Between 1979 and 1982 I’d been in a duo with Alexis Korner, another really good period, mostly working in Germany, but Alexis had a weekly radio show on the BBC loved by musicians everywhere and he wanted to devote more time to this and stop touring so much. So I went out in an all-star R&B band in 1982 and met Deep Purple’s keyboard player Jon Lord for the first time.
To cut a long story short, through Jon I joined Whitesnake. I had known David Coverdale and Micky Moody in the Redcar days back in the late 1960′s and I was keen to play with the band but it didn’t really work out so in 1983, I’m out of a job. Then on New Year’s Day 1984, Alexis died aged 55. He’d gone into hospital while we were recording a new album and died very soon afterwards, I was really upset, he meant a lot to me, that was a sad time altogether.
Then Pete York (drummer with the original Spencer Davis group) called me asking if I’d do a tour with Spencer Davis. That was 1984 and until Spencer was taken ill last year (2010) I’ve worked with him on and off ever since.
Throughout the 80′s and 90′s I did a lot of the R&B Allstars type tours with amongst others Chris Farlowe, Miller Anderson, Brian Auger, Tony Ashton, Jon Lord, Pete York, Spencer Davis, Zoot Money etc.
On a session in Munich in 1986 I met a Berlin guitarist called Frank Diez and we had an instant rapport musically so I got him to play some duo dates with me and it was great, we’re still doing it and have just released our fifth CD.
Frank, when I first met him, was a member of Peter Maffay’s band. Peter is a hugely Popular German singer, with a great voice who is equally at home with rock songs or Ballads. He’s been likened to Bruce Springsteen and he certainly has both tremendous energy and is very charismatic.
In 1990, his band had a project of their own and wanted to take a year out, so I was invited to his studio along with a couple of other new musicians to see if we could play together. It worked out really well and I joined the band. So here I am, back playing huge arenas all over Germany, it was a fun time and I stayed with him for over 3 years.
I left in 1994 and for the next few years it was more Duo, Spencer Davis etc. At the end of the ‘90’s I got a call from Bill Wyman, we’d first met in 1984 at the Montreux jazz Festival. He’d formed a band called ‘The Rhythm Kings‘ and asked me to open for them with a 30 minute solo bass set. I wasn’t sure it would work and was pretty nervous about it, but it worked really well and then I had a call from Gary Moore’s manager asking me to do the same thing. It was a strange feeling to play absolutely flat out for 30 minutes and be standing there in puddles of Adrenalin, thinking ‘it’s only 8.30 pm and I’m done for the night!’ It did me a lot of good though and really boosted my confidence.
Returning to Backdoor, at the end of the 90′s we decided as all the albums we’d made were out of print that we’d like to make a new CD with the best of the old tunes plus some brand new ones. Apart from a brief re-union tour in 1986, we hadn’t played together since the band broke up. It was brilliant to play with my old pals again, it just felt like an old shoe, like the old days and the music turned out really well, and it was a laugh a minute. Just like the old days we couldn’t get a release but we did eventually on the Blakey Cult label entitled ‘Askin’ the way’ This came out in 2003 and we played a couple of memorable gigs up at Blakey Ridge, where I saw a lot of the old crowd for the first time in 30 years!
Ron’s health was not good and sadly, he died in September that year. I thought that was the end of the band but Tony had played with a saxophonist from the North-east who was a fan of the band and said he knew all the tunes! I didn’t believe it but he came to my house and he did know all the tunes, Rod Mason, a really big guy nicknamed ‘The Room Darkener’ We played some shows and then Tony had to return to Australia, his home for quite a few years. He intended to go back for a few months, but it was not to be, not long afterwards he died too after a short illness.