Personal Journey

The information on my home page are the things that have gone well for me in life. I haven’t talked about all the gigs, bands, tracks, signings, projects, sales, deals, recordings, dealerships, etc, that didn’t work out! if I had, you’d be reading for months! From the home page, some people may assume that my personal life has been plain sailing. Although I feel I’ve had a good life so far, there’s no doubt that it’s been dysfunctional at times (partly because of nature, partly because of nurture, and partly because of me) and I’ve had a few ups and downs along the way.

My Personal Journey
In the few years before I was born, my late parents went through some understandably difficult times after my brother Andrew died in 1962. 1963 saw my dad hit the bottle and have his first heart attack at 39 and my mum suffered with a reoccurring bout of manic depression – now referred to as bipolar disorder – which tormented her all through her life.

By the time I was born in 1966, my parents were living on the notoriously rough Lupset council estate in Wakefield. Shortly before my 7th birthday, they became the managers of a hotel for the blind in Morecambe and we moved into the ‘manager’s quarters’ which were a series of damp basement rooms in the hotel. Although I hated that putrid basement, it was like Bel Air compared to the difficult conditions of my earlier life on Lupset.

I have fond memories of the early 70’s, living in Morecambe with mum on the manic side of bipolar, and my cheeky chappy dad as embarrassingly entertaining as he always seemed to be. Unfortunately though, the hotel had a bar, dad was a heavy drinker and he slowly became a drunk… but thankfully, a happy drunk who was always lovely to me.

The 11th of November 1977 changed my childhood for good. Our basement flat was flooded in the infamous Morecambe floods of 1977 and my parents were massively under insured and lost nearly everything. I say “nearly everything” because some of my musical instruments – by some fortuitous luck – had been moved into the hotel lounge a few days previously and were saved.

After the flood, dad rapidly graduated into superstar alcoholic status and mum had a major nervous breakdown. I was 11, times were grim, my parents were in meltdown – fighting their own problems – and the only positive I could take from the situation was the fact that I was now totally unsupervised and left to my own devices.

For the next few years – while dad drank more and mum became sadder – I immersed myself into practicing my instruments and experimenting with recording equipment which consumed my life for the next few years.

My practice regime as a young teenager taught me that “my strength is my obsessive commitment to doing something and my weakness is my obsessive commitment to doing something”.

Even at this age, I realised that if I began drinking alcohol and liked it, I wouldn’t be able to stop. I didn’t want to follow in my dad’s footsteps into superstar alcoholic status, so I’ve never tried alcohol to this day and I’m probably the only alcoholic who’s never actually tasted alcohol.

After my dad asked me what I wanted as a present for either a Christmas or birthday when I was coming up to 15 or 16, I said that I’d like him to stop drinking as much, and over the next few months, he swapped alcohol for religion – becoming the most committed born again Christian the world’s ever seen – and I don’t know if it was coincidence, but mum’s mental health began to have a much better period of stability after he stopped drinking.

As a teenager, I’d always have to go round to friends houses because they didn’t like coming to mine, probably because of a combination of the smell of the damp basement, my dads drinking, and my mums silence. But at 16, I still had to go round to friends houses because they now didn’t like my dad preaching hellfire and damnation to them and tellling them them they were going to hell.

By 1982, I was 16 and things were looking up. I ‘d started dating a lovely girl called Nichola – a bassoonist who I’d met through playing in the Lancashire Schools Symphonic Wind Band – and aftert I passed my driving test (which I did within a few weeks of turning 17), it made it easier for us to see one another as she lived 30 miles south of Morecambe.

By the time I went to study music in Huddersfield in the autumn of 1983, Nichola and I had finished, but I was doing nicely for myself. I was still doing lots of gigs – which I’d started doing at age of 12 – and therefore, I was pretty self-sufficient.

Whilst at college, I met another lovely girl (Ann-Marie, a pianist and cornet player) and we began dating. We had a great time at college and got married in the November of 1984. Yes, we were just 18 and way too young.

By the time I left college, I had a bungalow in the west end of Morecambe and although it was owned mortgage-free, Ann-Marie and I struggled to pay the bills. We were the epitome of asset-rich, cash-poor, and the bungalow – which was a big five bedroomed place – needed lots of money spending on it and we didn’t have any money at all.

