Andy Parker

Andy Parker I was born in an upstairs flat in College Road, Cheshunt, Herts, on March 21st 1952. I don't remember much about it, being very young at the time. Last I looked though, the house was still there. It's always seemed kinda wild to me, to be able to see the exact place where you came into the world. Anyhow, by all accounts I was a happy and well fed child, with a voracious appetite for rubber duck.

At the age of five, I was sent to Holy Trinity C of E primary school. It was here that I began my musical career, singing in the church choir for many years, until that unfortunate episode when my voice broke in the middle of a solo and... well, you can imagine. I don't suppose that the bride and groom have ever forgiven me. Sorry!

At eleven, I moved on to Cheshunt Grammar School. It was at this time that I started to become serious about drums. I had been obsessed with them for as long as I could remember, and over the years had bashed out beats on everything from pots and pans to Mickey Mouse tin drums and even a full-on toy kit adorned with strange images of black musicians, but now it was time for the real thing.

Andy ParkerI purchased my first kit, in 1965 for the princely sum of £35. It was a President red sparkle 4 piece, and I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. My parents, bless them, had given me the choice of a school trip to Paris or the money instead. Needless to say I chose the money, (a smart move in hindsight, considering the number of times I've been to Paris since then!) and soon found the kit for sale in the local paper.

I was really into the Stones, the Who, the Kinks, the Small Faces, and especially Hendrix as a teenager, and would spend hours with the Dansette cranked to max, just playing along to songs like Can't Explain, Hey Joe and You Really Got Me. I must say that my mum and dad were real troopers. They never complained about the noise, and were always very supportive of my career. I remember the look of dismay on my dad's face, when I broke my bass drum pedal after only about 20 minutes of pounding (a habit that still continues to this day). But he just picked it up took it out to his workshop and helped me repair it. He was really great like that, and even though he's been gone since '87, I still miss the hell out of him.

Andy ParkerIn 1968 I left Cheshunt Grammar and attended East Herts College of Further Education, where I studied maths and physics at A level. I loved the relaxed atmosphere of the college after grammar school. I started to grow my hair, and even bought a Messerschmidt bubble car to get me around. Truly radical!

I soon discovered the Blues Club, held every Monday lunchtime. People would bring in their favorite albums and we would sit around listening, discussing, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. Too cool.

It was here that I got hooked on legends such as Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Lightning Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and B.B. King, along with more contemporary artists like John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac, and Savoy Brown.

I just couldn't get enough of it, and by '69 I had formed a blues band along with my pal Steve Casey (some of you may remember him as the unseen guitar player with MSG). We were called Aurora Borealis, and what we lacked in talent we definitely made up in enthusiasm. Besides which we had our own van, a big plus back then.

It was around the summer of '69, that I first met Phil, Pete and Mick, who along with yours truly would form the first incarnation of UFO. I was in my then favorite watering hole, The Golden Lion in Hoddesdon, knocking back a few pints with Steve and some of his buddies from work (yes, I was only 17 at the time), when in walked the aforementioned trio. They were looking for somewhere to audition drummers, having recently sacked theirs, apparently due to him smelling like fish.
Andy Parker Turns out that one of Steve's mates was at school with Pete. I got talking to Mick who informed me, "I have a band called Hocus Pocus and we are looking for a drummer, are you interested?" Well, having found out from an earlier conversation that he had a Marshall stack, a Gibson Les Paul, and a manager, I was very much interested. This was the big time! So I duly auditioned, got the gig, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Our first album 'UFO 1' was released in 1970, on the Beacon Records label. Man, was I thrilled! I remember having to wait until my 18th birthday to sign the contract because my parents refused to sign on my behalf.

They had some crazy idea that I was being ripped off. Turns out that they were right, but at that time I really didn't care. I just wanted to make a record. Even today, I still feel that I made the right decision. Although we never saw any money from the Beacon recordings, they got the name UFO known worldwide, which ultimately led us to bigger and better things.

I continued with UFO, through a host of personnel changes until April of '83. The band had pretty much spiraled into oblivion by this point, and after a final British tour, we all went our separate ways. Emotionally exhausted and totally disillusioned, I headed back to my adopted home of Los Angeles.

Andy ParkerI spent the next few years battling for joint custody of my daughter Lindsay (born in 1980) and although I did enjoy a brief spell with Waysted in '84, I realized that I needed to be home on a more permanent basis if I was to keep her from ending up as child labor in an illegal sweatshop somewhere.

It was at this point that I entered the glamorous world of construction. I was to stay in this world for the next ten years, working a variety of different jobs. After a while I realized that I would be better off self employed, so I studied up and took the state examination. This in turn earned me the grand title of 'Licensed General Contractor for the State of California', basically a posh way of saying "builder". Here's my certificate to prove it!

Believe it or not, I really enjoyed those years. I got to spend time with my daughter and work on some very interesting projects. Also my client list included names like Tina Louise, Lynn Redgrave and Sharon Stone, so it turns out that I wasn't joking about the glamour!

Andy ParkerDuring this time my musical exploits took a bit of a back seat. I met and married my second wife Jo, an actress - and my most glamorous client - who introduced me into the Hollywood Jet Set. Also I spent about a year working with the Nelson twins, (yes you heard right) while they were looking for a record deal. That ended in '87 however, when my father died unexpectedly, and I needed to spend some time in England.

Later I hooked up with my now old pal Bobby Barth (Blackfoot, Axe). We ended up co-owning a small recording studio in Burbank, California, and working on several musical ventures together, until Bobby moved to Colorado in 1992.

It was 1993 when I rejoined UFO after an absence of over ten years. We did a short tour of Germany in December alongside Quiet Riot and Doc Holliday. In June of '94 we played some shows in Japan, and in December of that year, started work on 'Walk on Water' alongside our old producer pal Ron Nevison. Although I much enjoyed making this album and was very pleased with the way it turned out, there was still obvious tension among some of the band members. For this and other unrelated reasons I declined to do the tour, and headed back to England to take up employment in the family business.

Andy ParkerThe next 11 years were pretty much music free. I spent my time running a very busy metal shop, turning out all manner of display paraphernalia. The days were long, invariably stressful and more often than not unfulfilling; I must say that I now have a new-found respect for those of you slaving in the corporate and industrial worlds. Fortunately I did get to enjoy the odd jam session once in a while with Steve (Casey) my good friend Colin Poppleton and fellow ex-UFOer, Mick Bolton. I also did a brief stint with local cover band 'Jack of Herts' after their drummer was taken seriously ill. They were booked to play at my local for the Queens Jubilee, and the landlord asked if I would help out. I did and enjoyed myself so much that I ended up doing several gigs with them over the next few months. A great bunch of guys even if they don't know any UFO songs.

This just about brings us up to August 2005 when I received the call from Paul Raymond asking If I would be interested in doing the Piorno Rock Festival with the band in November, Jason (Bonham) having left to join Foreigner. Being as I had already decided to give up the corporate life and move back to America, and furthermore learning that they now had Vinnie Moore on guitar, I agreed. The show went really well and I was asked if I would like to stay on permanently. In March 2006 we recorded our latest album, 'The Monkey Puzzle', which I believe is one of our best yet, and we continue to play live dates world wide. I look forward to many more years rocking with UFO and hope that you do too.

Andy Parker - March 2007
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