Country Music Star Michael English Got His Big Gay Byrne Break On The Late Late Show
Michael English is one of the best-known artists in country music, but fans might not know how he got his start in the industry.
Many musicians hold unglamorous “normal” jobs in their youth, or go to college for a degree to fall back on, while they work their way into show business. For Michael English, however, he got his start in the entertainment industry even before he reached his teens and never considered a career away from the limelight.
Few musicians can say their first gig was on live television in front of millions of people on the nation’s most-watched prime-time program. At the age of 12, Michael, already a talented musician and pianist, took charge of the future of his career and wrote a letter to RTE asking them to register him for the Late Late Show.
Speaking to RSVP Live, Michael said he never pursued or even considered an alternative career; “I went to The Late Late when I was 12 and started playing the night after. So I’ve been playing since I was 12 and never did anything else, never wanted to do anything else.
“I just consider myself lucky that I can do it and have a career because it doesn’t work for everyone. You have to be lucky and be surrounded by the right people. That’s all that happened to me ”.
Naturally, appearing on Late Late with the caption who was Gay Byrne was enough to garner support from friends, family, and his tiny village in his native Kildare.
Michael said; “Ah sure, Gay was a legend. In our house, every Friday night, we watched the Late Late Show. There was nothing else on television in our house at the time. Only Gay Byrne, mum loved him and so did we, and daddy. “
Young Michael was so determined that he didn’t even tell his mother he was applying to be on the show, and she only learned the news when a letter from RTE walked through the door.
“What happened was I wrote a letter to Late Late and told them they must have me. They came back to me and said “we’ll listen to you”. So I went up and played the piano and they said, “Yeah, we’ll put you on like that.”
“It was about three weeks later, I was at school and mum says you have a letter from RTE there – she didn’t know!” So I opened it and it told me that they were inviting me to RTE to play in front of them, so I did that and then they made me play ”.
Michael says this attitude of knocking on every door until you open has been with him throughout his career, and it’s something he passes on to other musicians who often ask him for advice.
“This is the model I have in the world of music. I often say to Kayla, my niece, or anyone who has asked me, “If you knock on every door, one will eventually open.” The other thing I always tell them is “it’s okay to have something to fall back on just in case it doesn’t work.” I never had anything to fall back on but thank God I didn’t need it ”.