"It proved to be a first-rate idea and now I'm getting to really like the place — it's certainly been a lucky city for me. Now I'm getting to know the place real well I'm enjoying it even more." This time round, Eugene was in town on a short promotional visit, laying the ground for what he hopes will be a big breakthrough with British audiences.
NOW working mainly out of Philadelphia, where he records, Eugene is a native son of Miami, a city which, in its mix of peoples, is not dissimilar to London.
"One thing I like about both places is that even in the so-called ethnic areas you find a complete mix of races — Latins, Blacks, Whites, Chinese and so on.
"It suits me because I'm a real mixture myself. I've got cousins in Colombia and there are also Puerto Ricans, Bahamians, and Chinese in our family. Oh yeah, and I'm part Cherokee Indian and part white foo! Then, of course, there's the African connection!" 25-year old Eugene is one of eight children (five boys and a girl) and was bom on December 6, 1961.
"My father was a professional R&B singer years ago and mum is a gospel keyboard player. I'm child number-six and those ahead of me were already well into music when I started out. Seriously though I can't remember ever not playing music. We are all very close, with ages ranging between 20 and 30 and we are all in the business still.
"I learned drums, keyboards, bass, guitar and even trumpet — but I gave up 'cause it hurt my lips! We'd all teach each other and we grew up with all types of music — soul, gospel, jazz, rock 'n' roll and so on.
"The family group had been working professionally for quite a time before I joined, at age 11. We'd do lots of talent shows, 'battle of the band' type things, and we'd play support to acts like Betty Wright and Jimmy Bo Home, or even play in their backing bands.
"We cut quite a few demos and worked under a variety of names. The problem was that we'd choose a name then find it was already being used by someone else! We've been the Chevrons, the Shades of Brown, Exquisite Jive, Life, La Voyage, Broomfield Corporate Jam — Broomfield's our real family name — and so on.
"Tight Connection was one of our best names and we cut a song called 'Do What You Wanna Do' only to find that a group from the Bahamas had called themselves T. Connection, recorded a song called 'Do What You Wanna Do' and landed a deal with TK in Miami."
AS La Voyage, the Broomfield family cut an album titled "Never Looking Back Again". Explained Eugene: "It was never released commercially but was essentially a demo album which we used to get work. It landed us a 15-week South American tour which took us to Peru and Colombia. That trip was a real eye-opener. They have these massive, lavish night clubs down there like we don't even have in the States.
"There's a lot of poverty but those who've got money have real money and they are the ones who go to the clubs." With their name by now changed to Simplicious
, the group sent a copy of that demo album to Philly World Records. "They liked our sound but didn't think the material was strong enough so with Mickie Horton, who is still my co-writer some two-and-a-half years later, I wrote a song called 'Let Her Feel If and Philly World released it.
"I sang lead and the record did fairly well for us. The rest of the family had so much happening back home in Miami — they are now all in different groups doing different things — that they encouraged me to go solo, though when I get back to Miami my next project is to get the family together again for another record."
THOUGH essentially written in London, Eugene's debut album, titled simply "Eugene Wilde", was recorded at Philly World's Alpha Sound Studios in Philadelphia — "Which is where I've made all my records" — and from it the debut solo single "Gotta Get You Home Tonight" shot to the top of the American black music charts, earning Eugene the accolade of the year's "Top New Male Artist" from both Cashbox and Billboard, the two influential music trade papers.
Lifted from his follow-up album, "Serenade", the single "Don't Say No (Tonight)" was another R&B chart-topper. Now he's looking forward eagerly to album number-three.
"I've just finished a seven-week tour and then a round of promotional dates and I'm about to fall flat on my face," he confided. "I'll take a week off to recuperate then get back to my songwriting and hopefully come back over here to do it.
"Yeah, on my first album all but one cut, which was written by my younger brother Vince, was penned here in London." For production, he'll be sticking with the Donald Robertson and Michael Forte team which has served him so well up till now.
"They've handled allmy productions, except two tracks on the first album which were produced by Bunny Sigler. I hear that Bunny is now working with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff again."
As for live dates here in Britain, well, that's something for the future but, in the meantime, it seems Eugene Wilde will happily commute across the Atlantic in search of inspiration for his songs . . . and that's no small tribute to our country and its atmosphere. (B&S 463)