Open Mic Nights are often the centre of controversy. There are two very different opinions…
There is a band that has been packing out local theatres for over 25 years and I thought it was about time someone introduced the individual members. I give you, The Gary Murphy Band.
The brains behind the project and indeed it’s namesake, Gary Murphy, was born with a guitar in his hand. From an early age he performed as part of Casino, a renowned cabaret band with his brother Larry, around the clubs and pubs honing his skills as a top-class entertainer.
Today, he is highly regarded as one of the finest guitarists in the UK, receiving several local and nationwide awards.
I first met Gary in the Pacific pub in Birkenhead. It would have been a Monday night as that was the night we went to watch The Cheats there. He was undoubtedly influenced by the superb talent of Kenny Parry. In fact, when you see Gary perform today, similarities are all too evident, particularly his stage antics – but then I suppose we are all guilty of that.
A successful solo career unfolded and international fame greeted him in many parts of Europe. It was around this time that we met again. I now owned the Buz Magazine and Gary was a regular advertiser and prolific performer. The theatre called and Gary put a band together to deliver shows that sold out every time. Band members changed over the years due to the untimely death of some great friends. Banjo Graham was a regular guest on early shows as was Pete Cummings (Pete Casino). We then lost Denny Bolton and sadly Paul Brookes was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I used to perform with them myself until I became ill.
Gary has performed and produced many concerts which have been performed at the Liverpool Empire, Liverpool Philharmonic Theatre, Liverpool Echo Arena, Pacific Road Arts Theatre, Floral Pavilion Theatre, and Liverpool Epstein Theatre.
The most successful of all his shows is Guitar Legends, which is still going strong to this day. It is the story of guitar history and includes a mix of music performance and narration by Billy Butler providing an insight into the lives and songs of some of our best loved guitar heroes, including: Brian May (Queen), George Harrison (The Beatles), Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), The Eagles, Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Lyndsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac), Pete Townshend (The Who), Angus Young (AC/DC), Django Reinhardt, BB King, Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry, Hank Marvin (The Shadows), and many more!
Guitar Legends highlights many different guitar styles including rock, pop, jazz and country and has something for all ages. Over 100 years of guitar history in one electrifying night!
Gary can literally play any style guitar and indeed can be seen weekly at the world-famous Cavern Club doing just that. He is a great talent but also a thoroughly decent bloke.
Robbie Shirley – vocals, bass, guitar and keyboards
Robbie is the guy in the band who sounds like Sting. That is how many people know him but let me tell you, he is so much more than that! Firstly, he is a talented musician playing guitar, bass and keyboards and has played on the circuit for many years as both a solo artist and as part of a band. It is true, his voice is incredible with a powerful range and a high register. He can also harmonise beautifully. He is a totally genuine, laid-back guy and nothing is ever too much trouble. You can throw any song at him and he will master it in minutes – a real musicians musician.
Alan Armstrong – vocals, guitar
What can I say about this guy? A singer songwriter who deserves more recognition than he gets. He has trodden the boards for many years from the band Little Italy, through to Tuppence a Pint with Terry O’Shea and on to a successful solo career. A great singer, a great guitarist and a great entertainer. He came to work at The Buz for a time and it was great to get to know the man behind the guitar. Alan is a true gent and an asset in any band. We really should encourage him to revive his Bryan Adams tribute – it was superb.
Adam Goldberg – drums
I know Adam the least in the band. I actually know Dave his father better, as the super talented keyboard player in Rumours of Fleetwood Mac. Having seen Adam play for many different bands it is plain to all that he has inherited Dave’s musical prowess. I also listen to what other musicians say and no one has a bad word to say about him – which doesn’t surprise me, the whole family are lovely.
Alan Fennah – percussion
You may know Alan from Alternative Radio, a duo he has with his brother Rob. There is no doubt in my mind that Alan is the single best percussionist around. He is incredible to watch and pleasant on the eye if you don’t mind me saying!
Jade Thunder – vocals and guitar
The newest member of the band and yes, my daughter. Jade is now a full-time member of the band and enjoying every moment. She is a talented vocalist and can drop a harmony on anything. She is also an accomplished rhythm guitarist.
Regular guest appearances include:
Brian Jones – Saxophonist
Brian is a founder member of the 60’s band The Undertakers and has performed all over the world with many different bands. He is still playing in his 80th year and still wows the crowd with his undeniable passion for his craft. For my mind, he is the best sax player in the world.
Gary Brown – vocalist
A rock voice to end all rock voices. Gary is Robert Plant, Bon Scott and Axel Rose rolled into one. Give him a rock song to sing and he will knock it out of the park. I first saw Gary many years ago singing Rock and Roll by Led Zepplin and I was hooked. He is a great frontman and a top bloke – someone I would have loved to duetted with back in the day.
Craig Murphy – vocalist
I am ashamed to say that I didn’t even know that Craig could sing! He was my carpet guy, my daughter’s friend and Gary Murphy’s nephew! It isn’t enough that he is a good-looking dude, he also has an immensely powerful and melodic voice. I was totally shocked the first time I saw him but absolutely delighted for both him and his parents Larry and Karen, I felt proud enough, I can’t imagine how they felt! By the way Craig, I will be in touch for more carpets soon!
You can catch The Gary Murphy Band at The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, on Friday 19th August for the Music and Laughter Show starring Ricky Tomlinson, Sean Styles, Elvis Clayton, Brian Saxophone Jones, Clark Gilmour and Jade Thunder. Tickets £26.75 from The Floral Box Office.