My private teachers
There were no jazz piano teachers that I knew of in East London, but I finally found one piano teacher that was willing to give me pop and rock songs to play.
At secondary school I pass all my exams except music! There’s a message here somewhere, as music has been my profession since 1967!
Still living at home after leaving school, my parents are not of the opinion that music is a career, so I join the Civil Service as a tax officer. By night I’m playing organ in R&B and soul bands.
My first pro job is a month-long residency at the Star club in Hamburg. I then play in various backing bands for singers including Percy Sledge, P J Proby and Joe Brown.
My own band
In the early 70’s I form my own band called Listen. We win the first Melody Maker rock band contest. I’m interviewed on ‘The Whistle Test’ and sign with EMI. Unfortunately, half the band is American and can’t get work permits, so the group fizzles out.
Musical Director and composer
From the mid 70’s I work in Musical Theatre, composing and directing music for many companies here and abroad. I particularly enjoy my work in Hong Kong with the Chung Ying Theatre group.
Bits and bobs
In the life of a musician, all sorts of weird and wonderful jobs come along like…
The Secret Policeman’s Ball: a show and subsequently a film for Amnesty International where I can be seen playing the piano.
The Garden of England: composing the music for a play about the 1984 Miners’ strike. My song ‘Coal Not Dole’ (lyrics by Kay Sutcliffe) has since become a protest anthem and has been recorded by artists including Martin Carthy, the Watersons and the Oyster Band.
Alton Towers: writing their parade music for many years.
The London Comedy Store: supplying the music on improvisation night.
Life as a vocal coach
All this work with actors in Musical Theatre resulted in my growing reputation as a vocal coach. I taught at The Webber Douglas Academy in London for a number of years (nearly 20!), preparing actors for auditions.
My own jazz piano teachers
Nick Weldon, Howard Riley and Tim RIchards have been inspirational, all wonderful jazz piano teachers and musicians.
Teaching and playing jazz piano
So this is me now, teaching piano full-time, playing the occasional gig and producing Learn Jazz Piano online.