Most songwriters would give up a body part just to have a top 40 hit, Graham Gouldman one the founding members of 10CC has had a lifetime of them.

The classic 1970s rock band achieved number one singles with I’m Not In Love, Rubber Bullets and Dreadlock Holiday and had another 11 top 10 hits on top.

Meanwhile he has also written songs for other rock artists that have become huge – the Yardbirds, the Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, Jeff Beck, The Shadows and Gene Pitney.

One of his songs was recorded by Cher.

So how to choose the playlist when the band comes to Oxford this month?

"There will be all the hits plus various album tracks we like," he said. "But they won’t be random things that I’ve done for solo albums that I want to play. They will all be quite justifiable.

Witney Gazette:

"One will be Standing Next To Me which is a song I wrote about Ringo Starr. One thing that brought the band together when we were young, that we all had in common, was that we all loved the Beatles and that meant everything.

"We’re also doing a very new song called Floating in Heaven. It’s about the James Webb telescope which is very important and could eventually help us discover the origins of the solar system and tell us more about the Big Bang.

"The record company said they loved it but wouldn’t it be great if you could get Brian May to play guitar on it. Not only is he the greatest guitarist, as we all know, but he’s also an astrophysicist. We’re using the NASA images as a backdrop.

"The telescope is very important for Mankind, not to sound too high faluting, but it could help in the search for other planets."

Mr Gouldman formed 10CC along with fellow studio musicians Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme in and around Manchester and Stockport in 1973.

The band wrote in different writing combinations.

Rubber Bullets was co-written by Mr Gouldman, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. Like Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock it is about a party that breaks out at the county jail. Unlike Elvis' song, the party ends when riot police use rubber bullets to break it up.

Mr Gouldman remembered: "Kevin and Lol had the chorus and part of the verse but then got stuck. We all loved the chorus and realised it was a hit in itself, so we wanted to persist with it.

"I chipped in the line 'we've all got balls and brains, but some's got balls and chains.' One of my finer couplets."

Mr Gouldman co-wrote many of the band’s most loved songs including Art For Art’s Sake and legendary classic rock song I’m Not In Love, which gave them their breakthrough in the US.

Eric Stewart came up with the idea for the song after his wife asked him why he did not say "I love you" more often to her.

He thought repeating the words too often degraded the meaning and tried to figure out another way of saying it.

Mr Gouldman, Godley and Creme sang "ahhh" 16 times for each note of the scale, building up a "choir" of 48 voices for each note.

When the band's secretary Kathy Redfern looked in and whispered 'Eric, sorry to bother you. There's a telephone call for you' the group agreed her voice was perfect to repeat the words Big Boys Don't Cry.

I'm Not in Love won three Ivor Novello Awards and appeared in numerous films and television shows, including most recently Euphoria. 

It's been covered by Queen Latifah and Axl Rose cited it as a song that meant a lot to him as a teenager: "So nonchalant, so cool ....".

Modestly Mr Gouldman said: “The song stands up quite well.”

He added: “Yes it was ground breaking in the way we recorded it. We used a massive choir and multi track, that was a really important part of the production."

Witney Gazette:

Dreadlock Holiday was a reggae song that could have done better in the US but reggae was not being played on the radio at that time.

He explained: "I co-wrote Dreadlock Holiday after I was on holiday in Jamaica. I was talking to someone about sport and Manchester United. And I said, do you like cricket. He said, no. I love it. He gave me the line."

The band were considered progressive songwriters and arrangers.

He said: “We had two writing teams. We had a more pop side and a mixture of more experimental songs, not avant garde, but pushing the boundaries. It was a mix of all our minds together.

“I don’t have a favourite song. Any song that gets written and finished has something about it so I can’t pick one. But when I was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame I was asked to pick a song for the ceremony and I picked one I wrote for The Hollies called Bus Stop."

That one, too, was a smash hit.

In 1984 Mr Gouldman formed the band Wax with Andrew Gold and had a top 20 hit with Bridge To Your Heart.

In between solo albums he has continued to write and co-write songs for other artists such as Joe Cocker, Paul Carrack, Paul Young, Kirsty MacColl, McFly and Gary Barlow.

He said: "I like lots of young artists around at the moment – Billie Eilish and Harry Styles do really great pop music.

"We’re seeing three generations of fans now which is amazing. We’ve got the more mature audience bringing their kids and now they’re bringing their kids. But with the internet and Spotify everything’s available and it’s lovely to see younger kids at the gigs."

Mr Gouldman left his native Manchester and moved to London in 1986 and is married with four children.

“I was coming down more and more. I was the last of the original band to move," he said.

And he's looking forward to playing Oxford's New Theatre which he has done many times.

“Come along and enjoy," he said. "It’s great music.”

  • 10CC will be performing at the Oxford New Theatre on October 27 as part of their Ultimate Greatest Hits UK Tour.