foto by Ron Elkman
Hello, and welcome to my site.
I’ve had a busy few months. Right now, I’m celebrating being the producer of a number one record, Zero Il Folle by Renato Zero. I co-produced it with Trevor Horn and Phil Palmer, and it’s now number one in the Italian album charts. For the past week or so I’ve been working on my music in my home studio, and I was in Newcastle recently attending a meeting about next year’s Sunday for Sammy charity show which I’ll be the musical director of. I arrived there from London where I’d spent 2 days recording a song for a major movie. The day before that I was in Bari, southern Italy playing a gig with DSL. The day before that I was recording with a very successful Italian band in my favourite studio, Forward Studios in Grottaferrata, near Rome. I arrived there from Sardinia where I’d played another show with DSL. In the week before that I’d been with with producer Trevor Horn playing on four tracks of Rod Stewart’s forthcoming album, and in my studio I making music for a TV ad. Before that, I was on a very welcome holiday in Spain, and before that I was playing gigs in the UK with Trevor Horn’s band http://trevorhorn.com. For 2 or so months before that I was co-producing and playing on the Zero il Folle record, Italian megastar Renato Zero’s new album, see below. Immediately before that, I played a solo piano recital at Piano City in Milan. Before that, I was on a 4 week tour of Brazil, Argentina and Chile with DSL, and before that I played a charity show with Trevor’s band at the Roundhouse in London, which featured Seal, the Pet Shop Boys, Beverly Knight. and Ronnie Wood, and the following day recorded a track with Seal. I’ll stop there.
3 CHORD TRICK is the name of an album I produced for a band I'm a member of called LEGACY.
We (myself and co-producer Phil Palmer) recorded the basic tracks in Los Angeles with LA residents Steve Ferrone and Pino Palladino, then finished the record in my favourite studio in the world, Forward Studios in Grottaferrata, Rome. I wrote 5 of the tracks and co-wrote 4 of them. The record is called 3 Chord Trick, it's available now on all digital platforms (iTunes etc), you can buy CD's and vinyl on Amazon, and it's also available on DSD (an ultra-high definition format that has 256 times the resolution of a CD).
LEGACY has the following illustrious line-up:
Probably the greatest rock drummer in the world, Steve Ferrone from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; legendary guitarist Phil Palmer who played on Dire Straits’ On Every Street record and tour, as did our ace percussionist, drummer and vocalist Danny Cummings who’s now on a world tour with Mark Knopfler. We also have in the band one of the greatest sax players of our generation, Mel Collins, who played on Dire Straits’ Love over Gold record and tour, the alchemy live album, and the Twisting by the Pool EP, and is currently touring the world with King Crimson. On bass we have the legendary, multi award winning record producer Trevor Horn who first appeared with his band Buggles’ record Video Killed the Radio Star, and went on to produce a long list of hit records that includes the worldwide hit Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes. From Italy we have ace Italian keyboard player Primiano De Biase, and the renowned Italian guitarist/singer Marco Caviglia, and guesting on the record is vocalist and ace multi- instrumentalist Jamie Squire who was a permanent singer in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing band until he vacated the seat to join The 1975 on their current mammoth world tour.
And, er, me!
LEGACY also plays the music of Dire Straits as “DSL DIRE STRAITS LEGACY”. Last year we performed in Brazil, the US, Finland and Italy, and so far this year we’ve played in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Sardinia and Italy. More info on: http://dslegacy.com.
DSL: the closest to Dire Straits reforming you are ever going to get!
“I took a chance and my wife and I brought our next door neighbors and we absolutely loved every minute of your fabulous show. As I write, I’m watching aLCHEMY Live DVD. As good as Mark was and is, Dire Straits was as much your keyboard work as his guitar. Please bring DSL back to St. Pete soon; better yet, the Van Wezel in Sarasota. Thank you for your fantastic music”. (from Al Horrigan, Florida)
First class recording studios with a full size live room are becoming a rarity these days, but there are still one or two out there. Forward Studios in Grottaferrata, near Rome, is my favourite. It’s a world class, money-no-object facility with a great atmosphere and excellent engineers. I made the LEGACY record 3 Chord Trick there, and various other projects. While I was making it, I stayed in another favourite of mine, the rather splendid Villa Mercede hotel in nearby Frascati. A big thanks to owners Luigi and Gianluca and everyone at the hotel for making it my home from home in Italy.
