SAS Band UK Tour with Patti Russo and a cast of stars

I had the great pleasure of seeing Patti Russo tonight in Tunbridge Wells, as part of her UK Tour, with The SAS Band. SAS (Spike’s All Stars) is the brainchild of Spike Edney, who plays keyboards and is Musical Director for Queen. On tonight’s bill are Graham Gouldman (10CC), who wrote a string of hits including “Bus Stop” for The Hollies, Mel C of the Spice Girls, Cheryl Baker (Bucks Fizz) and Madeline Bell (Blue Mink). With a band of professionals to die for, The SAS Band must be seen on tour this week in the UK. They rarely play public gigs so check the dates below and don’t miss out.

Patti Rocks

Patti Rocks – Photography Albert van de Werfhorst

I first met Spike perhaps 10 years ago at the ancient village of Chiddingfold in Surrey, after my sister Sheila invited me to the gig. It turned out that Sheila’s sister in law used to do Spike’s book-keeping and I went along not really knowing this. I remember meeting him afterwards backstage and having no idea who he was! :-) Spike organises a complex and extremely professional show, having brought together a great list of talents over the years from Cozy Powell, Brian May, Leona Lewis, Jeff Beck, Toyah Wilcox, Fish, Annie Lennox – the list goes on and on. Perhaps not that surprising as he is Queen’s Musical Director, but impressive nonetheless.

Mel C - smashed it

Mel C – smashed it – Photograph Nicole Falter

Everyone was on top form. Madeline Bell was simply fabulous at 73 years young, doing a sublime version of “I heard it on the Grapevine”. What a great bundle of joy she is. The surprise of the night was Cheryl Baker who performed a superb version of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”. Graham Gouldman of 10CC delivered with ease some of the many hits he wrote “For Your Love”, “Dreadlock Holiday”, “Rubber Bullets” etc. Mel C surprised with a great version of “One Vision” alongside “Too Much”. Spike led one of their legendary mashups of 29 classic riffs, beautifully arranged into one seamless whole.

A soul legend - Madeline Bell - more than ever we need a great big melting pot now

A soul legend – Madeline Bell – more than ever we need a great big melting pot now

Of course I particularly enjoyed Patti Russo’s performance, having had the honour of working with Patti a couple of times myself. She performed her new release “When it Comes to Love” amongst many other favourites. I’d strongly encourage you to attend one of the dates on her UK tour. A couple are solo dates and others with The SAS Band, with special guests on different nights, including Roger Taylor of Queen.

Tuesday 1st December – The Pheasantry, Pizza Express Live, London – Solo

Thursday 3rd December – Watford Colloseum – SAS Band

Friday 4th December – Salisbury City Hall – SAS Band

Saturday 5th December – G Live, Guildford – SAS Band

Tuesday 8th December – Portsmouth Guildhall – SAS Band

Saturday 12th December – Pavillion Hall, Buxton – Solo

Contact us at The Academy of Rock to discuss corporate events with Patti, from New York to London to Milan and anywhere besides.



Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics. His new book “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” is available to order at Bloomsbury.

Do It Yourself – Disrupting the Music Industry

Come join us at The Virgin Lounge in Eagle Place, London on Friday December 04 at 3 pm where I will be talking with Mark Christopher Lee, leader of cult indie band “the pocket gods”. Mark was discovered by the late John Peel who liked his song written about his local curry house – “Ballad Of The Peshwari Naan” and was called a “wilful maverick” by Tom Robinson. Mark has just released an album called 100 x 30. Mark explains the concept:

“I wanted to do something to help musicians gain fairer royalties from the music industry/streaming giants with an album of 100 songs all 30 seconds long – For example Spotfiy pays out a tiny royalty of 0.007p per track over 30 seconds. This gave me the idea of recording an album of 100 songs that were 30 seconds long each. Why write songs that are any longer? All the songs were recorded on laptops in garages from just a few takes in a lo-fi style – the album is all about ideas and creativity as opposed to perfectionism and over production – technology allows people to record great quality music at low cost at home which is very punk and empowering”.

