Thursday, 15 February 2018

The rain in Spain - Tour 2018


And so it began, 14 shows in 3 weeks in Sunny Spain, Well maybe not so sunny at this time of the year. The weather is decidedly inclement and reminds us much of the weather we thought we left behind in England.

The plan was to arrive in Valencia the night before the tour starts to be relaxed and refreshed for the tough run of dates. However, partying til 4 am wasn’t really helping that cause. But like the troopers we are we battle through, do a great show then hit the bars in the old town once more.

We do not have our usual driver on this trip, instead we have a local. A good worker, but speaks no English, but then it gives us all a chance to practice our Spanish. Which is good enough to introduce the band, order food and drink and get into trouble.

On drums we have Don Pedro, the Pedromadre! El Guapo on guitar, El Nino as JPJ and of course myself El Santo on vocal. Why do people laugh when I am introduced as such?

Onward to Castillon, where we are appearing on TV with Nacho, a famous magician here in Spain. He has his first TV series where he displays his magic tricks for us. As well as amazing some of the audience as they enter the packed venue. Nice bloke too.


To Murcia and Malaga, in the teaming rain. I don’t think this part of the world has seen such rainfall, streets flooded, thankfully this doesn’t seem to affect the attendances too much. Nor the band spirits which remain high. Nothing like working with a good bunch of guys.

Seville is a lovely town where we spent our first night off, doing the tourist bit by the cathedral.

The band fully warmed up now and latest additions to the set, The Song Remains the Same and The Rain Song going down particularly well. We are doing 4 encores per night and we need the rest day, or should I say, go into the old town and get drunk day.

Including a walk along the river by the Torre D’Oro, a drunken horse and carriage ride around the town, the open top carriage certainly was exposing!  When we left Seville, I got the impression it was just about the right time, as we would soon have worn out our welcome in some of the bars, not to mention the monastery!

And then the snow came.


It is a long drive north to Burgos, a lovely old town full of history and tales of Napoleonic sieges. The Duke of Wellington himself held the town. Statues of El Cid adorn the bridge.

Woke up the next day to reports of an earthquake in Burgos! Apparently a biggie, reports of people in the shower hanging on for grim death, dogs hiding under the bed, people fleeing for their lives. I don’t know anything about this, I must have slept through the lot.

Now every tour has a mishap, and ours came in Burgos, where a bloke resembling Beavis from the cartoon made off with a load of our cash! However, we did know where he worked and were able to exact a form of revenge before the drive to Oviedo.

Now, Santiago de Compostela !!!!!!

There is a name that resonates through the century’s. A place of pilgrimage, the magnificent Cathedral where the relics of St James rest, whom the town is named after! We stop at the marvellous building and pay homage to the saint in a manner we felt appropriate.

We finished the show and once the public had left the building the venue put all the shutters down, I thought this a bit odd as we haven’t loaded the gear into the van yet. I asked them to open again only to find the shutters had broken and we and our equipment locked inside the venue!


It is festival time here and the streets full of revellers. But we somehow managed to find a quiet little street just by the old city wall for some peace and privacy. The sound of my heeled boots on the cobble stones sounds more like cloven hooves rattling down the ancient and now misty street.

Boiro is a small fishing village, the smallest town on this stretch of dates, but we still get a police escort to the venue! Apparently the biggest man-hunt in all of Spain came to an end recently. Nice little venue too, and well attended as was the Monday night show in A Caruna.

So: 5 shows on the bounce, a we play the full set every night, the crowds still want more, and we can’t resist giving it to them.

Today a travel day, and then a much needed day off in Zaragoza. I’ll be back with more later.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Gigs and dive bars,

Hoping you all had a great festive season. After a short rest we start 2018 in earnest!

We finished 2017 in the snow of Germany. With a short 5 date tour, taking in the historic city of Nurmburg. We arrive the night before the show, and go of for a wander to discover the delights of this ancient and beautiful city.

It is late and the bars are sadly closed. The cold starts to bite and we despair of finding a local hostelry that will sell refreshment to the weary traveller, such as we.
Luckily, one of our party spots a bar closing, the wrought iron chairs scrape along the pavement alerting us to their presence. Inside the small dark venue as the heavy velvet curtains are drawn tight.

