I was born in England to Scottish parents and fell in love with music in the early-1960s. My first record purchase was Elvis Presley's Devil In Disguise. Over the decades I've fallen in (and sometimes out) of love with jazz, blues, folk, prog rock, hard rock, punk, reggae, soul, R&B, disco, funk and hip hop. I'm immune to most classical music but allergic to opera. After unsuccessful attempts at higher education at Sheffield Polytechnic and Sheffield University I eventually returned to the poly and graduated in social studies in 1988 after qualifying as a nurse, became a semi-professional bass player in a variety of covers bands, acquired a PhD from the University of East Anglia and taught there for 20 years before giving up full-time health-care teaching and research to become a freelance writer. I write about jazz and blues for JJ and All About Jazz and I am one of the very few European critics who participate in the Downbeat Critics Poll each year. I'm the author of Shellac and Swing!: a social history of the gramophone in Britain (publication due early 2020) and Two Bold Singermen and the English Folk Revival: the lives, song traditions and legacies of Sam Larner and Harry Cox (publication due in 2021). My favourite instrument is the human voice and almost all of my favourite songs consist of fewer than four chords.
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