Tony started playing the organ when he was 9. His father, Ron, owned a Hammond T500 which was his pride and joy. Tony showed an interest in his Dad’s music and asked if he could learn the instrument.
Ron taught him all he knew and within a year had arranged private tuition with Tony’s first teacher, Ray Fox.
Aged 11 Tony said he would like to play a concert for his birthday, so Ron arranged for Tony to play his first 2 hour concert to friends and family, about 100 people, and Tony loved every minute!
At around the same time, Tony was honoured to be in the company of a famous organist, spending a weekend with FRANZ LAMBERT.
At the age of 12, Tony & Ron were attending a lot of demos and concerts, and a new organ on the market, an ELKA E49, captured their interest. After continually looking at it for months, one day Tony arrived home from school to discover a gleaming new organ - the ELKA E49! This was Tony’s birthday present from his parents.The organ was never switched off for long, it offered lots of new sounds and rhythms and Tony couldn’t get enough of it, encouraged greatly by his dad. Both Tony & Ron often stayed up until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning practising and discovering new music and medley ideas.
By 14, Tony progressed to another teacher as Ray had taken him as far as he could. For the next 3 years he was coached by Andrew Gilbert who fined tuned Tony’s talents.
Entering competitions was the next stage and the first was a Yamaha Local Region Competition held at Teville Organs, Worthing. Playing a Phantom Of The Opera medley, he impressed the judges (including top jazz musician Steve Lowdell). He won this competition and was asked to compete in the National competition at The Library Theatre Solihull. Performing on the Yamaha HS8, he won £125, which, at such a young age, was like winning the Lottery!
Next was the Wersi competition, and a week after winning that he got a call from Aura Sounds, Purley, inviting him to compete in the Wersi European finals to be held at FRANKFURT - all expenses paid for both Tony and his dad. They went over and won a Wersi Prisma organ which Ron built on their return home. For the next 3 years this was the setup Tony gigged along with a Technics KN800.
As well as Electronic Organ competitions, Tony had also entered the Cinema Organ Society competition held at Gunton Hall when he was 14. Playing one slow piece and one fast piece, he won. Ron hoped this would lead into the Theatre organ circuit but, although he loved the sound of the Wurlitzers, especially when played by Robert Wolfe, Tony didn't have the passion for it and just focused on the Electronic scene.
At 17 Tony was advised to perform at a popular organ festival where he would be heard by many clubs and societies. After writing to many secretaries and manufacturers, this appearance at Caister kick started his professional career after receiving a standing ovation for his first spot played on Yamaha HX-1. The next year he was playing around 30 concerts for the year as well as a full-time job for Ron’s Billposting company.
He worked for his dad from age 17 to 21, as there still was not enough concerts to do it full time.
After four years manual labour and trying to play concerts in the evening, his hands were starting to suffer so it was agreed that he should leave the Company and persue a living solely from music - a good move. Within months, Grant Neal (festival organiser at Caister and Blackpool) asked Tony if he wanted to play the Blackpool Tower Wurlitzer. Even though he was not fully committed to the theatre organ, he still loved the sound and just couldn't turn down an offer like that. It is an amazing experience to rise through the stage on this famous organ. Playing a 20-minute spot, he found the organ very easy to handle, not like a normal theatre organ where there can be a lot of delay after pressing the notes - the sound was instant due to all the monitor speakers on stage.
The same year Tony was invited to play at the Swiss Organ Festival in Zurich, he agreed and very much enjoyed the experience and was benefiting from performing at different venues. At this time (1997) one of Tony’s ambitions was to meet and chat with his idol, Klaus Wunderlich.
In November of that year he was engaged to play again in Switzerland and was told it would be possible to meet up with Klaus on that visit. Sadly, in October 1997 Klaus passed away, aged only 66.
This was devastating for the organ world and for Tony as he had been listening to his music ever since he started playing. Influences from this very special musician are evident in Tony’s shows, there has never been and never will be anyone like Klaus. Tony still very often listens to the music of Klaus.
Tony was proud to receive the Trophy for the first ever Keyboard / Organist of the Year 2003-4 and is grateful to all those who voted for him. It was a 2 yearly award and he was so happy to receive it again for 2005-6. This was the last time this award was given.
Now living near Northallerton, North Yorkshire, it is adding to his mileage for his busy concert schedule but it is a lovely part of the world to spend time with his lovely wife Louise and their four wonderful sons, Charlie, Matthew, William & Lee.
Tony and Louise purchased a shop in Catterick village in February 2002.
Louise had been going to a local market in Richmond every Saturday promoting her home-made cakes and concluded that opening a shop in their own village was a good idea. In February 2002 they opened the doors with not much stock but had loads of enthusiasm to get the business started. Within a year they had gained a very favourable reputation for quality baking and in addition to the fabulous baking, they soon had additional stock including Tin Hire, Wedding Stands, Cutters, Sugar Flowers, Cards and so much more. Louise really worked tremendously hard and after twelve successful years, they closed the shop in February 2014 as a result of a change in circumstances. Louise continued to run her business from a specialist refrigerated van until March 2015.
Tony, Louise, William & Lee ran a series of organ & keyboard concerts for just over seven years. Tony played the first one in November 2011 and in December 2018 the last concert was performed by Tony and Andrew.