Went to Beulah Road Infants and Junior Schools and onto Selhurst School.
Influenced to write at an early age by my Great Grandfather Jack London a music hall pianist and patter artiste.
Wrote my first song at the age of 7. Can’t remember it at all so it couldn’t have been up to much!
Grew up listening to Jim Reeves, Hank Snow, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, The Kinks and a lot of Show music. My late teen years and after I started to listen to the songs more closely. Singer/songwriters became my choice of listening. Bob Dylan, Al Stewart, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Neil Diamond and Robbie Robertson in particular.
Was encouraged to play the guitar at the age of 12 when I met and became friends with Jim Stunnell of the 1950’s band The Strangers. 4 weeks later I sat in with the Bill Brunskill Jazz Band at The Lord Napier pub in Thornton Heath. I wasn’t plugged in so you couldn’t hear all the wrong chords I was playing!
Over the next 6 or 7 years I played in a variety of bands [ none of which I can remember the names of] in pubs and clubs locally. Finally decided to go solo and played a mixture of my own stuff and covers of people I admired. Still doing the same thing 40 years on!
Met Andy Flack and Barry O’Connor and formed the folk Rock band Anbareve which had some moderate success.
After a brief foray into the commercial world of retail and realising it wasn’t for me I moved back to London. Greenwich was a good place to be and started a music venue right by the Blackwall Tunnel. Imaginatively called “The Tunnel”. It was a 7 night two acts a night venue. It was a big success seeing many well known acts appear there over the years. Sunday nights became an Alternative Comedy Club called “Sunday Night at the Tunnel Palladium” which I ran with the late godfather of alternative comedy Malcolm Hardy of The Greatest Show on Legs fame. Harry Enfield, Julian Clary, Jo Brand and countless others plied their trade there. Many lifelong friendships began at the Tunnel. During this time I was still writing and would perform there either solo or with a “jam band” that I started called Corporal Henshaw. Some nights there could be as many as 20 musicians taking turns to play some of who are still regular visitors to Devon. Whilst there I was asked if I would run another venue in London called The Royal Standard in Walthamstow! I’d get the job if I could book Richard Digance to do the official opening night which I did! Not long after I began writing for Richard. Bits and bobs to begin with then full time a little later. Richard was right up my street humour wise and as his fame spread the writing became more and more . Eventually I left London for Axminster in Devon, 15 minutes from where Richard was living at the time in Lyme Regis. The London venues were left behind as I embarked on a career as a comedy writer. We did 3 Radio 2 series and 2 one hour specials for London Weekend as well as all the live and corporate stuff! I loved it! I also wrote a bit for Bobby Davro, Jim Davidson, Dave Lee and Hale and Pace.
Devon is a stunning place. It has been and continues to be an inspirational place to live. I’ve written and staged 10 comedy rock musicals since living here including one with my old mate Ian Gillan called “Cherkazoo”. It came very close to being made into a film....very close! After the comedy writing stopped I returned to writing and performing music as well as writing plays. I opened a small theatre/cafe in Axminster called The IE Theatre and staged live music as well as plays, comedy and exhibitions. I was in a duo at the time called the Elderly Brothers! It took many forms and many different partners including friends from the Tunnel days Mick Hawksworth, Steve Waller, Micky Jones and the occasional visit from Keith Nelson. Finally I stumbled across Richard Edwards a great guitar player who wasn’t really looking to join anything permanently but we teamed up for over 5 years and had a ball! Around the 4 year mark together we were joined permanently by Keith Nelson the mad banjo playing yank! Also around then I had a play staged in London written about Marilyn Monroe it ran for 7 weeks. Another old friend, Hollywood actor Johnathan Hyde, directed the play for me, with Sally Day as Marilyn. Both she and he were fab!
Lived in Alaska for 2 years on and off. An inspirational place both personally and for writing.
Around the turn of the century I took a needed sabbatical and an acquaintance at the time Alan West stepped in for me and took over the gigs with Keith Nelson. Upon my return I teamed up with a great sax player Alison Young. Well to cut a long story short , [too late] after a short while both Alan and myself found ourselves with nothing much to do so we hooked up and started gigging together. That was a decade ago and nearly 2,500 gigs later we seem to be going from strength to strength. Alan had and continues to champion my work as a songwriter with a passion. He has recorded about 20 of my songs and we have written a few together. His recording of my song “You’re on your own” won me the BCMA Song of the Year award in 2011.
Adam Sweet has become a part of our world in recent years. Not only is he an extraordinary talent on the guitar but also an inspiration to me on the writing front. We co-wrote 7 songs for his debut album and we continue to write together. Other writing collaborations include Raintown, Gary Quinn, Luke and Mel and Dexeter with other sessions lined up.
I love my new album. Love the playing, the production and the initial reaction from the audiences that have purchased it! Upward and onward!
Written over 500 songs, 200 plays, 10 rock musicals, a plethora of comedy stuff, over 5,000 gigs and counting, 7 albums and 17 million pens!!