TV chef Jamie Oliver is set to cause a stir in the music charts – by backing a friend’s bid to land the Christmas number one spot.
The star has thrown his weight behind lifelong pal Leigh Haggerwood and The Florin Street Band, who are bidding to bring the first ”Real” Christmas song to the charts in years.
They hope to beat the entire music industry – and the X Factor winner – to become the first traditional Christmas song to clinch the top spot in years.
Leigh wrote the Victorian-themed ‘My Favourite Time of Year’, which is released on Monday, in an effort to put some ‘magic’ back into the Christmas charts.
Using his life savings, Leigh released the track himself after being turned down by record companies who were unwilling to go head-to-head with the X Factor.
Leigh and Jamie Oliver are best friends who performed together in the early 1990’s in their band Scarlet Division.
TV chef Jamie said: ”I know what Leigh is capable of, so I knew this would be great before I even heard it.
”I’m behind the song every step of the way and truly believe it’s time to get the real meaning of Christmas back into festive music.”
The single, described as ‘feel-good’ and ‘family-orientated’, has already been backed by a huge internet campaign, with thousands of hits on YouTube and Facebook, and numerous radio DJ’s championing the song including Tony Horne and the BBC’s Paul Miller.
Leigh, of Essex, said: ”Nobody seems to be releasing new Christmas songs any more, partly because the music industry is in fear of competing with the X factor, and I think that’s a real shame.
”Last year we saw that change slightly, but the charts are still missing traditional festive music, so I’m hoping that, like Jamie, the public will get behind The Florin Street Band and support us.”
Leigh’s passion for music began at an early age and he formed a band with best friend and TV star Jamie Oliver at the age of 14.
After years of touring in bands playing British Forces bases, Ibiza and mainland Europe, Leigh moved onto a successful career composing music for the media including the BBC, Channel 4 and numerous worldwide productions.
Still long-term friends, Leigh has famously written music for several of Jamie’s popular TV series and live shows over the years.
Jamie generously paid for Leigh’s treatment when he was struck down with cancer in 2001 – an act of generosity that Leigh and his family will never forget.
Speaking of the chef, Leigh said: ”Jamie’s support means a lot to me, we’ve been friends since we were kids and our friendship has overcome some tough battles.”
My Favourite Time of Year is already receiving airplay on popular music channels including MTV and VH1.
Despite a limited production budget, Leigh’s mission reached far and wide where he was fortunate enough to work with talented British video director Nick Bartleet, and the project even attracted the skills of legendary cinematographer John Perez.
Enchanted by the quaint English Victorian theme, he flew over from Hollywood to join over 100 cast and crew for the video shoot at Blists Hill Victorian Town at Ironbridge in Shropshire.
Working with the likes of Beyonce, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Coldplay, Leigh described the quality of Mr Perez’s work as ”mind-blowing”.
”These guys are brilliant at what they do; they loved my song and totally got my vision of Victorian snow-filled streets, lanterns and a magical feel.
”Budget was a big issue, so I was fortunate enough to have a great team of friends and family who wanted to get involved.”
Determined to spark a new era in Christmas song writing, Leigh is now in the process of putting together an album, and there are even talks of a Florin Street musical.
“Our pledge could be the biggest wake-up call that the British music industry has had for years, not least because this was all achieved without them!”
The Florin Street Band’s stunning High Definition video for My Favourite Time of Year can be seen at the bands website www.florinstreet.com with its sumptuous snow dusted roof tops, fire braziers and period costumes, the song and video are already being a hailed as a new Christmas classic.
My Favourite Time of Year is available to download from iTunes, Amazon and most other online stores.