Started piano lessons at the age of 7 in the home town of Shipley,West Yorkshire,I went to an old lady called Mrs.Cade up Leeds Road.Carried on with lessons until age of 14 when I started listening to The Nice,and heard "Rondo". Listening to Keith Emerson was a major turning point in influencing my playing.At the turn of the 70s - The Nice folded and ELP were born shortly afterwards,and I was influenced by even more keyboard players -including-Rick Wakeman,Jon Lord,Vangelis,Jean Michel-Jarre and Patrick Moraz etc......the 70s was the time for the keyboard virtuoso.My first ever organ was.......a Farfisa Compact Organ !
By the time I left school at 16,I was already was gigging in a local rock band called Midas,and was playing Rondo and hurling a newly acquired Hammond L102 all over the stage,much to the annoyance of the guitarist (sorry Geoff) at the time-but hey-it was entertainment! and most of our set was self-written ! Anyway the band continued to play gigs for a couple of years,including a support slot with East Of Eden (Jig a Jig).Stayed with the band until I was 18,then left due to musical differences (surprise surprise) and went on to help create a new band called Instant Eric (which later changed its name to Madison Square).
Now,Madison Square wasn't a rock band as such,it was a covers band and we did all the major songs of the time,Music- McArthur Park- Fanfare- Blinded By The Light- etc........it was a good band,and we all got paid,wore some silly outfits- 70s Glam-and it lasted quite a few years gigging around the pubs and clubs of Yorkshire and surrounding areas,plus a prestigious? gig at Bernard Mannings Embassy Club.Also,we backed the infamous P.J.Proby for a while,until we left him slumped in front of the bass drum-legless, at the last gig-we just left him there-while we packed up and went home-the crowd went barmy ! At least the gigs helped to pay for my Hammond L100,Hohner Pianet N and Moog Satellite Synth ! ( I couldn't afford a Minimoog then).
THE INVADERS: 1979-80
After Madison Square split,a couple of years seemed to drift by,and by chance a friend of mine - Dave- ,was doing the sound for a Brighouse based Punk-Rock band called The Invaders,and they were thinking of adding a keyboard player,so I went down to see the band,and we hit it off straight away.As it happens,the band later on in the year were offered a record deal with Polydor,and the band-now a four-piece including me were signed.I suppose you could liken the sound to an early Stranglers! By this time I was just using the Hammond L100, Clavinet D6 and Moog Satellite,but a record deal on the horizon allowed me to purchase the dream synth- A MINIMOOG- nirvana at last-loved it,also got to use a Yamaha CS-80 polysynth on the early recordings.Incidentaly Jimmy Pursey (Sham 69) produced the bands first 2 singles.The band all moved down to London to live,rehearse,record etc......and recorded their first (and only) album at Sarm East Studios.Aldgate-produced by Dave Batchelor.I used my Hammond and Minimoog and got to use the same grand piano that Freddie Mercury used on "Bohemian Rhapsody".WOW.Things were rosy for the first 7 months or so,then the band started to fall apart,due to personality/musical/outside influences! etc.and that was the end of that in 1980.The album was never released by Polydor.I still have a copy ! The album was called "Test Card".
Around October,a chance to do some gigs with The Edgar Broughton Band (Out-Demons-Out),came along,after one of the original keyboard players had to go back on tour with Gary Numan.The Broughton Brothers (Edgar & Steve) had written a new album called "Superchip",and were doing some promo gigs,so I joined in on keys (Fender Rhodes & 2 Minimoogs) for about 3 months or so.
In early 1981 ,Roy Sundholm (ex- Spencer Davis Group) had recorded a new album-"East To West" and needed a keyboard player,so I got to use a Yamaha CS-80 live ,and did a few gigs around London,and a Radio 1 Session.I later bought the CS-80 from him!Also the guitarist in the band was non other than Simon Climie (Climie-Fisher).
Towards the end of 1981.this just ended up being a bunch of rehearsals for gigs that never happened!,although I was mightily impressed by the fact he had a Moog modular 55 system.I got to use it a few times-brilliant sound! I heard just recently from the bass player(Andy Prince) that sadly, Rikki had passed away a few years ago.
