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Peter John Haycock was born 4th March 1951 at 63, Tixall Road, Stafford, England. He went to St.John's Primary School then King Edward VI School in Stafford.When he tried to join the recorder class the music teacher said he would never become a musician. Eat your heart out Mrs.Barrett!

Pete and sister Maureen, late 50s

Pete taught himself to play harmonica at the age of 9 and then started to play guitar at the age of 11 with the help of the Bert Weedon instruction book. The big acoustic guitar was bought by Pete's Uncle Bill. He was told it would be ideal for a beginner because it had "plenty of daylight between the strings and the neck"! Pete was very impressed ( as were so many other young English kids at the time ) by Cliff Richard's backing group "The Shadows", who were the first successful British group to feature electric guitars. Hank Marvin's solos were an inspiration and Pete would play them on the stairs of the family home to get extra 'reverb' from the bare walls.

Pete practising with his first guitar on Grannie's coal bunker

He played his first electric guitar (A "Broadway")at a gig aged 12 in a miners' club in Rugeley, Staffordshire.Pete's guitar playing on the stairs had been heard by a couple of local lads with an interest in Blues and they formed "The Mason - Dixon Line", playing not only covers of the current blues - flavoured hits but performing their own versions of lesser - known U.S. Blues recordings. The line - up of the band also included local Stafford musicians Maldwyn Hawkesworth ( vocals, percussion ) Roger Peet ( Rhythm Guitar ) Paul " Flick" Taylor ( Bass) ......and one George Newsome ( Drums ) who would later be invited by Pete to join a certain other local band.....and since the subject has been broached ....it is also worth mentioning that during his time at King Edward VI School he was guest guitarist with a school band called the Velvet Chords gigging at school and college dances ........with Richard Jones on bass............. and Geoff and Tony Nicholls on drums and rhythm guitars respectively. A similar lineup made up the imaginatively named band -'The General Erection' !

  Pete remembers.... " The lad who played bass in my first band Mason Dixon Line, Paul "Flick" Taylor, played lefty but with "normal" strings I seem ro recall, or maybe the other way around, it was hard to tell because he seemed determined to "out-Wyman" Bill himself by playing as "vertically" as possible. I recall him resting the guitar neck on his nose for most of the set. His bass was actually a masterpiece of confusion too. It was basically a Burns copy (made by his father who was a qualified "French Polisher" by trade... so he certainly didn't rub the French up the wrong way..sorry...anyway, you can imagine how immaculate the woodworking and finishing was) but the "tracing" of the Burns shape must have been done only on the back of the original and then transferred directly to the "face" of the new timber, so it looked like a mirror image when finished. To complicate matters further the only chunk of plastic "scratchplate" they could get was non-laminated and of an awfully bright orangey red hue.....a weird beast that was. It sounded OK though, despite the two cheap Vox pick-ups, through the old Linear amp! "Flick's Dad" built all of the cabs for our first guitar amps too by the way...again bright red for some reason. What a tolerant chap he must have been Mr.Taylor, bless him, despite perhaps being somewhat colour blind.
       Albert King played with "upside down" stings too apparently, which helps to explain the major third (4....yes, 4 semitone) bends he could make on that Flying V with heavy strings....whilst Clapton (and myself) could only attempt them using ultra light or banjo strings at first. If you think about it, or better still try it on a lefty guitar, you drag the strings downwards with as many fingers as you like to support the effort as opposed to pushing upwards with only the third finger, it says 'ere.
       I remember playing gigs in the States and jamming with Hendrix's ex-drummer from the "The Band Of Gypsies"...Buddy.......erm......huge black chap, ex-convict type attitude.."don't mess wiv me you Muvvas".....he actually sat on Luke O'Reilly's head (our short-lived tour manager) when he moaned at him about summat.......that certainly shut him up in a hurry too......sorry, second name escapes me for the moment...NO.....hang on... GOT IT! Buddy Miles! Anyway Buddy obviously learned guitar by playing on Jimi's spare axes whilst posing in the mirror or something equally strange, 'cos he jammed quite effortlessly with me on guitar, and was a useful player indeed (for a drummer) on my spare axe, simply turned over the wrong way - left handed....weird. It reminds me of that Red Dwarf episode where they end up, or rather begin, in Nodnol in the backwards Universe....know that one? A classic. "

In 1967 he met up with Colin Cooper who asked him to join the newly - formed soul band "The Gospel Truth" along with some musicians from the Stoke - on Trent area. Despite some local successes the band never progressed beyond playing the odd college gig ( albeit as far afield as Durham and Scotland ) so after this line - up fizzled out the following year Pete initiated the formation of The Climax Chicago Blues Band whose original line-up was Pete Haycock ( lead guitar) Derek Holt ( piano ) Colin Cooper ( vocals, harmonica ) and at Pete's suggestion, Richard Jones ( Bass) and George Newsome ( Drums ). The band was soon augmented by pianist Arthur Wood, leaving Derek Holt free to switch to rhythm guitar.After a few gigs Colin also started to play saxophone with the band.

