A BASS-playing legend visited to Commonweal to pass on secrets picked up over almost 40 years in the music business.

Phil Spalding found fame with early-80s band Toyah, later playing as a session bassist with Elton John, Robbie Williams and Mick Hucknall.

In front of an enrapt audience of Commonweal sixth-formers, Phil told youngsters hoping to get into the entertainment industry that it was vital

He said: “There’s so much to say - it’s almost impossible to relate a lifetime’s career in an hour.

“At most places I lecture at, kids seem to be concerned about getting ahead and earning money. I teach them that they need to be good at what they do – and then they can think about getting paid.”

He stressed the importance of musicians earning their “apprenticeship”, playing on as many songs as they can. When Phil started playing semi-professionally, he was on £50 a week and living in a council house.

“I never went into music thinking about money. I went into it because I loved it. It was only by the fourth year of that journey I started earning money that I could waste,” he said.

However, Phil also said it was vital that youngsters look after their own interests – saying it had taken him years to develop a better business sense.

Asked what advice he'd give his younger self, Phil said: "Be aware and sensible. No one gives you anything in life. You've got to stick up for yourself. I wish I'd had a better business head."

Phil, who believes he contracted Hepatitis C during a long drug-taking career and now runs support project Hep C Positive, also advised youngsters to be careful around drugs: "Drug taking isn't good for you if you have an addictive personality."

Kirsty Driver, head of music at Commonweal, called Phil's talk "amazing - really inspirational".

She said her students, who are taking a C-Tech in performing arts, learned from Phil that success "doesn't come easy. You have to work really hard".

Rhian Baynham, 18, a bassist, said: "I really want to get into music - I learned a lot about how to get into that line of work."