Did recordings and gigs with a band called "Crosswords"(which later changed to "Ground Zero") which featured ex-Invaders drummer Howard,and Martyn on bass.This lasted till about March.We supported Alex Harvey on his final tour in London,before he died,and also played at the Embassy ClubSteve Strange's hangout)I then sold my CS-80 to Geoff Downes (Asia & Buggles) and bought a Prophet 5.Hmmm.....wish I'd kept the CS-80 now !! I also sold my Minimoog to Rusty Egan for £500.
GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS:1982-1983
OK....not the coolest thing to do....but I was absolutely broke! so when ex-Madison Square pals-Neil(bass) and Dave (drums) came to stay at my flat in London,they told me the keyboard player was leaving soon,so did I want the job?- I said yes and by May I was gigging with Gerry.I was using an RMI Electra-Piano(as used by Rick Wakeman) and Prophet 5 at the time.Things started to go badly wrong with the Prophet 5- it wouldn't stay in tune-I found out later it was one of the very early models-so I got rid-and bought a Memorymoog! I ended up touring UK-Europe- Gibraltar-Saudi Arabia-Australia-all up to the end of 1983,when the band (me-Dave and Neil) decided to split after the Aussie tour,and Gerry could get a new band.
RAVING RUPERT-(ELVIS TRIBUTE):1984
Start of 1984 - did a tour of European army bases with Raving Rupert,it was a complete waste of time from the start....worst tour I have ever done! Dont get me wrong-the shows were OK, and the band played great- it was just all the other c---p going on at the time.I actually lost money on that tour.........A few more gigs around England and by May I'd had enough.Bye Bye Elvis........you ain't nothin' but a hound dog!
This was a little band formed in S.London that had a single and album out on their own record label,and I did a few gigs in London with them and also a gig in Amsterdam (The Milkweg).It was OK, but after a while,I decided their kind of music wasn't for me. Next !
Towards the end 1984,doing odd sessions (Max & The Broadway Metal Choir) and various stuff,Dave (sound engineer) was helping a band get some tracks together for a demo,and would I go down to rehearsals to see what was happenin'.I liked the tracks they were doing so we sorted out some keyboard parts and went into the studio at Ezee's to record them.We ended up doing 4 tracks (I think?) .Shortly after, we also did some showcases for the record companies as well.I was still a session person at this time with the band.Later on,a record deal with CBS was in the offing- and I was offered the chance of joining the band-which I took up,so I officially joined on Thu.15 Nov.1984.
1984:Recording and rehearsals and signing record deal with CBS(Sony).After which we did a tour of European dates with MEATLOAF in December.
1985:Rehearsals for gigs at Kensington Polytechnic,and The Marquee Club.Then into the studio to record "That Girl" and "Frozen Heart",followed by a Radio 1 session at BBC Maida Vale.In April,we did a tour of Ireland with Mama's Boys and a week later,we started a tour of Europe with TINA TURNER.Back to England,and a few nights at Hammersmith Odeon with REO SPEEDWAGON.Later on in June, we nipped back over to Dublin to do a support slot with FOREIGNER. and then went to Ibiza to start the recording of the 1st.album with our manager Dave producing/engineering.After 2 weeks,with the basic tracks down,we came back to England to spend a couple of weeks laying down the keyboard parts at Comfort Studio,Surrey,with the rest of the band putting their parts down later.September - more rehearsals and off on the GARY MOORE tour of the UK.Album nearly finished,time to shoot the video for the first single. "Frozen Heart" gets as far as 92 in the charts,with another gig at The Marquee in November.Put some finishing touches on the album (INDISCREET) later on in the month.
1986:Kicked off in the spring,with a UK tour and then over to Jamaica to shoot a video for "That Girl" and then recording at Ridge Farm Studios - we did a couple of tracks for a cartoon series called "Galaxy Rangers".In June,Radio 1 session for Tommy Vance and TV show "No Limits" and a couple of gigs at the Marquee.July - "Frozen Heart" is released in US,and then we did the READING FESTIVAL.Next,in September,we did a UK tour with MAGNUM.After that,we spent more time writing new stuff and rehearsing,and in November,we did a UK tour with BON JOVI.
1987:"Frozen Heart" re-released - goes into the UK charts at 64.January,we start our own UK tour.After that,we hopped straight onto the STATUS QUO tour of Europe.In June ,"Love Be The Leader" went into the charts at 71.Then,over to Germany for a tour with GARY MOORE.After that,more recording demos,and a gig at the ASTORIA London.Later on,we did READING FESTIVAL again,and towards the end of the year started to record the 2nd.album (TOUGH IT OUT).