I went quickly back to playing gigs and recording; and we advertised for music students to start a teaching practice. Our advert said “only call between 7pm and 8pm”. The number we used was actually a local public telephone box and Ann-Marie sat outside that telephone box for weeks – on cold dark miserable nights – taking calls from new students to try and build a business and life for ourselves.

Although we managed to slowly build things up, our early professional life – whilst still studying for external diplomas and working – was hard work for us both. I’d have loved a full-time job in music (or anything really), but couldn’t get one; but Ann-Marie managed to get some long shifts – where she wasn’t allowed to sit down – in a Morecambe jewellers shop to make ends meet.

I began earning a living doing a diverse range of things and this is what I’ve done ever since.

As a young married couple, we always seemed to ‘put the cart before the horse’ which was no ones fault, it was just what we did. We both worked hard from 1984, got involved with some wonderful business people, some great projects, and got ourselves into a great position financially.

We moved into a lovely small two bedroom bungalow in Halton on Lune – a little village up the lune valley – and pretty much had everything we wanted, drove beautiful cars and had a fabulous lifestyle.

In 1991, we had our wonderful little boy Harrison; and after another house move in 1993, we ended up living in an idyllic five-bedroomed house that my wife designed, and we had built around the corner from where we were already living.

Although we were in a different league financially to where we’d started out from around ten years earlier, yet again, we put the cart before the horse and could only just afford the new house and our lifesyle with us both working full-time.

After our beautiful daughter Jess was born in 1997, for various reasons, my wife stopped going out to work and we settled into that rather old fashioned lifestyle of ‘the man goes out to work and the wife is the homemaker’.

Although this situation needed to happen for my wife, with hindsight, we should have just sold the big house and downsized in to a nice little three bed-semi.

The financial juggling we had done with two wages coming in became an overpowering, overwhelming, and overfacing burden for me as the sole breadwinner. Although I should have just taken the attitude of “if we lose the house, we lose the house”, but I didn’t.

I struggled with the pressure and enormity of the consequences of what would happen if I couldn’t put food on the table for my family, keep the massive mortgaged roof over our heads, maintain the lifestyle we had, whilst still trying to keep the businesses going.

I took my responsibility seriously and – to keep money coming in – adopted the work ethic of a workaholic by often working 90 hours a week, and always 60 hours a week.

In 1997, I went into desperation mode. I needed more money coming in and felt the only way to do it was to get more plates spinning. Over the next few years, it was just a case of trying to keep everything going and support the lifestyle we had.

With hindsight, it was a big mistake and took its toll on me, but most importantly, it affected my marriage and ultimately, my family.

Looking back, the timeline of the following five years from 1997 was ridiculous.

In 1997 I co-founded Faith & Hope Records Limited (record label) with my amazing ex-pupil Neil Claxton who is an absolute Gentleman and musical genius. In that year, I also established DMR (digital mobile recordings) and Mendieta (classical guitars).

In 1998, I acquired Hotwires (Sound Installation); established Faith & Hype (a press and PR arm of Faith & Hope) and began Art & Science nights (a series of club nights in Manchester).

In 1999, I established Musicom (an import arm) and Four 0 Four (media and marketing recordings).

In 2000, I threw myself into to my involvement in Monstermob (which went on to float on AIM in 2003), established Beverley (drums and percussion) and Faith & Hope Songs (publishing arm).

In 2001, I established Levin (guitars, basses, etc); Music 4 Worship (places of worship supplier); Arena (mics, stands, etc); and Paris (woodwind).

In 2002, I took on Collard & Collard (pianos and stools).

It all took its toll on me. For years, I had only slept for bewteen 3 and 4 hours a night; but on a trip to Asia in the autumn 2002, I was physically and emotionally exhausted and slept for around 60 hours out of 72.

Although I was getting involved with new projects and ventures, and becoming more successful in business, the monthly out-going expenditure was still rocketing and spiralling out of control.

Not many months after my return from Asia [2003], my wife told me that she wanted to split-up.

I was devastated beyond all belief. The thought of not seeing my wife and children (as much) was a shattering prospect. We told my parents and Ann-Marie’s parents… but it was over ten years later that we finally did split.

In the subsequent years after 2003, all I did was work to keep the money coming in for this false life I was living.

With hindsight, I wasn’t ‘living’, I was slowly being removed from family life; but the workload – and worry of losing the family home – probably meant I was removing myself because I wasn’t there much… but it wasn’t how I wanted things to be.

