I was born in Walthamstow, London and grew up in my parent's house in Woodford Green, Essex. Both my parents played the piano, so piano seemed the natural choice of instrument for me and I started piano lessons at the age of 8. However, I did not enjoy the lessons which were given by a very formidable lady in late middle age who let out a despairing sigh every time I played a wrong note!
So, having failed to gel with my piano teacher, I started playing guitar at about 10 years old. I still have my first guitar, a nylon-strung acoustic which cost the princely sum of £10 from a music shop in Walthamstow in 1961.
I had a few guitar lessons at school, but am mainly self-taught; the manual of the day being Bert Weedon's Play In A Day, which was often the starting point for many budding guitarists in the 1960s.
It was not long before I succumbed to the lure of the electric guitar and I persuaded my parents to buy me a red electric guitar and Vox 6 watt amplifier. Within weeks, a school band was created from an eclectic mix of lead singer, bongos, clarinet, acoustic rhythm guitar and me on electric lead guitar. Our first and only gig was at Chingford Assembly Hall.
Throughout my teens, I played with many bands working endlessly on technique and style, inspired by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton (early days) and later, as jazz fusion music became my passion, the great master, John McLaughlin and many other wonderful players.
Deciding that I needed a "sensible" career, I went off to university to study electronic engineering. After college I was asked to play with Hocket; a folk-rock band formed by my friend Gary Carpenter, a Royal College of Music trained composer. We started playing in clubs, built up a good following and had a great time playing the college circuit and major festivals. One day John Peel saw us and asked us to record a set for his show which was broadcast on Radio 1 in 1972. Gary was offered the job of musical director for the cult film The Wicker Man and we were engaged to record the soundtrack and appear in the film. I am to be seen playing guitar in the bar and have long black hair that has long since turned grey and white!
Fame at last! This meant more session and theatre work including several European tours with Stomu Yamashta's incredible Red Buddha Theatre. This, and playing with the other amazing musicians in that stunning band including Morris Pert (who auditioned me for the job), Peter Brewis, Alyn Ross, Paul Cartwright, Ric Sanders and headed by Joji Hirota, made it one of the greatest musical periods in my life.
In my mid-20s, I decided I needed a "proper job" and joined BT as a computer programmer. My career with BT developed and, until most recently, I was a programme director with responsibility for delivering all BT projects associated with HBOS.
My wife and I moved from London to East Yorkshire in 1988. I have a professional recording studio in a stable block in my garden and am now returning to my passion; writing and recording my own music full-time.
I have released four instrumental albums on iTunes which can be accessed via the discography and links pages.
Andy Tompkins - Biography