The Story So Far

Steve’s story is a combination of bad luck, bad judgement and good music. The same for probably hundreds of other musicians on the planet. He’s not bitter, he’s over that and he is now happy just to make the music he loves. Let’s go back to the beginning….

Evil Weasel (Sept ’75 – March ’77)

SB – guitar, vocals. Steve Turner – Bass. Trevor McBride – Drums

Steve’s first “proper” band after leaving school made quite a noise for a bunch of unruly 18 year olds. After securing a fortnightly residency at The Gun in Croydon, they developed their following of Hells Angels and other ne’er do wells. Musically it was Hendrix/Trower but with a fair few originals thrown in. They played the famous Greyhound in Croydon, opening for the likes of Stray and The Heavy Metal Kids but they couldn’t quite get to be the headline act. Singer Fred Bailey joined for the last few months but he and Steve did not get on. Steve quit to be replaced by Ronnie Sims. More of him later.

 

The Steve Boyce Band (Sept 1977 – April 1980)

Steve Boyce Band

After a chance meeting in a pub, Steve got together with Rick Luck on bass and Jerry Wickins on drums to put together something even heavier. After a few gigs as a three piece, Steve received a phone call from Ronnie Sims asking if the new band could do with another guitarist and the classic line-up of SBB was about to take shape. Steve didn’t want to be a front man so they found Kevin McCrea lurking amongst the vocalist adverts in the Melody Maker which turned them into a five-headed monster. In March 1978 Jerry Wickins handed in his notice as he was planning to go to university. His replacement was Trevor McBride from Evil Weasel. Now the band was cooking. Summer 1978 saw the band gigging relentlessly all over the south-east, building a very large following on the way. Their gigs at The Red Deer in South Croydon were legendary for the record breaking audience figures, beating both The Stranglers and The Tom Robinson Band. They also got louder and heavier.

By the beginning of 1979, manager Paul Newcomb announced that he was quitting because he felt that he’d taken them as far as he could and that they now needed 24 hour, professional management. In came Steve Hutchins from Positive Management to try to guide them through the pitfalls of obtaining a record deal, but one more change had to be made first.

Kevin McCrea, although very good looking and possessing a reasonable amount of charm onstage, just could not sing that well. Steve Hutchins first job as manager was to fire him, next came the search for a replacement. After weeks of auditions, the job was offered to Diz Nelson. His image was crap (that could be worked on) but his voice was amazing. The band was placed into a small studio in Hampshire where demos were recorded. The heaviness had been filtered out and what emerged was a band with an identity crisis. They sounded like a bunch of old rockers trying to be new wave. Bad move.

The next demo, recorded in Croydon, was far better. “You are a transmitter, I am a receiver” could fairly be described as the band’s anthem. “The Artist” was another stormer. The band started to find it’s feet. Warner Brothers put up some money for the band to go into a “proper” studio, the results of which have not been heard to this day. The producer wasn’t really interested in the band and some of the songs, given to them by the company, were recorded through clenched teeth.

The only place the band could show their worth was on stage. They had a residency at The Brecknock in Camden and were pulling in large audiences. Meanwhile Warner Brothers didn’t know what to do about the SBB (or The Boyce Band as it was now called), and they dithered for far too long. DJM and Magnet Records were also in the frame but in the end the band felt trapped by their new sound and image and hankered for the old days of playing much heavier stuff.

Diz Nelson, who was ten years older than the rest of the band, was given his marching orders early 1980 and the band soldiered on as a four piece for the remainder of its life to diminishing returns. They would, however, return with a bang 28 years later!

