Mervyn "Spam" Spence hails from Larne, Ireland, where he once worked in a hotel. Every Saturday night the hotel had live entertainment, and Spam learned to play the guitar by practicing with the gear left overnight by these musicians. He says that sometimes there wasn't much left when the bands came back on Sunday, because "we were playing around without much experience"!
At 16, Spam left Ireland for Lichfield, England. His first professional engagement was as bass player and lead vocalist with the Wolverhampton band Trapeze. When Trapeze broke up, Spam began writing and recording on his own.
In 1983 he got a call from a friend, saying that Trevor Bolder had left the band, and Wishbone was looking for a bass player to replace him. Would he be interested? He auditioned for Wishbone, and as he tells it: They said, "What are your plans for the next six months?" I said, "Nothing, basically. I'm recording at home, writing." They said,"Do you fancy going to America?" I said,"Yeah, when?" They said,"Next Tuesday"!!
Spence managed to get himself together to make that tour with the band, and he stayed with them until 1986. Then his wife had a baby, and the touring schedule was taking too much time from his family life.
Since leaving Wishbone, Spam has been involved in the "Phenomena" project, which he describes as "basically a group of musicians, international names such as Glen Hughes, Mel Galley, Cozy Powell, and Scott Gorham. The emphasis of the whole project is psychic phenomena. Each track builds up to a story line." He has also founded Parachute records, and released an album called "Something Strong" under his new professional name, O'RYAN. A second O'RYAN album is in the works. Spam's latest project is a musical rendition of the tenth- century Irish legend "Hound of Cuchulain", planned for release as a seven-part TV series with possibly a feature film to follow.
This Just In
"Where do I start? Things are busy with me and my colleagues at Parachute Music and I have just returned from Japan where I was out discussing new projects for next year with Sony and Epic Records. New projects include the development of several new acts at our studio complex and most of this year has seen us heavily involved in this. We are also in progress with a new Phenomena studio album and I have been asked to record another O'Ryan album as well. Material has been recorded for both these projects, but progress has been slow due to other commitments. We will get there and I hope it will be worth the wait! It's sometimes difficult to juggle business with studio and production activities and I must admit that I get a lot of pleasure from working with new, fresh projects.
While in Japan I also had meetings with Toho Music who are the creators of the Godzilla movies and hope to be involved with them on some new film projects. They are also involved in major musicals in Tokyo such as 'Phantom...' and that is an area that I would love to get involved with more, as I find it very exciting. My oldest daughter, Emer, who is now 13, is an excellent dancer and performer and it is through her that I have developed an interest in this side of the business. With the new Phenomena IV album I want to try to make this more theatrical, with a lot of emphasis being on the live show. The Phenomena project has never toured and I would like to make this a reality next year - if I can fit it in!
I also moved house this year, which was an exhausting experience due to all the work that had to be undertaken. Happily, we are now settled and back on track."
Kind regards, Mervyn Spence