In my business life, I’ve written about the theory of constraints on a number of occasions and this project is a classic exercise in using constraints as a spur to creativity. See Constraints and Creativity for more information.

100 x 30 - Click to view the website

100 x 30 – Click to view the website

Mark has written and recorded 72 albums since 1998. As well as an indie legend, having previously played bass in Jesus and The Mary Chain, he also runs his own indie label which is now home to 20 or so aspiring new artists, many of whom are favourites on BBC 6 music as well as home to more established acts such as the legendary songwriter Larry Weiss, who wrote million sellers Rhinestone Cowboy, Bend Me Shape Me and Hi Ho Silver Lining. 

100 x 30 features Mungo Jerry, Owen Paul (My favourite waste of time), Tom Greene of The Orb et moi – I contributed a 1984 inspired track under the name “The Pigs of Freedom” called “Anaesthesia Politica”, which sports 3 verses, 3 chords, a 3 second guitar solo and comes in at 33 seconds long – just 3 seconds over Spotify’s budget to qualify as a song :-) I am looking forward to my 0.007 pence royalties from them!!

City AM picked up the story recently, comparing us with Taylor Swift – I’m not sure the comparisons are valid, but take a look for yourself:

The first time we have been linked to Taylor Swift - Click to access City AM article

The first time we have been linked to Taylor Swift – Click to access City AM article

Please contact the London Eagle Place Lounge on 0207 439 8802 to register your place. It’s absolutely FREE!!  All event details here.

Here’s “Anaesthesia Politica” – I described it as a 1984 inspired Psychedelic Political Punk Poem!  An entirely new genre of music I think :-)

and the slightly longer “Pestonomics“, released last week in support of Cancer Research UK:

Click to buy the track for Cancer Research UK

Click to buy the track for Cancer Research UK

… and two  of the album tracks:


About the Writer:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via or +44 (0) 7725 927585

Pestonomics – A tribute to Robert Peston

He’s a very hard act to follow so just who will replace Robert Peston at the BBC, now that he is off to ITV?  Will Auntie opt for the progressive style that he has pioneered to take the BBC into the 21st Century or opt for a more conservative choice, taking them to possible oblivion?

Who should replace Robert Peston at the BBC? – answers please

I took Robert and Dr Andrew Sentance to meet George Clinton, The Godfather of P-Funk, earlier in the year. It was a great opportunity to learn of his life and loves outside the BBC, and especially his love for music of many genres from David Bowie to Punk, P-Funk and beyond. I composed the song “Pestonomics” in his honour and it will form the basis our our charitable campaign for 2015, with all proceeds going to Cancer Research UK. Download the song by clicking the picture. With your help, perhaps it will be a Christmas No 1?

Peston Funk 1

With the Godfather of P-Funk – Mr George Clinton

I am extremely grateful to Kristine Wilkinson Hughes, singer/songwriter, My Girl The RiverWonderful Productions and The Frogs Chorus, who stepped in at the last minute to provide superb female vocals for the track and Rowena Morgan, The Musical Geisha, for connecting me to Kristine in the first place.  I crowdsourced ideas for the lyrics from social media and several people have already observed that the song has some of the most doubtful rhymes known to man or woman – quite a result I feel !! :-)  Here are the words:

Who gets your vote to replace Robert Peston at the BBC?

Help Cancer Research UK here

The credits

Crowdsourced lyrical ideas from the following people:

Robert Lindsay
Mark Stratton
David Chislett
Dave Brooks
Claire Sparham
Damon Summers
Geoff Lee
Clive Leighton
Leigh Hunnable
Jim Keilt
Zee Fincham
Andy Wooler
John Threesixteen
Michael Butterworth
Andrew Bourke
Paul Titley
Stuart Gunthorpe
Gary Lee Connor
Matt Durrell


About the Writer:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via or +44 (0) 7725 927585

Punks, Virgins and Pop Art

I’m proud to present a unique event on Friday November 27th 3 pm at The Virgin Lounge in Eagle Place, London with Richard Strange, founder of proto-punk band The Doctors of Madness, who inspired The Sex Pistols, The Damned, Spandau Ballet, Richard Branson, The Jam, Joy Division et al.

