'About Neil' from 1987

First involvement with music
"Like most people, I suppose, it was playing the recorder at school! Mind you, I joined my first semi-pro band when I was 14-years-old; we were called Track Runner. The thing I remember most about it was that my parents were devastated - they wanted me to be a classical musician! We used to play cover versions of songs by groups like Hot Chocolate and Queen...it was good fun at the time."

Why did you start
"Well, I think it was really due to my parents' influence, it was just a natural thing for me to fall into. At the time I could have gone into either music or theatrics, I was sort of heading that way all the time."

First type of instrument
"The first thing I ever learnt to play properly was the clarinet. In fact, I trained on this instrument until I was 16 before switching over to the piano."

Musical training
"I was classically taught from a very young age and ended up with a place at music college but I gave it up to play rock. That was a terrible decision for me and my parents; everybody in fact was totally fed up with me. I started to be influenced by pop music at quite a late age really. I was about 14 and had started to teach myself guitar by playing along to records by the Sweet and David Bowie...God! Mick Ronson and Brian May were my absolute heroes in those days."

Early influences
"David Bowie and Queen were my favourite...actually, I knew the first Queen album back to front in those days. And the others? Well, I liked Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople and Deep Purple, the 'Machine Head' album especially."

First public performance
"Probably at school where I did some clarinet solos and conducted the orchestras. I used to play for orchestras with amateur theatrical groups and I went to Canada with the Brighton Youth Orchestra when I was 15. But I suppose my very first would have to be a clarinet solo at school when I was 10 or 11."

First appearance on record
"The first Wild Horses album, 'Criminal Tendencies', which came out in 1979. Don't forget that Wild Horses didn't get a record deal for a year and a half."

Recording bands
"Wild Horses, UFO, The Cockney Rejects and Gary Moore."

Other vinyl appearances
"I did some session work around 1979 with a number of acts who I can't even remember now, singles stuff, pretty poppy. As a general rule, I don't like doing outside work. I go through periods when I think it would be nice to do a solo album but at other times I'm not sure. I may go into other areas. I could get into production eventually."

Equipment (live)
"An Emulator 'Emax' which is a really good, a Mirage, a Korg DW8000 and a funny little keyboard from Japan called a Pearl Polysensor which I play the beginning of 'Empty Rooms' on. I still use Hamer guitars and Marshall gear and I'm just getting a new keyboard set up but I'm not sure what it's going to be as yet."

Equipment (studio)
"Pretty much the same as onstage, obviously I don't play guitar."

Number of guitars owned
"About 10 or 11. I really like the yellow Hamer which changes colour every tour! It really suits the rhythm sound."

Most memorable performance
"A gig with Queen in Mannheim, Germany, in front of 80,000 people; I've been with Gary for four years not and it was the culmination of everything we'd been working towards, we did so well that day. It made me realise the headway that the band had made, everything just clicked. It was great to playing with Queen too because I've always had a certain affection for them, they're so talented."

Other musicians you admire
"Well, my taste varies a tremendous amount - I will buy albums by people from Smiths to David Sanborn. I like Bruce Hornsby, I like Dead Or Alive, an awful lot of people. I don't have a favourite musician at the moment, though I always tend to go for singers, and Michael MacDonald is my current favourite - his voice just makes you melt. In terms of guitarists, there's Gary of course, he'll always be top of the list, an exceptional player. But to be honest, I'm getting a bit sick of rock guitarists."