My parents were loggers in the Apollo Bay logging region of Victoria, Australia. When the bush was closed down we moved to the Snowy River district of East Gippsland and resided in a small farm house set on the Snowy River, I was 3 years old.
For my 6th birthday I received a small steel string acoustic guitar and my memories of that were of total excitement and joy. I had no idea how to play it and being left handed I had memories of sitting with the guitar left handed on my lap and making slide melodies and sounds with a spoon.
4 months later the biggest flood in the Snowy's recorded history came roaring down the valley and as a family we left for safety to Orbost. The flood was far bigger than obviously my parents had expected and we stood on higher ground in Orbost along with a large crowd watching as the water came to the top of our little farm house windows with major trees gushing past it. The Snowy bridge was also taken out cutting us off from our house as the waters resided.
After a number of days and with the waters receding but still flowing quickly my parents took a small boat across the river to inspect the house which miraculously was still standing. They lost everything except for a small guitar which had floated and came to rest on top of a wardrobe. My mother bought the guitar back in the boat and handed it to me on the banks of the river.
After a 6 week stay with another family we moved into a house in town and as luck or destiny would have it 2 doors up from a large family who's elder boys had a band with real electric guitars. I remember being captivated by the look and the sound of these things as I would watch the boys rehearse while I was playing with the other kids.
Over the next few years the eldest of the boys along with my elder brother would show me a few riffs such as Black Night by Deep Purple, Black and Blue by Chain and Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool. It wasn't long before I was figuring out songs on the guitar via a chord book and using my ear, there seemed to be a simplistic beauty of playing patterns that sounded in tune. as I explored this I quickly learned patterns that sounded right (later I would realize these were pentatonic scales) I endured through primary school with that little steel guitar.
By the first year of high school I had received a nylon string guitar and my elder brother was into some great music so I would copy songs by ear while also teaching myself classical tunes and techniques from a book. A year later and I received a small electric guitar with a 10watt amp and I was in heaven, now I was able to start making the sounds I had heard my neigbours play all those years before.
I was 12 and it wasn't long before I was jammin with a drummer and my younger brother on bass playing Led Zep and Status Quo riff's. I quickly progressed through a few school bands with friends and by the age of 14 I had progressed onto a Les Paul Copy with a 40watt amp and was in my old neighbours band (Black Opal) playing gigs around East Gippsland. I saw many sites that most 14 year olds would die for with many gigs ending in brawl's as we would often play to drunken footy crowd's.
One time I hid behind my new 200watt Eminar amp as this huge pissed guy decided he was going to beat us all up and smash our gear, unbeknowns to that poor sod, the other guitarist, my old neighbour who was 26 at the time had a reputation for being the best fighter in the region and he took this guy twice his size outside and beat him to a pulp. I saw the same guy the next day at the local rodeo and his face was black and blue.
By the age of 16 I was playing in the hottest band in our region called 'Mr Big'. I remember watching these guys as a 15 year old thinking they were gods. I would have to travel 100km's to reherse in this band now renamed 'Berlin' as they were based in a neighbouring town. The other guys in the band were 10-12 years older than me. I would travel to gigs and rehearsals with the singer who lived closer to me and he was absolutely mad, he would drive everywhere at 100mph at night with his headlights turned off, do major burn outs all the time or play chicken with the on coming traffic with David Coverdale blaring through the car stereo (the singer he aspired too), I would write essay's in school about my frightening ordeals. I was a rockstar though, beer would flow and blood would spill and had caught the bug.
By 17 I had my own band called 'Cross Bow' with the same singer doing songs by Rush, Deep Purple, Led Zep and Van Halen who had just burst on to the scene and made me realize that I had a long way to go on guitar. Copying Eddies 2 handed licks gave me the first insight into touchstyle playing. I was also studying Flamenco and Classical on my nylon string from a book and was playing songs by Steve Howe such as 'The Clap' and 'Mood For a Day'.
By 18, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Howe, Al Di Meola, Leo Kotke, Eric Clapton and John McGlauchlin were some of my major influences but I still hadn't discovered Hendrix.
At 18 with school over I moved into a farm house miles from home with some really good muso's still 10 years my senior forming a band called 'ReSession' we would pick vegies by day and play guitar by night which is where I began to appreciate the brilliance of Hendrix and Zappa.
At 19 I had moved into a house with my first love who I quickly turned into the singer of a new band call 'Flight19' and we travelled aroung the region doing many gigs for a year until our relationship exploded.
By now I had a 1971 blonde Strat which has remained my number one guitar and a Marshall JCM 800, along with a wah wah pedal, so I would spend countless hours playing at excessive volumes, getting lost in feedback improvisations inspired by Hendrix. Around this time I also discoverd SRV. I was playing whatever gigs I could with my new found sound and moved to a small isolated tourist town called Mallacoota which was full of really good muso's and an audience that appreciated music.
At the age of 21 I moved to Melbourne and started to play with various artists. Around this time I discovered Stanley Jordan and immediately proceeded to play like him learning many songs from his debut album. After several months of grasping the touchstyle technique it occurred to me to play on 2 guitars and I started playing around the traps of Melb with 2 guitars fixed together playing songs like 'All along the Watchtower' with dual solos and crazy feedback, needless to say this took me on a journey of inventing 12 string guitars which you can read about in 'Histoy of Box Guitars'
At the age of 23 I auditioned for the College of the Arts to get a deeper insight into Jazz and my own playing and it was here that I met many great music collegues while starting to grasp the finer points of music, though I was more into partying than learning at that stage. I lasted a few years there before defering my studies and moving to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams.
Over the course of the next few years I met and played with many of my childhood hero's and was persuing a career as a guitarist in LA when my young son was struck down with Diabetes so I resided back in Australia to care fro him. His illness was unstable and I ended up falling out of the music scene for quite a while but still played in local bands and continued to write and record as much as I could.
As James grew up I ventured back into the Melbourne music scene and started doing gigs, tours and recordings with various artists while endevouring to get one of my original bands off the ground. I had a number of great bands which would record an album and then implode just as we would start to gain a hint of success.
Over the course of my guitar playing career I have recorded many albums and some of them will soon be available from this site.
I am currently in US band 'ENERGY' which is a rebirth of Tommy Bolins favourite band of friends before joined Deep Purple.
To be continued....