I was going to Eton but my mother didn’t think it was for me and I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be so involved in more arty subjects. I was a lot happier when I went to Leighton Park after prep school. I have very fond memories of Leighton Park and I can’t remember a single teacher who wasn’t supportive of me. I studied English, Art and Music. I played the piano from age six but lost interest at LP. Instead, I started to play the guitar and Peter Lincoln was my peripatetic teacher (he runs the Marvellous Festival in Reading) and he was one of the biggest influences for me. I remember seeing Eric Clapton on telly in 1986 and I thought that is what I want to do. I loved Drama classes – they were brilliant. I was in the Rocky Horror Picture Show; I used to hijack Collect and there was a member of staff who used to walk out as I made a bit of row playing the guitar. I was in the production of The Seagull, Westside Story (I played Benardo), Ibsen’s Ghost. I also remember the school discos being entertaining. In my art A Level I turned the photography dark room into the Amazon rainforest for a week. It was quite evident that I was going to do something musical when I left. I was a massive fan of Yes and Genesis. I was quite obsessed with Roger Dean from Yes and so I did my personal study on him and I decided I would interview him. I sent a letter and he responded positively. It was the opening night of our Guys and Dolls and Simon Williams (Art) and I went down to Brighton to interview him and I got back just in time for the dress rehearsal. (I had a meeting with him recently and he is designing my new album cover). I had a band at school with James Hearley (R 1989) and I have always been committed to making music.
After school, I thought I would be a music producer and I set up my mixing studio in my house. I inherited some money as my father died, so at nineteen, I bought a house with an annex to it and turned it into a recording studio. I did a nine month course at the Gateway School of Recording on the campus of Kingston Poly where I learned the basics. After four years I was quite good. A welsh band Funeral for a Friend came in and played a few tracks, which I recorded. Then I got friendly with Atlantic Records and my work took off. Since then I have produced and or mixed music for McFly, Architects, You Me at Six, Lower than Atlantis, Don Broco, One Direction and others. I also started playing guitar with Arena and then for John Wetton from Asia and travelled the world. I joined It Bites (my favourite band at school) and I fronted that band for six months. Lonely Robot charted quite well (we had two albums) and I also fronted Keno. I have worked extensively with Steve Wilson who also had a number 1. Last December I recorded Russell Brand’s podcast. I wrote an album for my band It Bites in 2012 called Map of the Past which is currently being turned into a musical, which will be out in the West End around June. As well as recording I also do voice overs. When I did the first Lonely Robot album I managed to get Go West, Nick Kershaw and others on my first solo album – everyone I used to listen to in my study at Leighton Park. I have never had a nine to five job; I’ve always worked for myself. My son is interested in being a music producer so I feel quite flattered that he is expressing an interest. John attended the last JBH competition and said: I’m thrilled that Rauf Bayraktaroglu (G 1991) invited me to the JBH competition as he was a judge. Robert Smith (R 1991) and I had a most wonderful evening. The JBH was highly entertaining and the standard was much higher than I remember it being back in the day! I have to be honest, going back into the main hall it felt like no time had passed at all, and loads and loads of memories of performing at Collects there came flooding back. Equally on going into Peckover, I have very fond memories of buying Nice and Spicy Nik Naks from the tuck shop and slightly anarchic maths lessons with Paul Seed (F 1971) in the end classroom.
It’s odd, I felt a certain amount of trepidation on returning to Leighton Park mainly because I wasn’t sure I would recognise the place after all the considerable changes over the years. However, I’m glad to say that many many happy memories came back to the forefront and it made me realise what a truly wonderful time we all had there. It was also lovely to see Mr Allinson and Mr Chapman again and heart-warming to discover that they still remembered me after all these years, obviously dying my hair blonde and making a racket on my guitar left a lasting impact after all! I bumped into Michael Hughes (R 1991), at a concert one week after I attended the JBH at Leighton Park last November. We shared a study together and I hadn’t seen him for 26 years.
Steve visited Leighton Park in February 2018 Leighton Park to see the school and get some tips on setting up an alumni network at the school he works at in Spain. He told us:
As part of my role as Head of Activities at El Centro Inglés (a co-educational independent schools with an international focus in Cádiz, Spain) I have been developing the former pupil network. I thought it would be a good idea to contact the Old Leightonians to find out how they have developed over the last 18 years since I left the school. From the point of view of an OL there certainly appeared to have been lots of developments such as Leighton Park Connect, telephone campaigns, more social events, OL questionnaires, improved publications, more social media coverage, more interaction with current pupils and the development of the archives. I hoped to find out more about how these improvements have been achieved. When I was called as part of the OL telephone campaign I explained my situation and how I would like to know more about how the OL structure works. Right from the beginning the Development Office was extremely helpful and supportive. We agreed to arrange a date when I was next in the UK for a visit to meet and discuss the OLs. I was over in the UK in February as part of a project we run called ECI Global Challenge where our pupils spend seven weeks in the UK and had a window where I could visit LP. I was hoping
for some ideas and some inspiration from my visit. However the visit greatly surpassed my expectations. I am very grateful for the welcome received from the Development Team and the time, knowledge and advice that they shared with me. As part of the visit I was taken on a tour of the school. It was very emotive to see the Park, how it has developed and how it has stayed the same. There are so many memories of learning, of friendship and of great times contained in the buildings and around the park. The atmosphere amongst the pupils remains similar but the facilities continue to develop and improve. I enjoyed a lovely lunch in Oakview where I was joined by Ann Munday (one of the 4 remaining teachers from when I was at LP) who is still as committed to the D of E as ever. At the end of the day I met with Nigel Williams who found some time to reminisce about our generation of OLs. It is fantastic to see that the school has been in such safe hands during his time as Head and I would like to take this opportunity to wish him all the best for his next challenges. I left with lots of inspiration about setting up a former pupil network, with gratitude to the Development Team for the work they are doing and the welcome I received and with a reconnection to my school and its values after all these years.