|In the beginning, there was me (Rob Shipton - born 18th January 1954) and a piano (Ubel and Lechleiter - born 1800 and something).
Eight years old, with ambition, burgeoning talent and hair. Clearly a case for cornflakes and classics!
Then came The Nice.
Keith Emerson could play. He thrust throwing knives into the keyboard of his battered Hammond organ.
I cleaned my shoes to the obsessive, thumping beat of Rondo '69.
I discovered Oscar Peterson, quite by accident. All sweat and blurred fingers.
I had discovered pop and jazz.
Improvisation seemed the thing to do.
Then one evening listening to 'The Sounds of the Seventies', a stunningly tight, close-harmonied song assailed my ears.
"Bodhishattva, won't you take me by the hand - let me sparkle in your China...."
Walter Becker and Donald Fagan had reached my small world.
|In 1972, I travelled to St. Luke's College in Exeter to study music and drama.
A quaint, old-fashioned teacher-training establishment full of P.E. students eager to impress and God Squad eager to depress.
Standing in a door way of the side entrance to the music block, a London accent, dressed as a P.E. student enquired as to whether I was a musician.
"Yes", I garbled trying to put him off as the elite music department would have nothing to do with the macho Physical Education department.
I added pretentiously, "But musically my tastes run to the more intelligent jazz/funk songs of an unknown American band called Steely Dan, and the blue-eyed soul of an obscure duo, Hall and Oates."
"Yeah? So do mine!"
That's how I met Ronnie Gleeson.