Out and about around the UK...

Ooh, fancy meeting you here!

I’ve been very fortunate to encounter some cool people on my travels, some of whom are heroes or gods to me. Here for your viewing pleasure is a selection of photos of some of the best encounters of my life...

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Jeff Scott Soto, The Lux Club, in Wigan, UK 31st October 2003.

Jeff Scott Soto has performed with Swedish guitar god Yngwie Malmsteen, sung with Talisman, has a solo career, was the lead vocalist in rock supergroup Soul SirkUS, fronted numerous other projects and was the vocalist for Journey for a spell.

He played a low key gig for Halowe’en and I was lucky enough to be in attendance and get a photo and hang out in the after show party. He put on a great show - all his band were done up in KISS makeup for the occasion and delivered an excellent ‘Lick It Up’ before blasting through some of Jeff’s solo material, Yngwie work, even his Boogie Knights disco stuff. If you don’t know of Jeff’s work, check him out. Classic rock voice, and unbelievably versatile. He’s also a born live performer so you always get a good show from him.

 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Tony Martin, Hull City Hall, Hull, UK, 13th May 2004.

I met Black Sabbath’s Tony Martin in my home town when he played a gig with the fantastic Whole Lotta Metal show. Tony’s been around a long time and graced some classic albums, so it was great to meet him. He was in Black Sabbath for ten years, fronting several world tours and performing songs like ‘Headless Cross’, ‘Anno Mundi’ and ‘The Shining’. He gave them back their credibility after they went through a series of vocalists who didn’t work out for varying reasons. After a stint with M3, he joined the Whole Lotta Metal line up which I cannot recommend highly enough. What I really love about this picture is the way Tony is pointing at me as if if he’s saying “Look who I’m stood with!” He’s heard about the Great One. He knows. I was fortunate enough to interview Tony a few times and you can read the features here.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Glenn Hughes, London, UK, 14th April 2011.

Here’s the first legend I met - the Voice of Rock, Glenn Hughes. Glenn sang with Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, has his own career and has appeared on dozens of albums, as well as fronting rock supergroup Black Country Communion. The most bizarre thing was when I introduced myself to him, he knew who I was! I posted regularly on his website forum where he reads all the posts and he recognised my name! I’ve had chance to meet Glenn a couple of times after gigs, and then was lucky enough to have several opportunities to interview him for Fireworks. Last time I did it in person in London, and I asked for a photo. He said no problem, and I got a hug too, because I was “one of his favourite people”. It doesn’t get much better than that! The interviews can be found here.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Joe Lynn Turner, Rios, in Bradford, UK, 6th April 2004.

Legend number two - Joe Lynn Turner, who has fronted rock giants such as Rainbow, Deep Purple, and performed and collaborated with loads of top names. It’s his golden tonsils on Rainbow’s hit ‘I Surrender’. This was taken after a gig Joe did with Glenn Hughes on their “HTP” tour. I can assure you Joe is not as tanned as this photo suggests: he’s olive skinned and the harsh flash and my complete lack of a tan has exaggerated things a bit! After the HTP gig, my brother and I arrived back at our hotel at the same time as Joe and Glenn who also happened to be staying there and got to see Joe throw a rock star tantrum! You can read about that in Fireworks. I’ve done no less than SEVEN interviews with the always entertaining Joe, who I’ve ended up befriending, and you can read them all here.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Joe Satriani, London, UK, 6th April 2009.

Guitar hero Joe Satriani turned out to be a really nice bloke. He was in the UK to promote the amazing debut album by Chickenfoot, the all star band he’s a member of, with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony from Van Halen, and Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. My brother Buz and I went down to London and met him in a hotel and sat down with him for half an hour to get the full low-down on what had happened to bring Joe together with the other guys, and how the album came about. It was a fun interview, he was a very gracious interviewee, and it was a pleasant day all round. The interview was of course published in Fireworks, and with me being the philanthropic figure that I am, you can read it here.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Chris Jericho, The Astoria, in London, UK, 10th May 2005.

Oh yes, I’m very happy with this one! I’m a big WWE fan, and one of my favourite wrestlers is Chris Jericho. We are in serious superstar territory now - Chris is one of the top guys in the WWE, being a former Intercontinental Champion for a record breaking amount of times, a Tag Team Champion, European Champion, Hardcore Champion, the first ever Undisputed Champion and host of his own talk show segment, ‘The Highlight Reel’. Not bad for a guy who was told he wasn’t big enough to make it in sports entertainment! He also has an excellent metal band called Fozzy who I have seen - and I have interviewed the man himself FOUR times. Fozzy rock and so does Jericho. The interview, that I conducted with Chris just before this photo was taken, can be read here. Note that despite me spending nowhere near as much time in the gym as Chris, the girth of our arms are identical.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Michael Ball, Shaftesbury Theatre, London, UK, 7th November 2007.

