Bio

NJA B&W

The Early Years!

From piano lessons at the age of eight, reaching Grade Three, and then playing in various piano festivals, at the age of twelve I finally got hooked on guitar, and sold the drum kit I had been demolishing for a year or two.

My first guitars were two solid Burns electric guitars, on which I mainly self-taught myself.  I then swopped these for a 12-string Vox semi-acoustic

redVoxVG12

which I eventually played as an 8-string removing the octave E, A, D and G strings.  This gave a wonderful sound with the doubled top strings, but probably didn’t do too much for my lead guitar development.

Finally I moved on to my first Stratocaster, which I have stayed with every since.

I have also played bass both live and in the studio, sung backing vocals very occasionally, again both live and in the studio, and played acoustic in studio sessions.  For some years I owned and played a London 5 string banjo, but exclusively at home in order not to frighten the horses.

For most of my professional band career I have played rhythm guitar, taking lead parts as and when required.  I try to write specific lead parts, and avoid too much lead guitar over-kill outside solos.

Being mainly self-taught on the guitar has given me a unique style I’m told, and I have deliberately avoided copying other guitarists styles.

Having played through the eras of Prog Rock, to Punk, to New Wave and Indie I like to think I could be called versatile, and I aim to bring something new to the mix, always avoiding the obvious where possible.

Most of my musical career has been working with Jim Penfold within the Hollywood Killers (www.hollywoodkillers.com), but I have worked with many other bands along the way, and written over 50 of my own songs.

1974-1975

Various school bands – a lot of jamming and a few school gigs, one of which I played drums incognito for one band and then came back on guitar for the main band.

Tarragon (2)

1976

Took school band, Tarragon, to Studio G (www.studiog.co.uk), then in Wardour Street, to record library tracks in return for free studio time.  Six tracks of library music released by Studio G on “Pop Spectrum” LPSG 3001 VO13.  One track used by Playfair Wallpaper commercial on Capitol Radio (76/77), another by Papermate Pens TV commercial (76/77), another on Radio Luxembourg, and several tracks used on “Abigail’s Party” TV play (09/79).  Go to www.studiog.co.uk/music/sounds-of-the-60s-and-70s/ and click on ‘Beat In Concert’, ‘Space Rock’ and ‘Heavy Rock’ for a taster!  Tarragon comprised Dave Woodworth (lead guitar), Roddy Myatt (drums), Nick Hopkins (bass) and myself (rhythm guitar).

Joined up with school-friends, Jim Penfold (songwriter, guitar & vocals) and Duncan Reid (bass & vocals – later with ‘The Boys’ – www.theboys.co.uk), to form ‘The Matinee Idols’.  It was a school band that developed beyond school under Jim’s leadership, and moved to Hastings.

Hollywood Killers 1976

Acquired stage name of ‘Chilli Willi’, although I never worked out how!

Band changed name to The Hollywood Killers, and released debut single called “Hot Hazy Days/Unknown Person” on Rollerball Records as Jim Penfold & The Hollywood Killers.

Hollywood Killers Pier poster 1977

1977

The Hollywood Killers built a loyal fan base in and around Hastings, and received local press coverage and rave reviews in the Hastings Observer.  Some local gigs were promoted by then schoolboy Simon Fuller, later more well-known as the manager of the Spice Girls and S-Club 7.

Hollywood Killers 1978 v.1

Recorded at The Box, Silverhill, St Leonards-on-Sea, Regent’s Park Studios, London, and De Lane Lea Studios, Olympia, at Wembley.

Spent three years of regular gigging along the south-east coast with a line-up comprising Jim Penfold (guitar & vocals), Pete Poodle (bass), Bernie Smirnoff (drums), Alexander Moylegrove Third aka ‘Min’ (saxophone), and myself.

1978

Debut London gig with the Hollywood Killers, supporting the world famous ‘The Pirates’ (www.johnnykidd.co.uk) at The Mean Machine in Camden.

Hollywood Killers 1978 v.2

Recorded at Gooseberry Studios and released “Goodbye Suicide” and “The Tramp” on Rollerball Records, which received some radio airplay including on the John Peel Show on Radio 1 thanks to the legendary DJ John Peel.

