I was born in London. A long time ago when bombs were falling from the skies: there were no Bananas, and radio was the music and the word. The years passed and then, in 1959 I fell in love with Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald. It was Margie Hendricks roaring out the chorus of “Night Time is the Right Time” on a cafe Juke Box that ‘made me wanna holler, made me wanna sing’ and the voice of Ella on her hit of those times ‘Every time we say goodbye.’ These early Musical memories gave me a life long love of the Jazz and Blues voice both in melody and improvisation.
I started singing regularly in the streets of London and along the south coast in the sixties, working with assorted guitar and harmonica players until I formed my first band; THE RACE. This Blues and Folk based outfit worked mainly in the London area with one or two visits to the Continent to play at Blues Festivals. Played mainly clubs and colleges, & supported among other luminaries of the time, Cream, John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, The Yardbirds, Graham Bond Organization, Howling Wolf, Buddy Guy and Freddy King. Since those early explorations into the world of singing and earning a crust, I have recorded & or toured in U.K. America, Scandinavia, most of Europe, Poland, Estonia and beyond.
From those early beginnings I then worked with DELIVERY with Steve and Phil Miller, Lol Coxhill and Roy Babbington.
In the nineties I met the composer Orlando Gough and was invited to sing in his opera, Hotel, libretto by Caryl Churchill, followed a piece called ‘Shouting Fence’ which begat THE SHOUT, a16 and sometimes more strong vocal group formed by Orlando and the singer, composer Richard Chew. I worked with that company for over 10 years alongside gigs with my own Music.
In 2003 after many years of not recording, I did an album, ‘Mother’, produced by my friend Ian Shaw; featuring among others, Annie Whitehead, Jose Cupido, Harry Becket, Stan Adler, Steve Watts, Elton Dean, Mark Fletcher, and Greg Wain, another Shout singer, playing Guitars.
Later on in that decade I recorded some of my performance poetry in a CD called ‘Something Secret.’ My previous recordings are all listed on my web site.
In the last few years I have been working with the pianist Dorian Ford, doing live work and composing. The line up, together with myself and Dorian, is Winston Clifford, drums, Neville Malcolm, double bass and Annie Whitehead, trombone.
We have augmented the band to an octet, adding Fulvio Sirgutá, Dave Bitelli, and Roberto Manzín as a horn section alongside Annie. The arrangements of songs old and new by Dorian Ford took the band into a different sound territory from the reflective and fragile to big band stomp, jazz, blues and roots to new songs from Dorian and myself.
Over the last two years we have been recording the band and will release a new CD early next year 2013.
I am currently writing a book, ‘A Singers Tale’. Dorian and I together with the actor Sophie Trott will be presenting evenings of the written word and the music that runs alongside the Tale.