We ask if perhaps there is time for just one quick drink, after which we will be on our merry way, all the better for the refreshment we can hope to find within.

Our gracious host explains that we are of course welcome, however, we must know that although in all appearance closed to the outside world. The bar is in fact well known to the locals as a sort of speakeasy.
A small wrap on the window allows entrance to those wishing to have a small nightcap before retiring to rest their weary head.

I think we left a 4am, not really sure. But a fantastic bar, Not a large choice of spirits, but what they did have was good and we sampled the lot!! Cool and friendly people too, who showed a lot of interest in the strangers from a strange land.

Of course, when in Nurmburg a visit to Zeppelinstrasse just has to be done before heading to sound check. A good show to start the ball rolling and an extra-long Moby Dick from Pete the Beat. He is from Liverpool y’know!


We have illustrious company with us, and with a day off to enjoy this great city of Berlin , I thought a city tour would entertain our guest.
A short cab ride and we find ourselves in the Boho part of town, in the old East Berlin sector. Where graffiti adorns the walls and trendy dive bars appear every few yards.

Well, to fend off the hag of winter our first stop is a cool looking dive bar, just fortify ourselves for the walk around town in the biting cold, that gnaws at our feet. Full of locals who are all very charming and welcoming to us.

I forget just how many double Amarettos we consumed. But that bar became the extent of our city tour. Before braving the winter cold back to our hotel.

Great city Berlin, love it.

Knowing that it is near the end of the tour, we are doing 4 or 5 encores a night now. Everyone is full of festive spirit, oh, and full of other spirits too,

To Erfurt then, and a lovely old medieval town where Martin Luther lived as a monk.

At last we finally get to do the authentic German Christmas market!
Gluhwein, even an Amaretto version. And upon tipping our gracious Taverner he will ring a bell and bellow at the top of his voice something about drinkgeld, money for booze!
Good man!


And then the snow came.

The last of the Germany shows was fantastic, NEURUPPIN - Kulturhaus Stadtgarten. After 5 encores we left the venue to the small scattering of snowflakes falling gently upon us from the dark and doleful sky.
Very pretty of course, but with a three hour drive to Frankfurt airport the next day we decided on an early start as not to miss the flight due to the adverse weather conditions.

We made it home ok, and made it to Amsterdam for the final show of 2017. Always good to play Amsterdam. To see so many regulars and new friends too.

2018 got of to a fantastic start when I heard that Liberation, one of the most important national newspapers in all of France has a music section, one that most artist would kill their bass player to get even a sentence in this prestigious publication. Well, guess who got the whole page front cover picture? Yes that's right, your truly!


But I digress, last night the Hertford Corn Exchange, Really good venue, and only a 50 minute drive home for me to Ealing, Do you know Ealing? Marvin Gaye sang about it?
His big hit from 1982?

‘When you live in Ealing hmmmmmmm………….. that …….. Sexual Ealing ……ahhh yeah’
Oh c’mon you must have heard it?

As 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of Led Zeppelin, this is the theme of our tour this year  Performing the entire spectrum of the music from this most iconic of bands.
A good turn-out from  a lively audience, who lapped up every second. Not only great to get out and play what seems an eternity. Even though poor Andy is still suffering from the crippling after effects of the Flu. We all put in a fine performance, blew away the cobwebs and a chance for us to try out some new material for the up and coming tour of Spain which starts in just over a week.


From whence I am sure, there will be more tales of gore!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Cyprus Rocks

Cyprus Rocks! Classic Rock Festival is the brainchild of Eddie and (the beautiful) Elaine Yates. Who successfully blend rock festival and a summer break for like-minded people, well…. Namely fans of classic rock of course. Lately Eddie has hung up his mankini, and in unison we all praise the Lord for his mercy upon us, and taken more of a back seat, leaving the running of the event to Mario.

