John Young Biography
JOHN YOUNG (Birthday: 31 May)
John started learning the piano at the age of 5 and singing in the Liverpool Cathedral Choir from the age of 7. He received the Rushworth Prize for his piano playing when he was 11 years old and went on to become Head Chorister at the cathedral.
Whilst taking his A level practical exam at the Bluecoat Chambers in Liverpool he played a piece by Brahms. Examiners aren't supposed to talk to the students but this one said upon completion, “You don't like Brahms do you?" “Er … not really,” said a slightly shocked John ... ”did I get it wrong?" “No, it was perfect,” said the Examiner ...”you just don't like Brahms!”
The next piece was for 'Three Hands' and written by Schumann. Upon completion the Examiner threw his papers in the air and said “you love Schumann." “Yes” said John. The Examiner then said “I've heard that piece played all over the world ... I've never heard it played better .... you have to have a career in music!”
That said it wasn't easy. John had become enamoured with progressive rock and just as he dipped his toe in the water, punk arrived to spoil the party. These were difficult times. Keyboards were expensive and it seemed a little late to join the higher echelons of rock.
John's rock and roll career started in 1975 with local Liverpool bands, namely Cloud, Solitude, Lynx and the now semi legendary jazz rock outfit, England's National Sport. Outside of progressive and jazz rock, John also worked with 60s singer Beryl Marsden and a soul band from the USA. A professional career was proving elusive.
John moved to London at the age of 21. He worked in the aviation industry and at the tender age of 23 was European Sales Executive for the Airborne Freight Corporation, an American cargo airline.
The call of music was too great and John joined the band England (a progressive rock band from the 1970s). The life was good ... a large country house in the middle of East Sussex … but for some reason, the band chose not to do any live work and John was getting itchy feet.
One day in 1984 he saw an advert in the Melody Maker for a 'keyboard player required for world tour' so he duly went for the audition in London. The world tour was with the Scorpions’ guitarist Uli Jon Roth and John sat nervously in a room full of Berkeley students awaiting his turn. John took his place at the keyboard. Uli announced that he would improvise and change key constantly and would expect John to follow him. Uli would change again and once again John would have to use the correct inversions to get back into the right key ... and so on. After 5 minutes John turned around to Uli and said, “I'm sorry, I can't do this." Uli replied, “well you lasted longer than anybody else!” John then asked where the sustain pedal was. “You did it without a sustain pedal?” said Uli. “Yes,” said John. Uli said, “you've got the gig!” And so a life in rock commenced!
The tour was an incredible experience and John enjoyed it to the full. One moment remembered fondly was playing in Long Beach to an audience that was far too large for the venue! At the end of the show a young man came running up to John telling him, “we have to play together." The young man was in a band that was earmarked to support on the next tour … they were called Alcatraz. The young man was Steve Vai. The tour didn't happen and to this day they have never met again – ahh, what might have been :-)
In the end the tour went bust and John was lumbered with one of the many debts by the management. In order to pay the debt off he started working at Jam Studios in London acting as the house keyboard player alongside many folk from Steeleye Span to Bon Jovi.
Just after this, John formed a band with Jon Camp (Renaissance) called Cathedral. They were joined by Brett Wilde on guitar and Tony Bodene on drums. Initially the band was signed to Robert Palmer’s management. This fell through and the band split … but it was not over.
John pushed to reform the band and after much effort a showcase was put together in London and many major players turned up to watch. The band was signed to Warner Brothers Publishing, but the usual tale unfolded. Months of rehearsals and a Manager who spent all the money. The band would never play a show … something that galls John to this day. Cathedral was like a family and when things juddered to a halt it was like the world had stopped. He remembers only months earlier being in rehearsals and Mick Box from Uriah Heep came in. He listened for a while and then said, “Who the hell are you guys - this is fantastic?" Unfortunately Mick was one of only a handful of people who ever saw the band in action.
