Like one or two others of my generation I began my musical life in a skiffle group. Upon leaving school my ex-next door neighbour, one Cliff Richard, was instrumental in me getting a gig with Adam Faith. This lasted through five years and several hit records. I’d been at school with a bunch of folk singers who, with my musical aid, produced a decidedly unexpected record: ‘Concrete and Clay’ which was a tremendous success around the world. After a protracted time in Europe with a chanteur named Richard Anthony I returned to Britain and my pals Unit 4+2 whilst waiting for my next band Argent to get its act together.
Several million records and many gruelling tours later Phoenix rose from the ashes of Argent and in turn became Charlie. During this period I made records with many punk bands whose drummers couldn’t cut it in the studios, as well as several recording stints with Leo Sayer, Russ Ballard, Ringo Starr and Roger Daltrey.
Peter Gabriel left Genesis and Phil Collins invited me to join the band but contractual obligations would not allow this whereupon I toured and recorded with Ian Mathews, Mike Rutherford and Richie Havens before Don McLean engaged my drumming services for a couple of years.
In 1977 Henrit’s Drumstore opened in London’s Wardour Street. After playing on solo albums for Dave Davies I came to the notice of his brother Ray who invited me to join the Kinks. Umpteen albums and even more world tours later The Kinks were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In 1995 I achieved a unique ambition playing at the Hall’s inaugural concert in Cleveland alongside the likes of Chuck Berry, James Brown, Bruce Springstein and just about anybody who’s anybody in Rock ‘n’ Roll.
In 1992 I received the coveted ‘Ivor Novello Award’ for services to music. Things with the Kinks tended to go in fits and starts and during a lull in the proceedings I was writing about Ivor Arbiter, who had been responsible for many inventions in the drum world. Ivor had a new and revolutionary project up his sleeve which I was so enthusiastic about that, when asked to help with the promotion and marketing of this ‘Advanced Tuning’ system I jumped at the chance. With my guidance this system gave rise to ‘Flats’ which was the first acoustic drum set in a bag.
In 2005 I decided that Flats could go further and decided to take the project to its logical conclusion away from Arbiter. ‘Traps’ are the vastly improved result of this step forward and are now in demand around the world in acoustic and electronic versions.
Having started my writing career with Beat Instrumental, Melody Maker and International Musician whilst running the drum store in the sixties and seventies I still write regularly about drums, sadly no longer for Melody Maker, but for Rhythm, Modern Drummer, Rimshot, Drum! and various other magazines around the world. I am currently working on several multi-media projects including ‘Crash, Bang, Wallop’ an info-tainment about drums, drummers and drumming.
I am at the moment putting the finishing touches to two books. The first is my autobiography tentatively entitled ‘Banging On’ the second is the ‘The more (or less) Complete book of the Arbiter drum’. I contribute monthly to www.mikedolbear.com the world’s most popular drummers’ website and also write pieces on travel for various publications.
These days as far as gigs are concerned I respond to the telephone and play with Argent and various pals including the guys from Argent like John Verity, Russ Ballard and Jim Rodford and every now and then with the Kast Off Kinks.
Live Set Up:
(Drummer’s right to left)
8” Avedis Thin Crash
21” Avedis Rock Ride
15” Custom Fast Crash K
16” Thin Dark Crash K
20” Avedis China Boy Low
13” Avedis Newbeat HiHats
13” Avedis Thin Crash (just for fun)
Studio Set Up:
21” Armand Ride
18” Armand thin Crash
16” Armand thin Crash
14” Armand HiHats
10” Armand Splash
As far as the Kinks set up was concerned it was my present live set which I picked up from the Boston factory in 1984 but almost immediately used without the China Boy (which as a guitarist Dave hated) and substituted by a 19” thin Avedis crash and with a pair of 15” Avedis hi hats mounted statically on my right for extra chug.
Argent in the late sixties was a completely different set with a pair of 15” hats and a 28” gong behind me and three crashes set in a descending line on my right and three more on my left to enable me to ‘gliss’ down them for a single hit. (When we toured with Mahavishnu in 1972 Billy Cobham said mine were the heaviest cymbals he’d ever heard which I took as a compliment!) Oh and a 20” Pang which I loved while everyone else hated it.