Muff Winwood (Steve’s brother), the leading A&R man at Island Records at the time, put us in the studio on the strength of this and we recorded four tracks over a long summer weekend within the main studio at Island Studios, Basingstreet, Notting Hill for Muff who was searching for a band to sign.  Another band recording along the corridor sounded good, but when we asked them what they were called we didn’t rate their chances with their name, ‘Dire Straits’ (they were only recording the beginnings of their debut Sultans Of Swing album!) – guess who got signed?!

So no deal materialised but we started to build a major following in the London scene playing extensively at Dingwalls in Camden Lock, The Rock Garden in Covent Garden, The Nashville etc., and received an encouraging NME review.

Also recorded at Bluebell Farm, Staplecross, and Forest Gate Studios in London with Charlie Tumahai (www.milesago.com/obits/tumahai-obit.htm) who had by then joined us from Be-Bop Deluxe (https://myspace.com/bebopdeluxe/music/songs & www.billnelson.com).  Recorded four demos with Charlie at Forest Gate; ‘Strange Lights’, ‘Brown Eyes’ & ‘Cute Little Girl’.

1979

Gigged solidly with the Hollywood Killers around the south of England.

Recordings:

Date:                         28/02/79

Band:                        The Hollywood Killers

Location:                  Matrix Studios, Little Russell Street

Musicians:               Neil Aplin (guitar)

Matt Dangerfield (guitar)

Jack Lempicki (drums)

Jim Penfold (guitar & vocals)

Duncan Reid  (bass & vocals)

Lionel Robinson (keyboards & vocals)

Production:              Jess Sutcliffe – engineer

Tracks:                      Waiting For The Lady (Penfold)

Rain Island (Penfold)

Leave Me (Penfold)

Manhattan Girl (Penfold)

Comment:                The Boys backed Jim in the studios to record four more of his new songs including ‘Waiting For The Lady’ which was later to appear on their album ‘To Hell With The Boys’ having been re-recorded by them.

Date:                       10/08/79

Band:                       The Hollywood Killers

Location:                 Gooseberry (ChinaTown, Soho)/Matrix/Polydor

Musicians:              Neil Aplin (guitar)

Bobby Collins (bass)

Jim Fox (bass)

Ricki ‘Rocket’ Goldstein (drums & percussion)

Dean Klevatt (keyboards & vocals)

Jack Black (Lempicki) (drums)

Jim Penfold (guitar & vocals)

Production:             Pete Wilson – producer

Tracks:                    Speedo (Penfold)

Butterfly (Penfold)

Comment:               this version of Butterfly was later released on B-side of Jim’s single with EMI records in 1980.

Jim signed three songs to Paper Music (managed by Billy Lawrie (Lulu’s brother) and Lawrence Ronson (Gerald’s brother).

1980

Recording:

Date:                       12/01/80

Band:                      The Hollywood Killers

Location:                Matrix Studios, Bloomsbury

Musicians:             Neil Aplin (guitar)

Bob Henrit – ex-Argent (drums)

Lem Lubin (bass)

Jim Penfold (guitar & vocals)

Lionel Robinson (keyboards & vocals)

Tracks:                   Chasing The Crazies (Penfold)

Bad Water (Penfold)

Raspberry Reich (Penfold)

I moved to London and was followed by Jim, and it was Jim’s signing of a production deal with Mike Hurst (Cat Stevens’ and Showaddywaddy’s producer) and Dizzy Discs that allowed us to release a single ‘Killer on The Dancefloor/Butterfly’ which was subsequently released through EMI Records under the name of ‘The Speedos’ at the end of the year.

The Speedos Hammersmith Bridge 1981

Jim signed to Carlin Music Publishing which led to recording ‘Speedo’ & ‘Money Maketh Man’ with Mike Hurst as Producer.  However, the single was never released.

1981

Gigged extensively around England with The Speedos, gaining a substantial cult following, and released one independent single ‘Silent Dream’/’Goodbye’ on PenMelodies Records.  This was recorded at Eel Pie Studios (owned by Pete Townsend) as a kind of Christmas single by Lino Robinson (keyboards), Jim Fox (bass), Jim Penfold (guitar & vocals) and myself.

The Speedos 1981 v.2

Later in the year Jim Fox was replaced by the return of Duncan ‘Kid’ Reid on bass.

I also joined up with Billy London & The Regulars, a London gigging band which Billy had created

Billy London 1981

Billy London

in 1978, when the American-born musician Billy Barth (http://billy.london.free.fr/) emigrated to Britain to embrace its pop-music culture.  The line-up comprised Billy London (vocal/guitar), Neil Aplin (guitar), Jim Fox (bass) and Ricki ‘Rocket’ Goldstein from Sham 69 (drums).

