My professional playing started in 1963 when at the age of 15 I joined Teesside based band 'The Denvers' playing for the American Armed Forces in France and during this period the band recorded 'Liverpool Party' in Paris for the Polydor record company.
Upon my return to the UK in 1965 I joined the R&B influenced band 'The Whirlwinds' and supported many of the big Liverpool bands at the 'Outlook Club' in Middlesbrough including The Big Three, The Searchers, The Undertakers etc.
With the help of Max Abrams I passed an audition in London for my first theatre engagement which was at the Floral Hall in Scarborough (North Shore, sadly now demolished). The show featured the comedy legend Jimmy Clitheroe and a full variety supporting cast. Best of all I was required to play for the Sunday concerts that featured visiting top entertainers from Radio & TV including Roy Castle, Andy Stewart, Kathy Kirby, Jimmy Tarbuck, Susan Maughan, Val Doonican, Max Bygraves, Frankie Vaughan, Tommy Cooper etc. The rehearsal for the show consisted of a quick play through the music from 2.00pm till 5.00pm followed by two evening shows, a great way to develop your sight reading.
The following year continued with more of the same, this time at the Princess Theatre
in Torquay. The show stared Val Doonican who at that time was the most popular entertainer
in the UK. I played in the pit orchestra and Val had his own group on stage led by
jazz guitarist Jimmy Currie (Jimmy was Lonnie Donegan's guitarist for many years
I then took a long break from working with Val, returning in the late 70's for another long season in Eastbourne and more touring and recording .
1970 saw a migration from Tito's in Stockton to a club just down the road in Norton called the 'Club Fiesta' joining the Bob Peacock Band. The Club Fiesta was one of the biggest and most prestigious clubs outside of London (probably even better than the London clubs) and it featured the biggest artists anywhere in the world. Regular visiting artists included, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Three Degrees, The Beach Boys, Neil Sedaka, Blue Mink, The Seekers, Tony Christie, Tommy Cooper etc.…
I had always been a big fan of the Jazz/Rock/Blues band 'Back Door' and their saxophonist Ron Aspery would occasionally stand in with the 'Fiesta' band. This led to him asking me if I would like to try out as a replacement for their current drummer, Tony Hicks. This was the end of my Cabaret days and the start of something completely different…. Welcome to 'Rock & Roll'!
BACK DOOR 1974 -
Started a long association as part of the Musicians Union Rock Workshop team (1976
Whilst still playing intermittent gigs with Val Doonican I joined singer Tony Christie’s
band (1978 -
Continued working with the Musicians Union workshop team which featured Derek Wadsworth (Musical Director, trombone & electric Didgeridoo!) Colin Hodgkinson (bass guitar & vocals) Geoff Castle (keyboards) and Rick Morecombe (guitar). Over the ensuing years various workshop members included Colin Dudman (piano) Les Davidson (guitar) Alan Holdsworth (guitar) Bill Le Sage (vibraphone) Glen Hughes (bass guitar) Paul Carmichael (bass) Don Weller (saxophone) Tom Blades (guitar) Rob Burns (bass guitar).
The musical instrument group Rose Morris put together a concert at 'Olympia' in London billed as the 'The All Star Rock Band' featuring Jon Anderson (Yes) Jack Bruce (Cream) Alan Holdsworth (Tony Williams Lifetime) Brian Chatton (John Miles) and myself.
Al Grey, Kai Winding, Jimmy Knepper, Phil Wilson, Jimmy Forest, Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis, Sonny Stitt
Ken Peplowski, Scott Hamilton, Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson, Charles Mc Pherson, James Moody
Teddy Edwards, Spike Robinson, Buddy De Franco & Terry Gibbs, Harry Allen, Red Holloway
Kenny Davern, Barney Kessel, Charlie Byrd, Cal Collins, Tal Farlow, Al Casey, Herb Ellis, Doug Rainey, Howard Alden, Louis Stewart, Mundell Lowe, Oliver Jones, Gene Harris,
Jessica Williams, Ray Bryant, Art Farmer, Nat Adderley, Joe Newman, Warren Vache, Red Rodney, Bobby Shew. Also some great UK jazz artists including. Peter King, Don Weller, Mark Nightingale, Steve Waterman, Roy Williams, Alan Skidmore, Jim Mullen, John Etheridge, Stan Tracey Octet, Art Themen, Dave O’Higgins, Mornigton Lockett, Henry Lowther.
Adrian Tilbrook, Just Drumming!