My love of music can probably be traced back to the Dave Clark Five’s 1964 single “Bits And Pieces”. Being jigged about to the 2 minute antiphonal (google it) hit whilst a toddler was at the beginning of an ongoing journey of musical discovery.
Inevitably, things led to Top Of The Pops and the glam of Slade and T Rex (first album bought was ‘Electric Warrior’) and onto a boys grammar school where a whole new musical world opened up. Seeing the sixth formers carrying albums under their arm was my first encounter with the initially weird and wonderful worlds of bands such as Genesis, Yes, Led Zeppelin and ELP, their names and logos scratched on desks and books and many of whom were enjoying their Indian Summers of the mid and late seventies. The gatefold sleeves, the artwork and lyrics soon had me entranced and became an all consuming passion; a lifetime’s devotion to Prog Rock becoming set in stone.
It was 1979 when Thin Lizzy became my first ever live gig – the ‘Black Rose’ line up delivering that adrenaline rush which goes with witnessing any live music and the first of many many gigs over the past 35 years from the small clubs to the arenas, stadia and festivals.
Moving seamlessly into the eighties there was the Nu-Prog era led by lifelong favourites Marillion – a friend on my university course by the name of John Dexter Jones (Jump anyone?) knew that being a big Genesis fan, I might be interested in seeing this band down at Bangor’s student union. That was also one of my earliest attempts to photograph a gig; the images have that ‘early days’ feel about them, but it was the start of the fascination with gig photography which is very much part of what I do today.
There was also the start of the seduction by the ever so slightly related fields of harder edged rock and metal – all the classic bands of course! By this time I was also becoming more interested in photography and smuggling a camera into gigs was becoming an art with some successful forays into early eighties Genesis and Steve Hackett gigs, the seeds for another passion were being sown.
From a time when anything non-Prog was anathema to me, I’ve mellowed in my old age, to the extent of discovering the delights of traditional folk and acoustic music and the constant stream of new music coming through a passion as gig-goer, music photographer and writer being far too good to ignore. With favourite artists and favourite songs which change daily, even hourly, music continues to be a major part in my life having forsaken the safety net of a career in teaching to set up my own photography business and create the time to write for a number of music related outlets including co-presenting on the Sonic Bandwagon show on Stockport’s Pure FM.
If pushed I’d say my desert island choices would include these albums, tracks and bands: