THE UPBEAT BAND
I started learning drums at high school under the tutelage of Peter Colbert (London Symphony Orchestra percussionist), learning to read music and then playing in the Worthing and West Sussex Youth Orchestras followed by the Worthing Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras. I also played in brass bands (Sovereign Silver Band & West Sussex Brass Band).
Moving on from classical and brass band music, I played in a few rock bands and did musical theatre pit band work. This evolved into 3 years professional playing in a pop band and 250+ musical theatre shows across Sussex.I’ve also done studio work, but I especially enjoy performing live.
My musical career has not been without its moments! For example during a live panto performance, the dame complete with kitchen trolley, pots, pans and so on, ran downstage too fast and fell off the stage onto me and my drum set. Fortunately, nobody was injured, and no drum set damage. Then there was Cabaret where dressed in a short skirt, fishnets, wig, false boobs, makeup and skimpy top, I had to end the show as the last person on stage, leaving the stage arm in arm with one of the burly stagehands. Similarly, dressed as a tart for a vicars & tarts themed evening show/party, it was awkward in more ways than one, using the urinal whilst general hotel guests, staff etc., visited the loo. Some funny looks to say the least! A bit of a theme emerging so I’m gonna stop there!
I first got on stage at 5 years old, but my singing career really started at the age of 7 when I won a singing competition. This forged my pathway as a young solo artist until my teens, when I started singing in local bands at the weekends. By the time I finished school, I was ready to join the professional music circuit in South Africa, fronting pop/rock bands and honing my craft.
During this time, I was fortunate to tour throughout my country and neighbouring countries, supporting local and international music acts. I also became involved in various studio projects which taught me vocal discipline and challenged me as a singer. I then moved into cabaret and musical theatre where I found I had a knack for impersonation and performed as a Tina Turner impersonator- which I loved.
The absolute highlight of my career in South Africa was being asked to sing for Nelson Mandela’s birthday bash along with artistes like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, to name a few. Shortly after, I moved to Dubai and began singing on the local circuit, doing corporate events and short contracts. Between 2019 and 2021 I was the resident singer on The QE2 permanently docked in Dubai before leaving with my family to the UK.
I love singing pretty much everything and after a fulfilling career, just want to enjoy myself and spread the joy. I am my most authentic self on stage and never want to stop challenging myself as a singer and performer and I am so looking forward to gig life in the UK as the newest member of this very talented and professional band.
Born in Sunderland, raised in Bromley, a young obsession with music quickly led to school bands and an ambition to make guitar and bass playing a career choice. But despite a teenage encounter with David Bowie, who gave my very first band an open mic slot in Beckenham, a crisis of confidence won out over young bravado, and I left my bandmates behind and headed north for Uni instead.
But the music wouldn’t let go, and after the student years I discovered the record industry, where I spent 37 very happy years stoking the star maker machinery behind the popular song, combining it always with keeping up my playing whether in bands or at home. When retirement beckoned, and playing music became a serious hobby opportunity rather than a financial imperative, I immediately increased my instrument collection and went looking for like-minded players.
Fetching up on the Sussex coast 7 years ago, it took me 6 or 7 local bands before Rog made contact with me - and lo The Upbeat Band began. I also played bass on the first 2 John Williams Syndicate albums, including the single Luminescent which featured Petula Clark. So I’m finally living my teenage dream of being a musician, albeit a few decades later. And I love it. A nicer, more talented bunch of players I couldn’t hope to meet. It’s never too late! And it’s ALL about that bass.
I like to sing. I’ve always liked to sing, and I do it a lot. Whether it’s in the shower, cooking dinner, driving the car with my kids covering their ears in the back, walking into the office with a dance and a few words before someone turns round and stares at me with a standard “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?” look – it always feels a little bit harsh.
Watching a Buddy Holly stage show and“singing” in karaoke bars on the Tenerife shoreline started the habit; and because I was serious about my burgeoning karaoke career at 10 years old, I took some lessons to sound less like a drowned rat. I think I may have even passed some exams too, but I’m pretty sure the examiners were paid off.
As I got older and the karaoke career started to dwindle, as an excuse to go to the pub, I started going to some Open Mic nights where I met our quick fingered guitarist - Tony. To save me from the anxiety of playing a lot of terrible guitar; Tony and I would end up doing quite a few songs and events over the years.
When The Upbeat band needed a singer for a New Year’s Eve gig Tony passed on my name. After a successful gig, I was asked to join the band on a permanent basis.
Unfortunately, the rest of the band haven’t forgiven Tony since
My musical career started at the end of the 1960’s. I lived just outside Guildford, only a couple of miles from where Eric Clapton was born and raised. In 1974 I found myself in a band called Asylum. We played all over the south east and in London, and came to the attention of Bowie and T Rex producer Tony Visconti. We recorded a single with him producing, but our hopes for a hit record were to remain unfullfilled.
After that I played in a folk rock band called House, and Headwaiter – a band formed by ex Camel bassist Doug Ferguson, and by this time had turned pro. I played keys for Louise Tucker, who had a huge euro hit with Midnight Blue. The project was the brainchild of Tim Smit (now better known as the founder of the Eden Project)
I was introduced to Australian singer Jeff Duff (Duffo) and we recorded 3 albums. We also recorded a 4th album during lockdown in 2020, which will be released in 2023.
I toured Iceland and the UK with Stiff band Any Trouble, and then I was asked to join Mungo Jerry, who I played with throughout the 80s.
In the mid 1990’s I recorded, co-wrote and produced a new album for 70’s prog band Gracious!
I also produced an album of original songs for actress Sarah Miles. I worked as a sound designer and technician on her one woman show at the Kings Head, Islington and off Broadway in New York.
This led to a lot more work in the theatre as a sound designer and live technician, and in 2001 I toured the UK with Thunderbirds FAB, finishing up with a West End run at the Aldwych.
I had given up playing live music at this stage, but after a call from Any Trouble frontman Clive Gregson in 2007, I unexpectedly found myself on a 3 month UK tour with Dennis Locorriere from Dr Hook.
I continued to write and produce music in my home studio, and have released 4 solo albums, but in 2022 I decided I wanted to enjoy the challenge of playing live again. The Upbeat Band was the first and only band I auditioned for – and here I am.
Starting with a music obsession as a young boy I was very quick to start strumming a toy guitar along with songs that i would hear on the radio etc.
At the age of 8 my father noticing that I had a passion for music, and bought me a Squire starter guitar pack which then started my life long love for the guitar.
I was heavily influenced by Hank Marvin from The shadows, Gary Moore, Dire Straits and multiple blues and rock artists. When I was 10 years old I made my live debut along side a very talented local musician, which gave me my first taste of performing to a crowd.
From my teenage years onwards I have been performing at local open mic evenings, which is where i first met and befriended Gaz, our singer. This really helped me hone my craft as a guitar player as I had to learn to adapt quickly to different music styles and genres, and led me to play in multiple cover bands and duos over the years.
After lockdown we were all itching to get back playing again which was when Roger reached out to me through a mutual friend about starting a new band. I was originally the bass player, as I had played bass in a few bands previously. After several auditions for new band members we found bass player Mike, so I switched back to lead guitar.
I couldn’t have wished to find a more talented group of friends who I am honoured to be performing with.