PAUL and Mike Dobie are the kind of musicians it is hard not to have instant respect for.
They have been making music almost as long as they’ve been on the planet and by virtue of talent and bags of hard work, they have a life which involves jetting to Monaco every fortnight to play gigs to audiences which include the Royal Family.
On a recent trip to the French Riviera, Caroline Corr and Eddie Jordan joined the St Annes lads on stage for a jam. Impressive company indeed.
The pair – who went to St Joseph’s College in Blackpool - could have carried on as they are, playing covers, earning good money, and entertaining high-profile admirers.
But affected greatly by the death of their mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease, the brothers penned a heartfelt song called The Beauty And The Beast. That song turned into an album and after recording it with mates from the music world including members of The Hollies, Cornershop and Clannad, the record - Songs From The Pale Blue Marble – is now available to buy.
Describing his mother, Anne, and how the record came about, Paul, 50, who lives on Cypress Point, said: “The crazy thing about my mother was that as ill as she was with Alzheimer’s – and she was ill, she needed 24 hour care – she still knew how to do things like ballroom dance. It never left her, and these are the kind of things we tried to write in to a song.
“Three days before she died I took her back to my house. She had no idea where she was but I took her into lounge, where I’ve got a baby grand piano. This is someone who couldn’t go to the loo by herself but she sat at the piano and played Chopin flawlessly.
“Alzheimer’s is a condition which is so hard to understand and so when we lost our mum, my brother and I, to try and come to terms with it, wrote this song (The Beauty And The Beast) about how her condition affected us.
“It was so therapeutic to do it. We played it at our mum’s funeral and we felt we really needed to get a recording of it.
“When we got in the studio other songs grew out of it and we started putting an album together.
“Because we’ve been in the music industry a long time, we’ve got to know a lot of people so we managed to get some very good people on board to help us.”
He’s not kidding. Pete Howard (singer in The Hollies, Cliff Richard’s lead guitarist), Ian Parker (keyboard player in The Hollies and Clannad), Alan Gregson (keyboards for Cornershop), Andy Flynn (son of renowned local musician Frank Flynn), Paul Burgess (formerly in 10cc) and Heath Lavery (a talented violinist), to name a few, were all involved in the project.
The songs on the album deal with a range of issues, like the banking crises of the last few years (What Could Possibly Go Wrong?) and revolution in the Middle East (Arab Spring), but there’s no doubt the track which means most to the brothers is the tune about their late mother.
They shot a video for it (which you can see on Youtube) after being approached by Age Concern.
It has been invigorating for Paul to make an album for despite a lengthy career in the business he has only released two other records – the self-penned Living On The Edge in 1994 and a covers album.
He’s not really had time to record more because he’s so busy gigging.
After growing up in St Annes, Paul basically busked his way around the world, including spells on cruise ships and in Korea and Japan.
Thirty years on, he – and his brother Mike – still gig non-stop and have a lifestyle that sounds the very definition of glamour, including a rather nice regular booking on the French Riviera.
“I know the Walker family that used to own Blackburn Rovers. I played at Jack’s last ever birthday party and I do loads for the family,” explained Paul.
“When Jack died, Howard his son, who inherited 25 per cent to the trust, moved to Monaco.
“He asked me and my brother to go out and play a gig and one of people at gig was Princess Charlene’s father. From that Michael and I were asked to play at Prince Albert’s birthday party in the palace at Monaco.
“It was just dumb luck, just the fact he was there and saw us.
“But that led to us doing loads of other stuff, like the engagement party for the Royal couple Princess Charlene’s birthday the following year.
“We are going out in April to do a charity event with them, which we did last year, where the family all cycle from St Tropez to Monaco, then have a big party in the evening and that’s where we play.
“We did it last year with Eddie Jordan and his band and Caroline Corr, from the Corrs. We all got on stage and jammed together. It was quite something.”
Then there’s Hong Kong. “I played at somebody’s wedding and one of the guys there was from a big pharmaceutical company,“ added Paul. “This fella’s job was to take medical students out there and he asked me to go out and just entertain them when they were in conferences.”
Nice work if you can get it – but this year is about something more personal, the album.
“We are going to get out and promote this record as much as we can because it means so much to us,” said Paul.
“A lot of people that have been through the same experience as us (having a relative with Alzheimer’s) and it is just about discussing it. We are putting our experience out there, through word and music.”
The album is available on iTunes and Spotify and will be on sale at gigs (Paul Dobie gigs regularly around Blackpool and Lytham St Annes).
It is also available to buy from www.thedobiebrothers.co.uk