When I was an engineer at DJM Studios back in the early eighties, it was quite a common occurrance for people who came into the studio to say that I looked familiar and that they were sure we’d worked together before. Everyone experiences this at some time, but it started to happen at a rate much higher than you would expect in the normal course of things.
At first, we would attempt to find a common point of reference: “Have you worked with so and so?” “Did you ever come to Abbey Road?” After a while, I began to think there must be a doppelganger somewhere on the London studio scene – maybe another engineer, or a session musician. My response then became what must have appeared more curt, even rude. “You may think we’ve met before, but I can assure you we haven’t.” At its peak, this was happening on almost a daily basis and on one occasion a stranger walked the full length of a tube carriage to say that they’d been looking at me and were sure we’d met before. People familiar with the etiquette of the London Underground will know that any form of interaction among passengers is extremely rare.
After leaving DJM the “recognition” stopped happening, largely because working from home meant less regular contact with new people. There was one moment when I met Clare Torry, the singer whose brilliant improvised vocals on Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig in the Sky remains one of my favourite pieces of music. I’ve never worked with Clare, but it turned out she had met my younger brother John when she did advertising sessions at Air Edel. John’s first job, also back in the early eighties, was as a runner for the jingles company. So Clare not only identified a family resemblence more than a quarter of a century on, but also remembered a lowly runner from way back when. Impressive on both counts.
Recently, the ‘Doppelganger Effect’ has been happening again. In the space of a couple of weeks, the bride at a wedding where we were the band was sure we’d met before, similarly a fantastic Bulgarian singer-songwriter called Ilona (check her out), so too the drummer in Frank Reid’s ceilidh band, and Brian Gregg, the original bass player in Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.
Last Wednesday, a clue to this mystery may have come from a checkout girl at my local Sainsburys. As she was scanning my mundane basket of muesli, milk and marmalade, she looked up and said, “Are you on the telly?” Aha, maybe that’s it. Who is this person and could I have a new career as a looky-likey?
Posted: 15:15, 30 September 2012