Around the time of the demise of Cathedral, John joined the MTV band in London supporting artists who were currently flying high. John Wetton and Phil Manzanera guested on a show. John had always enjoyed JW's work, but on the day never got a chance to speak to the King Crimson and Asia bassman, but that was all to change. The following Friday John got a call ... ”Have you heard of a band called Asia?” “Of course,” said John. “Well you start Monday!”
It was great to be back touring. Two tours took place with John Wetton and Carl Palmer in the newly reformed Asia. Geoff Downes (the original keyboards man) rejoined the band shortly afterwards, but John continued to work with JW co-writing songs with him for many CDs including half of the tracks on the acclaimed 'Arkangel' album. John worked with JW and Carl again in the short lived Qango with his chum Dave Kilminster, who now plays guitar with Roger Waters. Shortly after Asia, John started working with Paul Rodgers in a band called The Law. Although John didn't play on the CD he did the only live show played by the band (in front of 70,000 people) and also continued to work with Paul, in Paul's home studio for the next 18 months.
Other work was starting to arrive and in many forms. John played on a Lucio Battisti album that went double platinum for CBS in Italy. He toured with John Wetton through Europe and Japan. At the same time he started a business selling, repairing and manufacturing musical equipment which had a turnover of £1.5 million in 1992 and employed some 20 people (including his Bank Manager)!
In 1993 John started working with the number one artist Bonnie Tyler and still occupies that position to this day. In more recent times John has worked with Fish (ex Marillion) and the reformed 70s prog-rockers Greenslade. In 2001 he came full circle by joining The Scorpions for their Acoustica tours, which travelled throughout Europe and the Near and Far East playing concerts from Berlin to Bangalore and beyond, including a show at the Egyptian Pyramids, a rare honour indeed! John, Frosty Beedle and Steve Rispin (from the John Young Band) also worked on a project with The Skies from Lithuania which lead to their much acclaimed release ‘Colours of the Desert.’ In 2009 John wrote a track called Sooner with Jon Anderson of Yes which has been used on some of Jon’s recent live shows.
Current projects on the go include Lifesigns, a new band releasing their first album in January. This is full-on English prog and will feature John, Frosty Beedle (John Young Band and Cutting Crew) on drums, Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson) on bass and also the sometimes unsung efforts of long time friend Steve Rispin on sound. Guests on the CD will include Steve Hackett (Genesis), Jakko Jakszyk (King Crimson), Sir Thijs van Leer (Focus) and Robin Boult (John Young Band).
John is also working on a new dot.com company, www.musicpledge.com which will go live in the next months and aims to help bands fill venues anywhere in the world. More on this in the news over the coming weeks.
John has sought to produce and perform his own music ranging from songs through to music of all genres (ambient, jazz, world, classical, electronic, etc). John signed to De Wolfe Publishing in the 1990s and as such, much of his music can be heard on TV and in films all over the world. The spectrum is vast from the semi-classical music used by CNN for their coverage of the Iraq war through to the BBC’s Coast and even the Jay Leno Show. A larger listing of titles is available on this website.
John performs his music at regular concerts (both solo and with his band) all over the world from San Francisco to Melbourne, Australia … no town is safe!! John has also supported many well established artists including Focus, Midge Ure, Saga, Blue Oyster Cult, Robert Fripp and Toyah Wilcox, Magnum and Barclay James Harvest. Over the years John has guested with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, the Electric Light Orchestra and The Moody Blues.
He’s nearly been in a few other things too including the Alan Parsons Project, Foreigner , 10cc, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Saga and a few other household names … but that’s another story (or two)!
Full details of John's career with Lifesigns can be found at www.lifesigns.me
John Young Band
The John Young Band was formed around 2001-2. Initially the idea was to work with John Mitchell, John Jowitt and Steve Christey but this did not come to pass although John Jowitt stayed involved with the project. Two ex Fish folk then joined up in the shape of Dave Stewart and Robin Boult and the John Young Band was born.
