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John Peel OBE, 1939 - 2004

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Early Blues Interview
Nicky Moore, singer/songwriter/voice trainer,
Nicky Moore's Blues Corporation


"Known as ‘The Voice’, Nicky is without doubt one of the very best blues singers on the music scene today. Nicky delivers spine-tingling ballads and hard-rocking numbers equally well, using his amazing voice range to tremendous effect.  He’s a notable songwriter and arranger, with many published songs to his credit.  Nicky is also well known as a voice trainer, as seen on popular TV show ‘Lakesiders’.  Nicky’s vocal range spans three and a half octaves form bottom D to B flat. He was classically trained, with 4 years at Exeter Cathedral Choristers school, and has had 40 years experience as a vocalist".

"Nicky Moore is the larger than life former Hackensack, Samson, Mammoth, Uli John Roth and Tiger (with Big Jim Sullivan) vocalist. Long regarded as both a top Rock vocalist (he auditioned for Black Sabbath) as well as one of the UK’s finest blues vocalists (he was voted ‘Best Blues vocalist of the year’). In an age when hype often triumphs over substance, Nicky Moore is the real deal. One of the founder member of the original UK rock circuit, and the later New Wave of Heavy Metal in the 80’s, he also inspired a return to hard rock, before settling on some classy rock blues with his best ever band - Nicky Moore's Blues Corporation. The fire still burns, he still belts out the lyrics and remains an uncompromising fireball at over 60 years of age!!" 

Nicky and the boys are currently putting the finishing touches to their brand new album ‘The Whale and The Waah!’.  This promises to be another classic album following on from the much acclaimed and beautifully produced ‘Hog On A Log’ album.

“Big voice, big body, .... he writes strong, original blues material mixed with carefully selected covers: there’s no middle ground, every song goes straight for the throat” (Blues in Britain).

Once smitten by the ‘Voice’, you’ll be clamouring for Moore.


© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

This interview was organised in conjunction with Nick Westgarth, organiser of The Carlisle Blues Festival (www.carlislebluesfestival.com).


Alan:   Nicky, this year you are celebrating 40 years of professional singing, what are your first musical memories? 

Nicky:  I suppose my first musical memories was I went to Cathedral Choristers School from the age of 8 to about 12 and a half at Exeter Cathedral School in Devon. They were happy years. We studied under a guy called Lionel Dakers who eventually was the head of the Royal School of Church Music and he was a really great guy and he taught me virtually all I know technically in my voice. 

Alan:   Did you come from a musical family and did you always want to become a singer? 

Nicky:  No, I don't particularly come from a musical family. My father sings. My eldest sister was lead soprano in the Bach Chorale but no-one else is particularly musical or in the business or anything like that. 

Alan:   Back in 1969 you formed Hackensack who were considered one of the heaviest live bands of their day. Tell me a little about the band and the albums 'Give It Some' and 'Up The Hardway', which I believe had the original of the beautiful song 'Northern Girl'. 

Nicky:  Hackensack were a brilliant club band that couldn't get any further than club. Our first tour was with Free with lead singer Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff on guitar, Simon Kirke on drums and Andy Fraser on bass. Northern Girl I've written twice. Both songs were about my wife the first one is on Up The Hardway which was our first and only album. The other stuff Give It Some was an enthusiast who put together the demos that got us our first record deal with Island Records back in 1971 and he was such an enthusiast he thought there was a market for them and I think we sold three or four, but anyway you can get Give It Some. Up The Hardway is a very collectable album apparently. It seems to be changing hands for lots of Deutschmarks or what ever they are now. 

Alan:   In the 80's, and again for a short spell in 2000, you were lead vocalist of heavy rock band Samson, did you write many of their songs? 

Nicky:  Yes, most of the songs I appeared on I wrote or co-wrote with the boys. A few of them Loosing My Grip, Pyramid to The Stars and Red Skies, were written by the former singer with the band called Bruce Dickinson. It was a really enjoyable time and even though it was a heavy rock band I still sung in my old bluesy fashion. 

Alan:   Moving on from Samson to the 'prog-rock' band Mammoth, famous for their 'demonic guitar playing' and being somewhat overweight and proud of it, I believe the band once had a near-disastrous weight-related incident. What happened? 