Recording:

Date:                       1981

Band:                       Billy London & The Regulars

Location:                 near Waterloo (possibly Waterloo Bridge Recording Studios)

Musicians:              Neil Aplin (guitar)

Bobby Collins (bass)

Jim Fox (bass & vocals)

Ricki ‘Rocket’ Goldstein (drums)

Billy London (guitar & vocals)

Tracks:                     Woman (London)

+ others

1982

The Speedos reverted to The Hollywood Killers and the audiences had really grown as we gigged continuously and had a large mailing list of fans.  We played venues like Dingwalls, The Embassy Club, The Venue, The Lyceum, The Camden Palace, The Hammersmith Palais, The Marquee, The Rock Garden, Legends as well as a few society gigs such as The Berkeley Square Ball (in front of the late Princess Margaret) and one at the Savoy, and universities and colleges.

Hollywood Killers 1982

We headlined at Richard Branson’s ‘The Venue’ in Victoria drawing over 1,000 fans.  During this gig female admirers were allowed on stage, which sparked the beginning of an act with the band and their go-go dancers; The Lillets.  The Hollywood Killers received acclaim from NME, Melody Maker, and Record Mirror.  The band even sparked airplay as far as the US on Los Angeles’ radio station K-ROK.  A fan club (The Speedoclub) was set up.

The band received heavy interest from the record labels and EMI put us into the studios at Manchester Square and told Jim that they would be signing us the following April.  Magnet Records had expressed an interest.  Also CBS had been down to see us several times and it seemed they were close to signing us, but eventually Jim signed the band to Creole Records, who put us into the Chipping Norton Studios with Mike Vernon producing (Fleetwood Mac/David Bowie/Level 42 producer).  We recorded ‘Butterfly’, ‘Hanaker Row’, ‘Colourful Rain’, ‘No Joke’ (Reid, & vocals), and ‘Killer Wail’.  The single ‘Butterfly/Killer Wail’ was released in November 1982.

Hollywood Killers - No Joke-Butterfly release Portugal 1982

We recorded a Radio 1 ‘In Concert’ for the BBC on November 19th 1982 and also recorded a session for The Andy Peebles Show on Radio 1.  The ‘In Concert’ session was recorded at the Paris Theatre in Lower Regent Street which was where The Beatles had recorded their early concerts.  DJ Pete Drummond introduced us on stage.  ‘Lords of The New Church’ also played a session for ‘In Concert’ that night.

I also worked for Rita Goldsmith in session recordings for RAK Records.  And joined Lene Lovich’s (http://lenelovich.net/) backing band for sessions in their Crystal Palace studios.

Recordings:

Date:                      1982

Band:                     Rita Gold

Musicians:            Neil Aplin (guitar)

Rita Gold (vocals)

Dean Klevatt (keyboards & vocals)

+ others

Date:                       1982

Band:                      none

Location:                Crystal Palace

Musicians:             Neil Aplin (guitar)

Dean Klevatt (keyboards & vocals)

Lena Lovich bassist (bass)

Lena Lovich drummer (drums)

male singer (songwriter) (vocals)

Tracks:                    ?

Comments:            tracks recorded as demos to play Lena Lovich for possible inclusion on next album.

Date:                       1982

Band:                      Jedd

Location:                RAK Records

Musicians:             Neil Aplin (guitar)

Jedd (vocals)

Lino Robinson (keyboards)

+ others

Tracks:                    Goodbye Sunshine (?) (Robinson)

1983

The single ‘Butterfly’ was released on Creole Records by the Hollywood Killers and received national radio airplay.  But the record failed to chart due to difficulties at Creole, and we were released from the contract.  Jim signed his worldwide publishing to Dick James Music, where we recorded various sessions.

Hollywood Killers 1983

The band continued gigging extensively and received major label interest in England and America.  We included around this time an occasional brass section at some gigs and recordings (such as at DJM) which was mainly led by Ant Thistlethwaite of The Waterboys.  Multi-instrumentalist Anthony Thistlethwaite first emerged as a member of the much-acclaimed Waterboys, remaining with the group through their 1990 album Room to Roam.  A noted session player, he also mounted a solo career, issuing Crawfish and Caviar in 1997.

At this time I also worked in sessions with The Uncles (http://curve-online.co.uk/discography/solo/pretending.php), a band featuring Toni Halliday (later the Curve) and Christine Pike.

