I grew up in the sleepy English town of Letchworth Garden City in the 1960s and first got interested in music when I heard the Beatles on the radio. My parents bought me an acoustic guitar when I was about eight and I taught myself to play while also 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 was amazed- never had I heard sounds like that coming out of my acoustic guitar and I decided that from that day on, I had to have an electric guitar. Now if only I could convince my parents to buy me one…
I soon got my electric guitar and set to work trying to play like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), 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 turned back to my old acoustic guitar, which had been gathering dust in the corner. The guitar-burning incident, though tragic at the time, would prove to be a major turning point in my life. I started to develop a love for acoustic music, something that continues to this day- I soon found lots of inspiration in the music of Crosby Stills and Nash, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell all featuring acoustic guitar. I now carried that acoustic guitar with me everywhere I went - it became my best friend.
By the time I left school in 1973 I knew that music was my calling, and while all my 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 that I briefly joined a group by the name of “Principal Edwards’ Magic Theatre”, only to see them disband a few weeks later. However, one of the members of that group recommended me to Al Stewart and in early 1975 I was asked to join Al’s band for a tour of the UK and then the USA. It was a most exciting time for me. It was my first trip to America and we were opening up for artists like Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel and Queen. Just 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 between Al and I 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”.
My brother Danny (remember the guitar burning incident?) had by now made his own way in the music business and asked me to do some recording with his group Matt Bianco, featuring an unknown Polish singer -Basia. I subsequently played on her first solo album “Time and Tide” released in 1987 and also on many of her tours and CDs. 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”. I used 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 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 great artists and 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” and “Jazz Attack” tours and have also established my annual “Peter White Christmas Tour”. This is a chance for me and some of my musical friends to play our favorite Christmas music. My first Christmas CD “Songs of the Season” was released in 1997.
Over the years, I have become very comfortable as a performer. I feel a tremendous joy when I’m able to connect with my audience. The purpose of performing 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!
Peter’s latest CD, Groovin’ is his 3rd collection of classic songs from the 60s and 70s and features guest soloists Rick Braun on trumpet and Vincent Ingala on saxophone. His take on these well-known songs is fresh and exhilarating. “My goal is to present these songs in a way that reflects my style and at the same time remind people of this great era of songwriting!”