Initially the tunes were taken from John Young's solo CDs Life Underground and Significance but gradually new tunes took shape like Kings, Unknown Soldier and Different as well as the old Cathedral classic Childhood's End. The first tours were well received with some quite large venues being played and the band remained quite active until the mid 2000s. As all of the members had other commitments it became more of an occasional thing and other upcoming artists came to the fore in the sphere of prog, classic and AOR rock here in the U.K.
The band had some changes in personnel with another Fish person in the shape of Steve Vantsis joining on bass and Frosty Beedle from Cutting Crew joining on drums. Throughout all of this one of the mainstays of the band has been Steve Rispin, who aside from providing fabulous sound for all our shows and recordings is always our oracle and safety net... and for this we thank him.
This year started off with great gigs supporting Focus in London and then at the Bull in Colchester and our favourite venue in Oxford Fat Lil's which was close to sold out.
It appears things are on the up especially given the interest in Lifesigns and the fact that four out of the five members of the JYB are involved in the new prog behemoth!
Now as we move on our journey Lifesigns has gone from strength to strength and now in 2020 we are looking at a new CD 'Altitude' and hopefully more dates once the dreaded virus has passed. I'm also hoping to release a new solo CD and do some more solo shows as it's been a while since Significance saw the light of day :-)
Martin 'Frosty' Beedle
MARTIN 'FROSTY' BEEDLE (Birthday: 18 September)
Frosty came into this world as Martin Beedle and was born just outside of a small village called North Ferriby in East Yorkshire. Frosty came from a musical family; his mother having an interest in singing, choral groups and ballroom dancing whilst his father Eddie enjoyed playing big band music very loudly through specialist hi-fi systems. His mother sent him, quite literally, across the road for singing lessons when he was 6 years old. This continued until he was 11.
Singing mostly unaccompanied he was found to have perfect pitch, a sure sign of a musician to be. He performed in local musical festivals and became the Hull Choirboy champion when he was 11, but it was his father's musical interests that led Martin to go and see drummer Buddy Rich and his big band when he was seven. After seeing this, he would often sit in his father's car listening and slapping his knees along to cassette recordings of Buddy Rich classics such as Channel One Suite.
One day a drum kit magically appeared in the house and he started drum lessons at the age of 9 with a local drum teacher. He later studied with Geoff Myers, a highly respected drummer at the time who had star pupils such as young Gary Husband. His parents decided to take him on the 100-mile round trip to Leeds fortnightly as they felt he had extracted as much knowledge as he could from local teachers. His career as a musician started on New Year's Eve in 1972 when he was 11 years old, playing with his mum who was singing and an organist who also happened to be the head of the musical education department in Hull. The organist pocketed around fifty pounds while Martin was paid a box of Black Magic chocolates for playing between 8 and 1am with hardly any breaks - and he hates dark chocolate!
The following year saw him playing regularly in pubs and clubs in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire as a featured drummer in a duo called Johnny Paterson and Martin (great title! ... Ed). In order to do this legally, he was granted a performing licence from the local authority (Kingston Upon Hull) and was only allowed to perform a certain number of engagements in a 6-month period, although in truth this was regularly exceeded. He also rehearsed every Saturday afternoon in the front room of the house with his brother's prog band Beelzebub. His brother Ian had his bedroom above Frosty in the house and would continuously play Close To The Edge and Tarkus.
At the age of 13 he joined a Dixieland jazz band led by local trumpet player Trevor Hickson, then when he was 15 joined The Geoff Laycock Orchestra. A series of summer concerts at The Futurist Theatre in Scarborough ensued under the direction of Yorkshire TV’s Musical Director, Robert Hartley with the late Marti Caine, Larry Grayson, Moira Anderson, Rod Hull and Emu (great fun!), Windsor Davies and Don Estelle plus the occasional gig with the likes of eye-opening Bernard Manning, who once turned around to young Martin and said, “You know why that drummer's laughing? He's got a hole in the back of that drum!”
