A year and a half ago, a singer/songwriter by the name of Ian Brown was booked to play the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival in Dorset. No, not that Ian Brown of Stone Roses fame, but rather freelance consultant and former pig farmer Ian Brown, a part-time musician who’s been dabbling in music for the past 40 years or so.
Not that some of the crowd members at the festival were aware of that; they had come to festival specifically for what they thought was a low-key acoustic gig from the Manchester icon. A touch of heckling later, and Ian, freelance consulting Ian who lives in the New Forest, decided to write a song based on his case of mistaken rock’n’roll identity. The song, ‘Me 2’, by The Other Ones, imagines average folk with rock star names, and the trials and tribulations of their lives. He’s also started a project, asking people who share names with famous musicians to come forward at The Other Ones – so far Neil Young and Jessie J have signed up. Listen to ‘Me 2’ below, and then hear from Ian Brown – or Ian W Brown as he now goes by, just in case.
So what exactly happened at the festival?
Ian: “I’d never done a festival before and so was a little bit nervous. I got up there, it was only a very small stage and a couple of people had come down from Stockport to see Ian Brown – they thought he was doing a low-key gig. Someone had an Ian Brown t-shirt on! Anyway, it was highly embarrassing but made the crowd laugh and I got through it. At the end I thought it could turn nasty but they were quite friendly.”
Has anyone ever got you mixed up with the real Ian Brown before?
Ian: “Yeah – I sold out a venue the following year in two hours, but then I had to offer a refund. Of the tickets that were sold in the two hours a lot were refunded – so there were only 11 people coming to see me. That was in Bournemouth. Also, when I used to live in London, whenever I used to order a cab, a few cabbies thought they were going to pick up their hero and then they picked up me! I’d say ‘you’re disappointed, aren’t you?’ and they’d say ‘yeah’.”
How long have you been singing and writing songs?
“On and off for the last 40 years but it’s just a bit of fun. I did once try and do it for real in 1986 when I was in a terrible reggae band called Stepping Out. We were signed to a little label that never did anything, but we had a great year trying to make it. Then the year after I was working on a farm and I heard the Stone Roses on the radio and thought they were great. Turned out the lead singer was called Ian Brown. I thought it was hilarious. I do folk music now, it’s a long way from the Stone Roses!”
Have you ever met the other Ian Brown?
“I met him once in a street and said ‘we share the same name’ and I said I wrote a song about it. He just said ‘nice one’ and shook my hand.”
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Why did you decide to write a sad song about the fact that some people share names with celebrities?
“Because we all think that, for a celebrity, everything’s groovy but it’s probably just as shit in real life. Or it’s great, depending on what day of the week it is, or if you’ve just got paid. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s all the same, we all get lonely and we all get blue.”
You researched people who share names with musicians using 192.com, did you find the most popular rock star name in the UK?
“I would imagine David Grey or something like that was probably the biggest. Your bank manager could be called David Grey. The one that I was most wowed by was Robert Marley. There were two Robert Marley’s in Norwich. I imagine Neil Young’s pretty popular too.”