It all started on 28th March 1969 when my dad interviewed John Lennon for the Birmingham Evening Mail. Lennon came on to the line from his room at the Amsterdam Hilton and bellowed "Hello Birmingham!" at my dad in a Brummie accent. When Lennon was shot in December 1980 and I was nine years old, my dad told me this story for the first time. I asked him then, as I have asked him a thousand times since, what else did he say? Unfortunately, my dad can't remember! The significant thing, for me at least, is that this connection with Lennon had a huge impact and from that moment onwards I became a massive Beatles fan and music became the centre of my universe.
I had been playing in bands since I was at school - starting off in a group mainly playing Joy Division covers - but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I started to write songs that were half decent. In 2003, I broke up with my fiancé and I moved into a top floor bedsit in Cheltenham (a few doors down from my favourite record shop, Vinyl Vault). It had the world’s tiniest kitchen and the block I lived in swayed when it was windy, which freaked me out. I was heartbroken by the break-up and wrote a load of new songs, which eventually became the Solomon’s Tump LP.
I recorded the album in the bedsit on a Tascam analogue four track machine, playing all the instruments myself, and gave out copies of the CD to family and friends. Incredibly, one of them found its way to a London based independent record label and I was asked to sign a deal. By this time I had formed a psychedelic rock band called ‘Karma Truffle’, so I persuaded the label to sign the group instead.
We recorded an E.P. and an album but in the end it was impossible to keep the group together because we all lived miles away from each other. I was in Wiltshire, our guitarist lived in Gloucestershire, the drummer was in Birmingham and our bass player lived in Essex.
After we split, I decided to strike out on my own as 'Blake'; the name coming from my love of William Blake and adopted four years before the classical 'boy band' BLAKE released their first album. I also started a Beatles tribute band at this time, in which I played the role of John, and this provided me with a regular source of income. In 2009, I was approached by the producer of 'Nowhere Boy' to sing the Lennon songs on the soundtrack album. I continued recording records at home and between 2006 and 2011 I released seven albums on my own Rockhopper Records label.
In April 2011 I began writing songs for a new LP, Stay Human, after reading about the murder of the Italian peace activist and journalist Vittorio Arrigoni in the Gaza strip. The album was crowd-funded, recorded in a professional studio and officially released on 15th April 2012, the first anniversary of Vittorio's death, on 208 Records.
In December 2013 I released Star Over Bethlehem, a rock opera telling the story of the Nativity with all proceeds going to charities working in the Holy Land. In June 2014 I performed at the Bet Lahem Live festival in Bethlehem at the invitation of the Holy Land Trust, performing songs from Star Over Bethlehem and Stay Human, accompanied by my friend, fellow musician and occasional collaborator, Joe Brown. On our return from Palestine, Joe and I wrote and recorded a song called 'We'll Be Champions' which was released as a single in July 2014 to raise funds for the Amos Trust’s Emergency Appeal for Gaza.
On Record Store Day 2015, I released a compilation LP called Vinyl Junkie dedicated to record collectors everywhere. The song ,'Vinyl Junkie', was mastered at Abbey Road Studios and released as a single. It is featured in the 2019 British crime film, "24 Hours To Live Or Die".
My 2018 LP, RIDE, was crowdfunded via a Kickstarter campaign and was my first release on vinyl. My 2019 album, Reel To Reel, was recorded on an analogue Tascam 424 four track and released on cassette.
At the start of the 2020 lockdown, I recorded a new album at home called 1971. The album received some very positive press reviews and I was delighted to be approached by Subjangle Records about releasing an expanded version of the album as a double CD, including six new tracks and a second disc compilation of some of my previous work. HMS Blake was featured in International Pop Overthrow's Best Albums of 2020.
I began recording a follow-up LP for the label in March 2021 on analogue tape at Radar Sound Studios in London using an ex-Abbey Road Studer two inch tape machine. Kaleidoscope was released on Subjangle in September that year.
In May 2022, I was honoured to be invited to appear at the International Pop Overthrow Festival at The Cavern Club in Liverpool where my home-recorded LP, The Book On Love, was launched, also on Subjangle.
I am recording my new album, Plainsongs, with my band, again on analogue tape, at New Cut Studios in Bristol in March 2023.