ALAN EDEN BIOGRAPHY
My career in music has been a constant and totally wondrous experience and here are a few fond memories.
Living in Hertfordshire and aged eleven, I was about to encounter the first steps on the path to my dream of becoming a drummer.
I was taught to play military side drum, sight-read drum music, drink pale ale and stay out late by two ex-pat Scots. These guys were good! One had played in The Edinburgh Police Band and the other the Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band, both bands had won numerous International Pipe Band championships, and itís fair to say that I had the most rigorous and disciplined training ever.
They gave me a pair of sticks and a rubber practise pad and taught me the rudiments of drumming. They made me play on a cushion and a telephone directory to build up stamina and aid precision. It was six weeks before they let me loose on a real drum!
The thoroughness of this basic grounding stood me in good stead for what was about to come however as, years later and having progressed far beyond just the side drum, I began a very successful period as a session musician which included recording, broadcasting and touring with many Ďhousehold namesí as well as some who were unknown at the time and have since disappeared without trace!
Having squandered a grammar school education (late nights playing in pop groups had severely reduced my ability to revise!) I turned pro at 18 and soon realised that I had a few things going for me as I tried to get a gig of some sort. My strengths, as I saw them, were that I had already played a very wide variety of music in pubs, halls and working menís clubs, I could read drum music (provided it wasnít too complicated), I had good equipment, my parents had a telephone and could relay messages and I was cheap!
The strategy worked as a small, local studio needed a small, local cheap drummer!
This gave me some studio experience and, more importantly, introduced me to many new musicians, producers and music biz folk who, bit-by-bit, began asking if I could do a session or play a gig somewhere. I played anywhere and everywhere, learning my craft and just about making a living. To be honest I was so determined to devote my life to my music I would have paid to play ... but thankfully didnít have to.
By the early 1990ís I had retired from touring and playing sessions with a million-and-one great memories ... a lengthy stint as Leo Sayersí drummer, highlights of which included a nine month world tour, headlining two nights at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles with Deniece Williams and her 30 piece orchestra supporting, being the first ever act at an open-air theatre in Alice Springs, Australia and recording a BBC2 TV six part series which has been shown over and over around the world!
I remember an extremely hectic year or so with Helen Shapiro where, in just one week, we played concerts in Bridlington, Bradford and Brussels ... oh yes, and Southend-on-Sea!
There were sessions that stretched across the musical spectrum from folk to pop, rock and blues, from punk to cod-classical and with artists as diverse as Maddy Prior, Al Hodge, Cherry Vanilla, Clifford T. Ward, Opera Nova, Sad Cafť and The Hitchin & Luton Accordionaires!
Itís odd sometimes, the stuff you do as a session player. (if you want to make money that is!) One year I played a WINTER tour of seaside resorts with a singer named Jackie. Famous for singing the theme to a TV show about Rupert The Bear, Jackie also had a hit with a song called White Horses but she earnt her living singing Ďjinglesí for radio and TV so, as well as ĎRupertí and ĎHorsesí and a couple of chart-covers, her show consisted of snippets of the jingles she had worked on. We finished her spot with the Martini Advert! "Itís the bright one, itís the right one, itís ..." I am haunted by it to this day!
However that was then and, as mentioned, I had retired from the mainstream and was now ready to turn semi-pro but still felt the need to continue making quality music. (which can be difficult at a local level especially if you are used to working with top-notch musicians).
Having been fortunate enough to enjoy an illustrious career I did NOT want to end up playing The Birdie Song in some caravan park house band!
Well I neednít have worried as I was soon introduced to Jon who had just formed a neat trio playing rockíníroll, soul, Motown and boogie woogie, all music that I grew up with and am totally mad about. As luck would have it Jon needed a replacement drummer and, as he couldnít afford to pay me to rehearse, I listened to a tape of the band and went straight out and did it! The musical chemistry was apparent from that first live show and apart from Jonís obvious piano talents I was impressed by his potential as a musician, singer and front-man.
The icing on the musical cake came in the shape of Paul on bass guitar as he has a very broad background and can play any style of music with conviction, empathy and passion. I think we work together in the best 'rhythm section' tradition.
These days things could hardly be better as I regularly get to play real music with two close friends who are also superb musicians ... and no, we donít play The Birdie Song!
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