I was tinkling around on the guitar and could play a few cords but had no real direction and had not got the bug yet. But then a breakthrough. I was sat at a friends house, who just happened to be a very good guitarist for a 14 year old, and we were listening to Pink Floyds “Dark side of the Moon” when he suddenly plugged in an Electric Guitar and started jamming along. That was it!! My mind was sufficiently blown and within half and hour, i had his other guitar in my hands, and having been shown the simple bass line to the track to “Breathe” was jamming along too. To cut a long story short, within 6 weeks I had acquired a Electric Bass and by Summers end had the Amp and Cab required for action. The winter of 1974 was cold, but the recruiting of a Rhythm Guitarist and Drummer warmed things greatly and by spring 1975 I was in my first band “Kashmir”.
The next 12 months saw a lot of rehearsal and a few small gigs at parties and scout huts. Our set lists included songs by The Beatles, The Stones, The Doobie Bros, Blues standards and the chart hits of the day. By the spring of 1976 we had changed the band name to “Crazy Diamond” and now had 2 lead singers fronting the band, allowing us to play better paying local pubs and clubs. By now already nervous parents were becoming more nervous as it seemed that Rock n Roll may begin too disrupt the prospect of a successful, well rounded education.
The next epiphany, was the discovery of Portsmouth Guild hall. For the next 2 years every penny was spent on catching the biggest bands of the day. The second concert I went to was Thin Lizzy on the “JailBreak” tour of autumn 1976. It quite simple changed my life. In Phil Lynott I saw the classic lead singing Bass player, who cast a spell on the 2,400 that had come to see the band and I instantly knew the path I wanted to take.
For the next 3 years I saw bands such as, Black Sabbath, Wishbone Ash, Lynrrd Skynrrd, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Camel, Budgie and the great James Brown. By now I was also venturing to Southampton and London to catch many great bands. With the advent of Punk in early 1977 the music landscape had changed. And a year later in the spring of 1978, now wanting to play my own material, i teamed up with 3 lads from a Punk band who were looking to write original songs too. Between my Funk based Blues and there Edgy Punk intensity we fused together and formed a band called “Cigarette”. We were the “Chilli Peppers” before the Chilli Peppers and had an amazing 2 years playing all over the place and recording and drinking and “hedging-jumping”. This was the first time i played and sang my own songs in a band and it was a very special time for me. I loved being in that band.
Spring 1980 saw things changed. The other 3 members of Cigarette had become restless and left for London to get work. I just wanted to play music, so actively sought another band. It was at this moment that “The Jets” entered my life. I had seen the 2 singer/guitarists in a pub 6 months earlier and the quality of the playing and particularly the harmonies “blew me away”. So when they asked me to help them out at a couple of gigs i jumped at the chance. Even pushing my gear 2 miles in a wheel barrow to one of the sound checks. It was my first introduction to the world of “three part harmonies”, and life would never be the same. We ended up a 4 piece band and with the introduction of a brilliant drummer all types of music were available to the band. In 15 months we played some 200 gigs together and become incredibly tight and powerful. From Jazz Funk to Reggae, from Rock to Pop and Punk anything was possible. A Great bunch of guys and a musical education for sure.
Then it was “London Calling”. One of the lads from Cigarette had a spare room in a house in Dagenham. So I left my job on the IOW. Armed with a suitcase, Bass guitar and £200 I set off for Town. When I got there I was told we were being evicted the next morning…! Unbelievable! But we were indeed evicted the next morning. So we jumped on a tube across London and found ourselves in the “Bed and Breakfast Land” of West London. We ended up getting digs in Paddington and stayed there for nearly a year. I got a job in a “Deli” in Baker Street and started trawling the music press classifieds, looking for bands wanting a Bass player. I auditioned all over London, from Putney to West ham from Highgate to Brixton. Then finally I found the band “Blow-up”. They had advertised in the Melody Maker and i went to the audition in a giant warehouse in West Kensington. We hit it off straight away and the next 18 months saw us recording and playing all over London and around the South-east of England. Now 1981, music had become “New-wave”. Punk had disappeared, Pop music was back and the single ruled. We played all original material and were an edgy Pop band with new-wave sensibility. We were supporting The Ruts, drinking with “The Dolly Mixtures”, who had just signed to Paul Weller’s new record label, and it felt like it was just a matter of time before we were going to breakthrough. But “Rock n Roll” excess and Musical differences, Yawn, split the band. I was devastated. I hung on in London for another year but never recovered from the huge highs and desperate lows of that experience. I returned to the IOW a broken man sometime later.
