I was born at an early age in 1948 at Catterick Military Hospital Yorkshire. The son of Gerrard, a Leeds born man of Irish parentage, who was a Warrant Officer in the RAF Regiment at the time, and North Yorkshire lass Phyllis, whose middle class family came from The Vale of York and beyond. I am the youngest brother of Michael and Susan. I was transported to Leeds, when I was less than a year old. My father was a very funny man and a great philosopher with three philosophies,
"Never stand up when you can sit down and never sit down when you can lie down"
"A second class ride is better than a first class walk" and
"The evil a man do will always be remembered, the good is interred with his bones" (Shakespeare) My equivelant is
"You are only only as good as your worst slander" Oh there's a fourth
"Never drink out of damp glasses"
My mother tolerated him.
As I grew up, I quickly became aware of what was happening musically in this city of mines, mills, trams, steam trains and soot. Nothing: except "The Yellow Rose Of Texas", Ruby Murray and "The Happy Wanderer" that I could play on mouth organ at the age of 6. My father ,who was stationed in Germany until I was about 8, brought home a mouth organ every 6 months, when he came home on leave. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, when my uncle John taught me to play and he was amazing. Don't get me wrong, there was some wonderful music in the 50's but it all started for me with Johnny Duncan and Lonnie Donegan, a man with a passion for Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie and Big Bill Broonzy. As always in the world of music, they had to give it a nametag; Skiffle and that's when I picked up my first guitar. A plastic four string ukelele with a picture of Tommy Steele on the front. I conquered, or thought I'd had, Paul Anka's "Diana" on a single string when I was 8, but there was a long way to go. Skiffle was perculiar to Britain, running along the side of Rock n Roll, the two eventually blended together by the time Cliff Richard and the Shadows came along. We listened to everything American. Elvis, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy, Dion, Little Richard, Bobby Darin, Del Shannon. It was at that time Buddy Holly was killed and an eleven year old boy, was devastated. A couple of years later, I bought my first six-string guitar for a pound, from a school friend Chris Cape. Trying to learn Hank, Duane and Buddy Holly overnight, on an instrument at best would have made a good cattle grid. Come to think of it, I think it ended up under a cow.
In 1963 The Fab Four whipped me into shape, along with thousands of others and it was obvious that big changes were coming. I think some of us were diverted into soul music and folk singing. I liked it all. Sophistication and dexterity were just around the corner, for the chosen few, but not me. I didn't have the right fingers. I went around another corner and started playing and writing simple songs, for NYPL and various other outfits I played with, throughout my time. I could go on at length into the most boring of detail, on what I played on and whether I got paid, but the truth is, it's all a bit of a blurr. I put down what I remembered in the History page
"Don't have the party" Topper said and we didn't.
So that brings me to the present. A few albums with the band I have been in for the past hmmm…. years. That is New York Public Library, a band of many facets, some of them bald, but not an ego in sight.
I have put a couple of albums together of my own, called Profit A Man and The Powers That Be. My buddy, Captain Russell Brown, a trawler man from Grimsby, slapped an indisputable bass on it, when he was ashore and not drunk. He said I had an ego. Wherever I go, ego's
I have had the pleasure of playing with some great musicians and singers in my life and I hope some of it has rubbed off. From the humble beginnings of my first group in Leeds in 1963 to the humble, rumblings of the present, I have always been honoured, amazed, perplexed and sometimes absorbed with guys I have worked with, but never bored. If music is its own reward, I consider myself a rich man. So how come I'm skint?
I listen to Mickey Newbury, Tom Russell, Charlie Robison, Fred Eaglesmith, Robin Williamson, Johnny Cash, The Blue Nile, Etta James, Ray Charles, Dusty, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, The Rankin Family, Mary Black, Sandy Denny, Kate Rusby, Martin Simpson to name but a few. I Love the amazing Planxty and Dick Gaughan's simple complexity, the sheer inventiveness of Sparks and the passion of Neil Young. David Crosby and Mickey Newbury will always be at the top of my list and my inspirations will always be, The Beatles, The Stones, The Incredible String Band, The Byrds, The Spoonful, The Beach Boys, Free, Clapton and Spencer Davis, who started my balls rolling. There are just too many to mention and if I start on Bob Dylan, Sinatra, Knopfler, JJ Cale or Ry Cooder, Little Feat, I'd never stop. Let me out of here. There are so many great new singer/song-writing artists arriving on the scene as I write and I say there can never be too many of those. Oh yes, I forgot that fellow Springsteen. He can write and sing a bit too. So wishing you all who visit this site and managed to trawl through this diatribe, good hunting and good listening. Pete