Christopher Cross is known for two things: the first artist to win the “Big Four” Grammy Awards in a year (best album, song, record and new artist, in 1981) and the unwitting father of yacht rock.
The voices of “Sailing” and “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” can now claim another distinction. He was apparently the second person to become paralyzed with Guillain-Barre syndrome after contracting COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic.
“I was paralyzed – at first I also had facial and hand paralysis – but mainly my legs. I was in intensive care for three weeks and was in a wheelchair for about five months,” Cross said. , which is currently on tour.
“I’m fine. Neurologists don’t know if I’ll heal more than I did, because people with GBS usually don’t heal completely. My disability in my legs probably won’t improve.”
In concert, Cross sits for an acoustic segment and represents the rest of the show. He can walk a short distance, but the stairs are difficult and he uses a cane on rough terrain. His fingers returned to normal. His voice was not affected.
“We are in good shape for the fight,” said the 70-year-old. “I plan on touring for a few more years. My legs will be a constant problem all the time, but that doesn’t stop me from standing for 90 minutes.”
Cross caught COVID-19 during a trip to Mexico in March 2020. Cross said his doctors told him he was only the second person at the time to catch Guillain-Barre from the coronavirus. The condition and subsequent treatment prevented him from getting the vaccine just before his 34-city tour began in mid-September.
This is the cover of a 40th anniversary trek which marks the release in 1980 of his first successful album.
In an hour-long conversation from Ohio, Cross discussed everything from sailing to Billie Eilish, who last year became the only other person to win the Big Four Grammys.
About Billie Eilish
“I posted a note on social media saying congratulations and welcome to the club, and I never got a response. They are young, they probably don’t know who I am. I tried to establish a connection. “
Cross admitted that he had never listened to Eilish’s music.
“Lizzo was up for all of these awards, and I felt she deserved to win something,” he said. (She did, but not one of the Big Four.)
About writing with Burt Bacharach
“They needed a theme song (for the Dudley Moore movie ‘Arthur’), and I was the hottest merchandise right now because I had just won all the Grammys, but I didn’t was under no illusions, ”Cross said.
“When I got to their place – he was married to (songwriter) Carole Bayer Sager at the time – I got in at midnight and walked in and there were already two Oscars on the mantelpiece. very, very intimidating. Burt is very charming and welcoming. “
Bacharach ended up adding another Oscar in 1982 for the song he co-wrote with Cross, Bayer Sager and Peter Allen. “It was still a big blow,” Cross said. “I never imagined winning a Grammy, let alone an Oscar.”
On the yacht rock
He is frustrated with this label, inspired by the title of his Grammy-winning song “Sailing” and applied retroactively to an assortment of 1980s pop-rock lite-FM.
“It puts you in a period of your career. I continue to make records. I have done 12 albums. It prevents people from hearing or knowing about your later work. For me, it’s all about to write and make music. That’s why I got into it and that’s why I do it. With my new box set (“The Complete Works”), I’m trying to draw people into my later catalog. “
On the other hand, Cross is well aware that Yacht Rock is one of the most popular channels on SiriusXM.
“If someone were to organize a yacht-rock tour with the Big Five – myself, Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, Hall & Oates, Toto – it would be huge, but too expensive to hire all these artists.”
Unless it’s in a stadium. Set up by uber-manager Irving Azoff, who ran Cross.
Even though Cross from Texas did a bit of sailing on a single-masted boat in his youth, he wrote the song “Sailing” as a metaphor. It was about a boyfriend who became like a big brother.
“It was more about camaraderie, kinship, and escaping my dad’s alcoholism and family issues than actual activity,” Cross explained. “Just kidding that he could have taken me bowling.”
Of course, fans show up at Cross concerts wearing skipper caps. He often receives offers to sail and once accepted Dennis Conner’s invitation to sail on an America’s Cup ship.
On the interpretation of the Beatles albums live
In 2019 he toured with Todd Rundgren, Micky Dolenz, Joey Molland and others, performing the entire Beatles’ “White Album”. Cross was able to showcase his guitar chops as well as his voice.
“Usually the base of the show is Todd and I,” said Cross, who has done a few of these Beatles tribute tours. “We’re going to do another one in late February or early March. I think we’re doing ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Revolver’. The Peter Jackson movie (‘Get Back’, scheduled for November 25-27 on Disney +) might convince us. to do “Let It Be.” I’m a little lucky because I have all the Paul (McCartney) songs. “
Playing with Deep Purple
In 1970, while Deep Purple was on his first tour of the United States, lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had a reaction to a flu shot and was too ill to perform in San Antonio, Cross’s hometown. At 19, Cross was a huge Blackmore fan. His manager was promoting the gig, so he asked Cross to replace him on guitar.
“Everyone was in it except the singer (Deep Purple),” Cross remembers. “It was an out-of-body experience. I met Ritchie later at the airport and he gave me an opening pick.”
Decades later, the British rocker reached out to Cross to be interviewed for the 2015 “Ritchie Blackmore Documentary”, as the Texan was apparently the only person to replace him.
Cross’s band also opened for Led Zeppelin at the time.
On his next album
“I’m not going to make Christopher Cross records anymore. They’re too expensive to make. And given the numbers I’m going to sell, it’s not financially practical. But I still have music to offer.”
So he brings new songs to the soundcheck, works them with his band and records the soundchecks. A musician mixes it and Cross pays for the mastering. The upcoming album will be called “Messages From the Oracle” by A Musical Collective by Christopher Cross.
“It’s very spontaneous. I don’t need awards and accolades anymore.”