Pleased to release war song

ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK is set to release a charity single written by an Edinburgh songwriter to raise money for war veterans.

The crooner was said to be "over the moon" when he heard Mike Egan's Columns of Grey, a song inspired by the Second World War's bloody Battle of the Bulge.

He has already recorded a version for his two most recent albums, and also performed the song in concert for a live DVD.

Now the 70-year-old superstar hopes to release it as a single so he can donate the proceeds to war veterans' charities.

Mr Egan, who is old friends with Humperdinck after playing guitar in his band, says the singer is now in talks with his record company. The 63-year-old, who was brought up in Restalrig but now lives in Belgium, said: "When I let Engelbert hear 'Columns of Grey', I never imagined he would be interested in it.

"But he said it was fantastic and he was getting everyone in telling them to listen to it.

"He was over the moon and has put his own money into it to record it. He is very enthusiastic about releasing it as a single and is in talks with Universal about it. The idea is that the money will go to war veterans and their dependants from all different wars."

Mr Egan, who is currently in Edinburgh visiting family, started playing the guitar when he was 14, before joining Ray McVay's band in the 1960s.

When he was offered a more permanent position with the band, he quit his job stacking shelves in the Co-op in Easter Road and moved to London.

He established a career as a session musician and performed for Elton John and Shirley Bassey.

The married father-of-two said: "I got into session and studio work, but most of the time I didn't know who I was playing for - you just went in, read the music, played and that was it. It was just a job."

Mr Egan - who also performed regularly in the Top of the Pops session orchestra - first met Humperdinck in a south London recording studio.

He recalled: "We just started playing, again not knowing who we were playing for, and in walked Engelbert Humperdinck.

"We just played guitar and talked, it was really nice. After that, I was asked to do a five-week tour with him in the States, then I ended up playing for him for about four years and we became good friends."

Mr Egan wrote Columns of Grey three years ago after a visit to a memorial in Bastogne dedicated to the 180,000 casualties of the Battle of the Bulge.

He added: "I was on my way to a gig in Luxembourg and had some time to spare and went to see the monument.

"The idea just came into my head and by the time I got to the gig I had written two verses of the song."

Back to the top of the page