BIOGRAPHY

GARY FLETCHER was born in Lambeth and grew up in Streatham, South London. Probably now best known as the bass player in The Blues Band.

Although he bought the With The Beatles album when it first came out in ’63, Gary’s preoccupation with cars, trains & other Boys’ Own hobbies meant that it wasn’t until the later years of the Sixties that he made his next album acquisitions – notably Eddie Boyd with Fleetwood Mac and Cream’s Wheels of Fire double album. Exposure to these blues-orientated records sowed the seeds of his musical aspirations and he gradually began to play around with his sister’s humble Spanish guitar. Though left handed, he didn’t let the fact that the instrument was a right handed one stand in his way, and to this day plays a guitar strung for normal right hand use – left handed, ie upside down. Few others play this way although the late, great, blues player Albert King was similarly afflicted.

 On the basis of knowing no more than the riff to Willie Dixon’s Spoonful, Gary got the job in his first band, The Breath Of Life. Together with a bunch of local Streatham musicians, his next band, Garfield Row, was formed …. a semi-acoustic folk rock band who played regularly in a local pub owned by the father of Jethro Tull’s bassist, Glenn Cornick. Glenn gave the band much encouragement, lending them some top class amps & guitars. They eventually went their separate ways when Glenn pinched the band’s guitar player and Gary went on to sustain work as a musician in a variety of bands from Blues/Rock to Folk/Rock to Soul, to playing in a Country band at Wembley Arena, to writing/performing in Rock band Panama Scandal.  In the mid ‘70s he joined long running Blues/Rock band, Sam Apple Pie, later known as The Vipers. Alongside this, Gary and his old mate and songwriting partner, Steve Gurl, landed a separate recording contract and together with the third partner in the songwriting team, Hilary – Gary’s late ex-wife, a publishing contract.

Gary met Dave Kelly in late ’78 when they both played in a band put together by Wilgar Campbell, the ex Rory Gallagher drummer, called The Wildcats.  He then played bass on a track on Dave’s Willing album and was suggested by Dave for the bass job when, together with Paul Jones & Tom McGuinesss (ex of Manfred Mann), plus ex John Mayall drummer Hughie Flint, The Blues Band first got together.  The success of The Blues Band was almost instantaneous and they were soon playing to packed houses, releasing their first album, appearing on TV and radio regularly, including the celebrated Euro-wide Rockpalast, and headlining at Glastonbury. Twenty plus albums & countless tours later the demand continues to grow for their special & personal interpretation of the blues, thousands of excellent reviews have appeared in a variety of publications - The Times referring to them as "a top flight group of seasoned professionals" – and early editions of their first album are now collector’s items. Still going strong, new chapters are still to be added to their story in the 21st century.

Concurrent with The Blues Band during the past 25 or so years Gary has continued to write and record his own material and has contributed songs to records by other artists. His ‘pop’ side project The Relatives released the enigmatic ‘Feud of Love’ album in 1997 although the record had been in the making since the early ‘90s. He has also performed with and written for The Dave Kelly Band and Christine Collister, Dave Kelly & The Travelling Gentlemen.  It is only in the past few of years that Gary has started to perform solo, after gaining the confidence to do so from positive audience reaction to the tracks on recent Blues Band albums that he has sung lead on. A couple of songs sung by Gary are now a regular feature of The Blues Band’s shows. To step forward to the lead vocal microphone after so many years working behind the band’s legendary two principal voices, ie Paul Jones and Dave Kelly, was a daunting task but the strength of good original songs sung by their writer has proved an audience pleaser, and Gary has been encouraged to stake his claim as a singer songwriter in his own right.

His The Official Gary Fletcher Bootleg Album CD (on the Hypertension Music label ref HYP 4227), features 16 tracks, a full one hour running time plus a Friedel Muder designed 20 page booklet which includes extensive background notes and the full lyrics to each track. Many of the tracks are the original writer’s versions of songs that have been recorded by The Blues Band during the band’s 33 year existence. Amongst the tracks is the original demo of his song Green Stuff, which has been a constant in The Blues Band's live set as the band’s encore anthem, since the Ready album was released in 1980, and has been covered by bands throughout Europe. Gary recorded a session in his own right for BBC Radio 2 which was broadcast in Mar ’05 and a DVD ‘Live at The Ram Jam Club’ was released in ’06.

Human Spirit on BGO Records (BGOCD 780) features a core band of Gary on acoustic and electric guitars, his son Jack on bass, his fellow Blues Band rhythm section partner, the superb Rob Townsend on drums and congas and the wonderful John Evans on lead guitar. Also featured are Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and Dave Kelly on guitars, Steve Simpson on mandolin, violin and guitar and Mark Feltham and Paul Jones on harmonicas. The so-called ‘radio’ single from the album is a track called ‘Payback’ played frequently on national and local radio at the time of it's release in 2007 and beyond. Bob Harris was the first to play the song on Radio 2 and in the intervening years has featured Gary live in the studio on his show a number of times.

Giant From the Blue by The Gary Fletcher Band followed and features Pick Withers (ex Dire Straits) on drums, Jack on bass and Steve Ling on lead guitar plus contributions from jazz giant Guy Barker on trumpet, Mark Feltham on harmonica and the Kokomo singers. Also completed but yet to see the light of day is In Solitary an album recorded 'live in the studio' i.e. no overdubs etc which features only Gary on vocals and acoustic guitar.

MOTORSPORT 

Over the years Gary has had an involvement in the world of motorsport.  Anyone interested in this aspect of his life please click on the title above to read more.

 

 

 

Copyright Gary Fletcher 2009    /    Last updated 24 January 2009