Songwriter lives the American dream

Greg Holden
Greg Holden

THE writer behind a record-breaking hit in America is stunned by the mammoth success of a song he wrote in a couple of hours one afternoon.

Greg Holden, who grew up in Heysham, co-wrote Home – the “winner’s song” of Phillip Phillips, who triumphed with 123 million votes on the glitzy Amercian Idol TV talent show.

Home sold 278,000 digital copies in its first week, a record for an American Idol winner’s song, and eventually settled at number two on the US iTunes chart.

Now living in New York, musician Greg said the overwhelming popularity of Home was “pretty surreal to be honest”.

“It’s not something I could’ve predicted but I’ll take it!” said the former St Patrick’s School pupil.

“I wrote it in LA with a writer called Drew Pearson about six months ago.

“The song is about a friend struggling with certain things in their life and I guess trying to let them know that no matter how bad it gets, they aren’t alone.

“I started playing it on tour, at which point people started to really get into it, then all this crazy stuff started happening and who knows what will happen from here?”

Greg hasn’t yet met Phillip Phillips, the 21-year-old shop worker from Georgia whose effortless vocals captured the hearts of American music fans and the respect of superstar judges including Jennifer Lopez.

“I would like to meet him though,” said Greg.

“I think he did a great job considering the pressure he was under. I really have a lot of respect for people on those shows, they work a lot harder than most of us realise. He’s a great talent.”

Greg was born in Scotland but moved to Heysham aged three, living there until he was 14 before moving to Leyland.

In 2008 he uploaded videos of his songs onto YouTube, making a series called Not My Living Room.

His videos proved such a hit with YouTubers, it was given feature video status.

At that point he decided to try to make it in the music business.

“I was looking for a way to escape my life at the time,” he said.

“It wasn’t really going that well. I guess it worked!”

Greg packed his suitcase and flew to New York.

For the past two years he has toured the States and Europe playing a mix of acoustic folk and gentle soul music.

But Greg still has fond memories of his childhood in Morecambe, especially good times at “Frontierland, Bubbles and Johnny’s Fun Factory”.

Holden’s former head teacher at St Patrick’s Primary School, Les Turner, said he was “a great lad” and “lovely in primary school”.

“Les is great, but I’d say he’s sugar coating that a bit!” said Greg.

“I was a little more mischievous than he’s letting on, but I had good intentions!”