Rye & The Quarterboys (Jan 81- Feb 82)

Anyone knowing Steve at this point could not have predicted the next move. He joined a soul band complete with brass section playing Motown/Stax covers plus some originals. His hair was cut in order to fit in and gone were the guitar solos as Steve was reduced to playing as part of a rhythm section. They toured incessantly and one single was released “Fantasy / Private Number” on Replay Records. They hitched their wagon to the mod revival trend and were very well received everywhere they played. But it was not enough……

Steve Boyce Band mkII (April 82 – March 84)

Steve Boyce Band MkII

You can’t keep an old rocker down so Steve went back to his main passion with an almost new line up. Paul Gough was brought in on bass alongside Trevor McBride’s return to the drum stool. New singer Paul Tuttle was drafted in and the band gigged at places such as The Cartoon in Croydon and The 101 Club in Clapham. Their support band in Clapham on one occasion was an unknown outfit called Marrillion! McBride did not get on well with the new singer and decided to quit after a few months. His replacement was Bruce Bisland. This line up didn’t last long and the singer was invited to leave. McBride returned and the band carried on as a three piece up until the end.

Fleet Street (April 1984 – March 1985)

Dave Baboulene – vocals, Dave Paton – Keyboards / vocals SB-guitar / vocals, Dave Wyman – bass / vocals, Neil Martin – sax / vocals, Pete Lawrence – drums.

Fleet Street

A short burst of energy, but what a band! Steve was invited to join a local outfit originally called D-Trap and they were duly re-christened upon his arrival. This was another departure for Steve as they had a Hall & Oates type of sound. The other oddity was the electronic drum kit…..oh how they loved that thing! The songs were great and there was a single “High Time / Talk” both songs written by Baboulene and Paton. Strangely this single was only released in Canada by the management in order to off-set the debt incurred by the band. Fleet Street made zilch. The writing team didn’t really want to gig and preferred the Brian Wilson approach of staying at home whilst the band went out and played their songs. This worked for a short while with a renewed line up but Steve got itchy feet again.

Baby Laurel (Jan 1986 – June 1987)

Steve was back in a rock band again. The only problem was that they were very non-descript and played the same set every night, even in the same order. However, the band gigged most weeks and had a reasonable following. Steve has always said though that this was the “worst band I’ve been in….boring!”

Sailing Shoes (July 1987 – June 1988)

SB – guitar/vocals. Bill Adey – bass/vocals, John Cooke – keyboards, Neil Martin – sax,guitar,vocals, Wilgar Campbell – drums/vocals

Sailing Shoes

From the worst band to the best. This band could tackle anything. Steve’s plan was to fuse the sound of Little Feat (hence the name) with The Band and Crosby Stills & Nash. Great songs, great vocal harmonies and flash playing made this outfit Steve’s all-time favourite band. If you caught them live you would hear their versions of “Dixie Chicken”, “My Old School” and their bizarre encore of “Goodnight Sweetheart” done accapella. All was not well though. Wilgar (who formed the band with Steve) had an alcohol dependency problem which played havoc with his drumming. Reluctantly, Steve replaced him with Dave Norman. Wilgar died a year later. John Cooke was made an offer to join Dave Gilmour’s touring band so he was replaced by Pete Terry. Pete was also playing for Ivors Jivers (featuring Doc Cox) and this made his tenancy a short one. Neil was being offered “shirt and tie” work for good money, so changes were afoot. The keyboards would be replaced by a second guitarist…..

4-Play (July 1988 – Sept 1990)

SB – guitar/vocals, Bill Adey – bass/vocals, Dominic Kench – guitar/vocals, Mark Brabbs – drums.

There had to be a name change as the sound had completely altered. It was back to the old twin-guitar sound of the 70s. Steve wanted this band to be a “modern Humble Pie” and they more than succeeded. Gigs at The Cartoon in Croydon and a very large pub in Brixton saw large crowds and an amazing reaction. Sadly, yet again, alcohol was the undoing of a band member. Bill had a problem and it claimed his life a few years later. He was replaced by Graham Smith on bass. The gigs kept coming but by mid-1990 Steve’s heart wasn’t in it any more.