Nicky:  Mammoth were an outrageous commercial project singing heavy material but very, very commercial and known for their demonic guitar - that was Bernie Torme on the album and he was something else. We did have a weight related incident in Prestatyn where ironically I'm playing quite soon. Our first ever gig with Mammoth was in front of the Friday rock show audience live at Prestatyn and it was going out live on the radio at the same time. We soundchecked in the morning anyway and we broke the stage in three different places so as we finished our soundcheck an army of carpenters came in and re-enforced the stage. It was quite amusing, and we also broke three beds which was quite amusing as well. 

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.Alan:   There's a very amusing MTV video of Mammoth doing their 'Fat Man' track. What was that all about? 

Nicky:  Well, this was John McCoy and my idea. We thought it would be great to show the five gentlemen in Mammoth who were really fat (I was close on twenty five stone at the time, John very similar and all the other guys in the band were absolutely enormous) playing live on the Fat Man video, but also show us in the gymnasium. It was quite good, John broke some parallel bars and they got me up on a block and tackle to try and lift me up to do my press-ups. Big Mac pulled a big hole in the ceiling. It was quite funny, we had this German woman who took us for a class, a very stern German woman who was actually Bernie Torme's wife. He had just recently married, it was really great. She's absolutely gorgeous but she did scrub up like a scary German woman I've ever seen. Any way it was a very good video that won all kinds of awards. Tommy Vance used to harp on about it for years and years. 

Alan:   Nick Westgarth asked if you are still in touch with John McCoy from Mammoth and is John still as scary (joke) as he was on stage? 

Nicky:  No, and no, I'm not in touch with him and he wasn't scary on stage. 

Alan:   What was the biggest gig you ever did? 

Nicky:  Back in 1971/72 in East Anglia, there were 120,000 people there. It was a couple of years after the big Isle of Wight Festival. It was the biggest audience I ever played. We opened the whole show at midnight on the Friday night and I was absolutely blind drunk, I'll never forget it as long as I live. I could hardly stand up as we'd parked next to the press tent all day, so I'd been slinging them down a little bit. Well I was a young lad at the time, as you know I've been known to occasionally have a drink. Anyway I was totally shit-faced and we had a wonderful night in the end, it was great. You sober up quite quickly, you don't fall around all over the place and we had a wonderful gig. 

Alan:   Off all the musicians you have worked with, who do you rate as the best?

Nicky:  I've worked with so many guys. The best drummer I ever worked with was a guy called Simon Phillips and he made an album with me for a band called The Big Jim Sullivan Band as the session guitar. It was all session musicians; I was heavily in sessions at the time. Les Walker was the other singer, he was in a band called Warm Dust and we wrote this jazz album which hardly anyone can play but we eventually had Simon Phillips on drums and Percy Jones from Brand X on bass and a plethora of really great musicians playing on it with us. Simon was by far head and shoulders the best drummer I've ever worked with. He was only about 19 at the time, so gifted and so soulful and a little imp, an absolute imp, behind the kit - really good fun. As for other musicians I suppose there's so many of them. I worked with Gerry Rafferty and met a singer on that tour called Liane Caroll who was also in the band playing keyboards and singing who was just the most wonderful person to be along with as she was a great inspiration to me. There was Liam Genocky, another great drummer, and Hugh Burns and all kinds of great people in the band - I like being around musicians, not necessarily one musician. The best guy I ever worked with in my whole life was Paul Kossoff, head and shoulders above everyone else. The most soulful, the most passionate guitar player I've ever heard. I was asked to be the first singer in Back Street Crawler; it didn't work out because of personal things - there was a lot of drug use at the time and I wasn't into them, so consequently I didn't fit in too well and I felt really odd. The first time I ever remember Paul Kossoff, he stood at the side of the stage at St Georges Hall in Bradford and he kept pushing us back on the stage because we had gone down so well - we were opening for Free, and you've got to understand this was quite amazing, and every time we went to get off, there was Paul Rodgers and Paul Kossoff, they were just pushing us back on. We eventually did five encores because of Free and that night Paul Kossoff gave me his Marshall Major, he said "here you need that for a PA amp - you can have that". We stayed chums ever since all the way through that period and when he left Free (everyone was forming their own bands) he called me up and asked me to sing but eventually I don't think anyone did really sing for them. He really wanted Frankie Miller, I know that, but Frankie wasn't available, that's why he asked me I suppose. Anyway, Paul Kossoff, rest in peace, bless him, what a wonderful guitar player. 

