Biography and Discography Music Gallery



The Polychordia Quartet

This is a photo of the first String Quartet I joined. I was 13. 1963. We were called The Polychordia Quartet. The photo is from the Huddersfield Examiner. We had just won a music competition. The two guys are brothers. I met Rayford, the one on the left, again in a bar at a Belfast hotel while on tour with Ultravox. Early eighties. It was great to see him again! He was playing Cello with the Halle Orchestra. His brother, a Violinist, became a Vet. I lost touch with Megan.

I was very lucky to work with these excellent musicians.
It happened because I moved on to the Viola from the Violin.


The Polychordia Quartet

This is a photo of the second Quartet I joined. I was 14. 1964. I cannot remember what we were called. The photo is from a newspaper in Harrogate. We were still winning music competitions. I was with the Violinist Megan, we stuck together, and we had Helen on Cello. I have forgotten the name of the first Violinist.



The Polychordia Quartet

This is taken in the Orchestra Rehearsal hall 1966. I am in there somewhere. The guy with the short fringe. I was a bit of a Mod at the time. I was in my second year at the Huddersfield Music College. We had just moved into a new building. This rehearsal hall was Hexagonal shaped. A fantastic place to practise in. The sound was excellent! I led the Viola section from 1965 to 1969.



The Polychordia Quartet

This a shot of me and my mum. Taken in 1978 outside our front door in Huddersfield. It was August and I had lots to say as so much was happening for me at that time. My Mum and Dad were always very supportive and very interested in what I was up to in the Music world. I lived in London and I think I had not been home for a while. I remember telling my Mum and Dad about working with Gary Numan, about the Visage album coming along nicely and especially about Midge Ure. I had just invited Midge into Ultravox. I brought him to meet Chris and Warren in a pub at Turnham Green, West London.



The Polychordia Quartet

This is a photo from way back in 1968. I am in there leading the Viola section, with the long hair. When I was at the Huddersfield Music College we did lots of concerts around the Yorkshire area. Not sure where this is though. The Bruch Violin Concerto is being performed here. My viola teacher is playing the solo violin part. This is a very emotional piece. We all had our hearts on our sleeves. If you look at my teacher, Herbert Whone, you will see his fantastic technique.

The bowing arm is producing power and pressure on the string without tension. You can actually see that from the photo! I spent four years trying to learn that from him.
Many a time I would be playing the music for him in my lesson and he would just suddenly grab my arm to demonstrate how tense I was. Being left handed my fingering hand was light years ahead of my right handed bowing arm.

If I had gone on to the London Royal Academy, where I managed to get a place, I am sure I would have got quite close to accomplishing this technique through the oncoming five years there. It was not to be!

I have a different type of technique now after playing in Performance Art groups and Bands for many years. I learned how to apply the bow, with pressure, near the bridge when I needed high harmonics and sometimes a screaming sound. It has become my electric violin style. An electric violin sends out these harmonics in a much more powerful way! It is an exciting journey which I am still on.



The Polychordia Quartet

This is a photo of the school orchestra. It is 1964 and the school is Mount Pleasant in Huddersfield. I was 14. I think we must have been rehearsing with the choir here. When we performed to an audience the choir would be up in the gallery stage left. I am up there on the left of the conductor in the deputy leader place. A few weeks after this shot I would start having Viola lessons to prepare myself for Music College to start the following year.

These lessons were on saturday morning so I had to miss football. That was tough because I was the joint captain for the under 15's. The games were played on saturday morning. I still had my Violin lessons during the week so for a while I did not know what day it was! The Viola was in the Alto Clef and the Violin was in the Treble clef. Very confusing. I got there eventually and moved to Viola in the orchestra at the start of the second term. I had just managed a distinction for my Grade 5 Violin exam and now had to get a distinction mark for Grade 6 Viola to receive a place at the Music College. That really was a massive amount of work to do in such a short time. Four months. In April 1965 I achieved that mark. I was very happy. Music was the only thing I wanted to do with my life so it was do or die!
I also loved art. I studied art at college with music as my main subject!

Just to go back a bit to give a clearer view of how I got to this position. The moment on this photo.
When I was very young, like five, I remember my dad singing. He had a great voice. He also played the mouth organ brilliantly. I could never never play that! I cannot remember what he sang and played but I do remember a very Scottish element to his performances. His dad was scottish. He moved to Yorkshire to work on the huge reservoirs. He was a foreman on the Digley reservoir near Huddersfield. My mum was very interested in music. She played classical orientated songs from musicals like "The King and I". She loved singers. She was from Lancashire and often told me that one of her cousins played in the Halle Orchestra. He played a brass instrument. It was only when I got to about nine that things started happening for me. A friend of my dads, from the war, used to come and visit. Maybe once a month. He was older than my dad. I was amazed when he started bringing a Violin. He played it for us and even let me have a go. This lovely fellow kept telling my mum and dad to get me started with violin lessons. Obviously that was an unaffordable dream. Unfortunately!

My dad had loads of brothers and one, which I named my son after, was called Tom. He lived in Stockport. His son, called David, used to come to visit bringing loads of records. These were all from his generation, not mine, but I picked up on his enthusiasm. Singers like Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis. He then bought me a guitar and started to teach me how to play the vocal melodies. This then got me into starting a group with a couple of my schoolmates.

We sang songs like Poison Ivy. This was before the Stones though. We performed at the end of term school concerts.

