Gary Fletcher (seen here second from the left), singer, songwriter and guitarist chats with Kevin Cooper about the price of vinyl albums, his own Gary Fletcher Blues Band, being involved with Maserati, and touring with The Blues Band.

Gary Fletcher is an English singer, songwriter and guitarist who became interested in blues music in the late 1960s. Being left-handed, he learnt to play guitar by turning it over without reversing the strings.

In 1978 Fletcher joined The Wildcats led by Wilgar Campbell (Rory Gallagher’s ex drummer), where he met Dave Kelly. Kelly invited him to play bass on his album Willing, and suggested Fletcher as bassist when Kelly, Paul Jones, Tom McGuinness and Hughie Flint formed The Blues Band in 1979. Fletcher has remained with The Blues Band from its inception.

As well as The Blues Band, Fletcher has also undertaken several side projects, writing and recording with other musicians, including The Dave Kelly Band, Christine Collister, and The Travelling Gentlemen.

He formed The Relatives, with his wife Hilary, who released the Feud Of Love album on Arone Records in 1997. The Relatives also played live, supplemented by Hilary’s sister Vivien on vocals and Fletcher’s son Jack on drums.

He formed The Gary Fletcher Band; a semi-acoustic band featuring Gary on acoustic and electric guitars, his son Jack on bass, John Evans on lead guitar and, depending upon availability, Rob Townsend, Don James, or Pick Withers on drums and percussion. They are occasionally joined by Mark Feltham on harmonica.

Outside of music Fletcher is a keen racing driver, although he only took this up in his mid-40s. Initially competing in the 1995/1996 Ford Credit Fiesta Challenge, his first win came in July 1998 at Castle Combe in the Proton Coupe Cup. He was also third overall in the 1999 Championship. As music commitments limit the number of races he can compete in, he became a racing instructor.

Whilst currently touring with The Blues Band, Gary Fletcher took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Gary how are you?

I’m very well thanks Kevin, how are you today?

All is good at the moment thanks for asking and let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

No problem, it’s my pleasure.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

I have to be honest with you and say that life is not too bad at this moment in time. In fact thinking about it, life is treating me really well thank you. I have got a reasonable amount of work to get my teeth into; the house is now all sorted, so I really can’t complain. If you want me to I could try but… (laughter).

We are English which means that we can always find something to complain about (laughter).

(Laughter) how true, how very true (laughter).

The current price of vinyl may be a good place to start (laughter).

Oh gosh yes, I mean its twenty quid for a single album upwards isn’t it.

Yes it is and I personally do not feel that it is currently a level playing field. I can go down to my local supermarket and buy a current chart CD for six pounds but then, as you say, if I want the same album on vinyl it can cost me anywhere up to thirty pounds.

I know what you are saying. As I understand it the problem is all down to volume. I have been told recently that Sony are actually blowing the cobwebs off their vinyl pressing plant over in Japan because I believe that there is only one pressing plant in the world that is actually able to produce vinyl records in any reasonable quantity. The Blues Band have released a couple of vinyl album reissues over the years and we are currently looking to do a slightly edited version of The Best Of The Blues Band Album because even if we put it out as a double album, we can’t get all of the tracks that are on the CD version onto the vinyl album.

However, the point that I was trying to make is that the lead time on pressing the vinyl album currently stand at five months just to get it into the pressing plant. Our record company Repertoire who are actually a German company, actually produce quite a bit of vinyl so maybe they have found themselves a situation where they can get slightly ahead of the rest of the market. I’m not sure but I think that currently the only pressing plant that is operating in Europe is based in Croatia. A while back there was one in Wales but I haven’t heard anyone mention it in a while so I am assuming that it has gone.

Having said all of that I am personally quite pleased to see a resurgence in the sales of vinyl albums but I simply cannot get my head around the big cassette comeback (laughter). Just what is that all about?

