I’ve put this mini site together so you can join me on a musical journey down memory lane and discover more about me and where my music comes from.
I’ve tried to make it the best multimedia experience for you that I can. You can click on the blue links in the text to find out more about the people and things that I’ve mentioned. Most of the image thumbnails are clickable too. They’ll open in a new window/tab so you won’t get lost!
I hope you enjoy finding out about my musical roots as much as I’ve enjoyed remembering all the events and writing them down.
OK. Are you ready? Then let’s begin!
It was June 1981. I’d just been discharged from the Royal Navy so had no job, no money and no accommodation. I had to move back home to my parents house, sleep on a camp bed and start looking for work.
I was very lucky! A card in the job centre said that the London Fire Brigade were recruiting and I knew that they liked ex-servicemen. I did the entrance tests, got an interview, and within six months I was at the training centre running around a lot carrying heavy stuff . Bootcamp at the Royal Naval College was hard, this was no different.
As I was in a secure profession I was able to get a mortgage on a flat pretty quickly; although I couldn’t afford to furnish it. It was in a big house in Seven Kings, North East London, which had been newly converted into four flats. I had the upstairs one on the right.
I was lucky! I had a roof over my head and I was eating well at the fire station; at least when I was on shift. Thinking back now it makes me laugh. I had three chairs in the sitting room and a 2’6″ kids bunk bed in the bedroom to sleep on. That was the extent of my furniture. My kitchen was the size of a broom cupboard. Space constraints meant I could have either a fridge or a cooker, not both. I chose the fridge and did all my cooking in a microwave.
Up to this point in my life, my interest in music had been solely during my high school years. I’d played the lead in the school production of Oliver when I was 11, and sung in some other productions after that. I had studied the violin for a year and was a percussionist in the school orchestra. I’d also been a drummer in a marching band, and joined the church choir so I had the opportunity to sing more often. I’ve always loved to sing.
I’m trying to think back to when I was in that flat and what it was that reignited my interest in performing music. What exactly was it that made me start looking to join a band? I’m very sorry, but for the life of me I just can’t remember!
I do know that in 1982 I became friends with a drummer who lived near me. He introduced me to a guitarist and a bass player who were looking for a singer. We got on quite well so the four of us decided to form a band. It was called Abracadabra.
We played all original material in local pubs and youth clubs. Were we any good? Let’s just say that our ambition outstripped our ability a little. LOL 🙂
The two guitarists already had plenty of songs for us to use, but the band inspired me to write my very first song and get it in on the set list. It was titled “Abracadabra” after the band. How did that chorus go again…
Dusky old man on high
Mountain pedestal in the sky
Mumbling a mystical incantation
“Abracadabra” I hear him cry
For your listening pleasure I managed to find an old cassette recording of Abracadabra performing the song Abracadabra for the first time in an East London pub in January 1983. (Please excuse the quality and ‘drop out’ the tape is over 30 years old! 🙂 )
Abracadabra by Abracadabra (the first song I ever wrote)
Thinking about it, I might be able to rework that song into an electro pop song if I change the “abracadabra” lines to something a little less clichéd. Mmmmm, now that’s a thought! LOL.
Everything seemed to be going well. What could possibly go wrong…