Country of Residence:
|In the beginning...
I started playing drums at age six. My father, an accomplished
accordion player, taught me the basics of playing and reading music
before taking me to lessons with Graham Willeard of Drumland in
Dartford. After four years with Graham, I studied with Bob Cleall from
Rochester. Amongst other things, Bob taught me how to transcribe drum
music. Years later he was commissioned to transcribe a selection of
Steve Gadd's performances for a tutor book and got stuck on a
particular solo from Steve's 'Up Close' video. I was able to help him
out and he kindly made sure I got a credit.
By the age of twelve I was playing with a local progressive-rock band
called 'Sindelfingen' which was fronted by a brilliant guitarist called
Richard Manktelow and also featured my brother Mark on bass. This
involved playing long complicated pieces of music in all manner of time
signatures... 21/16 sticks in my mind! I also developed an interest in
playing guitar at this time.
For my thirteenth birthday the members of Sindelfingen
clubbed together to buy me my first guitar, a 'Hofner Verithin', which
I still have. Richard soon had me playing various guitar parts in songs
At fifteen I spotted an advert in Melody Maker... the
London Youth Jazz Orchestra were looking for players and my father took
me to the audition in Wandsworth. I passed, as did Duncan Gaffney and
so we shared the drum chair. He was a natural jazzer whereas I leant
more towards the rock and funk side of big band drumming - it was a
good balance. Each week there were guest conductors, all highly
respected musicians such as Barbara Thompson, Kathy Stobart and Eddie
Harvey. My time with LYJO culminated in a week-long tour of Holland in
early '77, just when I was supposed to be taking my mock O'levels. I
remember my school was not exactly thrilled when my father asked for
special leave for me to go on the tour... in fact they said no. But my
father had no illusions about my academic ambitions and to his credit
insisted I go. The tour was a great success. I failed all my mocks.
Around the same time my drum teacher Bob recommended me for a local
dinner/dance residency at a motel called the 'Inn on the Lake'. This
was playing in a nine-piece show band every Friday and Saturday,
reading lots of charts. Extra gigs came in and I was often doing four
or five nights a week. My mother (incidentally a flute player) was also
my roadie and driver, sometimes picking me up from school and taking me
straight to gigs.
On leaving school in the summer of '77 the show band gig soon came to
an end but I stayed with the bandleader as part of his backing band for
his cabaret floorshow. He did fire eating, juggling and allsorts - it
was certainly entertaining - at least for his backing band!
Needless to say that didn't last long but he put me forward for a band
called 'Flint', whose drummer had just left. They were doing a
residency at 'La Dolce Notte', a restaurant in Jermyn Street, six
nights a week and a club elsewhere on a Sunday. Still too young to
drive, my Mum, bless her, was now chauffeuring me from our home in
Gillingham to London seven days a week in our trusty (most of the time)
blue Austin Mini-Van. Before I joined Flint they had already passed an
audition to appear on the TV talent show 'New Faces'. In the January of
'78 we won the show and secured a recording contract with Mickie Most
at RAK Records. Unfortunately the single only reached 47 in the charts
but the band worked pretty much non-stop playing all kinds of clubs,
summer seasons, air force bases and the like.
I started getting hired for sessions at a local studio in Rochester and
after five years with Flint, in the autumn of '82; I decided to go it
alone. This was quite a step as I had not long been married, bought a
house and acquired a mortgage! Fortunately before long I got a call to
do a tour of Spain with folk/rock band Magna Carta.
It turned out to be the first of many tours to come... and with many different artists.