Francis Dunnery

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Francis "Frank" Dunnery
Francis Dunnery Robin.jpg
Background information
Born (1962-12-25) 25 December 1962 (age 51)
Origin Egremont, Cumbria, England, UK
Genres Rock,soft rock, acoustic rock, progressive rock
Occupations Musician, record producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, drums, keyboards,tapboard
Years active 1984–present
Labels Aquarian Nation
Associated acts It Bites, Robert Plant, The Syn, Ian Brown, Chris Difford, David Sancious, James Sonefeld
Website Francis Dunnery official webpage

Francis "Frank" Dunnery (born 25 December 1962[1]) is an English musician, singer-songwriter, record producer and record label owner.

Dunnery was originally the frontman for British prog-pop band It Bites, working with the band between 1982 and 1990 (during which he co-wrote and sang their No. 6 UK hit single, "Calling All the Heroes"). Since 1990 Dunnery has pursued a solo career, and has owned and run his own Aquarian Nation record label since 2001.[2] In addition, he has performed as a sideman and musical contributor for artists as diverse as Robert Plant, Ian Brown, Lauryn Hill, Santana and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. He has worked as producer and/or collaborator with David Sancious, Chris Difford (of Squeeze), James Sonefeld (Hootie and the Blowfish), Erin Moran, Steven Harris (ex-The Cult, Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction), and Ashley Reaks (Younger Younger 28s).

Dunnery was one of the candidates invited to audition as a lead singer and frontman for Genesis following Phil Collins' departure in 1996 (although the position ultimately went to Ray Wilson). He also played in the reformed 1960s beat/prog band The Syn between 2008 and mid-2009.


Musical style[edit]

"When I heard John McLaughlin on fire, I wanted to be on fire like that. When I heard Allan Holdsworth, I could hear a different approach and wanted to know what he was doing. I once saw Shakti on a TV show in the '70s, and these guys played themselves into a fucking frenzy and the molecules were jumping around. It was always that kind of stuff that excited me about music ... Later in It Bites, we were criticised for being virtuosos, but I was silly enough to think that I could change people's opinions about musicianship. I thought I could get everyone to listen to Soft Machine, Yes, Focus and Pink Floyd. And I badmouthed bands like The Smiths, saying that they couldn't play!"

Francis Dunnery on early musical influences,[3]

Dunnery's musical approach is diverse. His early musical influences were progressive rock (with Genesis being a particular inspiration)[4] and jazz-rock fusion musicians including John McLaughlin, Soft Machine, Focus, Return to Forever and Jeff Beck.[3] His 1980s work with It Bites mixed an outright love of varied pop music with a solid grounding in progressive rock and hard rock. His solo work has continued to express these influences but added further elements including soul, disco, folk music, blues, hip-hop beats, chamber pop and electronica.[citation needed]

During the late 1980s Dunnery acquired a reputation as an up-and-coming British guitar hero based on his aggressive and dramatic playing style (which merged diverse hard rock, pop and funk stylings with a fluid, spiralling hammer-on lead-guitar technique inspired by Allan Holdsworth). He has criticised his lead guitar approach at that time as having been immature[3] and has sometimes affectionately parodied it, most notably on his live album Hometown 2001. He mastered jazz, classical and country fingerpicking to serve the arrangements for his songs.[5]

Aside from singing and playing the guitar, Dunnery plays drums, bass guitar, organ, various keyboards, percussion and the Tapboard (a guitar-related instrument). He plays the majority of the instrumental parts on his records.[citation needed]

Biography[edit]

Childhood and formative years (including early bands)[edit]

"The only thing that was ever permanent in my life was my Genesis collection. When things got weird at home and the alcohol cycle was in full rotation, I could return to that little piece of upper class England where Peter Gabriel and his boys were playing croquet on the lawn, eating cucumber sandwiches and deciding which one of their country cottages they would visit next. Still to this day, old Peter can soothe my anxiety faster than Eckhart Tolle ... My Genesis albums were my security. In my ever changing world I could always rely on them being there, they were always the same, they never once let me down. In a car or on a cheap Alba stereo they always sounded the same. On a cassette or on vinyl they sounded the same, they were always there waiting for me.....they were my security. Those albums could sooth my troubles away and when times were hard they could nurture that young boy that I was and still am."

