Richard Gleave has acquired an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of guitars, both electric and acoustic, and of their amplification during more than fifty years as a semi-professional musician. His musical interests have always spanned a wide range of genres : blues, rock, soul, country, folk, playing both covers and original material.
At age thirteen in his home town of Clacton-on-Sea, he acquired an acoustic guitar bought by his grandfather, then made his first electric guitar himself, having already formed a ‘beat group’ called ‘The Blue-Berries’. Together with Richard Higgins, Paul Swan and David Henderson he was soon playing at local holiday camps and clubs. He was then fortunate enough to win a prestigious Burns ‘Shortscale Jazz’ guitar in a Kellogg's Rice Krispies competition - as was Paul Swan! This band later developed into ‘Southbound’ with long-time friend Tony Jones.
While still at school he supported Van Morrison (Them) and Steve Winwood (The Spencer Davis Group) and somewhat embarrassingly, as an audacious fifteen year old, decided he would teach the opening chord of ‘A Hard Day's Night’ to Ian 'Tich' Amey of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, then playing a summer season as The Bostons at Butlin's Holiday Camp in Clacton. Tich very nobly used it at his gig that evening!
Moving on to Imperial College, he joined the band already established by Richard Higgins and this was where he met Dave Gillbe. This band played London gigs and variously supported Alexis Korner, Jeff Lynne (Idle Race), who tried to buy Richard’s AC30 and Mary Whitehouse (yes, really). His student days coincided with those of Brian May (at that time with ‘1984’, then ‘Smile’, all pre-Queen) who was also studying physics. Their AC30s sat side-by-side in the Jazz Club Room and (for trivia lovers) were only 2 serial numbers apart! Brian would sometimes act as unofficial music producer to their band and once borrowed a fiesta red Fender Jaguar from Richard for a week before deciding that his now legendary home-made ‘red special’ guitar was better. Richard preferred his Jag - D’oh! Sadly Brian didn't need a second guitarist! Proximity to The Albert Hall enabled Richard to see at first hand legends such as Jimi, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Led Zep Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall and Cream at their final ‘68 farewell concert (where Eric played the Gibson 335). He was also present at Queen’s fabled pre-fame launch concert at Imperial.
During the seventies, Richard formed the band Blazer with Dave Gillbe and Lawrie Wright (previously with Jackson Heights) which, following a dismal performance in the Melody Maker ‘Folk and Rock Contest’, morphed into French Lessons. A large part of the '80s was devoted to setting up and running the company ARK Geophysics (absorbed into ARKeX, now sadly defunct), of which he was the Technical Director and which was the subject of a Radio 4 programme in 1988. He nevertheless found time to gig with ‘Altitude’ and 'The Boogie Brothers' with Beth & Bill Hillman (of Karnehm & Hillman snooker tables) and Gil Gilchrist, also a band called 'Pumping up the Spare'. Altitude also included David Henderson (Blue-Berries). The other two bands featured Dave Gillbe on bass.
Between 1987 and 2004, as well as gigging regularly with bands such as Memphis Plates (with Andy Powell, Andy Viccars, Mac McErlane and Dave Gillbe), Junk & Disorderly (with wife Delia, Ian Hewitt & Francis Coates), Penda's Fen and Watling's Treat (with the late folk legends Beryl and Roger Marriott), he has played at various times with much missed Maartin Allcock also Simon Mayor, Wild Willy Barrett, Kevin Dempsey, Chris Leslie, Dave Swarbrick, Bruce Rowland and alongside Fairport Convention. In 1991, he recorded with Beryl & Roger and appears on the Simon Nicol produced album ‘Weave the mirror’. He performed briefly with them on the Fairport 25th anniversary tour in 1992, the final night at The Oxford Apollo being the highlight. In 1998 he recorded a performance by Dave Swarbrick at a private concert and this found its way onto a boxed CD set of his lifetime's recordings. Richard also named the 1986 Fairport album 'Expletive Delighted'.
Richard's current bands include Unit Six, Top Banana, The RJB Band, Calamity's Fling (Ceilidh band) and The Concrete Cowboys (Milton Keynes' oldest, possibly only Bluegrass band). Between 2004-9 he was a member of The Spreadeagles, an Eagles tribute band with some current members of '70s hitmakers, Mud. From 2006 - 2016 he played with Colin Kempster and Steve ‘Rockstar’ Wright in The Curvy Love Dogz.He was a regular dep with The Blues Blah Brothers and has also depped with other local semi-pro bands, such as The Bullfrogs (with Ian Anderson and the late Malcolm Jones - see my tribute page here), 40-Watt (with Andy Powell and Glenn Clarke),Taylor’d Country and Soul Fever. These bands have supported amongst others, Mick Abrahams, The Barron Knights and the late Big George Webley.
He is a director of the company ‘Pure Acoustic’ (together with Robbie Thomas [of Silly Wizard fame]) which manufactures and distributes Skyinbow electric violins and LINND products. He is also on the committee of the Herts branch of the Institute of Measurement and Control (not quite sure how that happened!) He actively supports the MK branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association and is a Voice Banking volunteer. Plus he’s involved with a local archaeological group - not to mention running Golden Riddy Music…