My musical career began in the mid-1950s at King Edward's School, Birmingham, where I was inspired (by a certain Michael Buckley*, to whom I give my eternal thanks) to take up the trumpet. Although I've toyed with other instruments from time to time - guitar, five-string banjo, clarinet - the trumpet is the only one on which I have ever considered myself proficient. (I love the piano, but use it mainly as a tool and don't inflict my playing on other people very often.)

My first instrument came from Yardley's in Birmingham and cost £7 10s. 0d. After a year of self-taught practising I joined a local six-piece 'trad' band (whose drummer, Al Sharpe, is still playing and in excellent form 50 years on). In October 1958 I went up to Oxford to read Classics at Pembroke College. Here my music thrived, but interfered with my studies to the extent that my course terminated prematurely, and in 1960 I found myself working for an insurance company. I continued to play until the mid-60s, when I laid the horn aside to concentrate on my family and a new career in computer programming.

In September 1970 I took it up again to play second trumpet in a band led by Arthur Brown, and slowly got my chops back into shape. In 1972 I met pianist Ray Foxley, and for two years in the mid-70s we played a fortnightly gig at the Green Man in Kidderminster - just trumpet and piano, usually with an 'audience' of six men and a dog, but it was invaluable experience for me.

In October 1978 both Ray and I joined the New Delta Jazzmen, led by clarinettist Roy Hubbard following the departure of its founder, Duncan Swift, who was now with Kenny Ball. The following year Roy left the band to rejoin the Zenith Hot Stompers, then regarded as one of the Midlands' top bands in the classic jazz idiom, and was replaced by Norman Field, of whom I was somewhat in awe - still am, as a matter of fact. Under my less than brilliant leadership the band continued for a couple of years and finally fizzled out in the summer of 1980.

During 1981, thanks to the influence of Roy Hubbard, I was asked to dep several times with the Zenith Hot Stompers, and I eventually joined the band in October of that year. My renewed partnership with Roy lasted for 23 years, ending only with his emigration to Spain in December 2004.


*I was shocked and saddened to read in the Guardian that Michael Buckley died on the 23rd May 2008.