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.Alan:   In 2000 Nicky Moore's Blues Corporation was voted 'Top Live Blues Band' by BBC Radio 2 listeners, yet in 2001 the band played a 'final' and most memorable gig at Darlington R&B Club, which "was an instant sell-out to fans and musicians alike, who wanted to pay homage to England's finest blues voice who was about to retire from live work". Was this a difficult decision for you and what attracted you back again?  

Nicky:  This was a very difficult time for me. There were two reasons, one is I have really bad health - I have angina and all kinds of things, I was diabetic and my back was so atrocious and as you know I've been sitting down at gigs for many years which I'm hoping to remedy now because I've had my back fixed, but we'll get on to that later. It was very difficult and also the band weren't getting on; we fell out and there's no secret about our falling out with Tommy and we drifted apart so the end of the band was kinda natural at that time; but I always said, and people have forgotten this, that I guaranteed that as soon as I got myself sorted out there would be a new Blues Corporation on the road and there has been for some considerable time. 

Alan:   For some time you have had back problems and there was a time when a promoter thought you were having a heart attack after a first set (which turned out to be angina), when you carried on to play a second set, and again doing a gig after a car crash when you had broken ribs. What is it that motivates you to perform live on stage? 

Nicky:  The motivation, first of all, is people pay money to come and see you, you don't let them down, and if there's a possible way I can sing whether it be with two broken ribs or an arm falling off or whether I've got flu or whatever - if I can sing I will not let them down. I think people have known that for years - you can count the amount of gigs I've had to miss on one hand over the last few years. I've tried as hard as I can to make it. The two ribs thing, well it also becomes a sort of point with yourself, you're not going to let anyone down, so you get over the pain. It's funny, this blues music, because once you get singing it and performing it, it does tend to put a lot of things behind you, and you can leave it for an hour or so until you come offstage and then start going "Ow" and feel sorry for yourself again. I had angina, that was quite funny. I kept getting these chest pains when I walked, nothing to do with the copious amounts being smoked and drunk at the time. You get on and do it don't you. 

Alan:   Your banter between songs is loved by the fans, do you think artists generally need to be more communicative with their audience? 

Nicky:  Yes, I do. I bloody hate the fact they say "our next song is", "this our next song", "this is our last song, thank you very much", come on! The audience are there waiting to be entertained, they love the music form so entertain them, go out and have a laugh with them, and make everyone feel alive for goodness sake. It's all so boring when they stand like statues and I can't stand people who sit down on stage, my goodness gracious me, what else!! 

Alan:   A Blues in Britain review once said of you "he writes strong, original blues material mixed with carefully selected covers: there's no middle ground, every song goes straight for the throat...". How do you approach songwriting? 

Nicky:  That really is how long is a piece of string? There's no set way. Sometimes I have lyrics which I've jotted down, sometimes I'm just doodling on guitar, sometimes Danny Kyle or someone, a friend of mine, comes over and we write a song or two, there's no set way. Some things even come together at soundchecks - it's bizarre. If I sit down with a blank sheet of paper and a guitar, the odds are I sit there for some considerable time and then put it away. You never know, you are just about to go to bed and all of a sudden a melody will come into your head and off you go. These things cannot be planned. 

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.Alan:   Who has influenced you the most in your music writing and playing? 

Nicky:  Bobby "Blue" Bland, Paul Rodgers and Howlin' Wolf. There are several others who I absolutely adore like Bonny Raitt. I love Ian Siegal, I think he's got a great voice and I think he interprets the blues really, really well. There are so many people that have influenced me, Tina Turner, there's John Fogerty, I can go on for hours and hours. Not many out and out blues people. Bobby Bland is head and shoulders above everybody else. I have adored him ever since I was first introduced to him in 1977 where I was given a set of headphones and seven albums by Mike Vernon - he said "listen to this guy he's quite good" and I've been hooked ever since. I've seen Bobby a couple of times when he was over. One of the times was brilliant when I saw him with BB King, John Lee Hooker and him, and they all had separate bands and at the end of the night BB and Bobby got together coz it was the first night of the tour and they didn't have a chance to run through things, so they did another three quarters of a hour set and it was just the most wonderful night of my life. Bobby Bland is King. 

