Oliver Champan

bringing joy through his music: Oliver Champan

Oliver “Stumpy” Chapman still loves to entertain.

The veteran musician, now well into his 70s, has released a new 11-track album entitled Man’s on the Run.

Chapman says he hopes the music he has created brings joy to people across the globe during this difficult time when countries are battling the spread of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19).

“I am older than Moses,” an affable Chapman blurted when asked his exact age.

Though his advanced age puts him in the highest risk group for fatal infection of the virus, he is determined to keep sharing his talent.

“It (the coronavirus) is definitely affecting me. I’ve been planning for this album release for a while and in the middle of it, this virus thing come about. I’ve had to put my plans on the back burner. I can’t do interviews or have a live performance launch as I wanted.

“But I’m not a captive. I hope the music can bring joy to people who hear it. And I just have to play my cards the straightest I could. Stay healthy and keep away from the crowds. Oh, and keep washing my hands,” he said with a laugh.

He listed the album title track, “Man’s on the Run”, and “Ethiopia” among his favourites on the LP project. The former explores the effects of karma on a man attempting to outrun is wrongdoings while the latter predicts a return to supremacy for the African nation.

Over five decades of music

A 17-year-old Chapman got his start in music as a member of local soul group The Sparks in 1962. The group, which later changed their name to Wild Fire, went on to release a number of hit songs on the British music charts, including “Come on Down”, “Check It Out” and “Try Making Love”.

“In 1962, we were very much liked by the local public. We were number five on the local music charts with our very first song, ‘You Can’t Lose Something You Never Had’,” a nostalgic Chapman recalled.

The change to Wild Fire, he said, was necessary to avoid a potential copyright infringement as the band prepared for its first international release in 1975, he explained.

“We kept on recording for a number of years as The Sparks, but had to change our name to Wild Fire in 1975. We had a song recording on a British (music) label and turns out, there was an American group called The Sparks. So we changed,” he said.

Four years later, the band had its first gold certified album with Say a Little Prayer For The Children in 1979. They achieved the feat again the following year in 1980 with the single “My Life”.

“Those were special times, indeed. To be certified gold was special. I cherish it,” Chapman said of the achievement.

Three decades on, and he still has an insatiable hunger to be among the best in the world, he said.

“I’m hungry for the ultimate. And I have a genuine love for the business. The ultimate is to be number one in the world. It’s an inner hunger. The love for the music gives me the appetite to keep going,” he said.

It hasn’t been easy. Many of his music friends and contemporaries have left to play in that great orchestra in the sky. But Chapman says the best way he can honour their memories is to keep creating new works.

“Most of the members have passed away. I figure that now is the time to do the things I wanted to do and never got the chance to do it. The things they never got the chance to do,” he said.

In the face of rising unease and fear over the current pandemic, Chapman shared the sentiments of hope from his love song “I’ve Got Your Back”. The track is on his new album. He sung:

“I’ve climbed the highest mountains

Swam the raging seas

Flew into the storm

Over coastlines and cities

No journey is too long

When you love someone

Who’s in your arms but don’t belong

Because the love has long gone.”

Oliver Chapman’s Man’s on The Run album is available for download across all digital music platforms.

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