Born in Luton, Bedfordshire and brought up less than a mile from the now famous Bletchley Park of ‘Enigma’ fame, I moved from Milton Keynes to Malvern in 1992 (for a job and a nice place to bring up a family). My first band was called ‘The Addix’ (long before Kirsty McColl had a band of the same name!) when I was just fifteen years old. I’d been playing guitar for barely six months and hankered to play rhythm guitar, but as they needed a bass player, I automatically became a bass player! The band’s drummer was Maurice McElroy, now wielding the sticks with the excellent Spikedrivers: check them out! We gigged all round East Anglia and the South Midlands until I left to salvage what I could of my ‘A’ levels.
The Addix – me, second left, Maurice on drums Photo: unknown
At university, I played with an avant garde quartet called Ra Ho Tep. They understood modal playing and diminished runs but, at that time, I didn’t – so they ever so nicely sacked me!
Me in uni days and now – how little has changed! Photo left: John Hibbard, photo right: Rosa Pearce
After that,I was in numerous projects that either didn’t quite get off the ground or faded quickly – my favourite being the quirky jazz/funk trio, ‘The Dupes of Hazzard’ (but probably only for the name). I did an Edinburgh Festival in 1976 with a young theatre company before a jam session in a Milton Keynes country pub (they do exist) spawned the legendary ‘UK Allstars’ which featured on saxophone, among the many musicians who came and went, Terry Marshall (son of Jim, the legendary amp maker). At the core of the band was Paul Hemming (lead guitar), Don Welch (drums) and firstly, Andy Viccars then Peter ‘Spud’ Lubbock (bass), became the JD Blues Band, later joined by Vicky Harrison on keyboards.
Photo left: Bob Jardine, Photos centre & right: unknown
That was the 1980s taken care of, then the move to Malvern and not much action while the kids were young. Then, I joined the Birmingham-based blues band, ‘7:17 Blues’. The ‘7:17’s gained quite a reputation in the West Midland’s for their authentic sixties Chicago sound, covering the best of Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf, Hooker, Sonny Boy the second, Little Walter etc. The ‘7:17’s’ featured one of the best blues harmonica players (for my money) in the country in Dave Smith and I’m delighted to say that Dave still features with the Blues Raiders. And so to the present and the two manifestations of my band. John Denton’s Midnight Band is the platform for my own songs – and some covers/interpretations of favourites! At the heart of the band is Colin Warren (bass), Alan Davies (guitar) and recently we’ve hooked up with drummer, Matt Dulson. When we do the blues set, it’s John Denton’s Blues Raiders, an altogether more fluid affair with a range of other guest musicians joining Colin, Alan and me, usually Dave Smith (harmonica) and Morris Windsor (drums), but we’ve also be joined at various times by Mikey Mann (keyboards), Tony Stokes (harmonica) and Tone Tanner (drums).
Oh, and sometimes it’s Colin and me and, sometimes – just me and the guitar! Read on...