29th August, 1964, it was my third birthday and my cousin Ray had bought me a Beatles drum kit. I sat in the porch of our terraced house with Philip from next door, telling him which bits to hit as well as how and when to hit them. The cymbal was mine and mine alone.
Paul, obvs. He always looked like he was having a great time.
First Record: Batman Theme by Neil Hefti was a present, Sugar Sugar that's the first one I bought. In the house, we had She Loves You and Walk Tall on 45rpm. All of these, I loved intensely.
First Album: Oliver! The Soundtrack, followed rapidly by the Sound of Music. I had a great Top of the Pops album, the one with Jeepster/Gypsies, Tramps and Theives on it. Of my Mum and Dad's stuff, Iliked Dean Martin the best.
First Gig: The first one that I can remember is Englebert Humperdinck in Blackpool, probably in 1967-68. My Mum thought he was great, and had the first two albums (Release Me contains the epic Yours Until Tomorrow written by Goffin/King and is one of their lesser known classics). He was ably supported by Tanya the Elephant, of whom I was a massive fan. After that, I saw Mud at the Southport Floral Hall in 1974 ( when Tiger Feet was number one) and Nazareth at Liverpool Stadium the following year. They were supported by The Heavy Metal Kids, which was an eye-opener for a Catholic schoolboy like me.
First Guitar(s): Columbus Strat copy (needs a bit of restoration) Yamaha 12 string acoustic (still working, imbued with my DNA in various forms).
First keyboard: Bontempi organ, early 70s.. Crocodile Rock never sounded so good. Followed by a Casio MT 40, in the early 80s. I bumped into Andy McClusky in Whitechapel (Liverpool) in October 1982 and told him what a great little keyboard it was. (seemingly as used by The Human League for the flute riff in Open Your Heart). I reckon he was well impressed. The reason I can date this so clearly is that I was carrying a copy of the 20th anniversary reissue of 'Love Me Do' which I couldn't, in all honesty ask McClusky to sign, could I?
First Band: Feedback (1977-79), alongside Phil Southward (erstwhile; drumming neighbour), Tony Waine, Peter McArdy, Paul Coffee and Gary McGrath. We played local social clubs, school 'Folk Nights', parties and events, performing covers, with the occasional original song thrown in.
Other bands: Speed (1979-82) alongside Gary McGrath, Brian Wellens, Paul Topping and Mick Hughes. We did a few of our own songs (well mine TBH) some Beatles, Chuck Berry and a show stopping Wild Rover. we entered a talent competition (minus Paul Topping) as 'The Trendies'. My decision and I still haven't been forgiven for this. All great musicians.
Perfect Strangers (1984-86) alongside Gary McGrath, Julie Kilduff, Paul Topping and Mick Hughes. Evolution into soulier stuff, with Julie as a great singer. More emphasis on original songs, with the odd cover thrown in. Notable session on hospital radio (interviewed by Colin Riley!)
The Maybees 1994-2004, alongside David Topping, Gary McGrath, Colin Ludden, Ian Penketh and Andrew Bailey. In the age of landfill Indie bands, we managed not to get signed, despite several near misses. Huge initial emphasis on original material, like 'Attitude' with some good covers (a decent stab at 'Cars and Girls'). After a line up change, we recorded a CDs worth of original songs, some of which were written by the legendary Ian Penketh. Best gig was a Beatles Day one in Liverpool. We used to rehearse at Rigby's on Dale Street (run by Gaffer's Dad at the time) and played in the alley just by it the whole day long. Many Beatles covers, including A Day in the Life were in the rep, but the emphasis at this time was on original songs. We played the Lomax in Liverpool, the Liverpool Academy (Mountford Hall), the Everyman Bistro, the Star and Garter in Manchester, Rosie O'Grady's, Lennon's Bar, the Rubber Soul. Golden days. We fizzled out in the early noughties.
The Doonicans 2015-18: A school band made up of teachers, playing at school events, taking our name from the presence of Walk Tall in our repertoire. I loved that song when I was little and thought Val the epitome of cool, with his easy manner, guitar and varied wardrobe of jumpers. Personnel included the Gibson Brothers (Dave and Roy, not the lads who did Cuba) and the multi-talented Ian Forsyth.
Radio Plays: Autumnal (BBC 6Music, The Tom Robinson Show); Plan F (BBC 6Music, The Tom Robinson Show) North Atlantic Drift (BBC Radio Merseyside, Dave Monks)
Compilations: A Song in My Head is featured on the City of Sound compilation of music by artists from Liverpool and its environs (2015).
Liverpool Acoustic Song Competition: I reached the final ten in 2017, with The Boy With the Gretsch, a song about a piece of artwork depicting George Harrison.