The Uncles_ Whats The Use Of Pretending 1983

Some sessions were at the Eurythmics’ studio in Camden Town (courtesy of Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart who had taken an interest in the band) prior to the Uncles releasing in 1984 their 2-track 7″ vinyl single, What’s The Use In Pretending, written by Toni and Christine.

Recording:

Date:                        11/83

Band:                       The Uncles (with Toni Halliday & Christine Pike)

Location:                 22 Rosebery Gardens, N8, & the Eurythmics’ studio, Camden Town

Musicians:              Neil Aplin (guitar)

Tony Halliday (vocals)

Christine Pike (bass & vocals)

Adam ‘Dub’ Williams (programming)

Production:             Adam ‘Dub’ Williams – producer

Tracks:                    What’s The Use Of Pretending (Halliday/Pike)

Throw Of The Dice (Halliday/Pike)

Deep Water (Halliday/Pike)

Comments:            album released on MCA

1984

As the Hollywood Killers we recorded more tracks for DJM but no record deal was found.  Jim left DJM after several personnel changes.  The line-up of the group underwent a total change as we continued gigging through the year, but eventually Duncan and I left the band and I moved back to Hastings, and the band split up.

Hollywood Killers - website logo

1985

Jim Penfold 'Dream On' 12inch cover

Recorded solo tracks with Jim at Tony Visconti’s (Marc Bolan & T Rex, David Bowie) London studios, with Tony Visconti producing ‘Teenage Dream’ and ‘Paradise’ as a single, but it was never released.

Jim recorded ‘Dream On’/’Words & Tears’ and released these as a 12″ solo single EP later in the year through Water Records, and included ‘Satellites’ (from the Island Records session, or was it recorded at Jacobs Studios in Surrey in 1982 with the Hollywood Killers (Jim, Neil, Duncan, Lino and Paul)? – anyone willing to correct me here?!) and  ‘Miss Pearly Divine’ (on which I had played acoustic guitar and a solo, and Dennis Bovell (from Matumbi) played bass).

Joined Jim and the 1982 Hollywood Killer line-up to play a one-off comeback gig at Crazy Larry’s in Kings Road, Chelsea where over 800 people crammed into the nightclub!

1986

Played with the reformed 1982 line-up of the Hollywood Killers for a few successful gigs in London including at the Rock Garden, Covent Garden.

1997

Played the old Hollywood Killer favourites with Jim at the Kicking Donkey pub for a one-off with Paul Tully and Phil Brown.

2004

In December I joined the Hollywood Killers on stage for the last few numbers at a one-off private birthday bash at the Battersea Arts Centre.

Hollywood Killers 2004 - Battersea Arts Centre 1

2006

Worked on the debut Hollywood Killers album, ‘Timebomb’, recorded between November 2005 and July 2006 at Conversion Studios, Dorset and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, London.

Timebomb 2006

Recording:

Date:                       2006

Band:                      Jim Penfold & The Hollywood Killers

Location:                Conversion Studios, Gillingham, Dorset

Musicians:             Neil Aplin (guitar & vocals)

Martin Giles (bass)

Jim Penfold (guitar & vocals)

William South (keyboards)

Paul Tully (drums)

Production:            Sam Norris (engineer)

Tracks:                   Speedo

Paradise

Teenage Dream

Granny Takes A Trip

Happy Home

Kicks

Bad Water

Hanaker Row

Colourful Rain

Sweet Violet

Butterfly

Comments:           album released 1st November 2006.

2008

Played with the Hollywood Killers at the Gold Hill Fair, Shaftesbury – click here for a smattering of the truly wonderful Teenage Dream!

2011

Played with re-formed Hollywood Killers at PawFest in Wincanton on 3rd September.  Great gig.  Headlining was Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, who played a storming set, with all the old classics.

Hollywood Killer line-up:

Neil Aplin (guitar)

Dan Conquest (keyboards & vocals)

Ben Court (drums & vocals)

John East (bass & vocals)

Jim Penfold (guitar & vocals)

408untitled1109__

Set:

All Day and All of the Night

Butterfly

By Your Side

Elizabethan Man

Granny Takes A Trip

Hanaker Row

Hole In My Room

Kicks

Million Miles

Paradise

Race To Dakar

Speedo

Teenage Dream

What Can Mary Tell You

Video and more pics to follow – stay tuned!

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