Born: September 20, 1954 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Growing up in the sleepy little English town of Letchworth Garden City in the 1960s, I first got interested in music while listening to the Beatles on the radio. My parents bought me an acoustic guitar when I was about 8 and I taught myself to play while simultaneously taking lessons on the recorder, piano and then later, clarinet. My music education was going along just fine until one day in 1967 I heard the Jimi Hendrix song “Purple Haze”. I had never heard sounds like that coming out of my acoustic guitar and I decided that from that day on, the electric guitar was to be the most important thing in my life. Now if only I could convince my parents to buy me one…. I eventually got my electric guitar and furiously studied the works of Hendrix, Clapton and Page, but my rock star dreams were soon put on hold when my beloved axe was burned in a fire (accidentally) set by my brother Danny. Distraught, I found solace in my old acoustic guitar which had been gathering dust in the corner. I had no idea that this incident, however tragic at the time, would prove to be a turning point in my life. I started to develop a love for the instrument, a feeling that continues to this day. Losing my electric guitar at that time proved to be a blessing - I soon found lots of inspiration in the music of Crosby Stills and Nash, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell who were all playing acoustic guitar based music. I started to carry that guitar with me everywhere I went- it became my best friend.
I knew by this time that music was my calling, and while all his friends went to college, I worked factory jobs until I landed my first musical engagement playing at an English holiday resort in the summer of 1974. After the summer was over I briefly joined a group by the name of “Principal Edwards’ Magic Theatre”, only to watch them disband a few weeks later. However, one of the members of that group recommended me to Al Stewart and I was asked to join Al’s band for a tour of England, Scotland and then the USA, starting in 1975. It was a very exciting time for me, being my first trip to America. We were opening up for artists like Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel and Queen. To be around these musical luminaries was a great thrill for a 20 year old! That summer saw my first studio experience at the famed Abbey Road studio in London, working with Al Stewart on the “Year of the Cat” album, soon to become a million seller. This was the beginning of a musical collaboration that was to last 20 years, during which time we wrote and recorded many songs together, including Al’s 1978 Top Ten hit “Time Passages”.
Along the way, brother Danny (remember the guitar burning incident?) had made his own way in the music business and made up for his pyromaniac ways by hiring me to work with a then unknown Polish singer- Basia. I played on her first album which was released in 1987 to much acclaim. It went on to sell millions worldwide and since then I have played on many tours and recordings with her. Thanks Danny!
In 1990, having been a backup musician for 15 years, and inspired by the English group “Acoustic Alchemy” I decided to start recording my own music and released my first CD “Reveillez-Vous”, a French title in honour of my French mother, Gilberte. It means “Wake Up”. Many other solo CDs followed, with several songs becoming No.1 hits on Smooth Jazz radio, such as “Midnight in Manhattan” a song I recorded with one of my idols, Grover Washington Jr. Basia also collaborated with me on Just Another Day, a song from my Caravan of Dreams CD.
As well as recording my own music, I have performed on recordings by many of my friends, including Dave Koz, Gato Barbieri, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Craig Chaquico, Jeff Golub, Lee Ritenour, 3rd Force, The Rippingtons, Kirk Whalum, Boney James and Marc Antoine. I have been part of numerous “Guitars and Saxes” tours and also have established my annual “Peter White Christmas Tour”. This is a chance for me and some special guests to play some of our favorite Christmas melodies. (My Christmas CD “Songs of the Season” was released in 1997).
Over the years, I have become more comfortable as a performer. I feel a tremendous joy when I’m able to connect with my audience. The purpose of being up there is not to show how clever I can be, but to simply invite everyone to have a good time. Meeting people after shows to sign CDs and chat is also something which I like to do, whenever possible. It’s quite different from the days when I was just in the background getting little recognition!