|1. What are you currently up
Well, over the last 6 weeks we did one month's USA tour and we did
7,00 miles driving up and down the I95 on the east coast. We came
home, had a day off and went to Norway where we did a festival. Came
home had two days off and went to Italy for 7 nights doing
festivals. Now we are back and I am spending most of the time
sitting in my office helping to organise the up coming Cropredy
|2. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoints(s) of your career to
Highlight is the fact that we are still out there treading the
boards, performing and making CD's after, in my cases since I was
seventeen and I am now 55. I'm still bashing it out and enjoying
The lowpoints of my career would be death of my former colleagues
from Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas. Very sad for
all of us and something you never really get over.
3. How did you get into the music business and who has been your
After I left school I worked at the Royal Exchange Insurance in
Birmingham and after a year realised that I was much happier going
out playing with bands, which I was doing most nights, than sitting
in an office. So I became a professional musician and the first band
I joined was the Roy Everett's Blues Hounds in Birmingham. I was
guitar player but later changed to bass guitar when I joined a group
called the Uglies featuring Steve Gibbons on lead vocals.
My main influences when I was a youngster in Birmingham. One of my first
would have been Bert Weedon and then the Hank Marvin. I have had the
pleasure of meeting both of them and they are charming men. Also
Steve Winwood and I am still a great fan. I was, as were all of
Fairport Convention, a great fan of The Band. Favourite bass
players. I reckon Maccer is up there and I love Jacko. I love
listening to people like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan.
|4. How did the idea first come up to hold Cropredy? What artists have
you enjoyed having on the bill most and who else would you still like to get onto the bill in the future?
The idea to hold the first Cropredy came when Dave Swarbrick and I
used to live in the village and used to rehearse in the village
hall. We were asked to do a benefit concert to raise money for the
village hall but we thought the village hall was much to small so we
did a barn dance. It was a great success. We then played at the
village fete for 3 consecutive years. We swelled the village fete
from 600 to 1800 3 years later. So the festival grew up very
endemically. My wife Christine and I took it over some 22 years ago
and it has gone from strength to strength ever since.
We have had some fantastic people on the bill and its hard to choose
who we have enjoyed most. We have surprise guests and we get to play
music that no one would associate with Fairport. Luckily we are
pretty adaptable. One of the greatest joys for me at Cropredy have
been backing people like Robert Plant and doing Led Zeppelin
material, Garrry Brooker and doing Procol Harum material, Roy Wood
and doing Wizard and Roy Wood stuff and Richard Thompson. We have
had some really great musicians. There are loads of people I would
still like to get on the bill in future. Steve Winwood and James
Taylor we would love to have.
|5. How has the latest Fairport Convention album, XXXV been
received? How do the band keep coming up with song ideas and managing to release such high quality albums on such a regular basis?
'XXXV' album has been received really well although its 18 months old
now. We still enjoy coming up with new songs and now we have Chris
Leslie in the band who is developing as a very strong song writer.
We release albums about every 18 months/2 years and we hope to have
one out for Cropredy 2004. We are very lucky because I have my own
studio here in Oxfordshire, Woodworm Studio and a fantastic engineer
called Mark Tucker and he also works as an independent and also works
for my colleague Martin Barre of Jethro Tull in his studio.
Recording is something we still enjoy although we much prefer going out
treading the boards. Song ideas are currently down to Chris Leslie
although there are several songs we would love to attempt. We get
sent many songs through the post from people who think they may have
suitable songs. So we don't have a problem finding material.
|6. Which songs do you like performing live most and why? Which
songwriters do you most admire and why?
My personal songwriters are Richard Thompson, James Taylor, Joni
Mitchell, Bob Dylan, love some of Ian Anderson's work as I used to
play with Jethro Tull.
Everybody in the band has their own favourites. I enjoy
playing 'Meet on the Ledge' because its the last one of the night and
if we can get it in before the bar closes then I can get a drink.
|7. How did you manage to keep yourself a member of two major bands …quot;
Fairport and Tull for so long?
I played with Fairport Convention from 1969 and I'm the only person
who never left the band. The band did split up in 1979 and we had 5
years off for good behaviour and at that point I joined Jethro Tull
and stayed with them for 16 years. When Fairport re convened I did
get to play with the two bands which was very difficult as when one
stopped the other would start up so I was always on the road or in
At one point Ian Anderson asked Fairport to support Tull
on an American tour so I was playing with both bands during the same
concert. Very hard work and something time had to crack and I didn't
want it to be me so I decided to spend more time at home and so I
left Jethro Tull. I was really sorry as I loved Jethro Tull and the
guys were very good to me.
|8. What were the highlights of your time with Jethro Tull?
Highlights of my time with Jethro Tull. The first gig in Toronto was
a highlight for me as I had never played in that state of fear to
that many people before in my life. The first tour I did we played
some huge places and had some great times.
|9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?
If I'm not working in the office I like to go sailing. We have a
boat in Brighton which my son Matt is the skipper of as he is much
better than me. He is also a much better bass player, playing with
Procol Harum and Frances Dunnery. I like water skiing and walking our
dog Bruno. I like to play tennis when I can.
|10. Message for your
Thanks for supporting us all these years and come to our Cropredy Festival this year on
7th, 8th and 9th August. See the Fairport website for details.