Conversations with Ricky Lo The Philippine Star | Updated September 27, 2009
His most popular song, ‘Don’t Give Up On Us,’ is about hurdling the trials of true love. Among other singers, Piolo Pascual sang his own version if it as theme of his starrer (same title) with Judy Ann Santos but I doubt if he has any idea who the singer is. A re-introduction is in order.
Yes, the singer is none other than David Soul, best remembered by baby boomers for his role as the California police Det. Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson in Starsky & Hutch (with Paul Glaser as his partner Starsky). Before and after the hit TV series, David starred in several TV shows (I Dream Of Jeannie, Cannon, Gunsmoke, All In The Family and The Streets of San Francisco, among them) and in a few movies, including Johnny Got His Gun (1971) and opposite Clint Eastwood as the villanous vigilante cop in Magnum Force (1973).
His brief singing career (with five albums to his credit) was rudely interrupted by his battle with alcoholism. He slipped into obscurity in the early 1980s, resurfaced later in the decade in U.S. TV (as Florida robber Michael Platt in In The Line Of Duty: The FBI Murders).
David Richard Solberg was born in Chicago, Illinois, on Aug. 28, 1943. His mother was a singer and his father a Lutheran minister and educator who was a senior representative for Lutheran World Relief during the reconstruction of Germany after World War II. Now also a British citizen (since 2004), David has been married four times.
He has just recorded a duet of ‘Bakit Of Ngayon Ka Lang’ (an Ogie Alcasid composition) with Claire dela Fuente for her Timeless album (released by Viva Records). Here are excerpts of conversations’ exclusive phone one-on-one with David (who was in England at the time):
How was it recording a song with Claire?
Sort of an interesting puzzle because the tracks were recorded in Los Angeles with a producer from Milan, with Claire doing her vocal in Manila. And then the producer from Milan flew to London for me to record my part. So it was a bit of a patchwork puzzle. But I think … I hope that everyone likes it. It turned out pretty well.
So you’ve heard the finished product?
I have. I love it! I was just listening to it before you called.
It’s a Filipino love song. Did they explain to you what it’s all about for you to express the right emotion?
Very much. ‘Bakit ngayon ka lang’ means ‘why did we meet too late,’ right?
“Why only now” is the literal translation.
Yeah, yeah. That’s the story of our life, isn’t it?
Did you sing your part in English or in Tagalog?
Oh, yes, of course, I sang my part in Tagalog. [He sings a portion of it with an American accent and then he laughs.]
The song kind of reconnected you to the Philippines. You were in the Philippines several years ago, right?
I was there I think in 1980. There was a big music festival there; I forgot what it was called. I think it was, hmmmm, Asian Music Festival or something. I was on tour in Japan and I was invited to attend the festival. I performed in that festival.
Would you remember any Filipino artist that you met in Tokyo or in the Philippines?
Oh, I sure don’t. You know, my memory … I’ve been doing this for a long time. I have discovered that memory is the second thing to go. Hahahaha!
Let me refresh your memory. There was a talented Filipino songstress who performed with you in Tokyo. Her name was Didith Reyes. Unfortunately, she died in December last year. [According to somebody close to the late singer, David and Didith had a memorable encounter.]
Sorry, I didn’t get the name.
It’s Didith Reyes. D-I-D-I-T-H.
Sorry, I don’t remember.
Anyway, you haven’t met Claire, have you?
No, not yet. She’s my telephone pal. She’s my email pal.
It’s a pity that your concert with Claire (together with Rico J. Puno) scheduled this month was cancelled.
I was looking forward to performing with her. We could have sung ‘Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang’ together.
Up to now, people in Manila still sing your old hit, ‘Don’t Give Up On Us.’ In fact, it was made the theme song of a local movie.
Oh, is that so? Nice to hear that. I have done a couple of new songs. By the way, did they release ‘Silver Lady’ over there?
I’m not sure. I have to check.
‘Don’t Give Up On Us’ and ‘Silver Lady’ were both international hits. I’ve been doing those songs in concert. I collaborated on ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’ with Tony McCowley. We had a really good collaboration for several years back in the ’70s. He wrote for me. Tony gave me ‘Buttercup,’ remember that.
The lyrics of ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’ are very meaningful. What was on your mind when you were recording it?
My goodness … let me see. It was back in the ’70s. Oh, I think every relationship goes through difficult periods. But you know, if the love is really there and the relationship is a strong one it can survive all that. So don’t give up on us, you know. I did some stupid things, but you know, our love is stronger than some of our actions. [Laughs]
What were some of the stupid things that you did in the name of love?
I forgot. You know, my memory… [Laughs again] But as I’ve said, if the love is strong, the stupid things can be forgiven.
Of course, David, we remember you from Starsky and Hutch.
Yeah, well, there you go!
What have you been busy with these past years?
Oh, my goodness. Yes, I’ve been doing theater, music, television series, writing a book, traveling … moving, moving, moving! I was in New Zealand and Australia and then in France for a year, and then I moved over here to England to do theater. Oh man, it’s too much … this is too much! [Laughs again]
Is this book you are talking about your autobiography?
Yeah, it is.
Are we going to find any surprise in the book?
I could imagine so, you know. Everybody’s life is unique and oftentimes the perception of the media is not the way things really are. Surprises in the book? I don’t know. I don’t tell everything to everybody so I’m sure there will be surprises.
Is it going to be a tell-all book?
Oh no, no. Of course not! You know, I’m 65 years old; I’m not a kid anymore. I’ve been doing this for 45 years. I’ve been doing entertainment all these years, so I don’t tell all because I can’t remember every bit of my life. I included in the book only those I find interesting to me and, I hope, to the readers.
In all these 45 years in the business, what’s the best lesson that you learned?
The best lesson? Well, that the hardest thing is to say no.
I think that’s the hardest thing. You went through a period of saying ‘I regret’ or ‘Sorry, I did this, I did that,’ but there’s really no time for regret. You move on. But as I was saying, the hardest thing to learn is to say no.
How’s your life now? How’s your family?
My family will be with me if and when I go to the Philippines.
Including your children?
No, no, no. My youngest daughter is here in England. Next year is her last year in the university. I have five sons in the States.
Do you have any grandchildren?
I suppose I have. [Laughs again] I have five.
How are you as a father and as a grandfather?
Well, I’m not very much a grandfather because I don’t live in the States anymore. I’m a U.K. citizen now, you know. I have both U.K. and U.S. citizenship. I have dual citizenship. I don’t see my grandchildren that much. I live in England and they live in the States. I try to visit them a couple of times a year but I don’t spend a lot of time over there.
So it’s just you and your wife in England.
No, she’s not yet my wife; she’s my fiancee. Her name is Helen Snell.
Is she the mother of your children?
No, no, no, no! The mother is somebody else.
You keep on saying no, no, no, no! I could see that you’ve really learned how to say no.
Oh no! [Then he laughs again and again]