Ray Paul

Fireworks & Rocktopia Staff Writer
Ray Paul
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I got my first taste of music as most do from the radio in the seventies, upon getting a record player around 7 years old. I really found my true love in music, when my father gave me a batch of singles and albums he no longer wanted, and I began to spin them every day.

For every classic album like ‘The Kinks’ or ‘Golden Hour Of George Harrison’, I had ‘Bugs Bunny Comes To London’ or ‘The Adventures of Captain Scarlet’!. Amongst my first singles were Charlie Drake ‘Please Mr Custer’ and The Yardbirds ‘Heart Full Of Soul’, which I count as my first real step into rock music.

By 1978 I got my first ‘true’ rock album - Status Quo ‘Blue For You’. Recommended by a friend at school, this began my love for rock in all its forms. By 1981, I had attended my first two concerts – Saxon (mind-blowingly loud!) and The Police (lots of screaming girls) - and began to feverishly seek out rock albums from junk and record shops to add to my collection.

Growing up in London, I was lucky enough to be able to attend many rock clubs, and tried to get to as many gigs as I could. The old Marquee club in London was a great place to see bands - Magnum, Vow Wow, Budgie, and even Tesla on their first ever UK date!

Hammersmith was a regular haunt for gigs for me (renamed the Apollo, but to us real rock fans it will always affectionately be ‘The Odeon’), and I caught Venom on the Seven Dates of Hell tour, with a little known support band called Metallica... unfortunately I missed them - I was in the pub!

Then it happened. I got a Boots record voucher for Christmas and bought Kiss ‘Unmasked’ in 1980. Despite narrowly missing the tour, I became a massive fan of theirs. Kiss became the band that really changed my life, and I began to collect everything I could on them, from seventies merchandise like lunch boxes, to the original Mego dolls (or as they are called today, action figures!). At a chance meeting at an Ace Frehley signing in 1987 in London, I met and became friends with a guy running a Kiss fan club, and by 1988 I was Director of the UK seat of the Kiss Army International. I did this for ten years, even sitting down and interviewing Gene Simmons for almost an hour during the reunion tour, a dream come true.

I have sang and been a drummer in a number of bands over the years, purely for fun, and I’m an avid record and rock biography collector, as well as a film buff.

I especially enjoy trips to the United States, with of course California being my favourite destination. Having frequented the many renowned clubs and bars in L.A., I have been lucky enough to bump into people like Slash (literally), Cyndi Lauper, Gene Simmons and even passed Clint Eastwood and Nicholas Cage. My biggest celebrity to bump into in the city of angels? – sitting back to back over a burger in Denny’s with none other than Lionel Blair!

What does surprise many people is I am a massive fan of The Beach Boys, and one of my most special moments was meeting Bruce Johnston of the band. My music tastes really do vary – from Journey and the immortal voice of Steve Perry, to Jethro Tull, Electric Wizard, Frank Marino and ELO.

I attended my first Gods show in 2000 and picked up a copy of Fireworks, shortly after subscribing to the magazine. In 2005, I offered Fireworks a review of a Journey show in the US that I was attending. Subsequently, I ended up photographing and meeting the band at the prestigious Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, and have been writing for the team ever since.

I have discovered some wonderful music through the magazine, and made many new friends. Some of my stand out phone interview moments while working for Fireworks magazine have been Rickey Medlocke and Jimi Jamison, and my reviewing has allowed me to meet wonderful personalities such as Roger Hodgson of Supertramp and Biff Byford of Saxon. One of my most memorable phone calls was one regular Saturday teatime at home.

“Ray, the phone for you…it’s Paul Stanley!"

What I love about Fireworks magazine is everyone on the team does this for the love of the music, and a chance to bring everyone that bit closer to our passion.

RAY PAUL

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