Steve Tilston, the Real Danny Collins, Being His Own Chosen One–The Surprisingest Twist of All

Steve TilstonIn my most recent blog post I promised not to be a spoiler for the surprise twist in the movie Danny Collins starring Al Pacino. That was then. I’ve given you a little more time to check out the movie, but I just can’t hold out any longer.

The opening frames of Danny Collins proclaim that the production was based on a true story–sort of. As the movie progressed, it was a heartbreak to watch Danny’s creativity suffer for his entire career. The music and persona foisted on him stifled creativity and drove him to drink and substance abuse. On the surface, he led the ideal life of the rock star. Inside, the real Danny was buried until a letter from a sympathetic admirer changed everything.

The letter was written at the onset of his career in 1971 in response to a fear he expressed in an underground rock magazine interview. He feared that wealth and fame would affect his creativity. The author of the letter reassuringly wrote to Danny, “Fame doesn’t need to stifle creativity. Just stay true to yourself.” Then he said, “Give me a call and we can talk about it.”  And he gave him his home phone. The writer knew of what he spoke. The writer of the letter was John Lennon.

Danny did not see the letter until 30 years later. The letter’s impact was life-changing and made for a great screenplay.

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Now comes the surprisingest twist of all, for me in real life (sort of–since I am a fiction). The real-life Danny Collins is an Englishman, a Liverpudlian named Steve Tilston. The truth is that he had followed John Lennon’s advice, even though he wouldn’t see it for 34 years.

Here is what practically made me weep with joy. Steve was a superb songwriter in the folk/folkrock genre who stayed true to his music and never ventured into superficiality or drug abuse. Out of curiosity, I listened to samples of his music online from Amazon and his website. I sampled his whole career from 1971 to present, and found it to be true, clear, pure, and beautiful. His guitar work is outstanding. He has a stirring, Celtic voice reminiscent of Bert Jansch, Eric Bogle, or John Renbourn. Why did we never hear of him on this side of the pond?

Let us remedy that this very moment! This is a video clip from his latest CD, Truth to Tell. Have a listen. Hear the truth.

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More about Space Larrabee: I was made manifest in a book called By the Time I Got to Woodstock—or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis. I am Space Larrabee, and in Lunch on the Moon I share tasty delicacies I’ve found in the experiential arts. Join me every week or so and share your experiences, too!

One thought on “Steve Tilston, the Real Danny Collins, Being His Own Chosen One–The Surprisingest Twist of All”

  1. Just finished the movie. I want to know more about “Danny” Steve…loved the story and of course the music ?

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