For virtually all of the 40 years of my life so far I’ve lived in the uninspiring Staffordshire town of Tamworth, home of Sir Bob Catley and Blaze Bayley & Wolfsbane (and less interestingly Sir Robert Peel, Julian Cope and two runaway pigs). I’m married to Izzy, have two lovely daughters (who I love even more since they have both now moved out!) and, unusually for someone who has lived in The Midlands all his life, support Norwich City (long story!)
Music has always been a big part of my life, there was always something on at home when I was growing up, be it Radio 2 or albums by the likes of Cliff Richard, Abba, The Beatles and Tony Christie, who I was named after (I bumped into him in Waitrose in Lichfield once but restrained myself from asking him if he ever actually did find Amarillo.) But the one band that really stood out and made me take notice of Rock music was the Electric Light Orchestra, to which I have my Dad to thank for introducing me. Not only was I completely entranced by the amazing melodies and arrangements of Jeff Lynne, but also the pounding drums of Bev Bevan, which led me to a) take up playing the drums (which I really should have stuck to, though it is like riding a bike) and b) searching for more similar hard-rocking styles of music. The next band I discovered was the mighty Status Quo – this being the mid-eighties they had just released the ‘In The Army Now’ album which became my first purchase (swiftly followed by ‘Twelve Gold Bars 1 +2’ which introduced me to the “real” Quo!)
Then came the pivotal time. Three albums were released in a fairly short space of time, namely Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’, Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’ and Whitesnake’s ‘1987’ and their chart-bothering batch of hit singles and videos. My life was changed forever. Then an accidental viewing of the Rock chart on The Chart Show introduced me to some lesser-known bands (this side of the pond anyway) from the U.S.A. like White Lion, Great White and Cinderella that made me appreciate those bands that had to work just a little harder to get recognition. Then I found Headbangers Ball on MTV, where I discovered the likes of Tesla, Mr. Big, Damn Yankees, Danger Danger, Firehouse and the band that would eventually become my absolute favourite, Tyketto (the tattoo on my right arm proudly displaying my love for them.) Obviously Grunge came and went and pushed my beloved melodic music underground, yet I feel it emerged stronger and wiser, and with it came assistance from Scandinavia where I feel the strength of the scene now lies. But over the years my horizons have broadened considerably, I’m now happy to take in an extremely broad range of styles, from Country and Southern through AOR and Melodic Rock and all the way to Alternative, Prog, Metal, Thrash, Symphonic… and many other sub-genres that seem to emerge on a regular basis. And many of the bands that have become favourites I have discovered through Fireworks.
I began writing for Fireworks quite by accident, thanks to my friends in Sheffield band Crimes Of Passion. I had been a subscriber of the magazine for some time, then in an e-mail to our esteemed editor Bruce Mee I asked if he would feature an interview with Crimes in an upcoming issue. “Sure”, he replied, “but I have nobody to do it. Unless you fancy having a go?” How could I resist an offer like that? I journeyed up to Sheffield to meet with COP at their debut album release party and recorded an interview. Seeing the interview in print gave me the bug to get involved even more and I began writing reviews, and the rest is history. Then in 2012 I was asked to become Assistant Reviews Editor by then Reviews Ed. Paul Jerome Smith, who was then succeeded by Dave Scott, with whom I feel I have established a great working relationship. Fireworks Magazine is going from strength to strength, and I am very proud and privileged to be part of such an excellent team of writers.