Jimmy Jewell knew better than to say "no" to rock legend Alice Cooper.

After all, it was his turn to play the rock icon at golf, and he knew his excuses about his inability to play would fall on deaf ears.

"I was dreadful," remembered Jimmy, "but he was really lovely about it."


Surely, this can't be the same Alice Cooper, better known for his gory stage acts, strutting about in leather, kohl eye make-up and the obligatory snake draped round his neck.

"The perception of Alice Cooper is totally different from the person he really is," explained Jimmy. "On stage, the performer you see is totally false."

Colchester composer Jimmy got to know Cooper, as well as The Who frontman Roger Daltrey, when he was a musician with the British Rock Symphony tour of the United States several years ago.

Even though Cooper got Jimmy into trouble when he was commissioned to write a church dedication service - they didn't like the idea of the composer working with Alice Cooper - he has nothing but praise for the star, who also happens to have a killer golf handicap.

Rubbing shoulders with rock music icons, though, is a million miles away from what tempted 29-year-old Jimmy, who continues to live in Colchester, into the world of music.

Sitting at home, aged seven, he saw a documentary about choristers at St Paul's Cathredral in London. He was hooked.

"In fact, I didn't shut up about it until my parents took me for a voice trial," said Jimmy, smiling at the memory.

He got in at St Paul's and spent the next six years as a chorister, working incredibly hard, but loving every minute of it.

Unlike other boys of his age, Christmas morning meant being at work in the cathedral - his festive holiday began on Boxing Day.

"But I wouldn't change the experience for the world," he said.

You won't get the standard boarding school sob story from Jimmy.

"I wasn't carted off to boarding school by my parents. I kicked and screamed until I got there," he laughed.

After St Paul's, Jimmy went to school in Felsted, and the Royal Academy of Music. He also trained with the National Youth Music Theatre where his contemporaries included Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell.

Jimmy's work commitments today are enough to make a workaholic seem lazy.

He always has several composing projects on the go - currently, they range from a football musical to an "oratorio fantasia" version of Shakespeare's The Tempest - and in the past six months has had two of his musicals staged in the West End.

If that wasn't enough, he is an associate director of the Theatre Royal Plymouth, and runs Covent Garden-based production company Ladida Productions and Ladida Management with his wife, Rebecca, - where he looks after actors in West End and prime-time TV shows - and Ladida Castings.

His "musical baby", which he has great plans for, is NHS: The Musical, which he co-wrote with Nick Stimson.

It was staged for a one-off performance at the Venue in Leicester Square in November, following a three-week run in Plymouth.

It may seem an unusual topic for a musical, but with personal experience, the wealth of medical dramas on TV plus Carry On films, he was not short of inspiration.

He is proud of the finished comedy musical romp.

"It went down a storm," said Jimmy, remembering the Plymouth run. "People were rolling in the aisles."

His dream is to get a 12-week run in the West End. The venue and the cast are in the bag.

There is, however, the small matter of £400,000 needed to fund the project.

Jimmy is under no illusion how difficult this will be. He can't blame anyone being reluctant to part with such a large amount of cash with no guarantee of a decent return. While Broadway in New York is more welcoming to new talent, the West End seems keener to back a big name.

Jimmy can only hope an investor will like his project enough to "take a punt", and offer the financial backing he needs.

In the meantime, his efforts are concentrating on his football musical, Who Ate All The Pies?, which is being staged in Plymouth later this year.

With songs like the Transfer Bung Waltz and the Wag Song, this comedy romp through the world of football should be another crowd-pleaser.

When I ask for a burst of lyrics from the Wag Song, Jimmy soon finds some on his laptop, only to start giggling when reciting them. Let's just say some verses are best avoided in a family newspaper.

His working partnership with Nick Stimson is proving a successful one.

"The great problem for most artists is accepting criticism," explained Jimmy.

"But, with Nick and I, one of our great strengths is that we can dish the dirt out to one another like there is no tomorrow. There is a great respect there."

His best critic is his wife, who was his former agent.

"She is so down to earth and honest, which is what I need," he reflected.

"When she says she likes something, she really does, and this is invaluable in life."