(Laughter) I know what you mean and I was actually talking about this with a friend just the other day. I was wondering just how many people still have the equipment or the facility to be able to play cassettes anymore (laughter). I can only presume that these kids are going into second-hand shops and are picking up cassette decks. I still have mine from back in the 1970s but I have to tell you that it doesn’t get used very often (laughter).

Well speaking from a totally personal point of view, I didn’t think that cassettes very very reliable the first time around (laughter).

That’s right, in fact that is exactly correct. The tapes would break, after a while they would start running slow, they would get jammed in the tape players heads; what a palaver (laughter). All that I can say is that it is a fashion thing isn’t it. It’s the old Shoreditch hipsters thinking that it is cool in some way.

Is it not a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes?

Yes it is, most definitely. And to some extent it is the same bunch of people who are buying vinyl, taking it home and then playing it on some of the crapiest systems that you will ever see or more to the point, hear (laughter). My nephew is into vinyl in a very big way, but the crap that he plays it on, to me it is simply unlistenable. However, in his mind, he has indoctrinated himself with the opinion that it sounds better on his crap system than it does on CD. I think that there is a very strong argument where you could say that, in some circumstances, especially if it has been recorded in analog in the first place, vinyl will in fact sound warmer and to most ears, better on a good system than the CD version.

I don’t mean that it has to be Audiophile standard but a reasonably good quality turntable, amplifier and speakers and then I think that the vinyl will most probably sound better than the CD equivalent. You start to run into problems when people record albums digitally, and then put them out on vinyl. I really cannot see the logic of doing that. Sonically I cannot see the point in doing that because clearly you are not going to have the lower frequencies, the harmonic frequencies that happen on analog recordings, on analog two inch tape, with a digital recording. A digital recording will simply cut-off at twenty hertz. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you will ever record anything much below fifty hertz, but the harmonics that are created by analog instruments, you cannot hear as a separate note.

For example a double bass in particular. They sound lovely and warm and they are there on an analog tape simply because they won’t cut-off. Whereas if you have recorded something in a digital studio, you will never have had those frequencies because they simply were never there, they were never recorded in the first place. So that is a slightly questionable element of people putting modern, newly recorded albums that have been recorded on Pro Tools and things like that. However, having said that, I think that there is some validity because then you have got a feel of the album, and of course even more importantly, the sleeve which is such a nice thing to possess in the first place. An album sleeve is such a lovely thing to put together because you get so much more opportunity to be a bit creative with it.

I can definitely see the attraction with vinyl but unfortunately I feel that the pricing, as you say, is far too high and unfortunately I feel that it is set to be like that for quite a while yet until there is a bit more capacity. I’m sure that vinyl still only makes just under three percent of the total market so it really needs to get up to heading towards double figures before the people who matter will start to, once again, put some investment into the process. It is hellishly expensive nowadays to set-up a pressing plant whereas setting up a CD pressing business is both easy and relatively cheap by comparison and is therefore a lot more cost effective.

I haven’t noticed this myself, as yet, but if you remember from the outset there were claims being banded around that these new magical shiny round discs were in fact indestructible. Regardless of all of the hype I have recently heard people say that they do actually deteriorate over the years.

It’s funny that you mention that. If you remember back in the day there was only one record company who put out CD’s and that was Polydor. You had a choice of a couple of old Roxy Music albums and a few classical. I actually bought a few of the original Polydor releases and they were in fact steel and not plastic. That sounds great but they have actually started to rust and have become unplayable (laughter).

(Laughter) really, well that’s a first for me. I have to say that I have never seen a steel CD only the plastic version. But yes, people are now realising that CD’s are not as strong and durable as we were all led to believe. Of course from a record labels point of view, it was all about the profit margins. The manufacturing costs of a CD are minimal. If you are making them in volume then you will make a glass master which will cost you a few quid, but after that it is just a case of knocking them out at fifty pence a pop. The record companies have, in general, done quite nicely out of the sale of CD’s.

