When I was growing up in the early 70s I used to listen to the charts and watch Top of the Pops and loved The Sweet and 10CC. My elder brother was really into Yes, Genesis, ELP, Floyd, Zep, Rainbow and Deep Purple and I could hear their classic albums blasting out from his bedroom and initially this is how I was attracted into rock / prog music. I used to look through his collection and marvel at the awesome album covers by Yes and Rainbow especially.
The first album I ever purchased was Rainbow's 'Down to Earth'. I bought the very first edition of Kerrang and discovered Michael Schenker and he has been my number one guitar hero ever since! In fact 1981 was a really special year for me as this was also the time that I came across Rush, Steve Hackett, UFO, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Scorpions, Y&T, Whitesnake and most other classic hard rock bands of the time.
Over the next couple of years melodic rock also captured my attention: Night Ranger, Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Toto, Survivor and Aldo Nova to name but a few. An important part of my musical development occurred during the early 90s when I was fortunate enough to manage Power Cuts (aka Yanks) record store in Manchester for almost 5 years. This is how I met Mr Mee and the Ashcrofts and the dearly missed Andy Barnes. They introduced me to Signal, Valentine, Diving for Pearls, Witness, World Trade, Harem Scarem and many many more quality artists. Tyketto's 'Don't Come Easy' was the first melodic rock album that I ordered as a new release for the shop and I take great pride in playing it every Saturday afternoon for three months solid and as a result selling numerous copies (if only I was on commission).
Over time my musical tastes have got heavier and Queensryche, Dream Theater, Vanden Plas, Fates Warning, Threshold and Evergrey have released many albums that I adore.
I'm still music mad and never stop getting a kick out of attending gigs. At last count I've seen over 1100 live shows (Rush, Michael Schenker and Steve Hackett account for over 150 of them). I own over 5000 albums and they are all cds or vinyl none of this digital nonsense! Rush tours take up a lot of my time (and money) as I've become rather obsessive over the past decade and have seen them all across the USA.
Bruce asked me to start writing for Fireworks six years ago and discovering new artists through reviewing their albums is a huge positive as well as meeting the rest of the gang who share the passion for this great music.