Updated: Dec 27, 2019
My love affair with pop music started early. My parents had some great 45s from the fifties and early sixties that I used to listen to on their record player when I was growing up – Buddy Holly, Elvis, Ricky Nelson, The Big O, The Everlys – and this coincided with the fifties revival that hit in the late seventies, so my first musical influences were mostly rock ‘n' roll. Then in December 1980 John Lennon was shot and it was all over the news and Beatles and Lennon songs were once more back in the charts. My parents bought me The Beatles Ballads on cassette that Christmas and that was it, I was hooked on The Beatles. One day my dad casually dropped into conversation that he had interviewed John once when he was working as a reporter. I am still getting over this revelation, even now.
I didn’t think about making music myself until I was fourteen and at high school in Cardiff. Two of my mates invited me to sing in a band they had formed called Cerebral Infarction. They were massive Joy Division fans. One played bass and the other drums. They didn’t know anyone who could play a six string guitar. I didn’t either. This was in 1985. Unfortunately, my parents decided to move to rural Gloucestershire that year so my place in the group didn’t last long. I didn’t really fit into the new school where my classmates were all members of the Young Farmers and I had a pretty miserable time. It was only when I went to sixth form college that I met some like minded people and formed my first band, Embryo. I taught myself to play guitar, bass and drums and wrote my first songs.
I formed a Beatles tribute band, All You Need Is The Beatles, in 2006, playing the role of John. This was three years after I had released my first solo album, ‘Solomon’s Tump’, by which time I’d realised, despite having been signed to an indie label, that I was never going to make a living as an independent artist. Sad to say, ever since, the tribute band has been my main source of income from music. However, for a Beatles obsessive, it’s the next best thing to be. I’ve performed at venues I never would have played as Blake and it has subsidised my own recording career. Also, I love The Beatles so much that it never gets boring for me.
I’ve attempted to distil my love for The Fabs in my new single released on December 8th, ‘Going Back To Liverpool’. I had the idea for the song when I was on holiday in France in the summer. I had booked in to attend Beatle Week in Liverpool the weekend I got back to the UK and I was really looking forward to it. The song just tumbled out. The Beatles story is a truly magical one to me. All the conditions were in just the right place. It seems sometimes as if there must have been some Divine intervention to line it up like that. I mean, what if Paul had decided not to go to the St Peter’s Church fete in July 1957 to see the Quarrymen performing? What if John and Paul had decided to give up on the band after their first tour of Hamburg in 1961? What if Brian had not bothered to follow up the request from Raymond Jones for a copy of ‘My Bonnie’ in October of that year? What if George Martin had decided not to give them a chance at Parlophone in 1962 after they’d been turned down by practically every other record label in London? Thankfully, we’ll never know. I just wish I’d been born twenty-five years earlier, in south Liverpool, so I could have seen it all happen.
Going Back To Liverpool is released on Rockhopper Records on December 8th. Download for free here.