|Thank you for visiting this musical side of my life, it is diverse to say the least!|
Among it's many twists and turns, it has seen me working in so many different areas of the music business, from performing to road crew, through to travel and artiste management.
It includes such legendary names as James Brown, Fish, Peter Gabriel, Art Garfunkel, Genesis, Roger Hodgson, Mick Karn, George Michael, Alanis Morissette, Oasis and Dionne Warwick to name but a few.
It may be a cliché, but I have seen and experienced the world, but now I have returned to where it started in my circle of life, drumming.
It is 34 years since I first seriously picked up the sticks and it was this moment that set me on the path for my incredible life adventure. Now after a 24 year break, I have once again picked up those sticks and I am once again, back beating!
|It was New Year's Eve 1975, aged 12, that I calmly announced to my parents that I wanted to be a drummer. Quite where that came from I don't recall, although I'd had a child's kit given to me many years before which sadly lasted only a short time before an adult neighbour decided to do his best Keith Moon impersonation and trashed it! |
Maybe it stemmed from watching a young Simon Phillips in November 1971 at a school concert, where he played with two other drummers - that certainly left a lasting impression that stays with me to this day almost 40 years on.
Drumming became my life and for the next 10 years I progressed from playing my first kit made from upturned buckets and pans, to an Olympic snare, on to my first ever kit, a blue sparkle Del Rey that cost me £50 saved from paper round duties.
Within a year, it was upgraded to a Gold fleck Beverley Kit with a mixture of 'budget' Zildjian, Tosco and Zyn cymbals. This kit saw me through thick and thin for seven years.
Back then, I'd practice for anything up to six hours a day, every day and although I was self taught, a keen ear for music saw a good career forming.
|Along the way there numerous school bands before stepping out into the real world touring with the likes of Don't Panic with John Molloy (Mainframe) and Chris Heilmann (Crippled Black Phoenix, Shark Island, Bernie Torme) |
I also had a few lucky escapes from almost becoming one of Adam's Ants to a school project that went on to become Wham!
I also made my first steps into session work with among others, ex Motors ('Airport') Nick Garvey.
I took some time out to tour the world with Genesis on their road crew in 1981 and 1982, a stunning experience which cemented my roots in music, but I returned to playing in 1983.
|There were some great sessions during this period such as with the world renowned bassist Mick Karn (Japan) and a number of projects with Phil Hodge, the former Steve Hillage keyboard player. |
In 1985, I joined Pride Of Passion with Diz Minnitt (ex Marillion) on bass. After three short rehearsals, I was onstage at the legendary Marquee Club in London and a tour ahead. Sadly it all ended after 3 shows when ill health got the better of me.
After my departure, a young Steven Wilson, founder of Porcupine Tree would join the band.
I am sorry to say that my final set of drums never even saw real action. The irony was that it was my first pro kit that I had scrimped and saved for over a year, sadly arriving after what turned out to be my final show. A Premier Projector kit, ordered to my specifications it included a beautiful Gretsch 8 x 14" Rosewood Power Snare (that I own to this day) and 10" & 12" roto-toms (one of which I have also retained.)
Sadly my playing came to a total end in 1985. Initially taking that enforced three month break due to ill health that came on during a tour with Pride Of Passion. This was followed by the stock career ending "impending marriage and family life" calling card being played.
|Music never left me though and over a period of time, it rose back to the surface.|
It took me into music travel where I went on to put together the extensive festival and touring travel arrangements for the likes of Peter Gabriel, George Michael, Alanis Morissette and Oasis.
Finally, in 1998, I branched out on my own with Tour Travel International and over the next few years, I was behind the travel plans for James Brown, Bond, Deacon Blue, Fish, Art Garfunkel, the Goo Goo Dolls, George Michael, Geri Halliwell, Lisa Stansfield, Bonnie Tyler, Dionne Warwick and Peter Gabriel's WOMAD among many others.
|My second wife Amy was keen to see me return to drumming, firstly buying me a Yamaha DD-50 Digital Drum Machine, it would also later lead to the purchase of a Yamaha DTXPress kit, so I did start to play a little again when my business allowed (which really wasn't very often!) |
However this did result in an surprising impromptu appearance on stage with Roger Hodgson (formally of Supertramp fame) at one of his London concerts in August of 2000. I joined Roger for one track during this special show and can be seen here playing a Japanese 'Wave' drum.