Urban Blitz performing with The Doctors of Madness at Richard's celebration of William Burroughs at The Royal Festival Hall

Urban Blitz performing with The Doctors of Madness at Richard’s celebration of William Burroughs at The Royal Festival Hall

Richard will talk about leading the pop art / punk rock revolt and the wider notions of disruption in music and business. He will share some hilarious and insightful stories, including his time as a Virgin Records artist, how not to deal with Bryan Ferry and various other delights  Strange will also talk about a mammoth undertaking last year, where he put on an entire theatre production at the Royal Festival Hall to celebrate the life of William Burroughs, author of “Naked Lunch” and a primary figure in the Beat Generation who influenced David Bowie, The Beatles, R.E.M, Steely Dan and U2 to name but a few.


Ginsberg and Burroughs in the Theatre Production by Richard Strange

Take a look at the trailer video for the show:

Join us in the Lounge with Richard for an interview supplemented with great video footage, Q and A, meet and greet and possible mini acoustic performance.

Please contact the London Eagle Place Lounge on 0207 439 8802 to register your place.

Never Mind The Credit Card

Never Mind The Credit Card …

Party’s Over .. but I’m still Eight Miles High

I had the great pleasure of playing with a Rock Legend just recently, at London’s Borderline with Bernie Tormé and the band. Even more frightening to be in front of a crowd of fans who can be quite precious about their heroes, not always wanting any interference with their expectations from outsiders.  It seems I more than “got away” with the whole thing, having impressed blogger Darren Johnson with my ability to play with Class A rock stars:

Click on the picture to read Darren's Review

Click on the picture to read Darren’s Review

It seems that the world thinks that not only am I a good business consultant / author but also a rather fine guitar player who can hold their own with world class musicians. Getting an accolade like this is perhaps more important than scoring 11/10 on a happy sheet from an event or masterclass – of course, both things matter, but I think this review has set the week off rather well !! At the point of writing this I confess I am feeling rather smug – back to earth soon I hope ! Here’s some video of the rather drunken jam session:

Bernie Tormé’s tour continues through the month in Oxford, Newcastle, Liverpool and Brighton. Check the band out.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 22.14.58

We also did a superb event in The Virgin Lounge where Bernie did an interview, conducted a Q&A and gave a mini guitar masterclass.


The Mile High Club at the Virgin Lounge – Picture by Christina Jansen

The Band et moi and Peter Lawrence - Picture by Christina Jansen

The Band et moi and Peter Lawrence – Picture by Christina Jansen

A full interview with Bernie appears in my current book “The Music of Business” where we discuss the impact of climate on high performance, Jimi Hendrix, the gentle art of improvisation from a starting point of nothing and various other matters.

Click on the picture to check the book out

Click on the picture to check the book out on Amazon

Our next events in the Virgin Lounge are on Friday 27th November with the Godfather of Punk, Mr Richard Strange and Friday December 4th with Mark Christopher Lee, who has created an album of 100 x 30 second songs as a disruptive force in the music industry.

The Voice

Never mind the television programme of the same name. The “Real Voice” passed away this week – Peter Donaldson, former news anchor at BBC Radio 4. I was privileged to meet Peter on a 15 minute tube journey on the Central Line nearly 10 years back en route to Radio 4 to give an interview for The Today Programme with Martyn Shankleman.

I was not sure which stop I should be getting off at and noticed his BBC pass, so asked if he knew the way as I was in danger of being late.  He was initially a little guarded as I had a guitar and I suspect he may have thought I was a busker. After I explained that I was going to an interview for the Today Programme, he piped up in his characteristic BBC voice “I’m Peter Donaldson, pleased to meet you”. I suspect he may have been out with some friends drinking wine at lunchtime :-) Listening to the tributes to him, my hunch may have been correct – red wine seems to have been one of his great pleasures according to my friend Fenella Fudge, a colleague of Peter’s and voice over specialist.

