I blame my brother for getting me hooked on rock. I was an avid ABBA fan when he joined the Brittania Music Company around 1978, and one of the first albums he bought was Rainbow 'Rising'. It didn't take long for those majestic vocals and melodies to weave their magic into my soul, and I've been a devout rocker ever since. In those formative years, I was more into German and European "riff-rock" than my brother's favoured American AOR. Bands like Trance, Accept, Pretty Maids and Scorpions were never far from my record deck, although my one true love was the UK's very own Magnum. But it wasn't long before the melodic delights of Nightranger, Survivor, Journey and their ilk also had me under their spell - as long as it was melodic, and hard-rocking, then chances are I would love it!
After 4 years at Glasgow University doing Electronic Enginnering, I moved down to Stockport, England to work. Here, in 1988, I hooked up with Mark Ashton on the AOR/Melodic Rock fanzine Boulevard, which we ran for 5 years. We only gave this up due to the initial success of our fledgling record label, Now & Then Records. This was the original AOR independent record label, and fshow-cased the likes of Gary Hughes, Ten, Mark Free, Jeff Paris, James Christian, Crown of Thorns, Red Dawn, Millenium, Jorn Lande and countless other classic melodic rock acts. The label, unfortunately, stopped running in 2003, but by that time I had already started Fireworks, which since the year 2000 has been the #1 English language magazine for all things AOR/melodic rock/Classic Rock and Prog. During this time we have built up an absolutely superb team of writers, covering all the genres that can be collected under the umbrella term of 'melodic rock'. And it is this team that we bring to Rocktopia, bringing you all the latest news, reviews and interviews from the world of commercial hard rock.
In 2005, along with my fellow Fireworks writer Kieran Dargan, we started the Firefest Festival – an annual event created to celebrate all things melodic hard rock, celebrating our 10th Anniversary show in 2013. We have had an absolutely amazing array of well-known bands playing at Firefest, including many that reformed just to appear! Names including the likes of FM, Romeo’s Daughter, Nelson, Firehouse, TNT, House of Lords, Robin Beck, Neal Schon, Jimi Jamison, Lynch Mob, Tyketto, Hardline, the first ever W.E.T. live show, Strangeways, Unruly Child, Steve Augeri … just go to www.firefestofficial.com and check out the History. 2014 sees the original line-up of Danger Danger appearing for the first time together in over 20 years, along with live UK debuts for Autograph and Black N’ Blue amongst others. Sadly, this is planned to be the final Firefest … but we can always live in hope.