From a kindergarten concert in 1955 to a professional performing career that began in 1964 and continues in 2023, music has woven its way in and out of my life. A full-time professional performer for more than twenty years, I made sure my life remained full of music even when it wasn’t paying the bills anymore and was just a hobby. I kept notes on my adventures from the beginning of my musical career and in this volume I share the many adventures that shaped it both on and off the stage.
My professional career took off in London in the 1960’s, in the middle of the greatest popular music explosion the world had ever ever known. In “Battle of the Bands”, I recreate that exciting decade in London through my own memories and the personal reminiscences of dozens of other people who were there, as musicians and fans. The second book under the same cover, “Uncle Jimmy’s Excellent Adventure”, is part autobiography, part history book, and part comedy. The two books contain more than 200,000 words and close to 1,000 pictures and illustrations, and is presented in an attractive, full-colour 11X9 coffee table format.
The project set out to be a straightforward recounting of my life-long involvement with music, written at their urging for my family and friends. I’ve always enjoyed reminiscing about my music-related adventures and have shared many stories with them over the years. It was eventually suggested that I write them down for ‘posterity’ (though whether or not posterity will be interested remains to be seen), hence the personal stories in this book. I believe the details of many of them will be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the ups and downs of a musician’s life and, if you change a few names and places, I know most of my musical peers will have had similar adventures. But after I finished the manuscript and was about to send it to the layout artist, I came across a file of interviews I had done with some local musicians back in in 1989. I had been researching a potential book about London’s 60’s music scene but the project had never been completed.
Finding the file got me thinking again about the need for some kind of chronicle of that unique decade, and the tremendous influence it had on my entire life and the lives of my contemporaries. The teen ‘scene’ in Canada (and around the western world) exploded in the 1960’s in a way it never had before, and never has since. I considered printing my autobiography just for my family, as originally planned, then starting a new book about London in the 60’s. But the deeper I got into my research on the latter, the more I realized how naturally the two sets of stories flowed together. As a result, I have combined them in a way I hope the reader will find entertaining. I have also added the personal reminiscences of dozens of former London teenagers who, like me, were right in the middle of the 60’s London music scene and the reader will find our memories of favourite hangouts, foods, fashions, music, and more.