Their first album " The Climax Chicago Blues Band" was on Parlophone and in all honesty it only came about because of the upsurge in the popularity of the Blues in the U.K. during the late 60's . Their friend and "manager" Peter Riley fortunately approached Beatles' Producer George Martin's people at A.I.R. London, then a brand new Production company, at exactly the right time. As fate would have it they were looking for a Blues - based band to record, especially since their strong connections happened to be with E.M.I. - who just happened to be lagging behind a little in the field. The Producer of the first couple of albums at E.M.I.'s Abbey Road Studios was a young lad ( who, oddly enough, had some Stafford family connections ) called Chris Thomas. Chris was officially little more than a " Tea Boy " .....or " Gofer "..for our American readers....when he was given the chance to record this obscure little band from Stafford. He has gone on to become one of the greatest Record Producers of the last quarter of the 20thcentury and continues into the 21st. It is also noteworthy that the Recording Engineer at Abbey Road was none other than Geoff Emerick. Any true Beatles fan will be pleased to tell you about his pedigree.....

The debut album was mostly just a studio recording of the Band's favourite songs from the "live" set, completed in 2 days with very few overdubs. But even at this early stage Chris Thomas's slightly zany influence could already be heard. "And Lonely" or the deliberately ancient - sounding version of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" were not exactly your typical "British Blues Band" output - although the barely 17 year old guitarist was also encouraged to... "just jam a 12-bar blues and see what happens..." the result being the Freddie King / Clapton influenced instrumental "Twenty Past One".

A willingness to experiment was undoubtedly one of the trade marks of the whole A.I.R. London set -up, a trait no doubt fostered by their association with the Beatles, and this had a positive effect on the band's progress for several years in that they were no longer content to simply churn out cover versions of their Chicago Blues heroes' records. By the time the second album " Plays On" came along this slightly oddball approach to making a "Blues" album had progressed to the point where it was now quite acceptable to mix the styles of the likes of Wilburt Harrison and Otis Rush with Jazz, Cuban and even Classical influences ( indeed the beginning of " Mum's The Word" bears more than a passing resemblance to " Also Sprach Zarathustra" although the bands motivations may have been slightly more focussed on Kubrick rather than Strauss...) and then you chuck in a bit of guitar jamming ( "Twenty Past Two"......yes you guessed it ...another guitar instrumental...) and a pinch of Ragtime for good measure ( "Temptation Rag" ) courtesy of Arthur Wood's nimble fingers .

Unlike the first album none of these tracks were truly rehearsed before the band entered the hallowed gates of Abbey Road, which may sound extremely risky especially now that we live in in the age of computer music, deliberately crafted images and truly manufactured Pop. If you bear in mind the fact that the second album, complete with its experimental elements, was recorded in less than a week, it's no wonder that Pete's memories of the session are best summed up as " a blur of activity and creative madness, more or less instigated by Chris Thomas .Although we only had a few days to record an album nobody had made any real plans, unless Chris managed to fool us all, which I don't believe for one second."

" But it was a wonderful experience and it's sad that nobody makes records like that any more. It's not a question of youth and fervour either, because even if they have the artistic freedom to try their ideas many "modern" musicians seem content to judge the results of their labours by the standards of their peers, instead of just going for it and trusting in their individuality. Of course you have to be sure of your abilities, whether it be as a player or a singer or whatever - that's your own responsibility - but I've since made those same mistakes myself from time to time and the inevitable conclusion that I reach after 30 odd years of recording is that I can only enjoy listening to those older recordings if they were made with genuine creativity or emotion, even naivety, or better still, all of these elements accompanied by a good dose of chaos. Unfortunately, from the band's point of view, Richard Jones had left before this recording to study for his M.A. in Cambridge, and considering the success Richard had with the musically and theatrically impressive band "Principal Edwards Magic Theatre" a few years later, Pete is of the opinion that it would have been interesting to hear what would have happened to "Plays On" had Richard still been around to enjoy the ride."

This is only the first part of Pete's Biography, there is more to follow as the site develops




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       Being a blues-mad, testosterone-driven teenage idiot at the time, I remember Arthur as a "clever, school teacher-type bloke" when we first played together with Climax.....but he was somehow quite childish and very loveable at the same time. He was the typical British "trad-jazz" player on the surface, complete with dodgy beard, and at first I thought he was playing piano with the Climax Blues Band just because he was an old  mate of Colin Cooper.
       In retrospect I would have loved to have had Art as my music teacher though, that would have been "fab". He was somehow very "cool" indeed.
       When we recorded the early CBB albums in Abbey Road studios, Arthur, under the direction of producer Chris Thomas, not only played a solo Scott Joplin piano rag by ear in one take ("The Entertainer" - later to become the theme from "The Sting") without so much as blinking an eyelid, but he then went on to lead a "psychedelic" jam using "Also Sprach Zarathustra" as a theme, as if it were written by Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson, or even Jagger/ Richards...let alone some geyser called Strauss, by playing the "cool, new" Mellotron keyboard with a big fat smile on his face! Obviously the man saw no boundaries.
       Arthur's enthusiasm and ability to appreciate all kinds of music purely on merit is something I do my best to emulate. Without his lessons I, as a blues player at heart, would never have been able to suppress my natural reticence when confronted with studied "real" musicians, eventually enough to confidently stand in front of a symphony orchestra and just play my own interpretation of "good" music as I see and hear it.
       So without Arthur there would be no "Thelma and Louise" with Pete Haycock as we know it ....or "ELO Part 2" ...or "K2"...or "Drop Zone"......or even my own humble score music......because I would never have had the confidence in my own abilities to play with an orchestra - or the great Hans Zimmer - as my "backing" for a few minutes.....
       Yes, now I can make all kinds of music myself too. I fear nothing. I have been blessed. He unwittingly gave me a few gifts that will never die. Confidence and belief were the beginning and his fun and playfulness will remain.
       Bless you Arthur.