Family-PartyMy Family has a history of music going back to Victorian times. The best musician in my family by far was my Grandfather. (Frank Stallwood Snr. Father’s side) Grandpa had a wonderful tenor voice being blessed with perfect pitch and played the banjo, mandolin (basically anything with strings attached) and also played a mean harmonica. He played in several big-bands during the 20’s & 30’s and fronted his own smaller combo’s too. My Father (Norman Stallwood) played exclusively from the printed copy and his preference in music was mainly Popular music from the Forties, songs from the musicals and light classics. My Fathers brother (Frank Stallwood Jnr.), however was more inclined toward Jazz and improvised music. One day he arrived and on being invited to play the piano suddenly launched himself into this wild and exciting ‘Boogie’ style which he had cultivated in Army NAAFI’s during the war. The value (or dangers) of inspiration couldn’t be more evident because that moment undoubted changed my life. Mel-PrizeAt 14 I came 3rd in the 1963 National Association of Boys Clubs Music Competition (finals were held in Birmingham) playing my boogie-woogie piano arrangement of ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and Winifred Atwells ‘Five Finger Boogie’. The winners were a folk-rock group several years older but very good, unfortunately! The Mayor of Peterborough presented me with the trophy at the Town Hall.

Within a couple of years (age 16) I was recording music for DECCA & POLYDOR records, and at 17 I had left home and was making a living playing piano and organ every evening with a jazz trio at a local night-spot. This played havoc with my formal classical studies but provided me with more than 40 unforgettable years (more here) living in different lands, meeting and working with well known vocalists and entertainers,and enjoying and sharing music to the full. These experiences have subsequently helped me to achieve a successful teaching practice in my local community for several years in Cambridgeshire and now in Teesdale.

Dad-Craig-Mark3I have 2 sons Craig – has played piano professionally throughout the world on cruise ships and in clubs and top hotel venues, and my youngest son Mark is a talented guitarist. I think they were only about maybe six and four in this photo. Unfortunately I can’t remember where we were at the time though.