I began playing classical guitar as a 12 year-old, taking group lessons at my local music store. I was incredibly proud when I was promoted from the beginner's to the intermediate class. However it was a sad day two weeks later when I was relegated back to beginners. I spent the next six months feeling the elation of promotion and the devastation of relegation. I was a yo-yo pupil. The "Norwich City" of the classical guitar world.
What didn't help was my dwindling interest in classical guitar. As everyone played through Cavatina I would get hopelessly lost and dream of playing Layla.
Having had enough of this humiliation, I decided that electric guitar was the one for me. I bought a secondhand Burns Flyte electric guitar. It was silver and it looked vaguely like a plane. What more could a boy want? This was swiftly followed by an amplifier and joy of joys a Big Muff. (er.. that's a distortion pedal). To everyone else this probably sounded like a very angry wasp in a very large loud hailer - but I felt that the sound could drop a Buffalo at Twenty paces! Guitars and amplifiers were traded until I ended up as the proud owner of a Les Paul Custom and a Roland Bolt 60 amplifier. As a 14 year-old I played my first gig - and blew all four speakers in somebody else's Marshall Cabinet. I should have stuck to classical guitar.
At around this time I started taking lessons with an excellent teacher called Keith Satchfield. He had everything I needed in a guitar tutor. He was a great player, very funny - and I was a little bit scared of him! (I occasionally turned up to a lesson wearing a big comedy bandage, feigning injury to avoid a telling off!). For the next few years I practiced relentlessly. At 15 I auditioned for a local rock band. They were much older - but I lied about my age, "I'm 18" I said in a deep voice and got the gig. I played lead guitar on their first single. (It was called “Too wild to Tame”- but we weren’t), Unfortunately I was sacked pretty soon after I met the other guitarist’s girlfriend - I knew her and she knew my age. However on leaving school I was asked to rejoin the band.
We played a few gigs in Holland and Belgium. The Dutch gig in Eindhoven had such a low attendance that we couldn't afford to pay the guy who supplied the PA system. Fortunately he felt so sorry for us that he waived the payment and let us sleep on his floor! The band would go on to break many low attendance records all over Europe.
On returning to Britain we started to record an album - which didn't live up to the promise shown by the single, which had reached Number 11 in the Sounds rock chart - This meant that sales must have been in double figures. However we did receive the smallest advance ever from a record company. £250 between the whole band......
We set off on another tour of Holland and Belgium which was notable only for the whole band and crew being chased out of Rotterdam train station by a group of transvestites. Even in six-inch stiletto heels they are pretty mobile.
On the ferry home, being pretty disillusioned with everything I left the band, which made for a nice pleasant drive back from Hull to Newcastle. We are now into the late Eighties and I spend more time working on my mullet than in a band. The late Eighties was a bad time for guitar players. Most bands being saccharine sweet and keyboard-led. Having not made my fortune and having the local Jobcentre breathing down my neck to join a gardening squad (psychos with chain saws) I decided that guitar tuition was the thing for me. Nothing much happened in the early Nineties, .. except getting married (thanks for the reminder, Deb). For the next few years I build up my tuition business. In 1997 I entered Guitarist magazine’s “Guitarist of the Year” competition (G.O.T.Y. to its friends). I made it through to the final at the National Music Show, Wembley, and then proceeded to play with webbed fingers. Needless to say I didn't win. In 1998 my daughter Jessica was born. In 1999 I entered the G.O.T.Y once more and I was lucky enough to win it this time. Recently, I've done some trade show demonstration work for Carlsbro amplification. But most of my time is still spent teaching guitar.