I hold Michael Ball in high regard as I am a fully fledged fan of his work, and I am privileged to do art work for his Fan Club. As a successful recording artist, presenter on both his own radio show and occasionally on TV, and of course being one of Britain's premier musical theatre stars, he’s a talented guy and seems to do well at everything he turns his hand to. I went to see him in Hairspray where he played the role of Edna Turnblad and deservedly ended up as an Olivier award winner for his efforts. The show was excellent and Michael was fantastic in it. I was lucky enough to get to meet him afterward where he signed some of my CD’s of his, and posed for this rather magnificent picture!
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Francis Rossi, Hull City Hall, in Hull, UK, 4th November 2005.

I think Status Quo are quality, and I defy anybody to say that they don’t like at least one Quo song. I attended another of their gigs in my home town, as a couple of weeks previous I’d been lucky enough to interview Rick Parfitt. I ended up with an invitation to meet the boys backstage, which I naturally accepted! In my second Quo interview, I was lucky enough to talk to Francis, when the band were promoting their amusingly titled ‘In Search Of The Fourth Chord’ album. I went on to interview all the current members of Quo (except drummer Matt Letley) as well as old members John Coghlan and Alan Lancaster - on top of that, I spoke to Francis several times and built up an amusing rapport with him. You can see evidence of this for yourself by reading the interviews here.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Rick Parfitt, Hull City Hall, in Hull, UK, 4th November 2005.

And here is my good self with the interviewee, Mr Parfitt. I interviewed him originally to cover the release of Quo’s ‘The Party Ain’t Over Yet’ album, where he enjoyed Rich Tea biscuits - “Rock and roll, eh!”, his words! Then, as explained above, I was afforded the opportunity to meet him backstage when they were in Hull. The Quo are just as nice in the flesh as they appear, and were very accommodating. They also happened to put on a storming rock and roll show, but that’s no surprise. They wouldn’t have been around for forty years if they weren’t any good! You can read my interview with Rick by clicking here.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Ian Gillan, Shepherds Bush, in London, UK, 23rd March 2009.

Another legend added to the ever growing list of awesome people I have met... here we have the voice of Deep Purple, Ian Gillan. When you’ve been in the business four decades, have fronted Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, had two bands of your own, a solo career, and duetted with Pavarotti (who calls you a genius) you’re doing quite well, and that’s what Ian Gillan has done. I was assigned the task of interviewing him and was offered a phone conversation, or a chance to sit with him face to face. I plumped for the latter, got my fine ass on a train to the capital, and hung out with him in his hotel room for half an hour, talking about his album ‘One Eye To Morocco.’ He turned out to be a thoroughly nice chap who said that he enjoyed talking with me (even sounding sincere as he said it). Naturally, this marvellous site lets you read it here.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Roger Taylor, Hallam FM Arena, in Sheffield, UK, 19th October 2008.

How cool is this? I got to meet my all time musical hero Roger Taylor backstage after a Queen + Paul Rodgers show. Buz and I were issued backstage passes thanks to Buz’s connections with the Paul Rodgers team, and though he wasn’t doing a meet and greet, I was lucky enough to be taken to meet Roger in the corridor just before he left. I got a handshake, brief conversation, my copies of ‘Blue Rock’ and ‘Happiness’ autographed, and a photo too. The poor lighting in the corridor combined with my flash makes me look like an albino, but as Roger wasn’t doing any meet and greets and isn’t known for intermingling with fans, I’ll take it without complaint! That’s pretty awesome, I think you’ll agree.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Brian May, Hard Rock Cafe, in London, UK, 16th October 2007.

Here was the precursor to meeting Roger Taylor... Thanks to having some friends in high places, I ended up with the unique opportunity to attend a launch party for Queen’s ‘Live in Montreal’ DVD and CD. Queen were the band that started me on this rock journey, and I jumped at the chance - it’s not just because of their name that I, and many others, see them as rock royalty. The cafe had a big screen with huge speakers set up, where you could watch the full show and it was made to look and sound as much like you were actually there as possible. Guest of honour was the lead guitarist himself, the legendary Brian May, and I managed to by God shake his hand and get a photo. Hell yeah!
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Ronnie Wood, Munro Studios, in London, UK, 12th August 2010.

The legendary Ronnie Wood, famed member of the The Rolling Stones, issued a solo album called ‘I Feel Like Playing’ and he was in London doing press for it. Buz and I expressed an interest in doing a piece on him and reviewing the album and fully expected being set up with a phone call. However, one Tuesday we were asked if we would be able to be in London on the Thursday to do it in person? The pair of us said “hell yeah!” and set off on what turned out to be a rather stressful journey of events outside our control meaning we arrived literally thirty seconds before we were due to go in. It all worked out though, and Ronnie was very friendly, easy to talk to and really down to earth. He even suggested going outside because the light would be better for our photos with him. Top man!
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Eric Martin, Shepherds Bush, London, UK, 12th September 2009.

