their first band, 'The Dimples'. We followed their career as 'Gospel Garden', 'Methuselah' and finally as Amazing Blondel." Ian recalls. "During the 'seventies they had their own Sims-Watt P.A. system which they always brought to us to service and maintain or make up new cables."

      Ian has been a fan of Amazing Blondel since the early days and jumped at the chance of mixing sound for the band. "I'd kept in contact with Terry through the music business lo-cally and when he told me that they would be doing some live shows again, 1 offered to do the duo, Stewart and Harrison back sound." Ian explained. "I'd always been very envious of the original roadies and here I am, all those years later, doing the job I always wanted."

      Ian is no stranger to the stage himself. An accomplished guitarist, vocalist and song writer, he has worked in several bands and been a recording artist in his own right before concentrating on his career on the other side of the microphone. "I was in a heavy rock band called 'Warlord' for a while, we played a lot around the Lincoln area. I was then in a band called 'Monroe', which was much more commercial, doing cover versions and that kind of thing." There was another Amazing Blondel connection concerning the recording of Monroe's single, 'Poor Boy'. It was recorded at the Studio Playground at Wragby in Lincolnshire, a studio co-owned by Andy Dransfield who now owns Chapel Studios near Louth where 'Restoration' was recorded.
      "I asked Terry to produce us", said Ian "and he knew Andy and so we used the studio at Wragby. I suppose that the single has become something of a collectors piece to Amaz-ing Blondel fans because of the connections with the band."
      Ian considers himself very lucky to be doing something that he really enjoys for a liv-ing. Having been a fan for so many years, being out on the road with the band is like a dream come true.

Autumn 1998

 Mike Finney interview      Empson interview