It took me a year to recover. I slept and I walked and I talked to the sky and eventually replenished my soul and the desire to make music returned. I began writing again and soon sought a collaborator. I met with a singer looking for some original material to sing. Soon the band “Nil Desparandum” was formed in the heady climate of the mid1980s. The Synth and Fashion were dominating Pop music, but we were drawn to the amazing guitar music of bands such as “The Clash”, “The Cure” and “The Smith’s”. We ended up with one Acoustic guitar and 2 voices. We literally drove around on Friday and Saturday nights looking for gigs where we could play 3 songs in other bands break. It was a great vibe and the songs I was writing had a spiritual angst, reflecting the times. We attempted to expand the line up with the addition of a guitarist and drummer but alas this came to nothing and the venture ran out of steam. But, the freshness of the Songs greatly enhanced my confidence in the performing of my own material again. It was a very important band for me. I needed a break from the intensity of the writing and performing of original material. So returned to Singing and playing Bass in a cover band “The Johnson Brothers”. We played pubs and clubs and covered the hits of the day. The nucleus of Bass, Drums and guitar was regularly joined by a top soloist playing either Sax, keyboard or lead guitar. I was finally a lead singing, Bass playing, front man and the Vibes were good.
On Christmas Eve 1987 at 2 o’clock in the afternoon something happened that would dictate the course of the next 20 years. I bumped into another singer/ songwriter who’s work I really enjoyed. Both frustrated with Christmas shopping and needing a pint, we retreated to the pub. We Decided to start writing together and within months had started a band, “Sporting Life”. Initially a duo we added a drummer and a guitarist and within a year were playing gigs in London. We decided to become full time players and would use Gigs, playing cover versions, to finance the recording and gigging of Our original material. A year later “Sporting Life”, became our cover band and “The Wayward Sons” the platform for Our original material. The die was cast and the short version is that Together, for the next 2 decades, we would play some 5,000 gigs, write 100 songs, Record 4 albums, 2 EPS and a single, travel all over Britain and Ireland, Holland, Austria and the USA, have songs on the radio, Management support, Major label interest, National press, Top support gigs with some Big Pop names of that era and thankfully, Lots of fans. We also Drank and smoked obscenely, Loved and fought continually, Laughed and cried constantly, whilst always being permanently poor and emotionally exhausted…! The long version is exactly the same just with more detail and will surely be a book one day.
Upon the demise of the incredible journey that was being a “Wayward Son” all I knew was that I had to keep playing. The only way to get through something as Seismic as the End of that Era, was to change nothing and to just keep going. I was still in “Sporting Life” ! And “Sporting Life” had dates booked, gigs had to be played and bookings honoured. So I just let the momentum of a working band that i had been in for 20 plus years, carry me down the river of life, too wherever it was going to take me. For the next 3 years I worked with some great musicians and took over full responsibility of the vocals. And then a New country…… One of the Gigs told me that they could not afford a duo anymore. So they asked me if could I do the gig solo! This was totally new territory for me, as I had always worked with someone else. But I bit the bullet and another Epiphany took place. My life was changed again and for the next 3 years on a Thursday night I would play Solo in that pub and forge my future. The freedom and new confidence that playing solo brought me, enabled a new type of writing and performing to flourish and thus gave birth to the Solo singer/songwriter that i am today.
It’s been a Fantastic Musical Journey for sure, and one I am still on. It’s not over by any means. Music has been the narrative of my life. It has shaped who and what I am. I continue to Write, Record and perform on a constant basis andI look forward to the next song i write, the next tune i record and the next gig I play…………. All of which are continually, only a few days away.