‘I once played drums for Stevie Wonder’: Max Beesley’s honest playlist

The Mad Dogs and Suits star loves the Stone Roses and was a session musician for Robbie Williams – but which festive song makes him storm out of the room?

The first record I bought
L is for Lover by Al Jarreau, as an 18-year-old student at the Guildhall [School of Music and Drama in London], although I’d been given lots of records as presents before. I’d been playing piano, drums, vibraphone and percussion since I was five, so my aspirations were to be a session musician. Jarreau always brought in the top LA session guys, so you knew the musicianship was going to be great.

The song I do at karaoke
I can still belt out Delilah by Tom Jones, including the high notes at the end, which always brings the house down. It’s a great song with a lot of drama.

The best song I’ve heard at a gig
I was a session musician before I was an actor, so the best song I’ve played on at a gig was percussion on Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams at Knebworth. I remember when Rob first played it to me at his house in Notting Hill, I said: “You’re going to have a problem topping this as an opener.”

The song I stream the most
Mars, the Bringer of War from The Planets by Gustav Holst – I played it in an audition when I was 12 because it was a really hard piece to play.

The best song to have sex to
I can’t listen to any music, because I’d be too busy listening to progressions and harmonic nuances.

The best song to get the party started
Fools Gold by the Stone Roses. I remember when I was shooting Mad Dogs in South Africa with John Simm – a fellow Mancunian – and I said: “Have you got any Roses?” and he put that on. It still sounds fantastic.

The song I can no longer listen to
I’ve always hated Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade. My dad plays it to wind me up at Christmas and I have to leave the room.

The song I inexplicably know every lyric to
As a session musician who also writes and produces, I don’t actually know the entire lyrics to a single song. My first boss when I was 18 was Paul Weller, and it drove him nuts. He’d say: “You’re just listening to the grooves and the chords,” and I’d say, “I know, the lyrics don’t interest me.”

My favourite song of all time
My mother was a world-class jazz singer, and she would always sing a lot of Dusty Springfield, including The Look of Love, written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. It’s the perfect piece of music.

The song I wish I had written
I’m a big Stevie Wonder fan – and played drums for him – so everything time I hear anything from Songs in the Key or Life or Innervisions, like Golden Lady, I always think: “I wish I’d written that.”

The song I want played at my funeral
Disco Inferno by the Trammps as I’m getting incinerated. I want people up and dancing. It can’t be a morbid affair.

The Midwich Cuckoos is on Sky Max and Now.


As told to Rich Pelley

The GuardianTramp

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