Matt Letley
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In the beginning...
I started playing drums at age six. My father, an accomplished accordion player, taught me the basics of playing and reading music before taking me to lessons with Graham Willeard of Drumland in Dartford. After four years with Graham, I studied with Bob Cleall from Rochester. Amongst other things, Bob taught me how to transcribe drum music. Years later he was commissioned to transcribe a selection of Steve Gadd's performances for a tutor book and got stuck on a particular solo from Steve's 'Up Close' video. I was able to help him out and he kindly made sure I got a credit.

By the age of twelve I was playing with a local progressive-rock band called 'Sindelfingen' which was fronted by a brilliant guitarist called Richard Manktelow and also featured my brother Mark on bass. This involved playing long complicated pieces of music in all manner of time signatures... 21/16 sticks in my mind! I also developed an interest in playing guitar at this time.

For my thirteenth birthday the members of Sindelfingen clubbed together to buy me my first guitar, a 'Hofner Verithin', which I still have. Richard soon had me playing various guitar parts in songs without drums.

At fifteen I spotted an advert in Melody Maker... the London Youth Jazz Orchestra were looking for players and my father took me to the audition in Wandsworth. I passed, as did Duncan Gaffney and so we shared the drum chair. He was a natural jazzer whereas I leant more towards the rock and funk side of big band drumming - it was a good balance. Each week there were guest conductors, all highly respected musicians such as Barbara Thompson, Kathy Stobart and Eddie Harvey. My time with LYJO culminated in a week-long tour of Holland in early '77, just when I was supposed to be taking my mock O'levels. I remember my school was not exactly thrilled when my father asked for special leave for me to go on the tour... in fact they said no. But my father had no illusions about my academic ambitions and to his credit insisted I go. The tour was a great success. I failed all my mocks.

Around the same time my drum teacher Bob recommended me for a local dinner/dance residency at a motel called the 'Inn on the Lake'. This was playing in a nine-piece show band every Friday and Saturday, reading lots of charts. Extra gigs came in and I was often doing four or five nights a week. My mother (incidentally a flute player) was also my roadie and driver, sometimes picking me up from school and taking me straight to gigs.

On leaving school in the summer of '77 the show band gig soon came to an end but I stayed with the bandleader as part of his backing band for his cabaret floorshow. He did fire eating, juggling and allsorts - it was certainly entertaining - at least for his backing band!

Needless to say that didn't last long but he put me forward for a band called 'Flint', whose drummer had just left. They were doing a residency at 'La Dolce Notte', a restaurant in Jermyn Street, six nights a week and a club elsewhere on a Sunday. Still too young to drive, my Mum, bless her, was now chauffeuring me from our home in Gillingham to London seven days a week in our trusty (most of the time) blue Austin Mini-Van. Before I joined Flint they had already passed an audition to appear on the TV talent show 'New Faces'. In the January of '78 we won the show and secured a recording contract with Mickie Most at RAK Records. Unfortunately the single only reached 47 in the charts but the band worked pretty much non-stop playing all kinds of clubs, summer seasons, air force bases and the like.

I started getting hired for sessions at a local studio in Rochester and after five years with Flint, in the autumn of '82; I decided to go it alone. This was quite a step as I had not long been married, bought a house and acquired a mortgage! Fortunately before long I got a call to do a tour of Spain with folk/rock band Magna Carta.

It turned out to be the first of many tours to come... and with many different artists.


Tours
2000-2013 Status Quo World
1997-2000 Hank Marvin U.K./Europe
1995-1997 Vanessa-Mae World
1990-1997 David Essex U.K./Australia
1988-1989 A-ha World
1987-1990 Bob Geldof Europe/Australia
1986-1987 Kim Wilde Europe
1984-1985 Elkie Brooks UK
1983-1985 Judie Tzuke UK
1982-1983 Magna Carta Middle East and Europe


Albums and singles
Status Quo Bula Quo!
Status Quo Quid Pro Quo
Status Quo In Search of The Fourth Chord
Status Quo The Party Ain't Over Yet
Status Quo XS All Areas
Status Quo Heavy Traffic
Status Quo Riffs
Hank Marvin At The Movies
Rhino Edwards Rhino's Revenge
Vanessa-Mae Red Hot (live)
Vanessa-Mae Cotton Eye Joe (live)
Michael English The Nearest To Perfect
Michael English Blue Velvet
Renauld Marchand De Cailloux
David Essex Singin' The Blues
David Essex A Shoulder To Cry On
Simon Darlow Run Wild
Simon Darlow Hot
Kim Wilde Another Step (Closer To You)
Pet Shop Boys A Man Could Get Arrested
7th Heaven Hot Fun
Snowy White For You
Snowy White Rush Hour
Snowy White I Can't Let Go
Snowy White That Certain Thing
Flint A Real Fine State Of Mind
Flint Country Summer Days


Videos
Status Quo "Just Doin' it" Live at the NEC
Status Quo XS All Areas
Vanessa-Mae Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Judie Tzuke The Cat Is Out Tour
David Essex His Greatest Hits Live
A-ha The Hits of A-ha


Films
Status Quo Bula Quo! (feature film)
Status Quo Hello Quo (documentary)
1984 Slayground Music by Colin Towns


Jingles
1992 - Pizza Hut commercials
1984 - Budweiser commercials


TV Music/Appearances
2005 - Coronation Street - ITV
2000 - Rough Treatment- ITV
1999 - The Ambassador - BBC TV
1997 - Roy & H.G.'s Bughouse - Australian T.V
1996 - Full Swing - BBC TV
1990 - Roy's Raiders - BBC TV
1979 - Minder "Monday Night Fever" - ITV


Interviews
Rhythm Magazine - December 2002


Drum Clinics
2001 - The Ahoy, Rotterdam with Ricky Lawson


Song Writing
2013 - 'Running Inside My Head' - Status Quo 'Bula Quo!'
2007 - 'You're The One For Me' - Status Quo 'In Search of The Fourth Chord'
2005 - 'Nevashooda' - Status Quo 'The Party Ain't Over Yet'
2005 - 'You Never Stop' - Status Quo 'The Party Ain't Over Yet'
1996 - Corporate video soundtrack for COPS music manufacturing
1993 - As Time Goes By - BBC TV (Incidental Music)




Photography on this page by www.ccphotoart.biz
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