Lovable rogue Denis Pugh, might have us all fooled as the comic foil to his terminally miserable colleagues on Sky Sports Golf coverage but there’s more to him than meets the eye. When Denis finishes giving millions of us a belly laugh by ballzing up a GMac swing demo live on air he becomes one of the most respected figures in the Music Industry.
Pugh, 84, likes to take time away from golf at Christmas and get back to his first love as one of the world’s leading Song Title Designers (STDs). He made his millions working with all the big record companies over the years, tweaking the names of songs in order to ensure mass appeal and more importantly, massive sales.
“My first real success as an STD was with Fergal Sharkey back in the 80’s” says Pugh as he relaxes back in his kingly chair with a glass of port. “They were just about to release a single for Fergal called ‘A Good Pump Is Hard To Find’. I thought it didn’t feel right and changed the word ‘Pump’ to ‘Heart’ and it became a huge hit.” That put me on the map and it snowballed from there.
Often now seen by day pottering around The Wisley, Pugh reveals he travelled extensively during his heyday. “I was responsible for Europe’s smash hit ‘The Final Countdown’” continued Denis, “Would you believe they wanted to call it ‘The Final Stopwatch’ before bringing me to California to step in!”
As he beckons one of the servants over to throw another cedar log on the blazing fire, Pugh also recalls his two years spent in Italy working with world famous Tenor Luciano Pavarotti. “Such a dear dear man, but absolutely clueless with lyrics”, he laughs. “Pav was dead-set on calling this song ‘Nessun Doorknob’ before I convinced him that ‘Nessun Dorma’ was a bit more in keeping with the whole Italian vibe.”
Pugh eventually left Italy in 1983 shrouded in controversy after newspapers claimed he secretly fathered two sons. “It was all nonsense” he says of the claims. “Those were the days when women were queuing up for me but to think that somewhere in Italy right now there are two 30 year old Italian brothers playing golf with a little Denis Pugh move at the top and I’ll hold my hands up!” he laughs. “It’s ridiculous!”
Tightening the silk sash on his robe, the multi billionaire starts to recall another memory. “I remember being at a party with Elton John one night in Munich. I had my hair tied back in a ponytail in those days, Elton was out of it on smack, and I found myself sitting at a piano at 3am with this German babe with the most hairy armpits I’ve ever seen. She wanted me to listen to her song ‘107 Red Balloons’. I remember telling her, ‘cut those balloons back to 99 Nena and you might have something there’. And sure the rest as they say is history.”
These days the record companies queue up at the Pugh mansion to tweak the titles of prospective Christmas Number Ones and Denis counts Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh as dear friends. “Back in 2005 Leona Lewis was hot property. But the only thing she hadn’t got and needed was an STD and a nosejob. I remember sitting in the studio with Simon, cup of coffee in hand, listening to Leona on the other side of the glass laying down the track ‘A Spanner Like This’, and thinking it didn’t feel right. I tinkered around with a few alternatives like ‘A Gasket Like This’ and ‘A Suitcase Like This’ and to be honest I was struggling until one of the crew said ‘I’ll be back in a moment’ and it hit me like a train. Leona put down a few takes of ‘A Moment Like This’ and she never looked back. And guess what? Did you see her nose recently? All fixed up with the lumpy middley bit gone. Thanks to dear old Denis, the STD everyone wants!”
Next week: Christmas With Bruce Critchley In Pantomime as Widow Wanky.