In our short journey to White City, Peter was gloriously irreverent about BBC management – a true maverick. Within minutes it seemed as though I’d known him for years – the hallmark of someone who was obviously hugely talented at getting on with people of all persuasions. It seems from the various tributes that he touched everyone he met with his sense of fun, kindness and wisdom. Fenella’s eulogy below sums up the man that I met in a brief encounter on a tube train:

“Far too handsome for radio, bearded in winter and clean-shaven in summer, he was the twinkliest man you could ever wish to meet.

Warm, mischievous, kind and wise … but streaked with the idiocy running through real radio people … Peter Donaldson was my lovely boss for 8 years, and colleague for many years after … I can still hear his magnificent voice in my mind, bellowing “Fenellamoo!” at any chance meeting – I called him “Guv”.

His passing makes me ache for a world where public service broadcasting was a vocation, where quality trumped audience figures, and innovation and daring created extraordinary programmes … where hope, joy, talent and ambition mingled, as the BBC invested in mavericks, misfits and above all, fun.

Radio is all about imagination and passion, and there are brilliant pockets where programme makers still duck stifling edicts and pointless corporate demands to produce appointment listening … but the staff are increasingly cowed and creatively neutered.

Peter fought management stupidity with every fibre of his being, he championed those he recognised as fellow wireless warriors, and lampooned the poltroons and buffoons who tried to turn radio into a numbers game.

He is an unmistakeable voice in any radiophile’s pantheon, one of a dying breed of instinctive selfless broadcasters, always striking the right tone, whether with humour or gravitas.

Foremost in his mind was the listener, because radio should be a conversation, not a tannoy.

And conversations with Peter are what I’ll miss – really, really miss.”

Click on the picture to hear the BBC’s own tributes to Peter from his colleagues:


Peter Donaldson R.I.P 1945 – 2015

No Hot Ashes

I was delighted to meet Eamon Nancarrow – lead singer for No Hot Ashes the other week at a festival and we talked at some length about Failure, Dementia and Rock’n’Roll. No Hot Ashes have just ‘risen from the ashes’ to play their 80’s styled melodic rock again. This began in 2013 when they played a tribute gig for the recently closed Rosetta Bar, THE venue for Northern Irelands’s rock and metal scene from the early 80’s and also as a tribute to their old manager Stephen Magee who passed away before his time.

Click to find No Hot Ashes

Click to find No Hot Ashes

Eamon told me the amazing story of his father who, at the age of 80, elected to look after his wife with dementia over the last four years at home. This is real heroism as he pointed out. Eamon wrote a song to celebrate his father called “Boulders”, with proceeds going to a basket of Dementia charities. Don’t just watch the video, buy Boulders and support dementia, a silent disease, mostly ignored in favour of the big cancer charities.

You and me started out as friends
We’ll see this journey to the end
Renewed our vows helped us carry on
What doesn’t kill us, makes us strong

Click to buy Holywood Star on Amazon

Click to buy Holywood Star on Amazon

Eamon is also a writer with three books to his name. The latest is called “Holywood Star: the life and times of a rock and roll misadventurer”. The book gives great insights into what it was like growing up in the tough surroundings of Northern Ireland, while trying to look like David Coverdale. Eamon tells one of the incredible stories on the film below. Holywood Star is very witty, but Eamon also makes some serious points about the contradictions and paradoxes of living life in a divided land.

A taste of things to come .. check the book out on Amazon

A taste of things to come .. check the book out on Amazon

An enduring theme of the book is that, no matter how bad things get, there is always a funny side to your situation – a point that I recognise in my own life, having worked with Aylesbury’s greatest failure, John Otway, having lost my heart, soul and bank balance on John’s failed world tour.

Check No Hot Ashes Website out by clicking the picture

Check No Hot Ashes Website out by clicking the picture

I really enjoyed talking with Eamon – a very perceptive soul with a big heart. Do check Boulders and No Hot Ashes out.


For more on Music and Business grab your copy of The Music of Business.

Click on the picture to check the book out