A history of Ralph's journey through music and folk dance..

and yes.. it's In HIS own words!

I've been asked to relate my musical interludes.. so here i am.. in a nutshell..

First introduction to music was as a drummer in a Sunday School skiffle band around 1960.( I was allowed to play a snare drum with high hat cymbal )

 Started learning guitar at age 14 taking lessons on a Saturday afternoon on an old Spanish guitar with action best likened to an egg slicer... even practised when on the loo!! played till my fingers bled, (put plasters on but they fell off, and carried on playing on the sores ouch!) First guitar heroes: Django, Bert Weedon & Hank Marvin. Electric Guitar & amp purchased with help from my dear old Dad, bless his memory, and funded from my wages as a butchers delivery boy. Needless to say studies at Audenshaw Grammar School were being severely compromised by this time as I became aware of girls as well as my hunger for music which was akin to religious fervour.

 Played with numerous bubbling under rock bands in the '60s, until taking a greater interest in folk music. I spent a lot of time in the summer playing on beaches & around bus shelters in Cornwall, there were lots of folkies down there at the time!!

 I sort of gave up thru the '70s being involved in the business of being a family man, but by 1979 was persuaded, not with any duress, to join a folk band "Gradely Folk" in my hometown then Mossley. We started a folk club at the Butchers Arms, which ran for about 12 years, and hosted many big names, too many to mention.

 About this time I was invited to join the Saddleworth Morris Men as a musician and began to learn the Squeezebox. I spent more than 10 very happy years with the team on tours and Rushcarts, making many friends from all around the nation & beyond. Even fortunate enough to "jockey" the 1986 Rushcart in Saddleworth, one of the happiest days of my life, augmented by news of the impending arrival of my youngest daughter Lucy, born April 1987....

 I did find my musical pursuits difficult to pursue over these years being the "Family Man" and being heavily involved in business, driving trucks, earning wages to feed & house the SEVEN children who passed through my household/s in the last 40+ years!

 During these years I was playing for country dance with various ceilidh bands, eventually taking over as a caller. This I found rather daunting at first, especially when I got up to announce a dance and no one moved! Fortunately that is now a rare occurrence, and I just love to be out there with the dancers just having fun.

 I was forced to give up my job as an LGV driver a few years ago due to a health problem, but thankfully my music, family and dear friends have been a tremendous support in fact probably kept me alive: fondest thanks to all. I love all of you!!!

 Over this time I have played with lots of bands and will be pleased to add links to my site.

 Special thanks to:- my Dad, I think he would have been proud!; Rob Anker me 'bestest' mate; The Wrapper Band; Stuart Thompson, who always finds new instruments for me to torture; Mat Walklate, my mentor I think, who gave me my confidence; Saddleworth Morris, for all the fun! and many many others not forgotten but too numerous to list.

Unfortunately, time has caught up with me and health problems are causing me a few difficulties. Retirement therefore looms large, but if I can be of any assistance in finding callers, musicians etc for your function, I'll be only too happy to help.

 Thanks to YOU too, for being interested enough to read this life history!!