The Late Eighties
I did get one really good thing out of the mid 80’s. In 1985, my beautiful son Krys was born and he has been a source of great joy and pride to me ever since.
Also in 1985 I was asked to design and build a recording studio in Sheffield by a couple of acquaintances. It was called Mark-It Studios (not my name but so called because it was built in a building in a market place). It was designed to produce backing tracks for artists, media support as well as operating as a standard recording studio. I completed the build and stuck with the project for approximately a year, as a session musician and engineer. It became rapidly apparent to me that the business was being poorly managed as the primary investors had no concept of the music business, so I pulled out. The studio folded shortly afterwards and the assets and were sold off at a huge loss, to Tom Chester the engineer. Last I heard he was still running it successfully as Blank Tape Studios (although the gear and location has now changed) and more power to his elbow because he knows his stuff.
Musically, I got out of the doldrums when my late, great, friend Danny Spencer (the drummer from Phoenix Rising who later died an untimely death from leukaemia) was working with a new band and persuaded me to go and join up with them. I joined him in the ToshRollo line-up along with a number of other great musicians. The band had a huge line-up which included 2 guitarists, 2 keyboard players (Hammond and Synth), multiple vocals and percussion, Sax, Bass and Drums. From that point of view, the line-up was similar to that of a lot of modern funk and fusion outfits and the sound and material we experimented with then was also in that vein. Unfortunately that line-up never gigged as some members could not hold on long enough in rehearsal to keep the work going for financial and substance reasons whilst others fell by the wayside musically.
After a while the line-up boiled down to a nucleus of myself, Danny and Annie. Annie had been a member of all female band Fanny and was a superb vocalist and keyboard player, not to mention being a brilliant multi-published songwriter. We continued to work in the demo-studio, under Rising Records, producing demos of original material and in the process we discovered that Danny had a voice. He was featured as a backing vocalist on a number of the demos. This continued until, out of the blue, Danny was diagnosed. That put all of the ToshRollo work on the backburner until we found the outcome of Danny’s problem.
I then had a period of working with Danny through his remissions, in various band formations in the late eighties before he lost his battle on the very last day of 1989. We didn’t put ToshRollo back together after that.