Anyway, swiftly moving on now that we have completely assassinated CD’s (laughter). I’ve got a bone to pick with you.

Really, what’s that?

You have made me feel bloody old today.

(Laughter) well I can assure you that making you feel old was never my intention (laughter). Go on, tell me how I have made you feel old.

I first saw you and The Blues Band performing here in Nottingham at the Albert Hall back in 1979.

(Laughter) blimey, that’s a long time ago now but I remember it very well. That was a great gig. I used to love playing there. Blimey that was thirty-eight years ago now. That really was early on and must have been late 79. In fact that was one of the few times that we actually came out of London during that period. I think that I am right in saying that the very first gig that we played as The Blues Band was April 21st 1979 and then we only played a couple more gigs before we got to August and September. I have to tell you that it is true what is written in all of the biogs, which is that our intention was to only ever play two gigs. We really did only ever have two gigs in mind (laughter).

However, we started to get lots of offers from what was still at that time a very good London pub rock scene I suppose, so we stated playing a lot of those and then yes, we did start getting a lot of interest from out and about. One of the reason why we came up to Nottingham was that the guy who later became our fan club secretary actually lived in Nottingham. He didn’t promote that particular gig but I believe that he made a connection with the band and that is how we came to play at the Albert hall up there in Nottingham (laughter). I’m with you on this that is a very long time ago now (laughter).

Well I have to tell you that it is so long ago now that the autographs on my copy of The Official Bootleg Album have now faded.

(Laughter) well it sounds as though you managed to get hold of a genuinely hand signed copy of the album. No doubt it is numbered as well. That really is a genuine collector’s item. They actually change hands for a reasonable amount of money particularly over in Germany. The Germans are such avid collectors of that sort of thing.

I was thinking of taking it out of the frame, turning it over and getting you guys to resign in on the back.

That’s a great idea. We could easily do that for you. I don’t think that would devalue it at all.

I love the album but every day as I look at the album the signatures are slowly but surely vanishing before my very eyes (laughter).

When the five of you originally got together, and finally came to realise that people wanted to hear you for more than just two gigs, could you ever have envisaged that there would still be this demand for you some thirty-eight years later?

No not at all. I can’t really explain how we have manged to do that. I think that it was partly down to the fact that the rest of the guys are all older than me, and they had already had at least one bite of the cherry, possibly two, so I think they had a perspective which you don’t have when it’s the first time round. I think that they had a perspective where they understood that you can’t just behave if you like in a way towards each other, or towards anyone else that is rock and roll if you like. You tend to try not to fall out with each other, which perhaps wasn’t the case when they were younger. In my case I had been a pro-player for a while but I hadn’t had the big pop hits that Tom (McGuinness) Paul (Jones) and Hughie (Flint) to some extent had had.

Whilst Dave (Kelly) and I had been playing for a while, neither of us had had big, widely known success. So for us I suppose that we had a slightly different attitude towards it. If anyone was going to be stroppy then I suppose that it would have been Dave and I especially during the early days (laughter). In truth I suppose looking back it all just happened so fast; we hadn’t expected it at all.

So tell me the true story behind The Official Blues Band Bootleg Album?

(Laughter) right here goes. Firstly, the reason as to why it is called The Official Blues Band Bootleg Album is because we literally bootlegged our own album because we couldn’t pay the studio bill. The reason for that was that we went into the studio on the basis that EMI Records were going to pick up the bill for the time that we spent in the recording studio. So we made the album and then EMI, before they had even heard it, backed out of the deal. So as you can imagine, we were left with a pretty sizeable bill for the two weeks that we spent in the Nova Studios in Marble Arch, here in London.

What you have to remember is that back then, studio time was most probably more expensive than it is now, so it really wasn’t good news at all. The problem was that we didn’t have the master of the recordings for the album. That album has never been cut off the fifteen ips master tape. The master tape would have tones on the front of it which you use to line-up the cutting lathe and all that sort of stuff. But in actual fact the album was copied from a fifteen ips copy that I had managed to get the engineer to give me in order that I could check the final mixes. And it is that tape that the album was cut from. Some of the tracks on it were never recorded during those sessions anyway.