A week-long event on the beautiful island of Cyprus. Famous of course for the place where Richard Coeur de Lion married his princess Berengaria, before setting off on Crusade into the Holy Land.
Also the populous of the Mediterranean Islands. Settled by the Mycenaean’s in the 2nd century BC then subsequently occupied by the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was taken in 333 BC by Alexander the Great himself. The island was annexed by Great Britain (hoorah). So we shouldn’t really have been surprised that all the power sockets are UK and the cars all drive on the left, just like home. Did you know Halloumi cheese originated on the island? No? well it did.

Odins Day is upon us at last as we have been anticipating this one for a while and it’s nice to be finally on the plane sipping a pre-arrival Gin and Tonic! As if not enough to do as it is, Mario has the extra stress of Monarch flights going under, leaving band members stranded at home. Could have been a bit of a disaster there, but Mario manages to get alternative travel and everything is fine. Phew.
Arriving late-ish at the airport we are met by Artist Liaison, namely Drew, who is from Cyprus itself, born of the sea. Her voice like the siren welcomes weary travellers to her paradise home.

Well it’s late, and we spotted a pub still open just at the top of the hill, I think we should go say a cheery hallo to our fellow weary pilgrims, seeking refreshment before retiring for the night and falling into the arms of Morpheus and to sleep in Elysium.

It is mid-morning when I am disturbed from my esteemed repose, Hyperion is high on  his horse and sweats in the eye of Phoebus, and as usual I have missed breakfast. Thankfully so has Andy so we venture up the hill once more in seek of sustenance, tonight is the welcome party. There could be trouble ahead.

Evening draws nigh on Thors Day as we are greeted once more by Drew, Artist Liaison, and we are introduced to our fellow wandering minstrels. Friends of one another do we declare ourselves to be.
                                        Peter and Drew 
As the sun slowly sets beyond the horizon the waxing moon rises to dance upon the wine-dark sea. Tranquillity prevails, for the present at least, for I know what happens at the welcome party and this mad lot of rockers! So I am determined to pace myself, and live up to my reputation as El Santo.
First band of the evening Stone Free, Mario himself takes the stage and sets the bar high indeed, Great covers of Bread Fan by Budgie and 20th Century Schizoid man! They Rock! We are feasted and wined by our gracious host.

This photo says it all. Taken just 30 minutes before Letz Zep stage time, Peter sporting a fine suntan, spending his time wisely by the pool with a small beer. No longer Pete the Beat, now Pete the Beet-Root. Then the  two Pale Riders, Andy and Jack who have obviously not seen  a minute of daylight since the moment they arrived.
Every day there are fantastic events to be enjoyed, with marvellous bands. Who’s Next, very good, Very surprised at how good The Toxic Twins are, vocalist Danny doing an excellent rendition of Steven Tyler.

The events that lay ahead of us, a pool party with a special appearance  by the fantastic Jimi Anderson, and yes, I imagine someone will fall in at some point. Culminating in a farewell party with a much anticipated set from Nazareth vocalist Carl Sentence, and much more in between. All in all a great diverse selection of very good bands, to cover the full spectrum of the classic rock genre. Music for all seasons.

The main stage set upon the beach itself, with such beautiful natural lighting casting long shadows upon the golden sands. Perfect setting for the powerful and dramatic music that beckons.

So what is it that makes this event so special? is it this jewel of an island set in the silver sea? The excellent organisation from Mario, Drew and the tech crew? The exquisite cuisine? the bands? Well of course they all play  a part, but mainly the fantastic bunch of mad rockers who come together to celebrate all that is good in the world. In one space at one moment of time, it’s these lovely people that make this even to special. We love you all.
So, they say Cyprus Rocks is the probably the best rock holiday on Earth, a bold statement, can there be any truth in it?

Damn straight!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Missing planes trains and automobiles


Just how it came to pass that I missed my flight home from Tenerife is not entirely clear, well not to me anyway.

Tenerife is a volcanic island and part of the Canaries, named by the Romans due to the abundance of dogs on the island, and not canaries as is commonly assumed. Billys fact of the daaaayyyyyy. You know Latin, Canines = Canaries, obvious now isn’t it.

