. Where were you born and brought up?
I was born in the 60s in the Lanarkshire steel town of Motherwell. It wasa happy time and I ended up being a ball boy at Firpark. Ian St John fired me. I called him on it at the MFC centenary party and he said my hair was too long.
. When did you realize you wanted be a singer and who were your early influences?
I was asked to be a singer more to stop me playing guitar or drums than anything else. My wife still bans me from playing guitar when she isaround. I have 3 or 4 beautiful thangs but they lie gathering dust.
Bowie was my first real influence. That a man could dress up like that and sing like that and create images with his lyrics was astonishing. I can still listen to early Bowie and get the same pleasure as I did thefirst time I heard him.
. One of your first bands was a band called Tryxter who played covers and wrote their
own material, did you get involved with the writing?
Tryxter was a band I was in and out of for a year or so. The singer/guitarist was...tempremental...and would quit every other week. I was draughted in and then kicked out again, after a few times it was felt that we could all work together. The Guitarist and drummer wrote all the songs. They went on to join Hue and Cry and The River Detectives respectively. We played a lot and it was good grounding for me and let people hear what I could do. The one good thing to come out of Tryxter was that we got Alex Carmichael (Big Al of Cleaves) on bass for La Paz.
. You met Chic McSherry at a gig in Hamilton which led to you forming La Paz , what
do you remember about that meeting and putting La Paz together?
MMMMM...Yes, I did not get the gig that night though. It was not my best performance and Chic had come to the gig specifically to see me...We had a dressing room next to John Martyn… Need I say more? However, Chic could not find anyone else to do the job he needed. So after checking out a few others he came back to me, slapped me round the head and said that he would not put up with any shite and together we could do good and interesting things musically..Of course I am paraphrasing but that was the jist of it. Chic really was the catalyst, he saw something in me and the other guys that was raw but with the right guidance could do....something.
. Did La Paz ever get a record or publishing deal?
No! But we had lots of fun trying. Derek Oliver was on our side but we were mostly all in our early 20s and starting out in "proper jobs" and well.... you know how the story ends for most bands. Some were working, some at college, some on the dole. Some got the girls pregnant and that ended their career, I was working for the Social Work and Education Dept in the early beginnings of video production development. It paid the rent and allowed me to indulge in what I love most...
. La Paz played at The Marquee in London, did the band play any
Other Showcase gigs down south?
I think we played a couple of gigs in London. We were fearless and believed that we could conquer the world. But the deals never came and everyone after 4 years was moving on to a "real" life. We went through drummers the way Motherwell go through managers. Things had to change and I was asked to go to London and join a band and that as they say was that for La Paz.
. So when you moved to London after La Paz , was this just the next step in your career,
was it to gain experience or was it specifically to join the band Midnight Blue?
Alex Dickson was the hot kid guitarist. A wizard on the fret board and agreat composer. He asked me if I was interested in joining a band he had in London...He was 17. Stevie Doc was the singer but he had gone off to see his sister and never came back. I was a huge fan of StevieD..still am , him and Henry Gorman. They were the first guys I saw in the late 70s who had "something". Anyway, I packed my rucksack and moved to London. Midnight Blue were a good band but our competition was 6 months ahead and we never fullfilled our promise..The Almighty, GUN, Thunder, Quireboys, Little Angels, all the major labels had the bands they needed and we were left behind. Still Alex went on to join GUN, Bruce Dickinson and Robbie Williams band. Jem on keyboards was with UFO and FM and I got Yngwie......
. You auditioned for Iron Maiden, tell us about that experience?
I was packing and going on holiday on Friday when the legendary Maiden tour manager Dickie Bell turned up at my door with a cassette and lyric book saying I had an audition with Maiden at mid day on Monday. 22 songs in 3 days. Still its all long gone now and normal service has been resumed. I saw Maiden in March in Buenos Aires in front of 46 000people. That would never have happened if I had gotten the gig.. Bruce is the man and that is that. It would no doubt have made me a richer man but then I would not have played in Rainbow with Ritchie and that was my passion.
. You got a message to get in touch with Ritchie Blackmore then joined Rainbow in
1994, how did that feel and what were the highlights of fronting Rainbow?
Well Ritchie fronts Rainbow..... My oldest and dearest friend Kenny Johnstone. who I can still fight with but never beat, introduced me to Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake and it was a mind blowing time.
If anyone had said when I was 14 listening to this shit that I would be singing with Ritchie then I would have laughed. Lets face it it was a great time for me and some of the work I get is because of my time in RAINBOW,but if I had not been able to pull it off then I would be back at the start. I've been doing this for 20 years professionally and keeping a roof over my head. A lot of guys who were better than I was aint doing it any more...Maybe they got the girl pregnant.
Chic and my brother Ian and Rhona who managed La Paz came to the first Rainbow show in Helsinki. At the hotel Ritchie brought down his guitar and we sang ALL the songs we loved with all the people we love. My brother sang Soldier of Fortune and when Ritchie heard him sing he turned to me and said " If I had heard him first...you would not be here"
. In a recent GB80 interview with The legendary Tom Russell he spoke highly of you and La Paz. The band recently go together again, tell us how that happened?