One day Martin was spotted by a drummer called Bob Armstrong who was working with Roy Castle. He recommended him to a bandleader called Rob Charles who was resident on the QE2. So began Martin's professional career at 17 with a 3-year stint on the QE2 which included many transatlantic crossings to New York, The Caribbean and three world cruises. This is where Martin became known as Frosty one day when bass player Ron Humphries said to him, "'Ere! You eat a lot of Frosties. We're gonna have to call you Frosty." The rest, as they say, is history and it has stuck ever since. (I was hoping it would be a little more exotic than that Frosty ... JY)
During this time he worked with as many as 65 different cabaret acts on an 80-day world cruise. A rehearsal most mornings followed by a brief visit to an often exotic place. The time was up for cruising when the QE2 was requisitioned for the Falklands’ conflict in 1982 and after a brief stint on two other ships, Martin went to seek his fortune in London only to find that he was now known as Frosty! He stayed in a squat for a pound a week with his cousin, meeting musicians, playing in pubs and taking a couple of years getting into the then music scene.
A small highlight was in 1985 when Frosty played with The Three Degrees at The Royal Albert Hall in front of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. It was around this time that Frosty met Colin Farley, a bass player. Colin had a couple of people he knew who were putting a band together. Frosty auditioned in a barn on one freezing winter’s day and was invited to join the band, which turned out to be Cutting Crew. He stayed in the band for 6 years. The song ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’ was a No 1 hit in 18 countries including 2 weeks at the top of The Billboard Chart in the US in 1987. As well as appearing live on TV shows such as The Johnny Carson Show, Cutting Crew toured the US supporting Huey Lewis And The News, The Bangles and Starship as well as later touring Europe supporting Marillion.
By 1991 pop rock was no longer fashionable. Frankly the second album, which had taken a year to write and record, had flopped and the band silently fell apart. Frosty was somewhat disillusioned with the whole business by that time and went to work in his father's workshop. After six weeks working for his Dad the phone rang and he was asked to go to Glasgow to record an album with a new folk rock band called The Wild River Apples. This was a great musical album which was sadly never released. Following on from that he became Musical Director for another Scottish singer called John O’Kane and supported Sting on his European Tour. Frosty also played weekly for a period at Songwriters, where singers such as Seal would get together with a band and try out new material.
Frosty has had a diverse career from the early 1990s until today. He has worked with Kiki Dee, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sarah Brightman, (Eden Tour 1999 plus recordings albums La Luna and Harem), Madeline Bell, Billy Connolly (BBC TV Special), Sinead O’ Connor (European concert produced by Phil Ramone), Zucchero (2 tracks recorded on Miserere Album), Russell Watson (2003 and 2007 tours and recordings), Never The Bride (2 Albums), Boy George 2008 UK and South America tour, Marie Claire D’Ubaldo (recording on 2 albums), The Wombles, Clannad, The Three Degrees, Harold Melvyn and The Blue Notes, The Tramps, Jimmy Ruffin, The Supremes, Kim Wilde, ABC, Steve Coogan, Hannah Jones, Brian Connelly, Jimmy Somerville, Precious Wilson, John Wilson, Gloria Gaynor, Mary Wilson, The Chi-Lites, The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, English National Orchestra and The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Frosty has also worked on several West End Musicals including Tommy, Hair, Saturday Night Fever, Smokey Joe's Cafe and has had the drum chair at the original production of Mama Mia since Aug 1999.
One day in 2006 the phone rang and a voice said, “Hello. You might remember me. My name's John Young and I did an audition on keyboards for Cutting Crew many years ago!” He asked Frosty if he'd be interested in joining the John Young Band as the original drummer was leaving the band to pursue a full time career representing a music company. Frosty joined the band and a few years later John and Engineer/ Lifesigns’ member Steve Rispin recorded an album with The Skys in Vilnius in the Spring of 2010.
It was around this time ... 2009-10 that John started to present his ideas for a new project which eventually, some two years later, became Lifesigns along with Steve Rispin and Nick Beggs. As you can see, Frosty has had quite a colourful and diverse musical career and yet after all of this he thinks that Lifesigns is the best thing he has ever been part of, both as a musician and a contributor.
Happy days. :0)