Don has played in a band since leaving school in the early 60’s.As his band played a wide variety of music from rock & roll and 60’s to country and strict tempo they were always in demand for corporate functions and masonics etc…and played in most of the major ballrooms and theatres in the North West.Although they also played the usual club circuit they specialised in covering the whole spectrum (even a bit of “old time” if required).Don still runs the same band (which has had a series of changes in members over the years)…and still play a wide variety of music….(they were even invited to Finland to perform at a skiffle convention).
He has always written songs and in 1978 one of his compositions reached the final of “The Opportunity Knocks Songwriters Contest” which was televised on Christmas Eve of that year where he introduced his entry.He also wrote songs for local artistes who he knew from the club circuit several of which were performed on TV and radio.In the late 70’s Evolution Records signed Don on a major publishing deal where he was to write songs for their artistes (which included Georgie Fame and Mud) and he was to have material recorded by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Diana Dors among others.He then signed with Mingard Music and continued writing for the artistes on their books.
In 1980 Don decided to form his own recording and publishing company (Cy-Phen Music) and produced demos for customers who would send him their rough versions of their songs for him to re-record and knock into shape…and although this was very successful and lucrative (it actually paid for the building and equipment of his recording studio) Don reverted back to promoting his own material and began inviting local artistes to sing his songs and have them produced on disc…thus receiving airplay and publicity.The artiste could then sell the records at gigs with a 50/50 deal….a rare everyone wins situation.This proved very successful and of all the records made there were no “left-overs”.
During this time he wrote a song for his great friend Paul Damian entitled “How To Say Llanfairpwllgwngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch” which,with it’s pure novelty value,made the national press and was even featured on “Woman’s Hour” and the World Service.It received much radio airplay and sold in droves in Wales.A copy was even sent to Lady Diana (to help her with her Welsh) AND he got a reply thanking him!! Don also wrote and produced an album for Paul…who now lives in Spain but remains in touch.
Although Don wrote and recorded ballads his prowess for writing novelty songs paid dividends as a chance meeting with wrestler Adrian Street resulted in him composing songs and producing two albums of “wrestling” songs for this larger than life character with titles such as “Breakin’Bones”…”I’m In Love With Me”…”Merchant of Menace”…”Violence Is Golden”….etc…etc.Adrian was a big name in the wrestling fraternity in this country but he became even bigger when he moved to the States…and took the music with him….This resulted in Don going over there and writing and recording more songs and appearing on national television (as Sir Cedric Everhard-Hathaway….Adrian’s “barrister” from London…Adrian’s idea – not his!) and during his stay appeared on the wrestling circuit making “legal” decisions on bouts….AND lived to tell the tale.This all resulted in the songs being video’d and shown on MTV and being featured in a Hollywood movie…which was quite amazing…as Adrian wasn’t the best singer in the world…but Don obviously never told him that.
On returning home Don got back into his comfort zone and was commissioned to write and record jingles for various radio stations which brought in commissions from advertising agents for jingles for their clients…these resulted in numerous radio and TV commercials…he also wrote a half hour Christmas musical for Radio City which was broadcast on two consecutive Christmas’s and was nominated for a Sony award…the play went on to be performed by several schools in the area which resulted in him writing three more for the schools.
He also wrote songs about his beloved Merseyside and marketing them locally.His composition “The Wirral Song” was taken up by the local council who placed a substantial order and sold them via their libraries and sports centres etc…becoming the first council to do this…which also had the song being used for TV and radio promotion.He was also approached by Merseyside County Council to write and record a song for them…which he did with the same results.Seeing there was a huge interest in the area from its locals Don continued writing songs of the locality, produced several albums which proved very successful,and eventually went into producing videos (and currently DVDs ) of the area featuring narration and original music which he composed for them.
Don has appeared on shows in several major theatres both with his band and solo and it was during an appearance with The Krankies that a new friendship began.
In the 80’s he had written a novelty song which he forwarded to the management of the comedy duo who were to eventually sing it on the Royal Variety Performance.Up to this point Don had never met them…during the show he made himself known… and since then he has been writing novelty songs for them each year for their pantos and cruises….fandabidozi!!
Don was asked by radio presenter Monty Lister (the first bloke to interview The Beatles) if he would assist him in presenting his popular Sunday morning programme (they had originally become friends through Don’s jingles which Monty used…all 22 of them).This combination was to last 5 years and took Don all over Europe taking care of the sound on Monty’s many travelogues…and also interviewing many top celebs.
Don still produces CDs and DVDs which find their way all over the world to ex-pats and still performs both solo and with his band (recent theatre work has included appearing alongside Bobby Vee,The Bachelors,Jimmy Cricket and his idol James Burton-who was Elvis’s guitarist…and many others).He is also involved with “The Cheshire Cats” who are a fundraising society designed to help out charities for sick children,where he is joined each week by several local musicians who give their time and talent free.
If you go to the “Name Dropping” section of this website you will find the selection of people Don has come into contact with.