Now most of you should know by now that I am the most sensible of rock gods. Nice cuppa tea before hitting the stage, maybe a biscuit. Certainly no partying for Billy. Well, that isn’t entirely true anymore.Last night I slept on the floor being stepped over by fellow guests, tonight, in stark contrast is the brand new Hard Rock hotel. My room is of particular magnificence, with various gifts from the hotel generously scattered around the suite.

Somehow, I managed to break by tour bag last night, so off I trot in search of a new one, several beers later the purchase is made and there is time to enjoy the views from the Jacuzzi over the town whist enjoying a chilled glass of the complimentary champagne.

Tonight is the first event to be staged at this magnificent edifice, so we are first band to play here. Slightly later than usual start tonight as we are competing with the Champions League final, Juve v Real. Thankfully no extra time or penalties were needed so can get onstage on time. As soon as the game finishes the flood gates open and the people quickly arrive. Some even have come again after the previous nights show in the north of the island.

Ok a few minor sound problems, but finally managed to fix it, with not much help from Nobby who was spotted in the pool at sound check and in the bar during the show asking girls if they fancied a coffee in his room. 
His ols chat up line from days of yore.
But all goes well. Some of the audience to seem a trifle drunk, one bride-to-be shouting to me that it is her last night of freedom! and offered me to join her after the show for a private drink in her room, of course, I graciously declined. 
As she was very, very drunk.
Another gig another after-show party!! this time at Micky Dee’s bar, The Rock Lounge, the Motorhead and Scorpions drummer was not in attendance tonight, but a cool bar where I am unceremoniously thrust onstage with the local band for a rousing version of Immigrant Song. Beautiful setting above the beach with the moonlight shimmering off the silver sea.

This is the scene for the fates to conspire for me to miss my flight. For some unknown reason, Nobby had booked us out on an early flight, we were all hoping for some time to relax on this most beautiful of resorts, but no, our car is booked for 9.30 am.

I would like to tell you more of this exciting evening only I don’t recall much more. There are lots of pics with me and random people I do not know where they were taken. But apparently the blame mainly is on the shoulders of a Polish girl who came equipped with everything one could desire to keep the party going all night, and it did!

I did manage to get back to my bed this time, but unfortunately, didn’t do so well in getting out of it again as I slept through the alarm and missed the car and my flight home, so I am stuck here for at least another day, in paradise. Or maybe I’ll go to Barcelona for a few days? Oh well, I’ll just have to Gin and bear it! I’m off the pool. See ya.
                                          Me, myself and I

Update: luckily, the rather attractive Italian promoter named Bella I had meet at the show last night heard of my, erm…… plight? Is that the right word? My predicament maybe? Situation, that’ll do. She has saved the day, Bella is driving from the north of the island to rescue me. She has kindly arranged a room and a flight home tomorrow afternoon. A different airport, so after the plane, I’ll get the train, and collect my automobile.

As lucky happen-chance would have it, she is free tonight for dinner too!
So all's well that ends well, as they say.
I hear it is raining in the U.K. Maybe if I play my cards right I can miss this flight too.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Tenerife


Now, I was surprised to actually hear many a complaint about the content of my first book, not, as one would expect, due to its storyline, no, actually the complaints have not come from the people so cruelly depicted in the book, they loved being lampooned in its pages. The complaints came from those not mentioned in the book! One can only assume that people love to be lampooned at every opportunity. Gluttons for punishment.

This presented me with an idea for a business opportunity, anybody giving me £50 will get a mention in book two. So please be patient when a random name pops up unexpectedly in the most inappropriate of places.

Perhaps it would be a better idea to put all the sponsored stories in one chapter for easy listing. I look upon it as more of a crowdfunding exercise.

But back to the music. As always, the tour starts with a hefty few dates in Spain, covering all points of the compass, from the ancient city of Cordoba in the south, to Bilbao in the north. A journey east, and then onto Barcelona for a week, which we use as our base until we return to the UK.

We have a new JPJ, Les having hung up his syrup to retire to the south coast where he bought a boat and has discovered the delights of aquatic pursuits. He can be now regularly seen sailing up and down the Solent singing jaunty sea shanties, getting new tattoos and watching cartoons of Popeye the sailorman. Now is the time to cue all the references to Captain Pugwash. Seaman Stains being the most popular reference, quickly followed by Rodger the cabin boy, and Master Bates.