The lead singer for my favourite band of all time, Mr Big, I thought my chances of getting to meet Eric Martin were few and far between. By the time I had become a Mr Big fanatic, they were touring almost exclusively in Japan, before breaking up completely. Eric wasn’t a big draw over here as a solo artist so him gigging in the UK wasn’t likely. But the gods smiled down on me, and in 2009 Mr Big not only reunited, they came to Shepherds Bush! I went to see them and thanks to a handy tip off from the amazing Sue Ashcroft, the lady responsible for me getting involved in writing about rock stars in the first place, I managed to find Eric before the show and talk to him. He was great and we argued who looks younger for their age (honest). A fabulous night! Fast forward a few years, and I got to interview him too!
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Kelly Hansen & Mick Jones, London, UK, 11th December 2009.

This was a joy - Foreigner, one of the all time great melodic rock bands, were back with their first new record for over a decade, the excellent ‘Can’t Slow Down’. I was given the chance to go to London to meet and interview singer Kelly Hansen (left) and guitarist/songwriter Mick Jones (right) - a legendary figure who I’d been fortunate enough to interview over the phone a year or so previously. Mick has done it all - written smash hits, produced records for people like Billy Joel, and hung out with the Beatles. They were both really nice guys and I had a great twenty minutes sat talking to them, having a laugh and enjoying myself. I even got a high-five from refined English rocker Mick himself, which I take as a personal compliment. You can read this interview, as well as one with Mick alone, and one with Kelly, here.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Ron Young, Camden Underground, London, UK 30th January 2011.

Ron Young is the lead singer for American rock band Little Caesar, and he also fronted a group called Manic Eden which featured ex-members of Whitesnake. Little Caesar made a couple of really good records in the late eighties/early nineties, mixing good quality hard rock with some soul influences. Sadly, in an era where lip gloss, spandex and teased hair was all the rage, Little Caesar, who all looked like bikers because they WERE bikers were considered “not pretty enough” and dropped. It was a shame, because they were great, but they reformed in 2010 and I got to see them. I interviewed Ron about the reformation a couple of months before the gig and you can read it here. As for the gig itself - they ruled! Here’s me with Ron - the up close and personal shot taken via a mobile by a fan makes Ron look like a dwarf - far from it! He used to be a bouncer and is actually quite a big bloke. For proof, watch him in his cameo in Terminator 2 when Arnie walks into the biker bar. Ron breaks a pool cue over Arnie’s neck before getting chucked through a window by the future Governor of California. There’s not many people I’ve met who can say that.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Michael Bolton, City Hall, Newcastle, UK, 15th May 2014.

I’ve been a fan of Michael Bolton for quite some time, particularly his early solo period when he was doing rock music. Despite him changing musical direction, I still very much enjoy his concerts and this marked my third occasion of seeing him live. I’ve tried to get an interview with him a couple of times but it’s never materialised, so as both Sara and I are big fans, we decided to get VIP tickets to meet him after the show. He was fantastic (as usual) and I got to shake his hand, speak to him briefly and get this terrific photo. Money well spent in my opinion!
 
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WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Des O’Connor, Playhouse Theatre, in London, UK, 16th December 2011.

I’ve never been one for the bandwagon - it’s not cool to like David Hasselhoff, or Michael Ball, but I do. I also like Des O’Connor - a guy who is constantly laughing and joking and has been on TV longer than I’ve been alive - indeed, I grew up watching him. I remember watching his chat show, especially around Christmas time when he had some excellent guests on... it’s probably because I associate the feel-good Christmas vibe of wrapping presents while watching his chat show, paired with his utterly inoffensive nature, that I ended up liking the guy. So imagine my glee when I decided to take my girlfriend Sara to see the show Dreamboats and Petticoats, and Des was in it! I hung around to meet him afterward, told him he was a legend and he was more than happy to allow a photo. Top man!
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Chris Norman, Borderline, London, UK, 15th January 2014.

Former lead singer of Smokie, the man who sung ‘Living Next Door To Alice’ before Chubby Brown made it inextricably linked with expletives, solo artist and writer, Chris Norman is a guy who has been around a long time. I had the pleasure of meeting him after I was invited to see an album showcase of his ‘There And Back’ record which I covered in Fireworks with a review and one of my customary excellent interviews.
 

WHO, WHERE AND WHEN: Patti Russo, Hammersmith, London, UK, 29th March 2014.

After touring the world with Meat Loaf for roughly two decades, the phenomenal vocalist Patti Russo finally decided to try her hand as a solo artist and booked a UK tour. I was delighted, having been a fan of Patti for years, and I met up with her in London for an interview. We got on great, she came out for a meal with Sara and I and we had an absolute blast. I returned to London a few weeks later to catch her show in Islington and she absolutely blew the roof off the place. Her website is called Patti Rocks and I can say, after witnessing her first hand, she certainly does!