Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Steve Walwyn - Doctor Feelgood and DT's

Pete Clemon's latest for the Coventry Telegraph - Steve Walwyn - guitarist with Dr Feelgood and The DT's.

Feelgood Steve's in DT's back.

 Pete Clemons 

SOUTHAM-born Steve Walwyn is, arguably, best known nationally as lead guitarist for rhythm and blues band Dr Feelgood, the band he joined during the spring of 1989.

Of course, closer to home, Steve will also be known as a member of the recently reformed R 'n' B band The DT's who appear at The Spencer Club on Friday, November 1. Thrust straight into the deep end, one of Steve's earliest gigs for Dr Feelgood was at London's Town and Country Club, which was recorded and released as the album 'Live in London' as well as also being filmed for TV.

And, apart from when Dr Feelgood had some downtime after the tragic death of vocalist Lee Brilleaux in 1994, Steve has continued to be one of the mainstays behind the band for over 20 years clocking up what must total as over 1,000 gigs for them.

You would therefore think that after all those years of being on the road Steve would not have found room for any other musical activities but I was staggered to learn that this was not quite the case. During the period when Dr Feelgood was on hiatus, following Lee's illness, Steve filled his time by performing with bands such as Eddie and the Hot Rods, The Roger Chapman Band with who he toured Austria, Germany and Switzerland before joining The Big Time Playboys.

The Big Time Playboys were founded by Ricky Cool during 1984 and are a hugely popular rhythm and blues band. But where they differ to other R 'n' B acts is that they are a revival group in as much that they cover a lot of American blues from the 1940s and 1950s.

And this uniqueness has made them very popular with the major names of rock music having performed for the likes of Eric Clapton and Robert Plant. In fact Steve's first gig with them during 1994 was just hours after he had auditioned to join them. This association with the band led to Steve having some particularly memorable moments. Crazy Legs was an album released by Jeff Beck and The Big Town Playboys during June 1993. It pays homage to the music of Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps who were a major influence on Jeff's early career. Although Steve was not involved with the recording of this album he did join the band shortly after its release and was with them when they were invited to play at a surprise 50th birthday party for Jeff at his home in Kent.

With Jeff out for the day the band set up their equipment to perform in front of an audience that included Kate Bush, Queen guitarist Brian May, Paul Rogers who was the vocalist for both Free and Bad Company and Journey's Neal Schon among others.

It must have been a quite intimidating experience but after the gig Steve got to discuss guitars and amps with Brian and Jeff, who went on to show him some of his own vintage guitars, and both Brian and Jeff complimented Steve on his playing. In fact Jeff Beck also attended some later gigs at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, London.

Steve was also a member of The Big Time Playboys when they performed as part of the wedding celebrations for Pink Floyd's David Gilmour when he married Polly Samson at Marylebone Register Office during July 1994.

Of course this is only a snap shot of Steve Walwyn's distinguished career. His first band "Hands Off" were formed while he was still at school. He then joined rock band "Chevy" in 1978 and it was at that point when he turned professional.

His next band was 'The DT's' who he joined in 1982 and it was while with them that he played with the late Steve Marriott (ex-Small Faces, Humble Pie) from 1987 until joining Dr Feelgood in 1989.

Surprisingly, it was not until he was about 17 years old when Steve thought about learning to play the guitar. He had been inspired by many artists and records, but his main influence at that time were the likes of Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Marriott, Peter Green and other, mainly blues, guitar players.

Influences came from many musical styles as wide ranging as from classical to country, rock and roll, Cajun, jazz, and some folk music. But above all the blues is his number one musical love with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, and Robert Johnson being particular favourites. 

Away from his commitments with the 'Feelgoods' Steve Walwyn has more recently re-created an iconic music night. Kelly's bar in Leamington was, for decades, a 'must play' venue for many local bands. Throughout the years it has catered for all tastes including R 'n' B. So now on the first Wednesday of every month at The Zephyr Lounge in Leamington, which sits adjacent to The Assembly, you can now hear those sounds once more. So far bands like Chevy, Barnabus and The Mosquitoes have all appeared and January 2014 sees a scheduled visit by Dr Feelgood themselves.

As and when time allows Steve is also keen on organising charity gigs in aid of those less fortunate. At these events he does seem to be able to attract the cream of local musicians into joining his band for the occasion. His most recent of these gigs also included Horace Panter of The Specials on bass and acted as a fundraiser for Baginton Fields School.

Thanks to Andrew Lock for his use of the photographs from the recent reunion gig by The DT's. Andrew is hoping to put on his first themed live music exhibition in Leamington this coming December.

It will be on a Monday night and will be based on the blues. It will feature photos of Steve Walwyn, Larry Miller, The Animals, Oli Brown, Cherry Lee Mewis and many more. It is also hoped that Steve will be in attendance and the plan is to have a charity raffle with a few of Andrew's prints along with some other surprises as prizes.

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