Enter Donny, of Irish extraction, and, being a young chap, is full of testosterone and very keen to sample the local wares, in all its glorious shape and form. Donny has settled in very quickly and has been out shopping in the trendy Camden area of London to purchase some clothes in 70’s style. This mainly comprises of a pair of the tightest jeans I have ever seen ‘The Mighty Tighties’ and some flowery girls blouses such as worn by members of Led Zeppelin in that era. Lonny soon discovers that this semi androgynous look is a big hit now as it was then.

The bastard.

At gig number one he had three girls giving him a massage backstage! He has settled in well, masterful on both bass guitar and keys where his No Quarter is a highlight of the evening.


From hence we set off for dates in the Baltic, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Belgrade, where we had a spanking good time.



So exciting times, as now I sit on Norwegian airlines on the way to Tenerife for two sold out shows, with our Spanish promoter Nobby Mills. The El Pollon tour continues.

it’s 11pm when we land, haven’t a clue where our hotel is tomorrow as Nobby hasn’t told me. But I do know both the shows are sold out and Nobby has arranged a party, he is delighted also that I am now liberated and is keen to relive his ‘Cock Squad’ days, when, in the days of his youth he claims to be hitting 3 girls every night, except Monday, as that was his day off. Nobby thinks of himself as a sex object, he asks for sex and girls object is closer to the mark.

There could be trouble ahead!

Well, there is good news and there is bad news. First the good news. We have the most beautiful of hotels. The oldest building in the village, weighing in at over 400 years old, made of ancient oak and featuring the original kitchen with huge stove and ceramic sinks.
My room has incredibly high oak ceiling and a huge wrought iron medieval style bed. It looks very comfortable. The bad news is I never got to find out how comfortable it was, as, after the party arranged by Nobby. Of which I recall nothing! But sadly, as I got to my room I realised my key was the bottom of my gig bag, and as I kneeled down to open it I fell asleep on the floor outside my room, I was awoken from my esteemed repose by the Pete the beat, up for his early morning walk and in hot pursuit of a fridge magnet. I had pulled the beautiful Persian rug over me for warmth in the night. Well. If the bed was anywhere near as comfy as the floor would have been a result.
As we travel now to the next show all the band are nursing horrible hangovers, distant memories of the night before come trickling back, the Jaeger bombs, whos bright idea was that? Apparently, I may have spent the night on the floor in the hallway with other guests stepping over. But it appears that I fared the best of the band, the others got into all kinds of scrapes. So, yet again. I am the most sensible and well-behaved member of the band. Those boys!!!!!!! I don’t know what Randy got up to but he is light as a feather after losing that heavy load.

Checking in at todays hotel, it would appear I have the executive suite with panoramic views of the ocean and my own jacuzzi.

It’s theeeeeeeeee good life. la la laaaaa la la laaaaaaa’

Monday, 1 May 2017

Jimmy Page - The Next Generation

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog. So a lot of catching up to do. It’s been a hectic month with one thing and another.

I write this from my premium single room in Iceland, I have come out here to promote the band and my book. Which is selling like hot cakes and getting great reviews. Amazon has already sold out of stock twice and has restocked for a third time.

It is good to have Andy back on guitar, he has been away for a month so we had Chris Cawte on guitar for London and Holmfirth. A fantastic player he is too, a big thanks for standing in. It was just like the old days as we had Simon Jeffrey back on the drums for a re-union. A big thanks to Simon.
The Borderline was really where it all began for us, and when we first performed in front of Jimmy Page, (it’s all in the book wot I wrote) and got to meet the great man after the show. In Dorking last Friday we played in front of Jimmy Page again!!! Only this time it is the son of Jimmy Page, also called Jimmy. Jimmy Page, the next generation.

Little Jimmy was at the very front all show and stayed around to greet the band, he said that his Dad had come to see us years ago and thought we were fantastic, and now his son agrees too. Nice chap actually, and looks just like his father. He was impressed with Andy's guitar playing.


