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The John McLaughlin Story

  • Wednesday 10th of April 2013 02:41:38 PM
  • Posted by Katie Bond

Caleidra's producer, John McLaughlin...

The Music Biz Guru talks about Caleidra and recalls his memories of the acts starring in ITV's 'The Big Reunion'.

John McLaughlin who produced Caleidra's latest single, "Miss Me" is also working with Caleidra on her forthcoming EP, due for release in the autumn 2013. He saw Caleidra performing on TV and describes how "he had to work with her"...

She is a massive talent!

John McLaughlin was the songwriter and producer who launched his own highly successful career with the group 911, one of the bands featured in ITV's show, 'The Big Reunion'. He went on to work with most of the acts appearing in the show, such as 5ive, Liberty X and the Honeyz. The bands sold 50 million records around the world between them.

He went on to write hit songs for Westlife, Blue and Take That’s Mark Owen among many others and has worked closely with the movers and shakers of the music world, including Simon Cowell.

He said: “911 gave me my first proper hits. I was living in Glasgow and me and my mate Gordon Goudie, who happens to be in Echo & The Bunnymen now, were knocking out these tracks in his kitchen. It maybe wasn’t the glamour you associate with making hit records. We had a kind of punk rock ethos of just getting a band going. We just thought, ‘Let’s try to make a pop record’."

John worked and competed in the charts with The Big Reunion groups “At the same time, a DJ-turned-manager called Steve Gilmour was putting 911 together and he ended up living across the street from me in Glasgow. We were becoming writers and producers, he was putting 911 together and by accident we met and thought, ‘Okay, you’ve got the band, we’ve got the songs and production’ and that was it. In one week, Gordy and I had written Bodyshakin, which is the band’s biggest hit, Don’t Make Me Wait, which went straight in the Top 10, and five other tracks, four of which were hits and one of which was on the album. That was a good week – and all from that one-bedroom flat in Glasgow.


As the hits followed, including Love Sensation and Don’t Make Me Wait, he started to attract the attention of the major players he would later work with, including Simon Cowell, who wanted him to work with 5ive.“911’s UK fan base started to appear and then the next couple of singles went Top 20 and Top 10. That was when the phone began to ring. “Funny enough, Simon Cowell really liked 911. That’s how we met. He had a boyband at the time that they were spending a lot of money on and we were outselling them on £10 from a flat in Partick. I think Simon liked that. I remember having a couple of meetings with him early on and he liked the songs and production and was interested in what we could do. After that, Simon came to me and said, ‘I am putting a band together called 5ive – do you want to get involved?’ I wrote the song When The Lights Go Out for 911 but Virgin Records, who had signed them, didn’t like it. I played it to Simon and he nearly bit my arm off for it. To date, it has been my biggest-selling record because it was Top 10 in America for six months and we won a BMI million airplay award. It just shows you, Simon is a genius. He worked a masterstroke with that one even back then. He definitely knew what he was doing. That got me in with Simon, then it was Westlife and I went on a roll from there.”

In The Big Reunion, the bands featured are brought back together to talk over the highs and lows of their past before being put back into training for a concert at the end of the series.

911 singer Lee Brennan, who is still friends with John, told him about the show. When he heard about all the artists taking part, he felt a distinct case of deja vu, having worked with most of them. He said: “It’s kind of weird. When Lee called to tell me about the show, he kept mentioning the names 5ive, Liberty X, Honeyz and I kept saying, ‘I’ve done a record with them’, ‘I’ve done a record with them’ and ‘I’ve done a record with them’.

“I was too busy to get involved in the show but I imagine my name might have popped up because I have had hits with just about all of them.”


John – who has also worked with Busted and Echo & the Bunnymen and was a songwriting mentor on the BBC’s Fame Academy coaching winners David Sneddon and Alex Parks – is now working with 16 year old Caleidra, whom he describes as the youngest person he's worked with where he didn't need to change her songs. "She is a huge talent. She really has something".

"She has a really exciting future ahead!"

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