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'I worked with Michael Jackson - when he had a face' Whatever happened to. . . ? TONY ETORIA.


AN overnight disco success with hit Can I Prove It, Tony had the attention of the record buying public. But his presence in the music industry changed - to running a rock studio.

ELY-BORN Tony Etoria was just 23 when he found pop stardom with his disco hit I Can Prove It.

From his early days performing the cabaret circuit playing with bands like The Casuals and local musicians like Pino Palladino, Tony became an overnight disco success with his funky tune, which he wrote in his bedroom.

The song made it to 21 in the charts in June 1977 and 10 years later went top 10 when London soulster Phil Fearon covered it.

Tony still gets his royalty cheques from his disco career, which saw him working with Michael Jackson "in the days when he had a face", Chic and the late New York disco star Sylvester.

At its peak I Can Prove It was selling around 10,000 copies per day for top disco label GTO, whose other artists included Heatwave and Donna Summer.

Tony, who was managed by Ten Years After drummer Rick Lee, went on to sign deals with major labels EMI, WEA and R'n'B, which signed him and three girls who made up the Eighties band Decoupage and later sang with African disco band Osibisa.

When punk and new wave kicked in Tony turned to nightclub management, opening Mel's, one of Cardiff's first alternative nightclubs in Butetown.

He spent several years acting, playing Vic Williams the barman in the Welsh soap Coleg and touring wih Fosters Theatre Company in Gloucester and Cardiff's Made in Wales.

These days Tony runs Famous Studios in Trade Street, where he works with top bands as well as the newcomers in Welsh music and record labels like Sony and Warners.

He's also chairman of the judging panel for the first-ever WRITS Awards, which is being held at Cardiff International Arena in January.

In the studios he's worked with everyone from from the Manics to West End star Peter Karrie. The Super Furry Animals recorded their record-breaking Welsh album Mwng at Famous Studios and Tony Hatch, who wrote the theme to Neighbours and Martin Carr from the Boo Radleys have worked there recently.

"I never really wanted to play the pop game. My interests were more in songwriting, " said Tony.

"I was never very comfortable in the limelight but I've always been involved with the performing arts.

"Being creative is alway important to me."


THEN AND NOW Pictured in 1977, and above, as Tony is today.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 11, 2001
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