The evening of March the 18th 2007 will be etched on my memory forever…..I was playing my regular Sunday evening residency at The Dorchester Hotel, London when around 9.30pm security arrived and moved guests away from the piano.
They asked to continue playing and to my astonishment, the “one and only” Michael Jackson approached and sat next to me at the piano accompanied by two friends.
He asked me my name and then said "Hi, my name's Michael." I replied "I know!" He introduced his friends as The Sultan of Brunei's son & daughter.
Michael said he'd be grateful if I'd play a few songs he requested - including some Elton John, Carpenters, Beatles and his favourite song 'Smile'. To my amazement Michael sang throughout.
His voice was great and he complimented me many times during our jamming session saying things like ‘You have a real gift’ and ‘Thank you for sharing your musical talent with me’.
After a couple of hours it was time for them to leave. Michael said how much he’d enjoyed his evening and hoped to see me again one day. For me it was an unbelievable experience - to entertain arguably the most famous person in the world - and one that I will never forget.
.....they say that lightning doesn't strike twice. However....
In the same hotel, at the same piano in October of 2012, I had the bewildering experience and complete honour of playing the piano to Stevie Wonder. Or, "God" as I like to call him. This time, after listening to me for an hour or so and after a little persuasion from me, we walked together to the piano and he performed and sang a couple of numbers. It was amazing. I leaned on the piano, listened and reckoned I was about the luckiest person alive at that moment.
In such an intense situation I found it incredibly difficult to retain any information and forgot the names of the pieces he performed the moment he told me their titles. Gutted!
Afterwards I joined him and his guests, including his daughter Aisha, for a brief chat then thought it better I left rather than overstay my welcome. He wished me well and said he'd loved my playing. Wow.
I thought it a bit unprofessional to ask for a photo so you'll just have to take my word for it this time!