How a bucket list of artists to meet led to an extraordinary podcast

The Greatest Music of All Time is a podcast hosted by singer songwriter Tom Cridland, whose guests are selected from a bucket list of artists he wants to meet.

The podcast is a little over a year old and so far, the impressive guestlist includes Annie Lennox, Dionne Warwick, Chick Corea, Chance the Rapper, Smokey Robinson, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Temptations, Kevin Bacon, Christina Hendricks, Rose McGowan, Rachel Bilson, Kool & the Gang, The Pointer Sisters, Sir Cliff Richard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Crosby, Pixies, Johnny Marr, The Hollies, Toto, 10cc, Seal, Chris Rea, David Guetta, UB40, Boyz II Men, Don McLean, Gloria Estefan, John Oates, Jon Anderson of Yes, Sean Paul, Tito Jackson, Counting Crows and many more.

Although music is very important to Tom, it isn’t the only string to his bow. He launched the Tom Cridland fashion brand when he finished university. Both he and his girlfriend and manager, Deborah Marx, run the company which offers sustainable fashion clothing.

Tom also began making his own music, which led to his idea for a podcast. “It was from my bucket list aim of musicians and special people who made music during the 60s and 70s who are getting on a bit, they’re quite difficult to meet and how could I get myself to meet these people whose music means so much to me,” says Tom.

It was originally meant to be a one-off series but because it has gone so well, Tom plans to do it indefinitely. The range of people appearing on the podcast varies from big names in music such as Smokey Robinson, to well-known people outside of music including actors or actresses talking about what they consider to be the greatest music of all time.

At only 31 years old, Tom says his music tastes were influenced by his parents who listened to the likes of the Beatles, Bee Gees and Beach Boys. He likes current music but feels much of it is disposable, whereas it’s the older music that really matters.

“I know there’s all sorts of amazing talented people making music now who just haven’t been discovered,” he says, “but I guess it’s the accessibility of that 60s and 70s stuff when modern pop music, I felt that it was less disposable than it is now, and I’ve never really got over that. I’m just revisiting it and now it’s like to being a total nerd about it.”

Being a “total nerd” as Tom puts it, has led to him collecting vinyl, listening to all the deep cuts and trying to find obscure one hit wonders or forgotten tracks from the 70s.

Being a fan of this music is one thing, but managing to track down so many big names and get them to agree to an interview is no mean feat, so how did Tom do it?

“I think the stroke of genius was calling it the Greatest Music of All Time,” he says, “Initially it was going to be a one-off series celebrating people who are the greatest of all time, and pitching it to them as being a part of a list of those who are the greatest of all time is what convinced them to come on board. Then once you’ve got a few people, it’s always easier to get more.”

A short compilation of people Tom has interviewed

The podcast has also had a huge impact on Tom personally by giving him a sense of purpose that helped with recovery from serious alcoholism which left him close to death on more than a couple of occasions.

Tom explains: “I gave up drinking in 2017, 13 October, so four years now and the podcast, especially during the pandemic when I came very close to starting to drink again, gave me a sense of purpose, something to do every day.

“I released the first podcast in 2020, around the time the pandemic started, and I’d done 40 episodes by that point. I got very restless and close to drinking – I know there are people that went through a way harder time than me but just keeping off the booze, it’s great how much the podcast helped.”

It obviously did help because not only did he stay off the booze but in the last year he’s recorded well over 400 episodes!

“I kept busy and if it wasn’t for doing that you know… there were moments when I planned in my mind how I was going to justify drinking again, when I was going to drink again and how great it was going to be. I discussed it and god I’m glad I managed to get through it,” says Tom.

Now alcohol isn’t a part of his life, Tom has a lot of free time and says he’s energetic, ambitious and finds it hard to sit still, which is what spurs him on. “Not getting hammered every night is the least I can do, especially to repay how good my girlfriend Debs is and my family, her family and everybody. I’m a million miles away from that now but the pandemic did put me in a different mood,” Tom admits.

Only one episode is now being released each week because Tom needs to find time for his own music. He has his own band, and they are currently supporting The Stylistics on their UK tour. This involves him playing piano, which he only learnt to do last year during lockdown!

Once the tour is finished, Tom plans to have a more intense schedule for the podcast and return to in-person interviewing, which he was doing pre-pandemic, but was forced to use Zoom when lockdown happened.

Going back to face-to-face interviews means there’s a lot of travelling involved, but Tom thinks it’s important. He says: “The first 40 with the big names were in-person either at their offices, studios, backstage, at their houses, I mean that was pinch yourself stuff! Even though some of the Zoom ones were brilliant, I find they can lack something, and in-person are way better.”

You can find out more about Tom and listen to his podcast at tomcridland.com.

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