The 70’s was an era that brought about a huge change in the music business. Groups such as Earth,Wind & Fire and The Commodores were topping the charts in the U.S., and a new style of music emerged on the scene that would revolutionize the music industry forever…..DISCO! It took the world by storm and discoteques sprang up everywhere. No one can ever forget the famous Studio 54, which established New York as the party central in the U.S. Meanhwhile, in Europe, the same explosion was occurring, and Germany was at the center of this transformation. One man in particular, Frank Farian, paved the way for many groups to get their start in the business with his vision and his direction. One such group that he created was called Eruption, and the group’s lead singer was a young, talented beauty named Precious Wilson. With her as the front figure, Eruption became one the most popular groups of the era, with hit singles, amongst others, One Way Ticket and I Can’t Stand The Rain. It has been my sincere pleasure to know Precious for several years and I was truly delighted when she agreed to offer me a candid interview.
What was your childhood like?
I had a wonderful childhood. Education was a priority. Discipline was very strict in my school and the academic standards were very high. I remember having a real sense of freedom and a very happy childhood.
Any musical influences that you dreamed about becoming or being as famous as when you grew up?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved to sing and entertain.
There was always music in our house; and I can still recall the day my mother took me to my very first live concert in our home town of Kingston, Jamaica. It was to see a singer called Nancy Wilson.
Growing up I was exposed to many musical influences including Gospel, and Rhythm & Blues. I consider myself very lucky, because I grew up in an era of really great singers, such as Sam Cooke, Sam & Dave, Mahalia Jackson. Country Music and Ska music were my regular favourites. This combined with the home-grown music of Lovers Rock, Reggae and Calypso, Rock and Roll, and Classical Music, were all just a way of life for me.
What made you want to be a part of the music business?
My entry into the music business was not planned. In fact, the whole thing, I would say, was fate and part of my purpose. My original idea for my career was to be a graphic designer, or an architect, because I was very good at art, painting and drawing etc.
You were a part of Eruption, or shall we say, basically, ARE Eruption! How did that whole connection come about?
Thank you for your kind words. Again, I would say it was meant to be. I met the guys by chance.
What was it like working with Frank Farian and how did you feel about the other group, Boney M, also started about the same time as Eruption?
Working with Frank Farian was very easy to me. I was able to be myself, and express my own vocal style. I get on very well with all the members of Boney M. I was especially close to Bobby Farrell.
Eruption started back in 1974. We chose to play together as a group, organically.
We were the support act for Boney M’s very first tour in continental Europe. Those were really exciting, fun times… “The good old days!” But, eventually, when our song I Can’t Stand The Rain started entering the charts internationally, Eruption stopped touring with Boney M, and we started our own tours, promoting our own songs.
What was the music industry like then when you first came on the scene?
When I came into the music business, the industry was totally different from how it is today. In those days artists would be given large financial advances payments from the record companies. There were more opportunities to sell more records.
Record companies were more willing to take a risk and invest in new artist long term. Your fan base grew from having the talent and the ability to do tour and live shows. Generally, singers had to really be able to sing; and there was no Internet, no MTV, and no Facebook. The artist was more able to make a living from being in the entertainment industry, and your intellectual copyright was protected. Nowadays, some people feel entitled to download your music for free, with little or no thought about whether or not the artist makes a living, or get paid for their work and their creativity.
How was it to deal with all the changes in the music industry?
Dealing with all these changes of success was not difficult for me, because at the time, I was not aware how popular we were; so it wasn’t an issue to deal with, I was too concerned and focused on being the best I could be.
I believe that my survival and the longevity of my career is due to my passion for singing, my experience, expertise that has developed over the years, and most of all, of my ability to perform live concerts.
Were you a part of the music making process with Eruption?
All five members of the group Eruption were involved in the process of making the music and writing the songs, whether credited or not. Obviously, in my solo projects and career, I was able to contribute even more, but generally there was a sense of equality in the band.
What did it feel like to perform in front of all those huge audiences and all those different places around the world?
It was and is a privilege and it’s still exciting to perform in front of huge audiences all around the world. Every audience is different, and you have a sense that you’re always proving yourself at every performance.
For me the size of the audience is not important, whether it’s three people or 30,000 people, I will still give the same effort because I know that they left their home, and pay their money, to come and watch my performance. I never take my audience for granted.
The 80’s brought a lot of change that paved the way musically for the 90’s. What changes did you have to go through musically and professionally once the 90’s came into full swing?
An artist always has ‘to go with the flow’, be flexible, reinvent themselves, and adapt to the changes in the business. I also believe that you have to be true to yourself, and ‘be you’, because ultimately that’s what makes you stand out from the rest; and that’s exactly what I did.
What was your favorite memory from the 80’s and 90’s?
My favourite memories of the 80’s and 90’s are the days of launching my single with the producers Stock Atkins and Waterman. Also, working and collaborating with James Brown, Elton John, recording the 20th Century Fox soundtrack to the Michael Douglas movie “The Jewel of The Nile” and touring the USSR and promoting solo my singles, including my Billboard chart song “I’ll Be Your Friend”.
