Swansea singer Mal Pope on signing with Elton John and reinventing himself

Musician and composer Mal Pope said he has recently gained the rights to his songs back. They were previously owned by Elton John's Rocket Record label.

Mal signed with Elton John in the 1970s when he was just 12 years old after his track was played by Radio 1 DJ John Peel.

He said he learned to sing in the chapel, which he would attend multiple times on a Sunday in his youth.

He wrote the song, 'A Child's Prayer' at the age of 14 and it was recorded with Elton John at the famous Abbey Road Studios. Mal said listening to his music again was like reading a diary you may have kept as a teenager.

After gaining the rights to it, Mal decided to write a new verse for 'A Child's Prayer', some 40 years later.

Over the years, he has worked as a performer, broadcaster for TV and radio, and has written musicals.

During the course of his career, Mal has written songs for Cliff Richard and The Hollies, sung with Bonnie Tyler and Aled Jones, and toured with Art Garfunkle.

He also hosted a BAFTA award winning programme on HTV, 'The Mal Pope Show', where he interviewed stars like the Bee Gees and The Stranglers.

But he said he missed out on megastardom as he was "in the right place with the right people at the wrong time." He was a singer-songwriter at a time when punk was really taking off.

Mal Pope's career began when he was just 12 years old. Credit: Mal Pope

Mal said he has learned to be someone who adapts easily. He said this is largely down to having four children who relied on him.

"I remember being completely broke... You know, when the work stops, you don't get paid you have to find something else to do. So [my children] were always a great encouragement to make sure I got the gig.

"I've always thought, well, why not give it a go? What's the worst that could happen?"

Mal Pope has performed with Bonnie Tyler. Credit: Mal Pope

Mal said he has recently been turning his attention to writing songs "that actually have some sort of meaning".

"I'm a better piano player, songwriter and singer than I was when I was 13. I've learned my craft, hopefully. But I want to say things now.

"The song I wrote last year was used in the 'you're not alone' campaign for the Welsh Government for domestic abuse. And I write songs about refugees. I'm writing songs about about being a man trying to cope with his faith or lack of faith."

Despite his decades of work, Mal said he still feels that he has not done what he is "supposed to do quite yet" so until then he plans to keep going.

  • Watch Adrian Masters' full interview with Mal Pope on Face To Face, Tuesday 1st February at 10:45pm on ITV Cymru Wales.