Alan:   Are there any particular songs that you play that have special meaning to you? 

Nicky:  Yes, there are so many I couldn't even start to list them. A lot of them have been with me all my career; things like The Thrill Has Gone which I still to this day absolutely adore. There are so many of them. Stay With Me I love. 

Alan:   Over the years, I'm sure you have some amusing memories and tales to tell - could you share some with us? 

Nicky:  Many years ago on tour with Hackensack in Holland, Hackensack used to have a bass player who was a bit on the money and he was a bit exact, really worked everything out and was fantastic at organising stuff and he took over all the driving and all the bookkeeping - he was a great guy. He had one terrible sense of humour if ever you stopped with the van for example, if everyone wanted to get out for a pee, he'd stop at the side of the motorway for and you'd be stood there having a pee and he would drive off, but he wouldn't drive 20 yards, he would drive to the top of the next bloody hill, he thought it was so funny and he'd laugh and laugh, and of course we would encourage him. Eventually he got quite a nasty reputation for this; he did this once to us in Holland and he drove about a quarter of a mile away from us in the peeing rain while we were all stood at the side of the road in the dark and it was horrible. So, anyway, this was duly noted by yours truly and Ray the guitar player, and so one night we were doing a great gig in Luton and we'd finished the gig on our way home and we stopped outside Luton station, so that the bass player could post his letter, which he duly did, and Ray got into the driver's seat and drove all the way back to London, leaving him in Luton. It wasn't funny for him but it kinda got us even. Shows you what a nasty bastard I am at heart. Anyway, hundreds of other stories but they're all terrible and I got banned from all kinds of hotels and things like that but they were not really funny, just stupidity on yours truly behalf but I do like that story about Luton, it's very funny.

Just one more story. Back in the old days when we used to work in pubs and a lot of the places didn't even have stages, you just finished on the floor and as many of the audience was packed in behind that - it was really quite good. Anyway, we were playing down in East Sussex, years and years ago this was, and I got everyone ready, all the lights were on, we were on the floor, the place was jammed, it was just great and I turned round to the band "everyone ready", "yeh, yeh" they're all ready and I stated to count "a one, two, a one two three", before I could finish the count, there was a little tap on my shoulder, there was this bloke at the front and he walked all the way up to me and he tapped me on the shoulder, and he said "excuse me, mate, have you got a pen?". You see the funny side of it? Yeh, so did I, I stared at him somewhat.... 

Alan:   You have done several projects for radio and TV (jingles, voice-overs and featured in the BBC TV show 'Lakesiders'), which have you enjoyed the most? 

Nicky:  I really enjoyed doing the Radio One stuff, which was great fun. I did loads and loads of jingles and trailers and stuff. They were on the radio for about 10 years. Meeting Tommy Vance and becoming friends with Tommy over many years and appearing on the show in Samson and Mammoth and Uli John Roth and so many different things I did. The Friday Rock Show was part of my upbringing I suppose - a very important time. The BBC have been absolutely brilliant to me over the years. 

© Copyright 2008 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.Alan:   You are well known as "The Voice", being without doubt one of the finest blues singers on the music scene, and also for your voice training. Tell me about your vocal range and a little about vocal training - has everyone the ability to sing? 

Nicky:  No, that's a fallacy, not everyone, you've got to have some sense of pitch and then ask really. Everyone can maybe crack a note but actually sing is a difficult thing to do. Technically I've abused my voice and because I'm a teacher in my spare time I now have a technique which is very, very good. I try and keep it up and my age isn't starting to take me away yet. I've got just under 3.6 octaves of natural voice. I can sing quite high. My low end is not as good as it used to be because my vocal chords are starting to get a bit worn, so they're a little bit rough on the bottom end but the rest is all to do with power and dynamic, from the diaphragm, which I've been able to keep going - I've got quite a large diaphragm. 

