Master of Rhythm
Wizard of Drums

Where It All Began

Peter William Phipps was born in Clapham, South London on 5th August 1951.

At the age of 8, Pete started music lessons, and was initially taught to play the piano. However, whilst he enjoyed the early lessons, the introduction of those all important rigid scales, dampened his interest such that he gave up until he was 11 when, through his secondary school, he had a go at the violin – but this was equally short lived!

At this time, Pete was interested in the modern music of the early ‘60’s – Buddy Rich, Joe Morello, The Shadows and The Beatles.  A friend of his father had given him a small African drum which he played with two sticks improvised from a Soccerette table soccer set – the first track he can remember playing along to was the drum solo in “Diamonds” (Harris/Meehan), a popular instrumental track which hit number 1 for 6 weeks.  The rest, as they say, is history, because Pete was well and truly bitten by the drumming bug.

Graduating from the African drum and dodgy sticks, to tin cans, and anything which made a good noise, drove Pete’s parents into buying him his first proper kit.  Eventually after about a year without formal tuition, Pete took six months worth of lessons, learning the rudiments before being recommended to Frank King, a well regarded Jazz teacher who taught above “Chas Foote” a drum shop located in the West End of London.  Pete agrees that it was Frank who taught him everything he knows to this day.

At that time, although Pete was playing Jazz, he was discovering Pop via The Beatles’ popular records of the time, and later he leant towards Soul, Reggae, Ska and Blues as a result of frequenting the Ram Jam Club in Brixton, South London which was near where he lived

At the age of 15, and proficient in drums, Pete teamed up with Peter Spencer, a friend from school, and having swapped a tape recorder for Peter’s Guitar, Pete taught himself by mimicking his friend.  They used to jam together with Peter playing Guitar and Pete on either piano or drums.  They started a 5 piece Soul/Blues band - “The Fascination”, playing at weddings and birthday parties in and around Clapham Common, South London.  Pete was still looking to play more music, and although he played several auditions secured through “Melody Maker”, he eventually decided to put out his own advert.  He was approached by “Black” (3-piece Hendrix/Cream) playing the clubs and university circuit, whom he joined and stayed with for about a year.

In the late 60s, Pete aged 17, and Steve Hackett started a band together called “Steel Pier” which played Progressive Rock - this lasted close on a year.  Although they never played a single gig, they had the very best time rehearsing; subsequently of course Steve joined Genesis.

By the time he was 18/19, Pete had been working as a university lab technician, and latterly as a printer; he was also burning the candle at both ends by playing in Bands at night. Unfortunately, he wasn’t yet able to support himself as a full time musician, even though he knew that was what he wanted to do.  By a set of circumstances in which fate no doubt had a hand, Pete was unexpectedly at home one lunchtime when he received a call from rock pianist Carl Simmons, who had sought him out to play a full-time circuit of pubs and clubs with him; during this time, they also recorded an album together.  After about a year, in 1969, Pete moved on and joined soul/funk band Black Velvet, with whom he did some further recording, radio shows and played the clubs circuit.

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