Musical Beginnings

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« on: October 11, 2019, 09:59:55 PM »
I thought that I would start a thread on this one as all of us have come from such different musical backgrounds. My story is that I was force fed music from the day I was born. My family always sang. My Grandma, Winnie thought that she was Gracie Fields. My Grandad Jim used to fiddle with a fiddle. My mums dad was an pretty good pianist. Personally , I was just obsessed by music. Got my first guitar about age 10. I played guitar in the church folk group after that and we used to do gigs for people in care homes  etc etc. Then in 77 when we did a gig in somebody's from garden for her majesty's 25th I teamed up with a couple of original pranksters, both who are sadly  not with us any more. Then I joined a new band in 79, (The Editors) wrote a load of stuff around the time that Two Tone was exploding although I must say that was not reflective music wise as to what was going on in the city. I'm still writing stuff with one of the guys from that band now.

Here's a live track from 1979


After a couple of years I cleared off to France to work on a campsite,  some cover stuff..
Returned to UK, Joined a Jazz Funk Band (Night Flight)and we had a single out in 1984. I was dead chuffed as we recorded it in the same studio that The Specials recorded "Gangsters" in. I wrote a couple of numbers, got a couple of decent gigs but mostly nothing.

Here's a live track from 1984


After that, my old mate Tony and I put some demos together as Crystal Carnival and did some live stuff, had some interest but nothing happened. Interestingly Tracy Tracy of The Primitives is on backing vocals Before she was famous  :)

Here's the demo tracks


I then joined a covers band doing mostly Tex Mex stuff and we used to run a weekly gig where we opened up, then had a guest band and finally a jam session for the last 45 minutes. It turned out to be very popular but unfortunately was stopped as some herbal substances were being smoked ! That was up until 96 or so then nothing until 2015 when I discovered DAWs.Well, that's my story as it is.....


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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2019, 10:09:21 PM »
How interesting! How lovely to hear where you've come from @pompeyjazz ...

My background is very boring.. Classical piano and harp (yes, really! What an awful waste of time, eh?) up to grade 8 / diploma in my late teens and then nothing for years and years... Apart from the whistle, which I learned as a kid in a completely different setting - all by ear and played in groups... and I carried my trusty tin whistle around Europe as a student and whenever we ran out of beer money, I was sent off to top up our kitty :) That was fun!

Anyways.. some years ago, I took up guitar and started to butcher a few songs with it.. It was (not very subtly) pointed out that I could probably do less damage with a keyboard /piano and so my husband (boyfriend at the time) bought me a digital piano for Xmas... some time later a friend challenged me to write a song - I did so to prove to her that I couldn't (:-)) but that backfired when I discovered that I could in fact write and I haven't looked back since.. It was the start of a therapeutic obsession!

Interestingly (for me at least), my two kids do guitar lessons (note - NOT harp!!).. They do so in a semi-structured fashion in so far as they do exams BUT the emphasis is on playing and playing in bands... NOT sitting in a room alone playing from sheet music...

Chip on shoulder??? Moi?? Never!



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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2019, 10:22:50 AM »
Great idea...and excellent to see where you two are coming from.

For my part, my dad was a music (brass...trumpet/trombone etc) teacher, conductor and also a very good player in his day...my grandad and brother all played brass to a top level standard too...but although I'd played since I was about 3, I was never going to be up to much, really. I won my solo section at a contest when I was about 12...but I'm not the competitive type...and didn't really care, to be honest...actually - when the adjudicator handed me the first prize and saw my name, he said to me "oh...are you one of Colin's lads" ?

I'd been coerced by my school to play in their band...which was awful...and into doing my grade 3...which basically meant you knew which end of the trumpet to blow into...and vowed to do no more. I could read music from a young age...simply because my dad was a teacher and it was just what we all did...but I grew very disillusioned with it all very early on...and threw the towel in altogether in my early teens. I didn't like the way that I just felt like a performing seal...and if I jumped through the hoops to an agreed standard, somebody would throw me a fish. Daft, I suppose, as I really like fish.

When I was 17, I picked up a guitar out of curiosity...and found it very frustrating...probablky because I had been able to play pretty well on other instruments...and I was back to being a total novice. That was where the inspiration of bands that I'd always loved, like The Jam and The Clash helped me out. You didn't have to be a great player...you could just get up there and give it some.

I played a few solo gigs...but I knew I was a pretty awful singer...so didn't really take that very far...but by then, I'd started writing songs. I'd always loved poetry and writing short stories as a kid...so it was just an extension of that, really.

I played bass in a punk band...but it was going nowhere...so I sold my old telecaster bass  :'( and bought some home recording stuff and did that instead. I'd pissed about in a few jobs to such a degree that I was almost unemployable in those days...so I'd just wander around in a bit of a fog...and sit playing my guitars and writing songs. I loved it, to be honest.

I played bass in a "clubland-style middle-of-the-road" outfit in the early 90's whilst saving up to buy my first Rickenbacker 330. At the same time, the drummer and I got another band together (with me playing guitar) and started gigging playing a selection of my own songs and covers...Misery-go-Round we were called and "All the fun of the UNfair" was our tagline...we auditioned quite a few singers, as I never thought I was up to it...but none of them were a good fit. It became a case of "either do it yourselves...or forget the whole thing" so that's what we did...and were happy just to be getting away with it. We weren't great by any means...and so the late 90's saw us admit defeat with that line-up.

Then the bass player (my best pal of many years) and I put another, more punky, band together with a different drummer and carried on gigging locally until around 2002 when we threw the towel in again.