Some of them were demos that we had recorded in an eight track studio and one or two of them had been recorded live at The Hope And Anchor. So basically what we did was we got the album pressed up, initially it was just a run of a thousand, bought ourselves some plain white covers, had the sleeve notes Xeroxed after hours in our so called management office on the qt, signed them, numbered them, and the rest as they say is history (laughter). In some cases, where people had ordered copies of the album by filling in forms at gigs and things like that, I can remember actually delivering some of them down where I lived. I have to be honest with you and say that it was an amazingly weird time (laughter).

And why did the band finally sign for Arista?

(Laughter) just who have you been speaking to (laughter). The only reason that we finally signed with Arista really was because once we had done all of the work for them, and at that point we had probably six or seven record companies sniffing around, but I think that the reason as to why we went with Arista was because they were possibly the only company who we hadn’t actually approached initially and therefore we had not been turned down by them in the first place (laughter). That’s how it transpired and as I have said, the rest as they say is history.

I was trying to think just how many years you have now been touring and to be honest there are not that many when you haven’t toured are there?

Nowadays we probably don’t play any more than fifty or sixty dates per year. Whenever we do tour it is mainly at Paul’s instigation and it was his suggestion that we should cut back slightly. It’s not the fact that Paul is thinking of retiring, far from it. It’s the fact that Paul wants to prolong his career for as long as he possibly can. You have to remember that Paul is in his mid-seventies now, and the last time that we spoke he was saying that he doesn’t want to stop touring anytime soon. In fact I personally don’t think that Paul will ever want to stop because it is the elixir of life for him. If he was not in front of an audience then I don’t know what he would do to be honest.

I don’t think that he would be very comfortable or happy at all. He is just a born performer. Whenever he opens the fridge and the light comes on he is away for ten minutes (laughter). I have to say that Paul is an amazing front man for me to work behind. On top of that he is a really nice man as well. Considering all of the bullshit that he has been through in the 60s and thereafter, he can have the odd moment maybe, but that is very rare nowadays. He has not been screwed up by fame in any way shape of form.

I personally hate him because every time that I see him I swear that he is getting younger. Just what does he carry around with him in his little briefcase, that’s what I want to know (laughter).

(Laughter) I’m sure that Paul would own up to perhaps a little chemical help with the colour of his hair perhaps. He is very clean-living now days and he was never a guy who drank very much at all. In fact I don’t think that he touches it at all now days. You have to remember that Paul has got a bit of a connection with his nibs upstairs and is a practicing born again Christian. Whether that has some effect I don’t know and to be honest I don’t even know if he has a Picture of Dorian Gray tucked away in his loft somewhere (laughter). If you get up really close to Paul then there are signs of his age I suppose but you certainly wouldn’t know it at normal distance and you certainly wouldn’t have any idea of just how old he is by how agile he is and how much he moves physically when he is on the stage.

I think that some of it is due to the fact that there is not an ounce of fat on him at all; I have never seen him with a belly at all. I think that a lot of it is to do with the fact that he plays the harmonica. He plays it so energetically that his lungs and his whole physique are very well exercised by the amount of time he spends playing the harmonica. He is such an amazing harmonica player and I personally believe that there are only five or six top harmonica players who are in the same league as Paul. He is seriously good. I really do think that has helped with his splendid youthful appearance.

I have just been looking to see what Paul is up to next year and he will be touring with Dave and then later in the year he will be touring with The Manfred’s so I am now like you in the fact that I don’t think that he will ever stop (laughter).

If you add together just what The Manfred’s do to what he does with us, then that would be around a hundred dates and on top of that he does some stuff with Digby Fairweather which is a jazz kind of thing, and then he does what he calls his Gospel gigs with his wife, and he still does his radio show which he takes very seriously, and I have absolutely no idea just what else he does but there certainly are very few days when he is loafing around.

