by Pete Clemons
I first came across guitarist Snowy White at a Pink Floyd concert at Stafford Bingley Hall during 1977. Pink Floyd, had until then, normally performed as a four piece so it was intriguing to see this ‘fifth’ member of the band on stage bolstering the sound.
It turned out that Snowy had been recommended to Pink Floyd by a former manager of Kate Bush. A year or so after that gig, and after buying a copy of Richard Wright’s solo album ‘Wet Dream’ I noticed that Snowy had been a guest musician.
Snowy also appeared on the next major Pink Floyd tour where they performed The Wall. That enormous extravaganza appeared at Earls Court in the consecutive years of 1980 and 1981. Snowy was on stage for the 1980 gigs but not on the 1981 shows. Possibly because, at around the same time, Snowy had also became a member of Thin Lizzy, and the two activities maybe clashed.
1983 saw Snowy White make the top 10 of the UK singles charts with the timeless classic ‘Bird of Paradise’, which came from his own debut solo album release ‘White Flames’. I remember buying this LP particularly well as, at that time, I was taking a break in Spain and Portugal, and a record shop I popped into stocked it. The style of the ‘White Flames’ album set the scene for Snowy’s initial album releases, solid laid-back rock tunes where Snowy took up lead vocals.
The late 1980s saw a distinct change of direction for Snowy, with the formation of the Blues Agency. With the clue in the name, the emphasis, was now on the blues. During this period this band played live at the Tic Toc club Coventry (now known as the Kasbah) during 1990. In addition to Snowy on guitar, the Blues Agency included Graham Bell on vocals, Kuma Harada on bass and Jeff Allen on drums.
From then on, and for the following quarter century, there was a steady release of a dozen or more excellent and varied blues-based albums, from Snowy, under band names such as White Flames and the Blues Project. Additionally, for these albums, Snowy White had once again resumed the lead vocal as well as introduce the wider world to a Dutch -Indonesian rhythm section - Drummer Juan Van Emmerloot and bass player Walter Latupeirissa - that remained the cornerstone of most of those albums during this period.
Interspersed within these releases Snowy’s talents were still in high demand. He was invited to perform alongside Roger Waters at high profile gigs such as The Wall concert in Berlin 1990 and the Pink Floyd association continued with many prestigious tours, with Roger, between 1999 and 2013.
Throughout his entire recording career, including some sessions with Peter Green during the early 1970s, Snowy played an iconic 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop guitar which he acquired during 1969. During those 45 years, the Goldtop had been played almost every day. As such the guitar was sold ‘as scene’ with no apology for its condition. The guitar was auctioned on 28 February 2015. It raised a cool $93,750 US.
I remember thinking that maybe Snowy was finished with music. His last album, prior to the sale of the guitar, was released during 2011. Titled ‘Realistic’ this album was one of my personal favourites from that year and appeared to wrap up, what I thought, to be a wonderful legacy.
How wrong I was. Snowy went and bought a new Goldtop Gibson and has since recorded a further three albums, ‘Released’, ‘Reunited’ and his most recent album ‘The Situation’ issued April 2019.
Each of these albums has seen Snowy team up once again with long time musical associates such as drummers Jeff Allen, Richard Bailey and Juan Van Emmerloot. bass players Kuma Harada and Walter Latupeirissa, piano player Max Middleton and keyboard player John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick amongst many others.
Snowy White has built a career on near-anonymity. Deliberately it seems. ‘It is my nature,’ he explains in an interview I once read. ‘If the spotlight hits me, my inclination is to step out of it. I’m actually quite a private person.’ And this possibly explains why his own gigs in support of his own music have been few and far between. It could also be possibly due to commitments elsewhere. But if it’s some refreshing and beautiful bluesy music you are after, then check out Snowy White.