I can never seem to leave it alone though...so when I saw an advert about a guitarist wanted who loves The Jam and The Who...I was all over it like a cheap suit. I talked our old bass player into it too and we remained a three-piece...taking more of a punky direction than the drummer originally might have intended  ;)

We did ten years of solid gigging and doing pretty nicely out of it...then my voice clapped out all together and I had to quit. I was diagnosed with having functional dysphonia and a phonatory gap...they told me if I'm not careful, I could lose my voice altogether...so I stopped singing completely for a while. I then had 6 weeks of speech therapy and then some vocal lessons to get my voice back.  It was during this period where I couldn't be out gigging that I started writing again.

After a few months of not really daring to sing, in case I lost my voice...I figured that if you don't ever sing...you might as well not have a voice...so I kept writing and recording and after a year or so out of it, I re-joined my old band when I saw that my replacement had quit. I've been back with them for almost three years now...and we're busier than ever. We have very little finesse, to be honest...we just give everything a real leathering.

I recently had my garage converted into a kind of studio space...and I love disappearing into it...usually for hours on end.


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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2019, 10:43:05 AM »
Oh well this is interesting, and a great idea! Nice one @pompeyjazz.

My story:

Didnt grow up in a musical family but my mum bought me a guitar when i was 12 because i kept getting hurt playing football and she thought it was to dangerous and thats when it all began. Massively inspired by the beatles and john lennon, then brit pop came along in the mid 90s and then starting writing songs in my bedroom.

Did a couple open mic nights in Manchester, thats where i grew up. 18 i moved to Scotland and started my own band which lasted for about 10 years.  Did ok lots of gigging which i loved and miss a great deal. Since then which is about 8 years ago now ive never stopped writing but literally just been keeping them to myself not really showing anyone apart from my old band mates.

Music is in my blood i cant live without it.

Ill never stop.

Wicked Deeds

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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2019, 05:05:23 PM »
I was perhaps 8 years old,  sitting with my family: cousins, brother and sister at a family wedding waiting to dive into the wonderful food and fizzy pop laid out on the table. I had my back to a piano, turned around lifted the lid and hit it lucky. I played four or five notes that didn't sound discordant! I fell in love with music  at that time and told everyone I could play piano. Years later, I discovered that I couldn't but still, I believed  that I would one day become a writer.

Despite my dislike of musicals as a young boy, I was subjected to almost every musical film as I was outnumbered by my sister and mother who loved that film genre.  From "Edelweiss," to "If I loved You', "The Black Hills of Dakota"  and "Half a Sixpence" the melodies came thick and fast.  My parents listened to Bill Hayley, Buddy Holly, Glen Miller, Johnnie Ray and Frankie Laine. All must have  shaped my musical tastes to some degree..  I tuned in to The Beatles and The Beach Boys but fate decided that the musicals would play a big part in the library of influences that I embraced. In the 70's, I listened to Don McLean, The Moody blues and many more. My uncle Rick had a marvelous record collection and so I began to listen to Pentangle, Thin Lizzy, Gerry Rafferty, King Crimson and many more artists that a boy born  in 66 would have mostly side stepped away from. 

My uncle Rick played acoustic and classical guitar to a very high standard. I remember thinking that I badly wanted to be just as cool as him. I stole my sister's folk guitar until Rick helped my mam to chose a second hand acoustic guitar for me one Christmas. I didn't look back from that point. All of the influences that I had absorbed until the age of 15, catapulted me on a journey of songwriting. I believed then that I would write wonderful music and still do today. It isn't arrogance, it's simply the best starting point. I immediately formed a band, played my first gig  to 300 people. I wrote and recorded in quite a prolific manner. I quickly  gained a reputation as a  songwriter on the local music scene and  attracted record company interest in my mid twenties from several labels. I expected to be signed and eventually supported The Stranglers at age 26, had a brief encounter with Virgin records which signalled the end of my band"Goodbye Hayley Mills.".

I then wrote for several more years then formed a band  called River which was all about mid to late 90's Brit pop. We quickly gained management support from a wealthy business man, made some expensive demos and partied  before disbanding.  I then I had no interest in playing in bands for many years though I continued to hone my writing skills.

Goodbye Hayley Mills reformed under the name of "The Vanity Rules" and self-funded an  album called "Your Absence Of Grace." It's a rock album that I'm incredibly proud of but it was tainted by arguments over ownership of copyright and who will benefit financially should it ever become successful.  I'm listed as the writer and to be honest I'll never allow the album to be more than a keepsake for the band members. I no longer wish to play in  live bands. It has been more about politics and ownership of rights  than musical ambition and the pursuit of beautiful music.

That brings me to today. My writing is prolific though I am now a very emotional writer who communicates in an autobiographical manner what is happening in his life. I should perhaps get back to my roots of writing catchy, upbeat material.   I have a huge collection of self produced songs, several self funded albums including  many "sketched" though unproduced songs. I love music. I recognise my influences and know that the early musical film influences shine through in my writing.  Time doesn't allow me to immerse myself in writing as much as I would like but I really enjoy dropping into the forum when I can. I've met some lovely folk through this place and it's clear, they are here because of their passion. I love the collaborations that happen from time to time and so I tip my hat to Nooms, The Reflections - you know who you are! Tone, and a lovely guy from the old days called called Andy Cruise. He's sorely missed on this forum! Anyway, that's me in a rather large nutshell!

« Last Edit: October 13, 2019, 06:38:52 PM by Wicked Deeds »
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2019, 05:18:54 PM »
Brilliant to read all these stories. I'm tempted to dig out some of the stuff from the old days that I have on old cassettes to further flesh out the story


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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2019, 06:11:28 PM »
p.s - I've modified the original post to include some musical links. Hope it doesn't bore the s**t out of everyone, just fills in the story a bit more  :)