Written by Neale Heywood.

Neale Heywood was our Q&A guest from August 18th to August 31st.
Stop by and see what was asked of Neale here !

Born in Southend-on-sea near Southeast London in 1961, my earliest musical memories are of Beatles posters on my parents living room walls, and listening to them and the Beach Boys on their old 'Grundig' reel to reel tape recorder (with the green neon bar lights that pulsed towards each other in time with the music, does anyone else remember those or was I dreaming?) It's only now that I can better understand why and how much I loved sitting there, listening to songs like 'Magical Mystery Tour,' 'I Get Around' and 'Warmth of the Sun' over and over again. It wasn't long before my folks realised there might be some genuine interest there and bought me a guitar for Christmas one year. They were right, God bless them, I couldn't put it down. This was great-- if I tried real hard I could actually sound like those guys! (You remember how forgiving a young persons imagination is, right?) Well, with an as yet un-realised love of great melodies and harmonies and my imagination, I was off and running. After a few years of serious bedroom practicing and some extremely sore fingertips, I realised that learning to speak French and being able to make a metal ashtray were not in my future. (I think I actually Photo provided by Neale Heywood.enjoyed most of school, from what I remember!) After surviving some crushing live moments at the local music workshop, I eventually managed to work myself up to band member potential; I spent the last half of my teenage years playing in many different pub-club bands and generally having a good time getting my 'act' together, so to speak, on a very active London and European circuit.

In the early eighties, I was lucky to meet a lady that ran a session agency in London. She thought I was ready to be sent out on some jobs, so I wholeheartedly dove into the world of 'in & out as quick as you can' sessions. I was fortunate to work with some great people during the next few years, including Robert Palmer, Steve Winwood, up and coming r&b singer Mica Paris, and Peter Bardens, which is where my Fleetwood Mac connection started.

Those familiar with Mick Fleetwood's history will recollect that Bardens was jamming in his garage one day when (in Peter's words) "this really tall skinny guy" walked in and asked if he could play the drums, and so it all began. I was working with Peter in London in '88 on his second record for Capitol Records' The Speed of Light, and our Mick was beating the skins for Pete on the album. Later that year we managed to organize a US tour, on which Mick also came out and played on.

After the tour in I found myself in Los Angeles, with an offer to stay there in a beautiful house in the Malibu hills with a 24 track studio built in to boot! Hmm…grey damp London or big house in Malibu, sunny southern California…not too much of a dilemma!

I spent the next three years, again having a good old time, working with Peter on his next album Watercolors for Miramar Records, all the while logging some good studio hours and finding all the cultural differences very energizing. The studio owner Mike Nile, who had become a good friend as he was playing bass with Bardens, was also bassist for Spirit shortly after Mark Andes had moved on, so I had the pleasure of engineering an album for them at the house. Tent of Miracles was the bands first release on their own label, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Randy's desire for feel and vibe over performance left quite an impression on me. What a great guy, and a sad loss for all those who knew him.

Alice in Chains were my introduction to the emerging Seattle sound; they virtually moved into the house for a few months, doing some rehearsing and recording some demo tracks that would eventually be molded into their classic album, Dirt.

Later that year I met and worked with Walter Egan, who was working on a project with the 'Malibooz', a bunch of good old boys including Egan's New York school friend John Zambetti. Walter and I worked together again a little later with Sara Fleetwood, who had mentioned to Walter that she liked some of his songs and would like to have a shot at singing some of them, and a lovely job she did, too!

During this time I'd met Richard Dashut. He'd been around the studio helping Walter and Sara. I got on well with Richard and later, after a few joint ventures of 'faffing' around in the studio, he said he'd like to bring Lindsey over and have a listen to what we'd been messing with. Before I realised it I was in a rehearsal room with Lindsey and a barrage of guitars, working on what was to become the live set for his Out of the Cradle tour in '93. Having spent some time trying the songwriting and singing thing and finding it a bit too much of a slog, I found myself right where I wanted to be-- working with someone with the ideas and just adding my two cents when appropriate. The next year and a half was a great time for me, doing a couple of national tours and a little bit of studio play in between tour legs. Working with Lindsey opened up a whole new world of guitar playing to me; my memories of after rehearsal one-on-one sessions with him are my favorite (learning to play 'Stephanie' with the man that wrote it, a particular fave.) After the touring, while Lindsey was resting up (not before a rather cool group trip to Hawaii) and contemplating ideas for his next album, I Photo provided by Neale Heywood.went and helped Richard with a studio setup in Westlake, California. For a long time he'd wanted a facility available to him to work with all kinds of bands and artists, and he'd found a great one, so working alongside him for a couple of years was another great time. Matthew Sweet was a regular visitor, as Richard had just finished the album Altered Beast with him. My pal, Janet Robin another member of Lindsey's guitar army, also came in and recorded some of her early material with us. I was especially pleased to find myself working with Donovan one day on a few rough ideas he wanted to flush out. Who would've thought? All in all, some great people and ideas would come through the door.

I have to mention one artist in particular who's music reached down in me and awoke my passions for melody and harmony. Cory Sipper is a young singer songwriter from Santa Barbara, California. Her style of acoustic based folk rock is so rich and tasteful that if this is a style you particularly enjoy I would suggest you hit a search engine soon ! The jewel box for her CD will sit empty for a while I promise. Beautiful music, and a beautiful person thoroughly deserving of closer attention. [Autographed copies of Cory Sipper's latest album are available here]

By now--'97-- the rumblings of a Fleetwood Mac reunion were becoming a reality, and I was nicely pleased to hear from Lindsey, asking me what I thought about going out with them and playing some guitar and singing a bit. Naturally, I told him I thought it sounded like a great idea. I'll see you Monday morning! The next couple of years were amazing, to say the least. It was a class act, from backstage to onstage. I will never forget the experience of playing some of those classic songs with them to an audience that had been waiting years hoping to see a reunion.

Well, after returning from one of, if not THE greatest adventure to date, I decided to undertake another adventure in moving out to Colorado for a while and enjoying some mountain life-- not exactly Grizzly Adams, but a nice change of pace. Unfortunately, some great photos and mementoes of the tours with Lindsey and Fleetwood Mac were lost in the in the move. I have been here since the summer of '99, and so far so good. I'm enjoying the scenery and have met some good 'not too industry brow beaten' bands and writers. I'm also working with a great company called 'Brown Bag Productions' recording and mixing music for radio, TV and film. I'm still very much in contact with me pals and am very optimistic about future happenings!

Return to the following pages: Q&A Sessions, Lindsey Buckingham, Cory Sipper's Orbiter album.
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