"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".
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
Once smitten by the ‘Voice’,
you’ll be clamouring for Moore.
Alan: Nicky, this year you are celebrating 40 years of professional
singing, what are your first musical
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
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?
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.
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
Nicky: No, and no, I'm not in touch with him and he wasn't scary on
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.
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.
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.
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
Alan: Tell me about the making of the excellent 'Hog on a Log'
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
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
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.