I started playing in public when I was about 13 years old, playing Hammond organ in local pubs and clubs. I was really nervous at the time, just a kid playing in the grownups' world. I was so nervous that my foot used to shake - luckily it wasn't my hands.
My first band, Dark Saloon, was a typical 70's schoolboy band, named after a solo album by John 'Rabbit' Bundrick who occasionally played keyboards with Free (do you remember 'Alright Now'?). It was a 5 piece and while it never gigged it did keep my neighbours awake on Saturday afternoons.
After that came Cassiopeia, a jazz rock outfit, in which I played bass guitar and flute. We entered the Melody Maker competition in Leeds. The judges said we would have gone through had it not been the year that punk arrived. I never really suited safety pins!
Next was Windenwires. We played contemporary music. Some was self-penned and some covers. We did quite a bit of vocal harmonies and could do a mean version of Steeleye Span's 'Gaudete' at Christmas. I just can't remember who sang Maddy Prior's bit. Strange - we were all blokes but somebody did.
Then the move to the Manchester club scene which I worked for about 25 years. Live performances have included work with Karl 'Wimoweh' Denver, Jeff Layton (of 'Les Miserables' fame), Jane McDonald and Ruby Murray (who still shares the record with Elvis and Madonna, for the greatest number of singles in the British Top 20 at the same time - she said she had had a good week that week) plus literally hundreds of others.
I have no idea how many of Manchester's clubs I have played, but it is probably most of them. As well as the 'bread and butter' jobs, I have also played at the Tameside Hippodrome to a full house and a few enormous bingo halls - seating between 1500 and 2000 people. My recording credits include work for Keith Harris & Orville, Little & Large, Jacqui Scott and the Blackpool Pleasure Beach. I only wish I had copies of the tapes.
Nowadays, I devote more of my time to playing church organs, something I love. I play regularly at St. Patrick's in Oldham. In 2000, I was asked to play for the Mayor of Oldham's Inaugural Mass which was scary. I didn't know that much pomp and ceremony existed in Oldham. Then, in September 2007, the BBC recorded their Sunday Worship programme at St Patricks' so I got to play on the radio to 5,000,000 listeners. At least that's what we were told.
While most of my time is spent teaching, I'm happy to say that I did play for the Soul Inspiration Gospel Choir for a couple of years. As well as performing at charity events, we sang at weddings, concerts, including a sellout gig at Shaw Playhouse 2 and at the Centenary Celebrations of Dunwood Park. All good fun.
In 2014, I got to play with my old school friend Maartin Allcock. We played at the Middleton Arena as part of the Pete Cowap Music Festival with Paul Burgess of 10cc on drums and Mike Power on Bass. The last time that Maart and me had played together was back at school, in an Interhouse Music Competition, at Cardinal Langley. We were in Hirst for any old CL boys. Unfortunately, we were beaten by a guy who played bagpipes. No-one knew that he played them, or anything else for that matter, until he brought them into school that day.
One of my recent projects was to reintroduce a traditional choir to St Patrick's. They have had African and Filipino Community choirs for a number of years but no traditional 4 part harmony choir. I figured it was about time. The choir is called Nostro Coro which means Our Choir and the first performance was at the end of November 2014 as part of the Annual International Music Festival (IMF) which I began that year to celebrate the cultural diversity within our church.
If anyone is interested in either the choir or the festival, please get in touch.