And what was your worst memory?
My worst memories were the initial challenges that I faced as I made business changes to my management and to the record companies. I remember how I had to take off my artist hat, and put on my business hat, in order to move forward and step up to the next level of my development as an artist and a business woman.
You have been solo for several years now. How does that compare to being in Eruption for you? Or being part of a group, in general?
It was fun being in a group. Especially as a young teenager; we were like family, we took on every challenge together. Things seemed easier because we were a united as a group. Being in the Eruption was important to help me be who I am today. Had I not been in the band, my story would be different.
Going solo to me was a natural process that had to take place as part of my journey, although at first it was very daunting, my faith spiritually and my hard work, and the goodwill from my audience and fans, along with the right songwriters and producers; I was able to maintain my popularity in my solo career.
I am the owner of the trademark to the name Eruption, so I currently do tours as Precious Wilson and also under the name of Eruption.
How would you describe music changes in music from 80’s and 90’s with the music scene today?
When I compare the music from the ‘80s and ‘90s to the music scene today, I would say that the Internet has made a profound difference. As the artist, you can now do most things yourself, and produce, market, and profit from your own music.
Nowadays everyone has more opportunities to get their music out to their fans; the Internet is a great platform to build a career and any business in any niche, not only in the music industry.
What new experiences and musical challenges have you been able to open yourself to, since Eruption disbanded?
The new experiences that have opened up to me since leaving the band are with regards to taking control of my career, being more involved in the business side of the industry, and all the things that stem from my creativity. I now make my own decisions, hire additional business brains, and have creative control.
I released my first solo album in the 80’s. I understand the music industry much better now than I ever did. Over the years I’ve gained experience and I’ve developped my expertise. My biggest lesson is that music is a BUSINESS.
Are you still on good terms with the other bandmembers?
Unfortunately, I do not see the other members of the band very often, because they live in Germany and I’m in London. As a band we achieved success around the world. I am grateful to them and Frank Farian for being a part of my journey, and that will never change. I respect and appreciate each one of them; in the knowledge that we were blessed enough to have achieved so much, it was truly special.
Tell us about your life away from the stage. What else do you occupy your time with? Any Hobbies? Projects?
In my spare time I’m learning the guitar, and I am creating a company called The Vocal Touch, which helps people develop their voice and mentors new artists just starting out. Although over the years, as my career has grown, and I was living the high-life, I felt something was missing, I wanted to make a difference.
The creation of my company, The Vocal Touch, is the result of my desire to inspire others, and share my knowledge and experience about the voice, presentation, performance, and survival in a very competitive entertainment music business.
Every Olympic champion has a coach. Coaches are what I call “the change agents”; they bring light to the options and opportunities available to the student. What I do at The Vocal Touch is really about partnering with people to raise their awareness of the potential of their own greatness. I’m really excited to facilitate this. My mission is “to help ordinary people do extraordinary things, using their voice”.
Many artists devote their time and energy to many different social causes. Is there one particular cause you feel strongly about and what have you been able to do to further it?
Over the years I’ve taken part in awareness campaigns against heroin drug addiction in young people. This year I will also be supporting the Sickle Cell Society here in the UK. Sickle Cell Anemia disease is passed down through families.
Normal red blood cells are round like doughnuts, and they move through small blood tubes in the body to deliver oxygen. Sickle red blood cells become hard, sticky and shaped like sickles used to cut wheat. When these hard and pointed red cells go through the small blood tube, they clog the flow and break apart. This can cause pain, damage and a low blood count, or anemia.
Being in the music business makes it really difficult with having a personal life sometimes. Have you been able to balance career and personal life without too much difficulty?
It’s so important to have balance in life in general, and it’s especially important in the music business. I have always had a loving family and good friends. I feel very blessed to have had so much love, happiness and contentment in my personal life throughout the years.
What plans do you have for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
Generally, I like to stay present and make every moment count, but in answer to your question, my plans for the future are to release some new songs, continue to build The Vocal Touch, publish my first book, and to do a world tour.
Five years from now I see myself healthy, happy and fulfilled.
If you have your choice of anywhere on the planet you would love to live, where would it be?
It would continue to live between Europe, the US and the Caribbean.
Romania is a country that remembers very well your big hit song One Way Ticket. It would be great to see you perform in Romania in the future. Do you have any plans on coming to Romania?
Yes, the song One Way Ticket has been a blessing. I will be in Romania, in Bucharest, on the 25th of October 2013.
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Editor’s Note: At the time that this article went to „bed”, Precious has been approached to do a special event in Romania, in November, together with two up and coming Romanian DJ’s, known as The Gemini Brothers, who we will also bring an interview with shortly. Stayed tuned for details!
Photos: personal archive, courtesy of Mrs. Precious WilsonSemnat de Brad Vee Johnson