About Me

In 1960, the year I was born in Maidstone, Kent, music was already a way of life in our household. My Mum, Dad and Uncle had their own group 'The Cameos'. Apparently, as soon as I could walk I was taking an interest. By the age of 4, I was singing songs and being recorded in the Fletcher garage studio. The sight of that reel to reel tape machine whirring away in the garage is one of my first memories.

 


It was probably the Beatles who eventually put the seal on my future. In 1967 I heard two particular records which made up my mind; Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. I was fascinated by the sounds the Beatles were making. It was the start of my life-long passion with studio work and production. Other influences came through Deep Purple, Steely Dan, Keith Emerson, Phil Spector, Stevie Wonder, and the list goes on. When I left school (at 15) I knew I had to to find a job in London within the music business. I remember writing many pleading letters to publishing companies, recording studios and record companies.

 

I think I got two replies and was finally offered a job as a tea boy/runner with ATV music publishing, then in Bruton Street W1. A year later I was offered a tape-op(erator) job at DJM studios in New Oxford Street and left ATV the very next day much to the displeasure of the Managing Director, Peter Phillips.

I was there for two years and was able to satisfy an obsession with the manipulation of tape. In the copy room, the many pieces of audio tape were often an inch deep on the floor. Many an hour was spent splicing a song back together in an alternative/windswept order. I eventually sort-of, graduated to engineer but all the time being in local bands was proving difficult. I recall on more than one occasion, sneaking the band in to the studio in the dead of night to use the studio and engineered our first recordings. As my band 'Atlantis' (see previous band name list) were getting mo 

re and more gigs in and around London, it became obvious I couldn't hold the studio job down as well as gig, so I made what was a big decision at the time to pursue the keyboards route.

 

One evening, at a gig at the 'St. Christopher' pub in Eton, met Anne-Marie Mackay (who eventually became my manager), to whom I'm always indebted as she really got me my first proper gig. She was married to Duncan Mackay then the keyboard player for Steve Harley's Cockney Rebel. When Duncan left Steve's band to join 10CC, I stepped in. All the time I was trying, with an element of success, to break into the studio scene. I had worked with a producer on a Belouis Some record who worked at the Gallery (Phil Manzanera's old studio). Roxy Music were auditioning keyboard players there for their Avalon tour, he suggested I pop down. So I did.

I joined Bryan Ferry's Roxy Music in 1981 for their last great outing (before this recent revival of course). That was my introduction to world tours. I was 21, with bleached white hair with a red streak across the fringe. (yuk!) The photo in the article above was just before that memorable visit to the Tony and Guy salon in Mayfair.

I first met Mark Knopfler in 1983, when I turned up at his house with a DX7 under my arm. My roots were certainly not based in the blues of the Northern Maestro, but oddly enough, I didn't seem to have much trouble making the transition. Blues and country may have been a little out of my remit, but I've always felt at home with the material. It was during the making of the Notting Hillbillies album that I really started to realize the many musical connections'. Since 1983 I've been involved in all Mark's work both in Dire Straits, the solo albums 'Golden Heart', 'Sailing to Philadelphia', 'Ragpicker's dream', 'Shangri-La', 'Kill to get Crimson', 'Get Lucky' and all the film projects.

I have of course collaborated with many others such as Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, Aztec Camera, Difford and Tillbrook (STP appearances). Notably, though my connection with Mark, I was fortunate enough to work with and get to know the wonderful Chet Atkins.  The late Willie De Ville and Randy Newman were also notable landmarks.

the 'Rickenbacker'

A lot of what I enjoy doing now, especially since the completion of A-Bay Studios...is to compose for film and television. I've spent the last couple of years working on projects of my own, often with my good friend and partner Rupert Gregson Williams. A few years ago we worked together on the ITV series 'At home with the Braithwaites' (four series) and more recently 'William and Mary'. Then it was the movies..My first full-blown feature film soundtrack was 'Tooth' complete with fully orchestral 72 minute score. That was quite a challenge but I went on to do three more features, 'Sergeant Pepper', 'Spirit Trap' and 'Niagara Motel'.

Thanks to my brother Danny for knocking this website up in no time at all. Danny joined us on bass guitar late last year on the Mark Knopfler Promotional tour in Europe and South America. We had a lot of fun.

As you can see here, I do have a mild fascination for the Hawaiian lap steel guitar and it has been known for me to embarrass myself onstage from time to time. Seriously, I do use the steels quite regularly in the studio, AND on the occasional session. This one is a Rickenbacker bakelite model B from the early 1940's. I blame Richard Bennett for this obsession as it was his 'wall of desire' which first turned me on to the beauty of these instruments so rarely used these days.

I now have a 'w.o.d.' of my own.


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