was singing in a choir at the age of 6 and started to
learn the cornet soon after. As a result, reading
music became as natural as reading a Janet & John
book. Equally, playing different parts in brass band
arrangements as he gradually moved through horns and
baritones and finally to euphonium, gave him an appreciation
of harmonic structure which quickly spread into an abiding
love for vocal harmonies which has endured to this day.
was brought up on the Sussex coast on a diet of choral
and brass music, and (a young and sprightly) Terry Wogan
in the mornings. One or two rare brushes with unusual
time signatures (5/4, 7/8) in brass band pieces really
caught his attention and led him to wonder if there was
any modern pop/rock music that had something other than
the same old boring 4 or, very occasionally, 3 beats
to the bar.
In 1980, at the age of 14, he heard just such a thing
on the radio: Genesis’ Turn It On Again. This epiphany
led to discovering more Genesis. And thence to Rush.
And Yes. And Pallas, Camel, Marillion etc. And then through
Brand X to Weather Report and Pat Metheny… and
a whole world of Music That You Don’t Hear On The
Despite being surrounded by music all this time, he
never got to grips with anything but brass and vocals;
the local piano teacher refused to teach him any more
after only 15 minutes, and the less said about violin
lessons the better!
However, he had more than once been chided for tapping
rhythms on his tenor horn when he should have been sitting
quietly and always had his eyes glued on drummers on
the telly or stage. So when, in 1981, the school asked
for a volunteer to play the drums for a newly-forming
swing band, he dived behind the school’s beleaguered
kit and got stuck in. The school couldn’t find
a tutor, so he just made it up as he went along. And,
truth be told, he has done ever since!
came to West Yorkshire in 1984 to study Applied Physics
at University and there, due to the cost of instruments
being disproportionate to the size of student grants,
the drumming and brass-playing stopped. The singing continued,
though, and over the next 4 years he sang with a 12-person
chamber choir in various places in the UK and Europe.
In 1989, a friend alerted him to a rather swish-looking
second-hand drum kit for sale in, appropriately enough,
Manning's Musicals (no relation) in Bradford. The Atari
ST was sold to a friend for £300 and he finally
had a drum kit of his own.
Since then he's played in various bands occasionally
doing original pieces but, more often than not, rock
covers. The longest-lived of these was “The Garden
of Edam” (yes, they were that cheesy), who survived
in various guises from the mid-nineties until late 2009.
Having suddenly found himself without a band to play
in, John set himself the target of finding fellow musicians
with whom he could play the kind of music he really loved – prog!
Eight months later with no success, he joined a local
band, The Shrinks, playing punkish poppy tunes for fun
(and still does). Then, came a phone call from Guy Manning...
When he's not listening to one of the many progressive
bands that have appeared on the scene recently (Frost*,
Moon Safari, DeeExpus, Touchstone, Tinyfish...) or an
older prog classic, it's anyone's guess as to what will
be playing on the PC as he designs software systems from
his office in the back bedroom: Bach, Beanfield, Penguin
Café Orchestra, Dave Matthews Band, Steely Dan,
Drums: An aged (>25 years) Yamaha 9000 series kit;
equally ancient Roto-toms
Cymbals: Sabian, Zildjian, Paiste and Vibra
Hardware: Anything and everything, including string and
Percussion: As hardware, above, but not the string (that’s
not classed as “percussion” as it is, by
definition, a stringed instrument)