Although things were already way out of control financially, a flood in a second house we owned totally shook me again.

I can’t remember the exact year it happened, but what I do remember is that due to a technicality with the insurance (we hadn’t been inside the property for over a year), we weren’t insured and even though my cousin Allan did the work, it cost tens of thousands of pounds to put right.

It was the second time that a flood and insurance problem had effected my family. Knowing the effect it had on my parents in 1977, the only way I could deal with it was to work as hard as I could to keep all those precarious plates spinning.

I was desperately trying to give my wife and children what ‘I thought’ she and they wanted. I got it all wrong on the personal side of life – which is the only thing that has ever mattered to me – and managed to do ok (ish) on the business side of life.

In the end, it wasn’t enough. The marriage wasn’t to be, after over 25 years together, the seperation happened. I was a physical mess, mentally exhausted, and it ended in divorce.

I had some lovely times in those 25 plus years, have such happy memories, laughed to the point we sounded like muttley and have two lovely children – Harrison and Jess – who are both now grown up.

Although I look back on those times (as the breadwinner) with a mixed sense of emotions that range from trauma to melancholy; I now realise that I didn’t have the emotional capability or the explicit knowledge to deal with the situation like I would be able to now.

Although lifes pressures sank me in the end – some very much self inflicted – it was never about ‘debt’, it was about the constant pressure of having to earn enough to pay for everything and never being ahead of ourselves financially in the latter years.

The positive I take from this period of my life – apart from my wonderful children – is that I somehow managed to always put food on the table for my family; managed to give my children a lifestyle that I didn’t have as a child; managed to give my wife and children a beautifull home to live in, and – although I was very close to losing the house twice – I didn’t lose our family home.

After the marriage ended, I decided that whatever happens in the next chapter of my life, I’ll never allow myself to be in that position again… and so far [as of 2023], I haven’t

Life for the next several years was very up and down – especially an horrendously torrid period which was more like living in a machiavellian psychological thriller – but thankfully, life’s now settled and I’m in a wonderfully peaceful and happy place.

I love my daughter Jess very much and think of her constantly. Sadly, I’ve been estranged from her now for nearly ten years. The feeling of loss is unbelievable, but I live in hope that one day she’ll get back in touch.

My son Harrison is an amazing son, man, and dad. He is without doubt the man I wish I could be. He and my daughter-in-law Linzi have given me a lovely grandson called Freddie… and I still think about Freddie’s little brother Teddy who we sadly lost.

Although my parents had their own difficulties, they always tried to do their best for me. Dad died in 2012, aged 87; and Mum died in 2022, aged 92.

Mum’s bipolar reoccurred in her 80’s to the point she needed to be sectioned twice. Bipolar disorder is cruel, the extremes are wild and the reality of ‘today, is the tomorrow, you worried about yesterday’ can often have no meaning. I’m blessed that I have my dad’s happy disposition and feel happy ‘most’ of the time.

Although I’ve never drank, never done drugs, never smoked, and never gambled; I have a problem with my eating and weight. After getting up to 24.5 stones, I lost 10.5 stones in a year, but I’m back up to over 18 stones again and everyday’s a battle. You can choose not to participate in alcohol, drugs, smoking, and gambling, but you have to eat.

Over the years, I’ve learned some great coping strategies that have got me through life.

I’m lucky that whatever situation is going on in life, I can now get to the point that things could be worse. If something unpleasent happens – or it’s not what I wanted to happen – I can accept it, be thankful for the nice times, close the chapter and get on with the next chapter.

Looking back on my adolescent years, I could have made some seriously bad choices, but music kept me motivated and on track.

At different times of my life, I’ve managed to get through my journey with the help of some incredible people. Along with my unbelievably supportive ex-wife [supportive in the early days], who had blind faith and trust in me to never lose our home when I used it as bank security (far too often), I’ve been lucky to also have a great family, wise mentors, amazing colleagues, wonderful friends, excellent counsellors, supportive stakeholders, and of course, my partner Rachel Lucy nowadays.

There’s a lovely saying… “the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just try and make the best of everything” and that’s what I’d like to think I’ve done.


If any musicians out there are struggling and want to talk to someone, please don’t suffer alone, contact Music Minds Matter on 0808 802 8008. It doesn’t have to be a major crisis, or about music; their counsellors are there to listen, support and help at any time.


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