I think that a bunch of rockers who had sown their seed and watched the results grow, decided to relive past” glories" No bad thing.
Old Charles has been doing well since he hung up his GORDON SMITH as have all The Flying La Paz Brothers He told me I had to be involved in a thing he was putting together......or else....When Chic Soprano asks.....
It's simply that he sponsors boy and girl football teams in Mexico where he has business interests. They get to play in the team if they go to school. where they get food and showers. Its better than the other life they may have. The poverty I have seen in some of these countries is staggering. Chic works out there and has seen the issues and if playing a few gigs having a laugh and making some money for this..then that's cool for all of us.
He is not ramming it down anyone’s throat, we do it for fun and £1.00 feeds a wee girl or boy for week so we are cool with that.
Uncle Tom..who lent me a tenner years ago is a God amongst men... he is a "bit" mad and I don’t think that his beard is his own.
I can’t share the snake nor the Donington stories with you but he has done more for rock music in Scotland and beyond than ANYONE.
. What is the future for La Paz?
Cheese, cheese and more cheese! and winding up members of Zero Zero,
Glasgow, Trident, Leon RamFartz and any other bands from 84 to 87 who think they did better than we did.
But they know who the rock overlords of the pub scene were.."You may have had a drummer who could twirl his sticks" indeed "you may have had a singer with a mullet and spandex who had sticky fumblings with a pretty chick called
Anne Uh Melmahay
who loved you and us. Let face it "Glasgow" rock lords that they may have been, at one point had 3 members of La Paz in the band at the SAMETIME...Of course they were free as Chic sacked them all.
Our van was always bigger than all of yours.... our PA louder ( Thanks STORM).Our lights had more flashy moments and the "pyros" in tobacco tins fired off with batteries were always guaranteed to finish you off. We dressed badly, had bad hair, we ...well, we had fun.. We have the pictures...oh yes missy, of you too.
. Looking back at your career you have never settled for one Band or set of musicians,
always moving to the next project, why do you think that was and was it a conscious
It's about desire and the will to work...After La Paz and Midnight Blue I felt the need to keep moving if things were not working. I was with Rainbow for 3 years and Yngwie for 6 and a bit. Cornerstone for 4 albums and still the road goes on.. I sing for a living and that’s that. It would be great to be in a band that offered security but that has never come my way so I am a rock n roll gypsy... or whore. I don't mind. This is what I do. I don’t do all the work I am offered . I need to think I can bring something to the show. Its been great fun and when it stops being fun then I will pack it in. I have been to places I would never have seen had it not been for rock n roll that’s part of the joy for me. Airports, flying, seeing the culture and singing my heart out to finish the day off... Magic.
. You were the voice of Action Man on the TV commercials, tell us about that?
My agent said I had a session, I went in , sang for 23 mins, left and then I was on all the Christmas adverts… I had forgotten that I had done it till the cheques came in.
. You have your own Website and MySpace, La Paz have their own MySpace and
videos on YouTube etc…What do you think of music on the internet and how are you
with PC technology?
I am rubbish at such things… It's a language that I don’t understand so I have to pay to have it done. I don’t really blog or any of that stuff.Its always been about the music for me. I don’t want to be famous or recognised. I just want to sing..
I was having a beer with a friend in the local and a girl who I had known for a while said that it was odd that I had not mentioned that JG from Maiden drank in the pub, I introduced her and her man to my drinking buddy who had on a postman’s jacket. "This is my mate Bruce, he is a postman" I said. She berated him about not having received her package from South Africa! My small friend played along explaining that perhaps the package was at customs or at the sorting depot.. just goes to show that if ya don’t act like a rawkstar and don’t dress like a rawkstar.. pretty girls think yer a postman...
. You have worked with a lot of musicians over the years, is there anyone you would like to work with?
I am doing gigs soon with Jon Lord and an orchestra and the later with Ian Paice and Neil Murray so that should be fun Now if I can only get them to play on my solo album..
. What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am working with Craig Goldy from DIO on an album and Walter Giardino on another thing. I have just sung on a track for a new off Broadway show. I do sessions for TV and radio all the time, some good, some not so. Oh before I forget I am now the singer in TANK and we have a killer album in the bag...pure metal with a lime twist.
. Favourite ever venue?
To play..too many to mention. However the worst ones were some of the venues in the States. Not so much the gig but the dressing rooms and showers. With Yngwie we would do 9 shows back to back and be on the bus the whole time. Arriving at the venue the day after a Death Metal band had played and finding long dark hairs in the showers and ...well you can guess. In my flight case I always had Clorex and sturdy brush on a pole and rubber gloves.
. Favourite Scottish venue?
The Heathery Bar Wishaw, the Burns Bar, that hotel in East Kilbride (The Bruce Hotel)
and the Apollo. Oh and the Pressie Halls
. What was the last Record/CD/Download you purchased?
I don’t download. Don’t know how...Can’t remember the last album maybe Ken Hensley’s Blood on the Highway. Every home should have one.
.To finish, a bit of fun!....What would be your perfect Super Group, you have a choice of
any musician in the world (dead or alive) with yourself on lead Vocals?
Vocals…..Doogie White, Patti Russo
Drums…..Paul McManus (girls don’t play drums)