IAN ‘SPEEDO’ WILSON
I was fortunate enough to have played with Ian ‘Speedo’ Wilson in various bands through the years, most notably in my first ‘real’ band ‘SEVENTH DAWN’ and probably more notably ‘EMERALD’ during which time many of the songs currently featured on the ‘BACK’ CD were originally written. Speedo’s greatest influences were probably Richie Blackmore and Michael Schenker, although he had a very unique style of his own, a superb master of riffs and his nick-name gives away his abilities where playing lead-guitar is concerned, truly awesome, but his flair for fast lead playing never overshadowed the melody in his playing! Based on the guitarists cited as his favourites, many of our Emerald tracks were in the vein of classic Rainbow/Deep Purple, with Speed’s guitar along with my vocal melodies combining nicely with Raymie Haller on Bass, Stevie Prosser on Keyboards and, at differing times, Julian Watson and Davy Bates on Drums songs such as ‘New World’, ‘Beating Of a Heart’, ‘Crying In The Rain’ and ‘Rock On Through The Night’ were almost enough to get us signed to BMG Records. However fate dictated that Metallica would release a Sweet Savage song (Killing Time) on the ‘B Side of their ‘Unforgiven’ single shortly before we were to put pen to paper, and renewed interest in Speedo and Raymie’s previous band (which also featured Vivian Campbell) led to ‘Emerald’ being (understandably) put on hold while Sweet savage were capitalising on the new exposure.
It would have been natural to think that Speedo would want to eventually pay tribute to Blackmore and form a Rainbow/Deep Purple tribute, but he was persuaded to take another road in honour of another guitarist he had great admiration for, Brian May, and for quite a few years now has been paying tribute to him in the Queen tribute band ‘FLASH HARRY’, receiving accolades for such from hard-to-please Queen fans all around Europe and beyond! As well as being busy with Flash Harry, Speedo also finds time to occasionally pay homage to another man he admires, Phil Lynott, and can be seen doing so in his Thin Lizzy tribute ‘TINN LIZZY’, and of course whatever’s left in his musical bag of influences can regularly be seen when he puts together his ‘GODS OF ROCK’ shows during which he gets to play a real mixed bag including songs from Sabbath, Purple, Zeppelin and AC/DC etc.
Does he have any time left for anything other than music? Well of course he does, he’s very much a family man devoted to his wife and children and combines everything with his web designing and guitar tuition. You’d also maybe wonder if all these abilities has gone to his head. The answer to that is a firm NO! He knows he’s good, he knows other people think he’s good, but he also knows where he’s from and how to keep his friends, and that’s by making sure his feet are always firmly planted on the ground.
To read more about Speedo’s career with the Queen tribute band FLASH HARRY please click here: flash-harry.co.uk .
and to find out all about Speedo’s Web Designing, guitar tuition and keep up-to-date with his other projects please click here: speedo.com .
KEITH ‘KEFFERS’ HARRIS
I’ve known Keith for several years now and still class him as a yet ‘undiscovered’ treasure. Prior to joining ‘Tusk’ and forming ‘Rock Of Ages’ and ‘Snakebite’, Keith had been treading the boards on the Irish cover band circuit doing mainly pop covers, but his guitar talents were being woefully under-utilised, but he has exploded onto the rock circuit with a vengeance and is certainly making up for lost time and displaying his undeniable talent.
Apart from now being able to show the world that he’s a magnificent guitaris playing tribute to rock legends in ‘Rock Of Ages’ and ‘Snakebite’, Keith has also developed his song-writing skills to encompass his ability as a six-string maestro, and he has teamed up with myself to write new material which heavily features driving rhythms and exceptional lead guitar playing. Because of his emergence as one of Irelands best guitarists, his energy and eagerness to make up for lost time truly comes across in his song ideas, and they’re fresh, powerful and vibrant yet still maintaining the flavour of classic eighties rock where he derives so much influence.
Keith’s main influences are Randy Rhoads, Zak Wylde and Vivian Campbell, and he can be heard playing the Ozzy classic ‘Mr Crowley’ at the following link:
Keith – Mr Crowley.
I’m so glad that the world of rock guitar was introduced to Keith as it’s a pleasure to be on the same stage as the guy and I truly look forward to recording and releasing our new tracks in the near future.
Andrew Baxter and I were introduced around 1987 when I agreed to do a few gigs for a band called ‘Tyrant’, and my first meeting with him took place at a Saturday afternoon rehearsal for those shows. I had arrived with a bit of form behind me, but had never heard of Andy and at the time ‘Tyrant’ were regarded as one of junior acts striving for success on the Northern Ireland rock circuit, so I didn’t expect any major players to be involved.
I was to be both surprised and impressed by Andrew Baxter’s talent, a guitarist of substance and flair, and he blew me away from the opening chords of Vinnie Vincent’s ‘Boys Wanna Rock’ and continued to wield his axe brilliantly through songs by the likes of Racer X, Great White, The Scorpions and Judas Priest to name but a few. Needless to say I was then really looking forward to doing the scheduled shows with him and Tyrant, and the success of those performances encouraged me to make my stay with the band a longer one than first anticipated.
Backed by the addition of Robbie Barry on second guitar, Andy continued to improve and impress, and his eagerness to practice and determination to be as good as those guitarists he was covering built him a reputation which he was to develop and maintain to this day. His intensity would often be at loggerheads with my own views back then of what rock ‘n roll was all about, and that would on occasion lead to a bit of friction between axe-man and front-man, but there was no denying that he was focused on what it took to achieve success in that climate of heavy rock and I have to admire him for his ability to filter out all the bullshit and concentrate on what it was going to take to have him make it as a successful guitarist!
‘Tyrant’ was eventually to fold as Robbie Barry decided to take up an opportunity in Australia which would have him gaining success there on the Aussie rock circuit and as my own stay with the band was always deemed to have been on a temporary level anyway, it was time to part ways. For a short time Andy and I put together a cover band called ‘Angel Heart’, but I developed a throat infection which led to me having to abort a Limelight gig mid-performance and the band never really recovered from the lay-off period which followed.
Andrew has went on to do many things, including starring in television ads for Harp lager, and apart from a period during which he concentrated solely on instrumental material, he has continuously been a part of the Irish rock circuit, most notably in his last act ‘Riffmaster General’ in which he concentrated on original material and added vocals to his reportoire. All things Andrew Baxter can be found at his website:
With Andrew and myself it was always a case of getting things so far and then relying on an ejector seat, but you never know, now we’re older and wiser……!