Naturally most of the influences throughout my life have been musical but the various other arts, and sport have always been important, and to some extent any principled individuals in other areas.
My Dad will always be the biggest influence obviously as he was a source of all knowledge and wisdom, and passed on so much about the subjects that fascinated him, which were many. His musicianship was astounding considering that he never played professionally, but he loved the piano, his main instrument, and also played saxophone and clarinet. And appreciated many styles (except for the growing 60s pop scene that his generation found irritating!). His ability to memorise pieces such as “Finlandia” was inspiring to me as the Sibelius tone poem is one of the most difficult I have seen, and I certainly couldn’t tackle it even now .
In short it was just watching him play and the seriousness that he took his music that I’ll never forget.
The BEATLES were quite simply an influence on everybody and everything and changed the culture for ever and I remember clearly them exploding on the scene and the first TV appearances, the beginning of a career which lasted six years but led the world in a new direction. Of course it began with the way they created the music, the unique art of songwriting and playing , and adding colour to the songs with guitar sounds, harmonies and “the beat”; everything about them was new and different as my world at the age of seven turned from monochrome to colour.
As I became someone who bought records on a regular basis, my trends were towards both singer-songwriter artists – moving towards soft and hard rock, and folk, then later jazz, Latin and country – but as a pianist myself, I took notice mainly of the remarkable artists who were modernising ways of performing with the piano, organ or synth keyboard: (roughly chronologically) GILBERT O’SULLIVAN, ELTON JOHN, RICK WAKEMAN, BOBBY CRUSH, BILLY JOEL, KEITH EMERSON, DUDLEY MOORE, RICHARD CLAYDERMAN, STEVIE WONDER, FLOYD CRAMER, JON LORD, TONY BANKS, JOE SAMPLE, DAVE GRUSIN; Composers/songwriters: CLAUDE DEBUSSY, JIMMY WEBB, RANDY NEWMAN, LEON RUSSELL, ANTONIO JOBIM, SERGEI RACHMANINOV, BRIAN WILSON, MIKE OLDFIELD, DUKE ELLINGTON, GEORGE GERSHWIN;
In literature there are many , mainly poets and playwrights such as JOHN BETJEMAN, ALAN BENNETT, SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, and what great roles figures like TERRY-THOMAS the comedy actor, and radio pioneer KENNY EVERETT played in my memories of growing up. Currently the best example of an influence which links the past to the present for me in the field of musical appreciation is BOB HARRIS , DJ and presenter, who radiates the same enthusiasm for classic rock music as I hope I do, and thankfully there are several more like him.
There are many others, and in my two favourite sports, football and tennis, I rate highly many outstanding personalities, some of whom I have actually seen play – and like everybody else I have the icons and heroes from TV and film, but great as they are it’s music that dominates and the technical brilliance of my favourite artists is what I base everything on.