1988:Demo some more new numbers in Jan and Feb.We spent quite a few months writing stuff for the new album.We start recording in Sept. at CBS studios in London.This takes us through to October/November,with Neil Kernon producing the album.
1989:January,and finally the album is mixed.We decide that "Bad Luck" will be the 1st.single from the new album,so we fly to LA to shoot the video at the "Spruce Goose" aero hanger! Also took in Disneyland and Universal Studios at the same time.Back to UK and more rehearsals to promote new album."Bad Luck" goes into the charts at 54.Major tour of UK starting in Birmingham,with an appearance on TV show - The Garden Party - in Glasgow.The tour was completely sold out!!In October - "Someday" is released and charts at 64.Next,we did another UK tour on a larger scale,with our own stage etc.to promote the album.After that,a holiday and one more gig/party at The Marquee.The album"TOUGH IT OUT" hits the charts at 34 !!
1990:Spent Jan - March writing and recording new material,with a gig at The Town and Country Club London."Everytime I Think Of You" is released and charts at 73.Yet more writing till May,and Chris left the band.Recording at studio in Winchester more tracks to make up a new album.
1991:Sign deal with Music For Nations record label for a new album.Finish recording and mixing.July- start UK tour.October - shot the video for "Heard It Through The Grapevine" (new single).Nov - Dec,last UK tour with STATUS QUO.Final gig - Bournemouth on Sat.21st.December.
THE DUO YEARS 1991-2000
Oh well,after those hectic years in the 80s,things had to slow down I suppose ?(I wish)
91-True Blue:1st duo I started up in London,towards the end of FM with a young female singer/songwriter called Suzanna Woolf.We just did a few gigs around town,then I decided to move back up North to Bradford in March 92.
92-The Ritz-Manchester: I got offered a place in the resident band at The Ritz Ballroom,this just covered things 'till I got settled in back in Bradford,with young son (Lewis) in tow.I also wrote and recorded some corporate TV jingles,at The Engine Room Studios.
92-95 Bambino Splash:Put together a duo to do gigs with Gwen,a singer from Keighley.We did clubs and pubs,army bases etc.....Also did some recording with Chris Norman (Smokie). and some gigs with local singer Anita Madigan.I also popped down to London a couple of times to do a few BASCA gigs with Suzanna Woolf and some more recording sessions and teaching.
95-00 Get Real Mk1-Mk7:Changed singers - new girl called Hellen from Harrogate,and continued gigging.Also some gigs with a singer/somgwriter called Louis Stone, we did The James Whale Show in London.Opened a rehearsal room/office/studio in Thornton,nr Bradford.Did a few gigs with the Chris Sharp Band,and some show re-programming for Billy Pearce.plus some recording with Mel Gaynor (drummer Simple Minds).In '97 changed singers again - Sharon from Dewsbury,to be followed by Gayle in '98.The following singers helped out from time to time.Reliability was becoming a rare factor by now - Darrie - Caroline -Paula - Elli .A few more gigs with Chris Norman Band in Kazakstan - Denmark & Lithunia.Changed the name of the duo to CRY HAVOC in '99.Finally after a series of missed gigs/grief etc .......decided to call it a day on the duo scene.So in Oct.99 I decided to get a solo act together for the new millenium! Oh yeah,and learn how to sing lead vocals as well !!!!
THE PHIL JAMES SHOW 2000-2012.........
2000.Started off the new year with a bang.The Phil James Show hits the road,quite a few gigs so things are on the up.No unreliable singers to let one down! Also managed to have a roadie to carry the gear at some gigs - just like the old days! In 2001,I was asked if I fancied being in a Pink Floyd Tribute band called "Off The Wall"- I said OK - I'll give it a go,and we did some small gigs around Yorkshire. I stayed for a while,but decided it wasn't quite energetic enough for me so I left.But it made me think about an idea I'd had a few years earlier! The solo show I do,is still current now......and along with my girlfriend - the glamorous Carolyn Romley we have appeared as TV extras in Emmerdale,Coronation St,Hollyoaks,MTV Edinburgh Awards,Frost and Blue Murder.In 2003 I had to shut the studio down - the mill where I was based,was closing for re-development,so I moved to Huddersfield.