20 or so years ago, I recorded an instrumental version of the famous Geordie song Blaydon Races, in the hope that Newcastle United would adopt it as their theme instead of Mark Knopfler’s tune Going Home, from Local Hero, which is actually a Scottish-based song. They still use Going Home. However, my version of Blaydon Races is being put to good use, the Sunday For Sammy charity show are using it as their theme and opening the show with it, and have been since the show’s inception almost 20 years ago. On the last show, actor Tim Healy, who is the founder of Sunday for Sammy, performed my song God's Land, which also features on LEGACY's 3 Chord Trick album. Trevor Horn was also in the show, performing the song that was a worldwide hit with his band Buggles: Video Killed the Radio Star. Happily, the DVD of the show reached #3 in the national charts over the festive season. Next year, which is the show’s 20th anniversary and promises to be the best yet, I’ll be in the band as musical director.
Some rock trivia:
I joined Dire Straits in late 1980. It recently occurred to me that thereafter I’m the only person besides Mark Knopfler to have played on every track Dire Straits recorded.
More rock trivia…
Doubtless there are many Alan Clarks in the world, but the only one I knew when I was growing up was the one on the TV: Allen Clarke, the singer in the Hollies. Many years later, when I was in Australia with Dire Straits in 1986 during Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms tour, which was the biggest band in the world at the time, I stepped into an elevator in the Sebel Townhouse hotel in Sydney, and there was Allen. So I introduced myself and, to my surprise, he knew who I was and asked me for my autograph! Funny old world.
Even more rock trivia…
The accordion I played on the track Brothers in Arms was exhibited in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. The foto below demonstrates how I played it on that song. As I’m not an accordion player, I had Guy Fletcher squeeze it while I played the keys. Thanks to ace accordion and keyboard player Primiano de Biase from LEGACY for helping me play the accordion, in a similar fashion on LEGACY’s Three Chord Trick album.
Even more trivia…
The 1975: I was at Matty Healy’s christening. I’m a friend of his parents Tim Healy and Denise Welch, and watched him grow up. He went to school with my children. The band he was in while he was at school (he was the drummer) entered the school’s Battle of the Band’s completion that I was judging. Matty’s band won.
And the last bit:
When we recorded the Brothers in Arms record at AIR studios on the Caribbean island of Monsterrat, I stayed for a while in Beatles’ producer George Martin’s house with Terry Williams and Guy Fletcher. There was a nice sound system in the living room but no records (Brothers in Arms would become the first ever CD release), and all we had between us were 2 cassettes I’d brought: Pat Metheny’s album As Wichita Falls, So Falls Wichita, and Prince’s Purple Rain. We played Pat Metheny occasionally, Purple Rain most nights. Did it had an influence?
When I'm at home, I'm very keen to get into the mountains on this:
My mountain bike, a Scott E-Genius 700 Tuned. It's an E-bike with state of the art components including a Shimano engine and electronic gear change, full suspension, hydraulic disk brakes and a bunch of other amazing stuff. It's an absolute hoot. Everyone who rides it wants one. It’s designed to cope with extreme off-road conditions but it's also a great urban bike. My association with Scott goes back to the early 90's when they first set up in the UK, and every bike I've owned thereafter has been a Scott. This picture was taken when I was riding the mountain trails around Lake Ullswater with my son Josh. Just below us, out of sight is Howtown bay where I learned to dinghy sail when I was 12 yrs old, which later led to my love of windsurfing.
Thanks for visiting, feel free to check out my other pages, and please keep in touch.