Despite Roger's insistence that I should return to full time playing, my fledgling travel company required my full focus and would do so for many years to come (it was later renamed AAUK to allow for my more diverse projects.)
The DTXPress would be sold after about 18 months with less than 10 hours of use.
In 2002, I undertook the management of Swedish rock band A.C.T, who with our hard work, subsequently enjoyed far reaching success including a lengthy tour with the Canadian band Saga and being voted the best live band at the Sweden Rock festival ahead of the likes of Yes, Jethro Tull, Y&T, Anthrax, Uriah Heap, Motorhead, Sepultura, Queensryche, Whitesnake and Twisted Sister.
Along the way I also obtained a deal for the band with the legendary Inside Out record label.
In 2005, I was needing a break from the constant onslaught of music travel work and as a result, I joined forces with Darren Taylor and Driving Adventures was born. We created the specialist global tour company to allow sports car owners to sample the best roads and scenery in the world.
This finally saw me free from the 24/7 364 days a year cycle of tour travel work and allowed me some space to try new ventures, such as staging the hugely successful C.R.E.A.M Sports car event in 2005.
However by 2007, I was really keen to take up drumming once again so purchased a custom Roland TD-6 kit which quickly evolved. I upgraded to a TD-10 TDW-1 module and acquired a good size kit, but work once again prevented a full return, with Driving Adventures tour duties taking up all of my time, so once again, a kit sat almost un-played for 2 years.
2009 would be different though. A change to a number of personal factors allowed me to look forward and at the same time, dig deep into my past. The search came back to drumming and since that moment, there has been an massive percussive rebirth in my life.
I have since been fortunate to explore all of the Roland V drum kits, pads, cymbals and triggers while I also returned to playing an acoustic kit. Firstly a Catalina Ash in Deep Red, but that soon made way for lovely Gretsch Renown in Deep Blue.
Cymbals were initially a mix of Sabian AA and AAX, along with some Stagg effect cymbals
To mark my return to playing, in July 2009, I took part in the 'Largest Full Drum Kit Ensemble' World Record attempt at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, England. This was to be my formal 'public' return to drumming after 24 years away from a kit.
The record stood at 533 drummers, set in America in 2006 and we were joined by the likes of Gavin Harrison, Jojo Mayer, Jason Bittner and Don Powell. We set a new record with 582 drummers and have raised between us, £35,000 and rising.
|I was unable to locate an 8" tom for the Renown kit and with it being a deleted colour, a new one was going to cost around £600, so instead I sold the kit and bought a Renown in Autumn Burst as soon as one became available. |
In 2009 I caught up with many old friends, among them Fish who I had known and worked with on and off for almost 30 years?!
There came a point in 2009 when I reached the cross roads. Was I playing again just to have another hobby, or was I actually going to grasp the 're-birth' and try and go beyond where I had left off? A no brainer for me, do it to the very best of my ability or not at all is the way I tend to view things.
I typed in 'Musicians Wanted' and found a website and replied to the first advert I came across that sounded of interest to me.
To my surprise, after a few email exchanges and a meeting with the band, I was invited to audition for the Pink Floyd Tribute band called 'Time To Breathe'.
Nervously I attended the audition and the rest, as they say, is history!
Within weeks of joining the band, I found myself face to face chatting with Nick Mason having never met him before.
Stranger still, just a few weeks later, I found myself owning one of the twin DW Exotic Maple Bird's Eye kits that Pink Floyd used on their final tour of 1994!
Auditions continued over the winter for other members of the band, but in of April 2010, I finally took to the stage 25 years after my last show, sitting behind Pink Floyd's own drum kit?!
2010 would see performances with 'Time To Breathe' around the UK.
In 2011, I was approached to join Taylormade, a professional corporate, event and weddings band and shows around the UK came thick and fast. Musically this was something I had never thought about doing before, but the challenge to emulate so many different musical styles and different drummers, was very enjoyable and technically rewarding.
So there we have it, after a quarter of a century away from the drums, I am, so to speak, Back Beating and this time, I am here to stay! I have no idea or vision yet as to where this road will take me, but right now it is all about the enjoyment of playing and a personal challenge. To reach beyond where I left off all those years ago.
Over the last 30 years in music, I feel honoured to have made so many wonderful friends in the world of music and their friendship remains something very special to me.
Thank you if you have stayed with my story this far, I hope that you have enjoyed the ride!
Graham Collins - 2014