Alan:   Your son Timmy joined the band in 2001, was this a natural progression - like father like son? 

Nicky:  This is just the most wonderful thing for a father to have, a son who is so talented. He's just a joy to play with. He owed quite a bit to Tommy Allen, working with him on stage. Timmy got to watch Tommy a lot, backing him up and things like that. It was good for him and he gradually came out of his shell and I remember Timmy's first gig. Tommy was doing Top Of The Pops and Timmy had to play on his own, and after this wonderful gig where everyone had clapped all the solos. It was amazing for him to play a gig on his own. A bloke came up to him just as he was leaving, and he said "Timmy, you're shit now but you're gonna get better". And I thought that was a good enough compliment and Timmy laughed and we still talk about it. It's an absolute joy to work with him. I couldn't work with anyone else in my family, particularly my wife! 

Alan:   Tell me about the making of the excellent 'Hog on a Log' album? 

Nicky:  We went into this studio in Rochester for three days, and we drank, and we had a good time and we literally laughed ourselves stupid, and recorded all these tracks. I did the vocals one afternoon, as you do, and it was just absolute joy, we have never laughed so much. We get on so much as a band anyway; we're all in this band together - it's an equal share from the gigs and everything like that, there's just my name at the front basically. We all have a meeting once in a while and we all put our points of view and then I decide what we're gonna do; it's makes quite logical sense to me. I can't tell you how much I think of this band at the moment, they are the most wonderful gifted musicians. 

Alan:   Some music styles may be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do you think that is? 

Nicky:  Because it's folk music and it's natural music and it's music of the people. It can also be all ritzy and glitzy and brassy and over-produced. You know, you've heard it like I have, but a man and a guitar can entertain you and it's got such a feel about it. When you get it right and you've got the passion for it, then there's no other music in the world that's similar, nothing in the world that holds a candle to the blues. 

Alan:   How do you see the future of blues music? 

Nicky:  I'm really pleased to see younger players coming in; Scott McEwan and people like that. They can really play these guys. We just need some good singers now please, come on someone, find some good singers, I'll help 'em, but there's too many mimics and not enough natural singers. Too many people copy what other bluesmen do rather trying to find their own way. I know it's easily said but, hey come on... 

Alan:   What are your future plans / gigs / tours / albums? 

Nicky:  We're just about to start our eighth album, called "The Whale and The Waah". It'll be coming out some time next year. It's our seventh studio album but our eighth album overall as we had a live album. It will have on it Peter Shaw on bass, Daniel J. Klye the wonderful acoustic and slide guitar player, Timmy Moore my son (or Tim Moore as he likes to be called) and Mr. Johnson, affectionately know to the band as Wes, he's on drums. We've been together, not as this band, but we originally formed in 1993 so we're 17 years old, which is quite good. There's been various line-ups with various brilliant guitar players, bass players and drummers that I've been very lucky to work with. Hopefully next year we'll be doing a lot more gigs if there's any gigs out there who'll have me because I'd like to go and play for everyone with the new stuff, We've got six songs already written and we're doing a couple of covers. One is Louisiana by Randy Newman which I've always absolutely adored as a song, and we might even be attempting Way Over Yonder by Carole King which is one of the finest hopeful blues that was ever written as far as I'm concerned; for a New York girl she did very well with it. Way Over Yonder came out on the Tapestry album back in the 70's. So our future is to tour and work and generally have a good time. My band is one of the happiest bands that I've ever been in. We never row or argue, in fact we hurt each other with laughter. We laugh so much on our gigs; in fact Pete Shaw the bass player says "It isn't like going out to work, it's like going on a day out with the boys", and that really is what I try to achieve, that's why we're laughing on stage and joking and we're slightly irreverent apart from when we start playing and once we start playing there's such a mutual respect for them all, that I have, and they are on such a level that I have to really keep on my metal every night to try and keep up with them. They are such a wonderful band I can't say enough about them. 

Alan:   Nicky, on behalf of Nick Westgarth and myself, many thanks for your time and we all look forward to seeing you again at Carlisle Blues Festival in November. 

Nicky: I'm really looking forward to coming to Carlisle. I love it there with all you guys.  


© Copyright 2008 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

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