It was around 1983, I still lived in my home town of Buxton, Derbyshire and I was partway through the bricklaying apprenticeship I hated so much. I’d been playing bass for around a year (I moved from guitar to bass after seeing Mark King on TV and also hearing Simple Mind’s ’Someone Somewhere In Summertime’) and was doing a few gigs with a local originals band. Even after these small local pub gigs I remember being so depressed the day after whilst putting one on top of two with the wind howling up my backside five scaffold lifts up. The reality of being a rock star or just a full-time musician seemed a far fetched dream that was unattainable. Add to this to constant advice to ‘just do you music as a hobby and work at a proper job’ from those that are supposed to care meant I was becoming more and more determined to do it!
After a couple of years and several line up changes of our Peak District Super Group we ended up with a new guitarist, Andy. To be honest he won’t be aware of this, but he and his twin brother Steve had a massive positive influence on me and my dream. You see, they were very much the ‘go for it’ type characters. Nothing was an issue and everything was achievable, which blew me away and made me realise that if I really want it I just need to do it. So, I started to practice more and got myself lessons in music theory and what do you know I started to improve especially in that at the time very fashionable slapping and popping thing.
Another fortuitous thing about being buddies with Andy and Steve was their dad, Barry, was a fabulous guitarist and singer songwriter who had had some great success along the road (some stories say Shane Fenton wanted him in his band but Barry didn’t want it. There were also stories about him auditioning for the Rollin Stones…). One night when we were rehearsing in the damp and starchy fish scented cellar of the singer’s parents Fish and Chip shop Andy brought Barry along to check the band out. Now, although Barry wasn’t too impressed with the band he did take a bit of a shine to me, which was due to my slapping prowess I think and, long story short, he asked me to play on some of the album tracks he was currently recording. WOW!
I practiced the songs day in day out until my fingers hurt and eventually we went into the studio (The Cottage, Macclesfield with ‘Bald Eagle’) and ‘cut’ the tracks. That was it. I’d landed. I’d tasted what it was like to be a real musician. I had seen behind the door and felt firsthand what it was like to be amongst that special group of humans. Plus it didn’t stop there, within a short while a tour of the South Coast was organised and I got to indulge in that fantastic heady feeling of being ‘on the road’. Playing venues with a proper big P.A system, having your equipment carried, soundchecks, being looked after, great audiences, silly drunken games… Fantastic! From then on I became even more single minded to get into this music thing and promptly left my job as a bricklayer to follow the very long, rocky road to stardom…
Fast forward thirty years, half a dozen records, too many lost record deals and failed bands, Hundreds of venues and festivals (and hours waiting), thousands of miles travelled around the world, gallons of alcohol and tonnes of junk food plus a very unstable relationship with music in general and I still get those same feelings.
But none of it beats this part of my musical journey and the excitement I have releasing my own material and I’m looking forward to the next album and the next after that.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone click here to listen to my last album ’Cheriton Drive’.
Thanks for your support and being a listener.
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