When you all get back together, is it like slipping into a pair of comfy shoes?

Yes it is, I suppose it is. It is a kind of intuitive musical relationship that we have with each other. There are no sharp edges whenever we get back together in the way that there could be. Over the thirty-eight years we have all learnt to cope with each other’s little foibles shall we say (laughter). Having said that, I have to say that occasionally there have been the odd crossed word over the thirty-eight years but never anything too serious. Cynically, people could suggest that we are all joined at the wallet (laughter) and I suppose that there is some truth in that. I personally think that we really do like what we are doing. I think that we have always liked what we do. However, I don’t think that The Blues Band is the only thing that satisfies any of us really.

As I have already mentioned Rob, Tom and Paul do The Manfred’s Revival or whatever you want to call it. Dave does his solo stuff with The Dave Kelly Band and I have got The Gary Fletcher Band and that gives us all an outlet. The Blues Band wouldn’t be sufficient I think over thirty-eight years for us all to do nothing else. It is a very specific furrow that The Blues Band ploughs if you like. I think that we all like to do things in addition that are not as focused in that particular furrow. I think that is another reason as to the extended life of The Blues Band. On of the most pertinent quotes that I have ever heard was made by Dave, and he said “the band that stays together travels separately” (laughter). And let me tell you that is very true.

If you are in each other’s face in minibuses and vans it is much harder to remain even tempered. When you are travelling that close to people then that is when the job really does get tougher. Let’s take King King for example; they are a great band and a really great bunch of guys, but basically they are in a van with all of their gear stowed behind them. It is very old school which is great on one level but it must be very hard for them to put up with sometimes. Over the thirty-eight years that we have been together, I think that if we had been travelling like that then we would have saved ourselves a fair bit of money. Plus we would not have been such an ecological disaster turning up in five different motors (laughter). However, it has prolonged the life of the band, I am sure about that.

Have you ever seen Paul performing with The Manfred’s?

Yes I have, I have seen them a couple of times now but to be honest with you it was all a bit cheesy for me (laughter). If I am really honest with you I wasn’t really into The Manfred’s back in the 60s and I am not really into to them nowadays other than the fact that I really do like them as people and I like some of the songs. I’m not sure if I was asked or not when they started doing this all over again. The catalyst for them doing that was Tom’s fiftieth birthday. Tom wanted to play a gig at The Town & Country Club as it was called then in Kentish Town featuring some sort of line-up of The Manfred Mann group together with a line-up of McGuiness Flint and The Blues Band.

Originally I was going to be playing the bass with all three; the McGuiness Flint side of things together with The Manfred Mann thing and of course The Blues Band. However, Tom Robinson overheard Tom speaking about this to someone and it soon became clear that Tom Robinson was a massive fan of Manfred Mann to the point where he even used to wear black polo neck jumpers and all that sort of stuff (laughter). So in the end I didn’t do it but in all honesty if I had played that gig and then been asked to play with the ongoing Manfred’s I most probably wouldn’t have done it. I’m not too interested in revivals and things like that on a personal level.

However, as I say I really do respect what they do; they are all great players and they love doing what they do. I have to tell you that when we first started The Blues Band Paul wasn’t interested in The Manfred Mann side of things at all, in fact it was quite the reverse. If a journalist during an interview ever mentioned Manfred Mann Paul would simply reply “I don’t want to talk about that” and moves on. I have to say that I think that Tom has been very instrumental in making it happen and I think that they all enjoy it plus they all do quite nicely out of it too which probably suggests that I made the wrong decision (laughter).

Joking aside it wasn’t really my sort of thing. I was much more into The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and that sort of thing. Unfortunately, I never saw The Manfred’s or heard The Manfred’s until they had the pop hits. I never realised that they were a R&B band who had had hits. I always pigeon holed them as being just a pop group and as I was such a pretentious little toad back in those days that pop groups were the lowest of the low as far as I was concerned (laughter). By that time I was into Peter Green, The Yardbirds and all those other purveyors of blues music.