Steve Bright (Nov 1990-2008)

Steve BrightAt a bit of a loose end, musically speaking and having just been made redundant from his day job, Steve went on holiday to the west country and watched a guy performing using backing tracks. He said to his wife, “I could do that better, he’s rubbish!” to which she replied, “Well why don’t you then?”. Thus Steve Bright was born. Why Steve Bright? He isn’t saying, but there is a deep seated meaning somewhere.

Basic recording equipment was purchased and work started on the backing tracks that would be the staple of his live set of covers for the next few years. To his surprise, a scheme that was launched to make a bit of money turned into a full time job. At his peak, Steve was playing five gigs a week in the south of London. An album called “Fresh Ear” was recorded and released on cassette only followed by “Dancing On The Light” a couple of years later. Both sold out.

In 1996, 4-Play reconvened to play a one-off gig at The Cartoon in Croydon. In the audience was a guy who approached Steve after the gig and handed him his card, wanting Steve to phone him the next day. Steve promptly forgot about the card and it was only when his wife went to wash his jeans was the card found. Steve had made contact with his future manager, Dave Heath-Hadfield. Dave was a producer/engineer and manager looking for someone to promote. He started by giving Steve some studio session work to test him out. Next, he proposed to produce an album of mainly original stuff written by Steve. The next few weeks were spent writing and demoing songs. The only argument resulted over the name. It was to be issued under Steve Boyce. Mark Brabbs was drafted in on drums alongside Geoff Driscoll on keyboards and Barry ??? on bass.

When the album was completed, it was sent to just about every record company in the UK who all promptly turned it down explaining that it was “too American”. After trying a few overseas companies, a couple of whom liked it but wouldn’t sign, the writing was on the wall. The album was shelved and Steve returned to being Steve Bright, playing covers on the pub circuit. He released two further CD albums, “Serious Artist Syndrome” and “A Thousand Goodbyes”. The first one sold out.

Brightwhite (1998 – 2015)

Steve Bright –guitar/vocals, Sarah White-Vocals

Sarah’s drunken boyfriend wandered up to Steve at a gig and asked, “Can my girlfriend sing a couple of songs with you?” The gig wasn’t that good and Steve decided things couldn’t get any worse by having an impromptu guest up to sing, so he agreed. She turned the whole gig round. The same thing happened a couple of weeks later. Steve decided to test the water and asked Sarah to join him. Over the next few years, Brightwhite went on to become the biggest and best duo of it’s kind in the South London area. The vocal positions these days are filled by two singers, Sasha Jones and Amfy Eve. One CD, “Positive Earth” has been released.

The Steve Boyce Band…returns (2008-2010)

The Steve Boyce Band returns

In 2006, original drummer Trevor McBride passed away from throat cancer. At his funeral the surviving members decided to play a memorial gig in his honour, donating any monies raised to the hospice in which he spent his last days. The crowd that came out to support this gig was huge and many people lamented the passing of what was considered a great band. A year later, Virgin Radio set up a competition called “One Last Dream” where bands from previous years that had suffered bad luck at the hands of the music industry were invited to compete against each other, the prize being an opening slot for Eric Clapton at Hyde Park. The SBB, now with drummer Gary Hunsley in tow entered the competition and spent six weeks on prime-time radio in the UK before walking away with the coveted prize. On the day, they proved that they could hold their own with anyone. Other offers came in and the renewed band shared bills with Fish, Ian Hunter, The Quireboys, Dan Reed and Dan Baird. Then, it finished as soon as it started. Steve went back to the pubs with Brightwhite.

Watts Cookin’ (2011 to current)

SB-guitar/vocals, Mike Hopwood-keyboards, Neil Korner-bass/vocals, Brian Cook-drums

Watts cookin

Steve and Brian Cook have been friends for years. Steve received a call from Brian one day asking if he’d front his band as their guitarist and vocalist had left. Steve, still working with Brightwhite, agreed as long as the dates for both acts didn’t clash. Made up of guys that have been around since the 60s, this is Steve’s spiritual home. It’s a good-time rock band with no pretence. Again, they can give headline bands a run for their money as Eddie & The Hotrods discovered in 2013.