George Breakfast has been writing songs for longer than he can care to remember, it's an obsession and a compulsion, yet you may never have heard of him. Those who have can hardly forget his beautiful melodies and poetic lyrics. He's like a wandering minstrel, a nomad, taking his songs wherever he chooses and collecting fans as he goes.
George's latest single entitled Gypsy Soul encapsulates his own carefree spirit. “ My mother wasn't a gypsy, but she behaved like one. We traveled all over the world, I went to lots of different schools. That got me started, so I can't stay anywhere really.” Even though he's been 'based' in Cambridge for 15 years, he still doesn't feel settled and gets itchy feet, “ I like going out and playing, more than ever.”
George's love of music and travel was certainly informed at a young age “ever since I was very young I've had tunes going through my head. My Dad wasn't a musician, but he was very passionate about music.” His earliest musical memories of hearing his dad sing old songs at home were soon to be broadened when his family moved to South Africa in 1955. Hearing the African drums and songs on the radio at night were to become a big influence for George and form a life long love of African rhythms and lately Motown and soul music.
After playing in bands Smokey and Rocksoff in the late 60s, George started busking in London and Paris. During the 1970's he traveled all over Europe performing as a street musician. Even though he was performing as much as he could, his musical adventure seemed to lack something as George explains.
“Playing in London does not guaranteed stardom. I'd sooner play on the street, I'd make more friends.” He quips, “that's how moving around is for me, it's about making new friends.” It was the quest to make new friends that prompted him to go to New York. “ I always wanted to go to New York, my then girlfriend had already been there, I had some and friends living there and I decided to just go there and see what happened. I stayed there for 9 years.” George was once described as a one-way tourist, which seems like a pretty accurate description.
Once he was in the Big Apple, George found himself caught up in a bustling roots music scene. “I still marvel at this because in my hometown of London I never had a lot of luck but I showed up in New York and landed on my feet.” As an integral part of this roots scene, George found himself sharing the scene with the likes of Holmes Brothers, Blues Traveller, The Spin Doctors and Joan Osborne – who also performed several of George's songs live. His stable mates from the New York scene may have gone on to achieve fame, but George stayed out of the limelight focusing on his songs, many of which are still performed by other artists to this day, which is quite a coup! “ As a songwriter to have other artists perform your work, that's maybe the best feeling. As a singer, you hear a song and think 'I want to sing that' and you start to figure it out so you can sing it. That feeling is a great feeling and the fact that someone had that response to a song that I had written is absolute magic.”
When he returned to the UK in 1991 he took an opportunity to catch up on the last decade of British music and found that he wasn't best impressed. “When I came back to England, what had been going on musically in England had more or less passed me by. Some things cross the Atlantic and some don't. The one thing that I regret missing, but I had fun catching up with was The Smiths. I came back to England and they were like folk heroes. That's the only thing I can think of from English pop music in the 80s that really worked for me.”
Since then he's continued to write and perform with his latest recording being the Strawhouse Sessions; a 6 track live EP which he describes as an 'absolute ball.' “You can get really bogged down with recording and live recording is very relaxing I play music all the time. I just went in and had fun singing these songs and it sounds natural and live.”
With other musical projects already in the pipeline, George shows no signs of slowing down, but he is very mindful that many people of his 'vintage' find it difficult to write songs, or have stopped altogether, but he feels blessed that he is still able to find inspiration to continue his love of songwriting. “I'm really obsessed with writing songs. I'm going to go for a walk in a couple of hours, and like it or not I'll come back with a song idea in my head. I feel lucky.”
George's passion for writing heartfelt and honest songs has ensured his longevity. The fact that singers still perform his songs and the advent of social media has allowed more people to discover his work demonstrate the power of a great song. George has the heart of a true creative, one who is driven by the love for what they do and in a world of manufactured music we are lucky to still have writers like George who represent the true spirit of songwriting.
The Strawhouse Sessions is out now.