I know exactly where you are coming from because when I was growing up if the artists were not black and recording on Motown then I simply didn’t want to know (laughter).

(Laughter) well I have to say that I was slightly broader than that but I do know exactly what you mean and I was into Otis Redding, Clarence Carter, and all of that era of Stax and Motown. But I always say that each to their own. Also you have to remember that I am that little bit younger than the rest of the guys in the band and I wasn’t into music at all in any serious way until 1965 or 1966. I would only have been thirteen then and I was much more interested in building model cars (laughers).

Few Short Lines was The Blues Band’s last album which was released back in 2011. Are there any thoughts on a new studio album?

It’s funny that you should ask me that because yes there are and we have recently completed all of the backing tracks now and I have to say that it went really well. We recorded all of the backing tracks in just four days and then there were a couple of days when Paul went back into the studio to carry out a few repairs on his vocals and harmonic tracks. So we are at this point very close, but with the best will in the world I honestly don’t think that the album will be released this side of the New Year. In all honestly I feel that we will be releasing the album during the first quarter of next year. It has been really good fun being back in the studio recording some new material with all of the guys.

I personally think that there are some really good songs on the album together with some great performances. It’s going to be released on the same label Repertoire, and as I say, most probably released during the first quarter of 2018.

Do you have a title for the album?

No, not so far as I know and I can’t think off the top of my head or remember if there is any particular song that would lend itself to being the title. There most probably will be because I don’t think that we are known for our creative genius in naming our albums (hysterical laughter).

You are currently back out on the road with The Blues Band once again. Do you always enjoy being back out on the road with the rest of the guys?

Yes I do, we all seem to enjoy ourselves when we get back out on the road. Going back to Dave’s daft quote, by and large, unless we are abroad, we don’t tend to travel together. It is a really nice thing whenever we get back together and all of that time apart it gives you the opportunity to visit your friends, see a few heritage buildings; it is a really nice thing to do, if the schedule allows it of course. You not only enjoy the music, you also get the opportunity to enjoy being out and about as long as you are not doing too much of it. Back in the day we would be doing over two hundred dates a year and believe you me you get sick and tired of being out on the road and to some extent you get sick and tired of the sight of one another.

However, nowadays touring is something that I really do look forward to and that is partly down to the fact that we don’t play as many gigs as we used to. So when we do tour it is a really enjoyable experience. What I will do is look to see if there is a football match anywhere near to where we are playing and if there is I will get myself along there. For me that is a great way to relax prior to a gig. I remember going to The Stadium Of Light one night when Sunderland were playing Manchester United and I actually managed to get in. It was one of the few games that Sunderland won that season and I kept thinking what a fantastic stadium it was. It has a real North-East atmosphere.

You mention not doing too much, however I see that The Gary Fletcher Blues Band will be touring before, during and after The Blues Bands tour. How do you manage to fit it all in?

(Laughter) well if you ask my wife about me playing solo dates she will tell you that I will sometimes get offered dates, and sometimes I will go out and actively be seeking dates. However, once I have got them, as it gets closer to me actually playing them I will start moaning, not because I don’t want to play but because unlike The Blues Band where I just rock up with a guitar around my neck, do the gig and then put it back down at the end of the gig, somebody else sets it up and the packs it away, I have to do all of that with my combo. Trying to coordinate musicians when you are not doing enough work really to enable you to get into a routine and get them organised is not always the easiest thing to do it has to be said.

However, the minute that we strike up and start playing the material I really do get lost in it. I have to say that my material is very self-indulgent and it is a rare privilege nowadays for me to be able to do that. And actually it is not that easy to get work even with a little bit of a name playing totally original material nowadays. That for me is a real treat so yes, overall I really do love doing it and I love playing solo. I love the freedom of it which is really nice. I wouldn’t mind playing a few more solo gigs so that it gets more bedded in if you like. I personally feel that I have got a good work balance really which wasn’t always the case so I just try to make the most of things.

