“I love music more than myself!”
#3 1. At what age did you start to play guitar?
I was 13 years old.
2. Do you come from a family with some tradition in music?
No, I was the only musical one … although my mother loved to dance!
3. What were your first music experiences, what sort of music were you listening before starting career as a musician?
I first heard 50’s pop music… Johnny Ray, etc.Then Bill Haley and Elvis Presley. Then R&B and blues. I decided to play Chicago blues after hearing Earl Hooker and Muddy Waters.
4. Who turned you on to blues or was it sort of a natural thing to do for you?
My older brother had all the records. I had a natural feel for the music.
5. Who were your earliest blues influences and how did you get in touch with that kind of music, was it radio, records, concerts…?
My brother’s record collection started me going. R&B was popular in the UK in the early sixties and the records were widely available.
6. Prior to form Savoy Brown, did you play in some other bands?
Savoy Brown was my first band.
7. How did Savoy Brown happen?
I met John O’Leary (harmonica player) who also loved the blues and that was the catalyst to start the band.
8. Was that so called “British Blues Boom” in mid 60’s sort of a spontaneous reaction on the blues sounds coming from USA or it just coincided that British bands started to form about the same time?
It wasn’t so called … it was very real! It was all based on US records.
9. When you started Savoy Brown, what was your basic idea about the band, to follow the footsteps of the black blues performers or to try to mix that with your own concepts?
Savoy Brown was the UK version of the Muddy Waters band! I just wanted to capture that magic. But I always added my own creative arrangements.
10. Quite a number of singers came and left the band, who was your favourite one?
11. Period with Chris Youlden in Savoy Brown, for me, was the most successful in commercial and also in quality terms, would you agree?
Not the most successful in commercial terms… but definitely the “Classic period” for me. The most success I ever had was with the “Hellbound Train” record in the 70’s.
12. Was there any sort of “competition” among British bands at that time, were you friends with other bands?
I was friends with everyone. But we all thought we were the best!
13. Did you have a favourite British blues band in those days?
I’ve always been a fan of John Mayall.
14. What do you think of the blues scene in Britain and its influence on European scene afterwards?
It has been the most creative movement in blues in recent memory. Nothing has approached it since.
15. Were you the “boss” when you started Savoy Brown?
16. Would you name US bluesmen who were influential on you and your band?
John Lee Hooker, B.Bking, Freddie King… Willie Dixon.
17. Which guitarists from the past made impact on your style of playing?
Hubert Sumlin… Earl Hooker… Grant Green.
18. When did you decide to make USA your home base?
19. When you look back, do you feel that maybe something more could’ve been done or maybe some things should’ve been done differently?
Of course I do… nobody who has lived fully, doesn’t think they could have been done differently.
20. You’ve played or shared the stage with almost everybody in blues. Could you name some people and your experience with them?
Albert Collins was a nice man and great player/entertainer… Charles Brown was delightful and charming. John Lee Hooker always reminds me of a 19 year old… wonderful love of music. Jimi Hendrix was very humble and kind. Hubert Sumlin… my hero!
21. Is there any musician who you wanted to play with, but did not have a chance?
22. After so many years on the road, you still seem to be full of energy, almost like you’re beginning your career. How do you manage to do that?
I have always been an optimist and I love music more than myself.
23. I don’t think I’ve seen your photo playing any other guitar than Gibson Les Paul. Could you explain your long time affection for Les Paul, is it a sound, feel or what?
I’m now playing a Gibson 335. I’ve not always played a Les Paul. I’ve used different guitars through the years. But I like Gibson because of the tradition and quality of the instruments.
24. What do you think about the current blues scene and how it will develop in the new Millenium?
The curent blues scene lacks creativity. A lot of people doing the same thing. Also, the talent has been diluted because musicians are trying to do everything themselves ie. Sing, play and write songs. Very few people are talented.
#4 25. Is the line-up on your latest CD The Blues Keep Me Holding On (which, by the way, I think is great!) your regular band?
Drummer Tom Compton doesn’t tour with me.
26. A lot of older blues fans in Macedonia put Savoy Brown on the top of their lists and cite you as the best guitar player in the ranks of Green, Clapton, Beck, Page and others!
I agree with them!
27. You still do a lot of touring, could we sometime in the future have a chance to have you here in Skopje, Macedonia?
Of course, I’d love to see the fans there. Maybe some day?
28. Well, that’s it! Thank you and hope to meet you here some day!