Biography

It is a cold grey damp day and I can’t get any inspiration to write any more songs. The river is running too fast to take the kayak out so I thought I had better update the web site and throw some light on what I have been doing since ‘retiring’ to Cornwall in 1996.

I was doing four, sometimes five gigs a week with various line ups; Skeleton Crew, Nightshift, King Earl Boogie Band and The Artful Dodgers with Pete Hamilton (when Colin Earl wasn’t available). I had been renovating an old Jacobean manor house for about 3 years and I would often be doing some brickwork, fireplaces and feature walls etc. I would bolt down some beans on toast at about 6pm, load up the Land Rover, drive about 45 minutes to the gig, do the gig, reload and arrive back home at one o’clock in the morning at which point I would open a bottle of Merlot and finish it off while pointing up the brickwork (it is always better to leave the muck a few hours for a better finish).

As I said I was doing this for about 3 years and to be quite honest I felt the music was going nowhere, the house was now worth more than double what I paid for it and I decided to put it on the market and try something new.

I fancied Cornwall; I had been there many years ago when I had been released from Alicante prison in Spain to let my hair grow back again and write some new material. It took some time to find the right property but I eventually settled in a village called Lerryn on the River Fowey and bought an old ale house and a dilapidated barn, which had planning permission to renovate.

So, I did a farewell gig with the Boogie Band at the Cropredy Festival, hung up my guitars, packed my angle grinder, trowels, paint brushes and headed west. The first thing I did was buy a dog - a little Jack Russell called Poppy (the love of my life I might add!) and got down to work.

I had an art gallery attached to the house got that up and running and then started on the barn. Some 2 years later after finishing the building projects by shear chance I started playing again. I’d got on well with the local farming community and a farmer friend of mine asked me if I would do a farewell gig for his son who was off to the Far East and Australia.

I didn’t have a band so I phoned Jeff Ward who very kindly joined me along with  Keith Marshall on percussion. We played the gig in the Globe at Lostwithiel and it went down a storm. Not bad considering I hadn’t played for 2 years and we were asked to do more gigs. Unfortunately, Jeff was off to Ireland so I started looking around for some other musicians and was very lucky to find talented multi-instrumentalist Richard Barrett. That is how the Cornish Skeleton Crew started. The band was leaning more to the folkier side of my music but the locals and holidaymakers really loved it, and we played at many pub venues, private functions and festivals.

At about this time I started guesting with other bands on harmonica - The Blues Bandits, Cahooty and solo performer Steve Bailey who’s wife is a fine water colour artist and would exhibit in my gallery. I was also creeping back to Surrey to play the occasional gig and a bit of harp with Jackie Lynton, and a few of the other bands.

Rather than rent the barn out I sold it and decided to buy an old wreck of a house on a village hilltop in Crete. At around this time I split with my girlfriend and ended up in an altercation at the local pub. I got arrested again and spent the night in Launceston Police cells. I was subsequently banned from the pub.

That was a silly thing to do as it was the only pub for miles around and I do rather like a drink or two. To cut the saga short I sold the house in Cornwall and moved back to Sunbury-on-Thames where fortunately there are 6 pubs in the village.

Although the renovation work in Crete was going OK and I had reformed Skeleton Crew with Colin Pattenden and Chris Bryant my heart strings were pulling me back to Cornwall. 

Yep, you guessed it, I sold the house and bought an old 16th century cottage in Penpol Creek - a tributary off the Fowey river - with about 450 yards of river frontage. Great location but the cottage was in such a state (I didn’t have a survey!) that I had to pull the whole thing down. Also, it was 2 miles from the nearest boozer!! I got planning permission to rebuild it , rented an apartment in Lostwithiel, got stuck in to the new build and reformed Skeleton Crew during 2008-2010.

It took 2 years to build from scratch and I was running out of money. But it was a very desirable property with its own water supply, solar panels, log burner and under floor heating etc.

Rather than borrow any more money I decided to move. Unfortunately, I had to bury my poor little dog at the base of an old lime kiln by the river. I met a new lady and bought a brand new house in the next village up river called Golant.

This was a good move, the village was very welcoming as I had played there before at the local beer festivals in the Fisherman’s Arms. We settled in very well. I was playing gigs again in the Cornish Skeleton Crew. Colin and Chris would come down occasionally to play and we all had a good time.

At this time the renovation work in Crete was complete and I started going there more often. I teamed up with some very fine Cretan musicians playing in the local tavernas and bars. Colin and Chris also came over a few times and we played some very memorable gigs.

I also made a CD with the Cornish Skeleton Crew and new bass player Colin Boyd (ex sound man for the Kinks) called Skullduggery. We carried on for a year or so but Richard Barrett, who is also a master builder, wanted to quit for a while and concentrate on his building projects.

I didn’t fancy playing solo gigs and as luck would have it there was another musician in Golant called Rupert Willder who like me is a songwriter and fronts a band called Bird on a Wire.

He’s a good drinking partner and after a few beers, and musical evenings we decided to form a duo called ‘Sacre Bleu’ and start gigging. This outfit worked really well as it gave me more opportunity to play the harmonica when Rupert was singing and we did some great gigs even in the churches of Golant and Fowey as well as numerous pubs.

The only problem was that I wasn’t happy with the house I was living in. It was ultra modern, had no soul and had previously been a high class holiday let. I prefer period properties and there was one in the village  with an art gallery I really fancied so I put mine on the market. It took a while but I got a buyer but the lady who owned the house I wanted decided not to sell. Like an idiot I sold mine and looked around for something else in the village. I couldn’t find a suitable property in Golant but did find one on the river in Surrey that needed gutting. I got stuck into that and in 2016 started Skeleton Crew again, went back to Crete in 2017 and decided to record an album with the Greek guys called ‘Minoan Blue’, using all the different Cretan instruments.

Right now I am working on a new project with Jeff Ward called 'Paul King’s Baker’s Dozen’ which will include some of the best songs I have written along with some new recordings.

By the way the house is on the market; I miss Cornwall. I think I may have some gypsy blood somewhere.