Do you still enjoy writing?

Yes I do, I really do. I am still enjoying writing new material and there will be two of the songs that I have written on the new Blues Band album. I don’t write that prolifically, I simply am not one of those people. Tom and Paul will write when they know that there is an outlet for it coming, i.e. a new Blues Band album. However, I am not very good at doing that so I tend to write as I go along especially if something leaps out at me when I am messing around on the guitar or keyboard. Whenever I am writing lyrics it will usually be after something or someone has pissed me off and I will feel the need to write about it in some way and for me that could be anytime (laughter).

I have a home studio which is perhaps not as big a facility technically as I had at the old house but to be honest you don’t really need that now fortunately so I can record the stuff that I write here at home. I really do enjoy doing that, I have always enjoyed recording on my own.

On the subject of your solo work I have to tell you that I have recently been playing In Solitary and Giant From The Blue and I think that they are both great pieces of work.

Thank you, it is always lovely when people tell you that they enjoy what you do.

Were you happy with just how well those two albums were received?

Yes I was both albums received really good reviews and in fact I got two four star reviews for those particular albums. In fact it was our mutual friend Dave Hill who did the PR for both albums so he will probably be able to tell you more than I can remember (laughter).

Now that is where we have a problem, Dave is, as you know, a Geordie and so because of that fact you can’t trust him as far as you can throw him (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) now I don’t believe that for a minute (laughter). I think that Dave is one of the good guys. He’s a good man, as you well know, and in this business, believe me, they are few and far between.

What about you and cars; are you still involved in motor racing as an instructor?

It’s funny you mentioning racing because I was recently down there at Goodwood for the Goodwood Revival doing a bit of work for a friend of mine and I have to say that it has changed out of all recognition over the years. The whole thing is so corporate now and in my opinion it has totally ruined the whole event. You get people turning up who haven’t got a clue as to what they are looking at, they are only really interested as to what they are going to have for dinner or whatever. It’s not good anymore. Because my music commitments limited the number of races that I could possibly compete in, that was the reason as to why I became a racing instructor.

I was recently in Austria at the Red Bull Ring doing some work for Jaguar for a friend of mine, taking the guests of Jaguar Austria for hot rides around the circuit. That was a nice gig for a couple of days. I have actually managed to compete in a couple of races this year which I really enjoyed. Nowadays I never get the time to be able to compete in a whole season even if I could raise the money to allow me to do it. It’s no longer a cheap hobby. Sometimes I will get invited along to drive a car without having to throw any money at it but that doesn’t happen that often. In fact the older I get, the less it happens (laughter). I don’t do that much at the race schools at the various circuits anymore because they are not really race schools anymore.

I tend to do more mature days which are nice. I am at the stage in my life where I don’t want to do that much anymore but the bits that I have been doing over the past few years have always been for Jaguar. This will sound really flash but I also do bits and bobs for Maserati (laughter). It keeps me busy to some extent but it all depends upon whether they have got new models coming. When that does happen it is all hands to the pump whilst the rest of the time you could be sitting around scratching your backside (laughter).

You mentioned the dreaded word, Corporate. Don’t you think that the corporate side of things is ruining all sport?

Yes I do, I really do. Things have got so bad that I recently got invited to a corporate event at Stamford Bridge and I turned it down. I have turned up for a few of these things in the past and people will barely watch any of the game. For me, watching the game from a box is awful, there is no atmosphere whatsoever and so I would much rather be sitting outside in the stadium with the rest of the fans. That is what it is all about for me.

On that note Gary, let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been fantastic once again. Good luck with The Blues Band tour and I hope to catch your good self at The Stables early in the New Year.

It’s been great speaking to you Kevin. Hopefully I will catch up with you soon; it will be nice to say hello.