We had a great little trip in The Balkans with Damir, our fourth show in Slovenia, and another packed house. It was literally one of the loudest audiences we have ever played in front of, actually deafening roar at the end of the songs. Jack, our new John Paul Jones, couldn’t quite believe it and had to take a few steps closer to the edge of the stage to get a better look.


Jack played a blinder and his solo in No Quarter is fast becoming a highlight of the set.
And a day off to explore the Dragon Bridge and the castle, Ljubljana is a beautiful city, and we had plenty of offers from locals to show us the sights. Peter is keen to add to his expanding fridge magnet collection.

So, onto Croatia, we have played here once before at a festival along with Wishbone Ash. But not in Zagreb before. The Border was closed for some reason, and 6 hour delays at the border, thankfully our local driver knows of a smaller check point and we are through with no problem.
A fantastic show and well attended. After two encores no one wants to go home and we play Babe I’m Gonna Leave You to end the night. Lot’s of well wishes appeared backstage for photos and a pick from Andy, Jack has no picks left after just 2 shows. One guys said he had been waiting for us to come there for 5 years and it was well worth the wait.

The party somehow managed to carry on back to the hotel, Andy forgetting what room he was in, at one point he was sleeping in Pete’s room, then found his way into Jacks room. Finally came stumbling into my room at 4am and fell asleep on the floor. A spanking good time was had by all.
I think we all needed to let some steam off after a stressful month.

As we are not actually in Europe anymore smoking is allowed everywhere, amazing how we get used to not smoking, in Belgrade we are treated to local dishes at a traditional Serbian restaurant. At tonight show we have promoters and agent from all over the region, and well as everyone who is, or has ever been, in a band, as well as some local TV celebrities, including the bloke who does a mystic show on the telly and his beautiful assistant, chatting to her she is very interesting and well informed on local culture and art.

The show is slightly delays due to a protest march through the city. The lights go down, the roar goes up and Bam Bam……, we blast into Good Times Bad Times. The next two and a half hours are pure magic, what a great audience and a great show. After the show I had an in depth interview with a local journo, she was very tall, elegant too. Somehow again, there seemed to be a party back at our hotel! What is it with all these parties all of a sudden? Or maybe they have always gone on and I just wasn't invited!
I’m sure Jack is inviting everyone who was at the show back to our hotel. Anyway, as usual I am first in bed, it’s been a long day.

Anyway, here I am now in Iceland and the weather is awful, but things are looking up, there is a knock at my hotel room door, it is the girl from the hotel reception, she is still in her hotel uniform, though it doesn’t look exactly regulation, the skirt is a little shorter and the heels are higher, she is interested in my book apparently, well I better go then, see ya!!!!!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

What goes on tour don't stay on tour

It is available at last, my first book: Letz Zep backstage ‘What goes on tour don’t stay on tour’ I finally on sale.
And first reactions are good ‘All you wanted to know about the life of a touring band and more. Much more’ says Kris Gruber of Radio Dacorum.

The book was written on planes, trains and automobiles over the last 6 months and the odd hotel room.
The book tells the story of the bands journey from local pub gigs to some of the biggest stages in the world. From Madrid to Moscow, Lisbon to London and Barcelona to Brazil.
Tales of being ‘encouraged’ to perform at gun-point in Venezuela, had shot-guns pointed at us in Brazil. Facing a knife-wielding maniac in Morocco. Performing on amazing stages like the ancient Amphitheatre in Rhodes. The Paris Olympia Theatre and the Heineken Arena in Madrid.
What is it like to have Robert Plant turn up at one of our shows and performing in front of Jimmy Page.

From the early days of The Marquee Club and the St. Moritz Club, touring with Ozzy Osbourne and Roger Daltrey. Filled with lots of helpful advice on how to be a success in the notoriously cut-throat world of the music industry, and how to sustain that career.
Including all the amusing stories from back-stage of a hard working international touring rock band.
The book is available on presale right now:
and is flying off the shelves :D

And on general release from March 1. Or if you prefer, buy one at the shows. Then I can sign it for you!!