In early 1971, the late WTBO radio personality Chad Riley gave my father some promotional 45s to give to me. Chad would do this once in a while, and there always seemed to be gems among the vinyl.

Dad mumbled, “that’s all he needs; more damn records,” and said, “These are from Chad. Now be sure to thank him.” Of course, I always showed my gratitude.

One of those records was called “Nothing Rhymed” on the Mam label by an artist called Gilbert O’Sullivan. I was impressed by the plaintive lyrics and the production by Gordon Mills, who also handled Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck, and Johnie Spence’s musical arrangement.

I don’t think any of the local stations played “Nothing Rhymed,” but I loved the record. It eventually “bubbled under” Billboard’s Hot 100.

I became an ardent fan of Gilbert O’Sullivan, collecting all of his 45s, the million sellers and the “duds.” His real name is Raymond O’Sullivan, and he was born in Waterford, Southern Ireland on Dec. 1, 1946. The family moved to Swindon, England, in 1960, and Raymond enrolled at a local art college.

The young boy showed an interest in music, so his mother bought him a piano, but his thumping style resulted in Gilbert and the piano being relegated to the garden shed.

But he developed a unique style, and while at college, played in semi-professional bands the Doodles and the Perfects. He began to write songs, citing his influences as diverse as Rodgers and Hart, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles.

He sent out tapes of his songs, and CBS in Britain was interested, although “I wish I could Cry” (1967) failed to hit; and “Mr. Moody’s Garden” on the Major Minor label met with cold response.

One of Gilbert’s tapes, however, made its way to Gordon Mills, who was fascinated by the catchy tunes and style. Gordon contacted Gilbert, and the two began a strong partnership as Gordon became Gilbert’s “father” after his dad died.

In 1970, “Nothing Rhymed” was recorded, and became a huge European hit. But to the shock of everyone, including Gordon Mills, Gilbert chose a strange dress code of flat cap, flannel suit way too small, and short cropped hair. People laughed, but they listened. He had three more hits in Britain: “Underneath The Blanket Go,” “We Will,” and “No Matter How I Try.” None of those made an impact in the U.S., although the latter was played on WUOK and WKLP, locally; and WTBO played “We Will.”

In early 1972, Mam released a record featuring a song Gilbert had dedicated to his dad. “Alone Again (Naturally)” was released in England and the U.S. in February 1972. Nothing happened until June, when the record cracked the Billboard Hot 100. It rose to No. 1, and remained there for six weeks, certified gold on Aug. 9. Surprisingly, it was a much bigger hit here than in Europe.

For a followup, Gilbert chose to immortalize his young daughter, Clair, and that title was kept from No. 1 by Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now.” But on March 22, 1973, Gilbert was presented another gold disc award.

His third straight hit was “Out of the Question” and at this time the U.S. was ready for a Gilbert O’Sullivan tour.

It turned out to be the only Gilbert O’Sullivan U.S. tour, but it was very successful, with the then-current hit, “Get Down,” bulleting up the charts.

But as fast as Gilbert rose to fame, his star fell after the release of “Happiness Is Me And You.” Although “A Woman’s Place,” with its soul arrangement by HB Barnum was picked by Billboard to make the Top 20, it failed to chart, and subsequent Mam releases followed that path.

In 1977, he switched to Epic with “You Got Me Going,” a great single that was pushed in this column at the time, but the disco boom left Gilbert out in the cold.

He then parted ways with his manager and mentor, Gordon Mills, and 1981’s “What’s In A Kiss” was produced by Elton John producer Gus Dudgeon.

By the late 1980s, he was involved in a bitter suit with Mills, but continued to write. Today, his new material has been released in Japan, where Gilbert remains extremely popular.

Jack Kegg’s column appears on Sundays in the Times-News.

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