I sang and played guitar. One of the guys sang with me and the other banged drums or anything really. I can't remember the other songs we chose now. I think an Elvis song and a more meaty Cliff Richards song like Dynamite or Hi class Baby. When we all left our junior school, with me going to Mount Pleasant, we still stuck together and put on two concerts. Our old junior school had a lock-up garage that stored chairs. They let us turn it into a gig. We made a stage and put out all the chairs for the audience. We performed two nights as "The Moonlight Brothers".

Great fun! This was the first time that I experienced the music press. My mum phoned the local Examiner paper and the reporter came up to my house to interview me. He did not actually come to the gigs though. It was fantastic to get the feature but frustrating to see him get quite a few of the facts wrong. He said the concerts were held in my house! A bit of an early lesson here. I had just started at my new school and my new friends now thought I was rich AND precocious. LOL
The first year at Mount Pleasant gave me a chance to sing in the choir as a soprano. In 1961 the Liverpool Philharmonic came to play at the Town Hall.They were performing Benjamin Brittens Spring Symphony. They needed a boy soprano choir for this piece. They chose us to do it!
To be sitting in the middle of the Liverpool Philharmonic was amazing. The bit we did was quite small but I really enjoyed doing it. I can still remember some of the lyrics. "When does the rye reach to the chin and chop cherry chop cherry ripe within"

When an orchestra came to our school to play for us, offering free Violin lessons, I jumped at the chance. My parents still had to buy the Violin though. A small amount a week could be paid until it was paid off!. My dad took some convincing! My mum was just well up for it!!!!!!

I have fantastic memories of listening to classical music with my mum. When I got going on the violin our favourite music we listened to was Tchaikovsky violin concerto and Mendelssohn Italian Symphony.

I was also mad on the Stones, Kinks, Yardbirds, Soul music. This was an amazing time for music!

Jumping forward to 1965 when I had secured my place at the Huddersfield Music school. Before I left Mount Pleasant I was asked to play for the whole school in the chapel where the school orchestra played every morning for the school assembly. It had a balcony all around. Definitely looked like some of the gigs I did later with Ultravox!

Good practice for being in front of an audience.

There was no getting out of this!
My teacher, Mr Bentley, was a lovely man who put so much effort into helping me. We chose a piece that highlighted the Violas contrast of the mellow low C and G strings with the high cutting A string. I had just started playing in the higher fifth position that made the high A string very cutting. I demonstrated that.

It went well! I remember being very nervous. I owed so much to my school. It was now time to move on.



The Polychordia Quartet

This is a photo taken at school just before I left to go to the Music College in Huddersfield 1965.
It is taken just before I played solo Viola, with piano accompaniment, in front of the whole school at Mount Pleasant.

I look nervous but it went very well!



The Polychordia Quartet

This is a more close up shot of the Mount Pleasant school orchestra. 1963. The leader is on my left. I can't remember his name now but we got on in a fairly jokey but competitive way. He started the violin at the age of nine whereas I started at the age of eleven so there was a little resentment. I just wish my parents could have afforded to let me have lessons earlier.
I understood why though. The expense!!!!

I joined the school orchestra after learning the violin for about a year. I played with the orchestra every school day for the next two and a half years. Up to 1965.

My school days started with my morning paper round. I would then ride on my bike the three miles to school. I had a raleigh blue streak, five gears. Fantastic! It had a frame on the back which held my Violin with straps. I lived up on a hill at a small village called Netherton so it was brilliant to just jump on my bike and go down to the main road past the bus stop that had many school friends waiting and down a mile long hill called Big Valley. Great name that! It was such an exhilarating feeling going very fast so early in the morning. A good start to the day! When I got to school I turned left to the chapel and parked my bike down the steps by the woodwork/metalwork department which was in the basement of the chapel. While my class mates turned right and went to registration I went into the chapel to get ready to play in the school morning assembly with the orchestra. There was an area, behind a curtain ( stage left ), to do this. Getting the fiddle out, putting resin on the bow, changing strings and most of all having a laugh with the other musicians. I had a close friend called Andrew Haigh in the orchestra. I had sang with him in the school choir and he played Oboe in the Orchestra.

We then got up on stage ready to be told what classical piece we would play when the school kids came in and what we would play when School Assembly ended. We sometimes had a quick chance to practise the piece first. We were also given the Hymn to play that the school kids sang. I sometimes had to read from the bible as well! I was a good reader but sort of lost interest in English because I was forced to take it at Music College. They said it would come in useful if I decided to be a teacher. I said "But I don't want to be a teacher I just want to play in an orchestra".

I got used to being in front of an audience and slowly began to realise that I loved it. I did get a bit over confident though. When I changed to Viola I had to sit further away from the kids. In the middle behind the Conductor. I felt like I had been demoted. I knew that changing to the Viola, from the Violin, would get me a place at the Music College though. No mistaking that!

I clearly remember this happening:-
We had been told by Mr Whitehead, the conductor, that we would just play the piece to a certain point because we were running late. I carried on playing past that point, by myself, thinking that I was correct and everyone would then follow me.

Very embarrassing! I was wrong and had to stop playing. That got a few laughs from the kids. The leader, who is in the photo on my left, gave me a smug grin. Classical musicians are just as competitive as the pop/rock/electronic musicians I came to meet and work with a few years later in 1969! LOL