Francis Dunnery on the early inspiration and salvation which he found in the music of Genesis[4]

Francis Dunnery grew up as part of a musical family in the small Cumbrian town of Egremont (at 28 Queens Drive on the Gulley Flatts estate). He displayed an interest in music from an early age, showing promise as an embryonic drummer, with his mother later recalling that "he was always drumming with his hands. Asking him what he wanted for his tea, he'd be drumming on something the whole time."[6]

Dunnery has described his family home as having been like "a bustling café" full of musicians and family friends of all generations, and recalls "my Mam and Dad were the greatest. They were kind, funny and gracious in a working class way. They were giving people. They had a way about them that made everyone feel welcome in our home ... My Mam and Dad would feed them great food, share cigarettes and partake in humorous and interesting conversation."[4] Unfortunately, Dunnery's childhood was blighted by his parents' mutual alcoholism. He once described them as "binge drinkers, two weeks on and two months off... Once my Mam and Dad started drinking alcohol I never knew what was going to happen. Everything seems to happen fast. One minute it was paradise and the next minute it was sheer hell. It was horrific. ... Anyone who has lived under this nervousness will know exactly what I mean. I lived under this constant threat all my life."[4]

From the age of eleven, Frank spent four days a week living by himself on a trailer park to avoid problems at home, going to school during the day and bolstering his independence and living expenses by working as a musician at night. His first professional work was as half of an early teens duo with his friend Peter Lockhart which played local venues including the Tarnside Caravan Club and various cabaret venues.[4] He recalls "we were the cute little duo that would open up for the main act... I would just bash along as Peter sang Elvis songs and played the organ."[4] Adding guitar and singing to his musical skills, Dunnery moved on to other projects of varying levels of commitment – "I played in a few local bands and with lots of different musicians, especially a group called Waving at Trains I was in with Don McKay, who is a fantastic musician. He wrote some really good songs, too."[7]

Regarding this period, Dunnery would later comment "There was no one I could rely on... I somehow made sure that I had other places to live and spend my time (talk about the power of the human spirit) because I couldn't bear to be at home when my parents were drinking. I can still remember the smell of the house when my parents were drowning in hops. To this day the smell of Carlsberg Special Brew makes me want to vomit."[4] In later years, Dunnery would himself drink heavily and eventually succumb to alcoholism (finally overcoming his addiction in the early 1990s). Many of his songs would reference his struggles with alcoholism and the behaviour that surrounded it.[citation needed]

It Bites (1982–1990)[edit]

Main article: It Bites

In 1982, when he was nineteen, Dunnery formed the rock band It Bites (taking the role of lead singer and guitarist). The other members of the band were his Egremont schoolfriends Bob Dalton (drums, vocals) and Dick Nolan (bass, vocals) plus John Beck (keyboards, vocals) who came from Mirehouse; a suburb of Whitehaven. Following a career playing the pub and youth club circuit the band temporarily split, with Dunnery moving to London. The band reformed some time later and left Egremont entirely to relocate to London in 1984, eventually signing a record contract with Virgin Records. Playing an unfashionable but energetic blend of progressive rock, hard rock and pure pop, It Bites released three studio albums, The Big Lad in the Windmill (1986), Once Around the World (1988) and the critically acclaimed Eat Me in St Louis (1989). It Bites' biggest hit single was "Calling All The Heroes" in 1986, which reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart. During their lifetime, It Bites became a successful band (able to fill the Hammersmith Odeon in London and undertaking tours with The Beach Boys and Jethro Tull).[citation needed]

It Bites split up in 1990 in Los Angeles on the eve of recording their fourth studio album. Various factors were cited in the break-up, which Dunnery recalls as being a case of the fact that "the band had come to the end. It was a natural process. We fell out over a few things, there wasn't one big issue or problem, it was daft little things. We had just drifted apart. It wasn't anyone's fault, but we split.."[7] Following Dunnery's departure, It Bites briefly continued with a new frontman (Lee Knott) and a succession of new names (Navajo Kiss, Sister Sarah) but split up after failing to sign a new recording deal. A post-breakup It Bites live album (drawn mainly from 1989 concerts) called "Thank You and Goodnight", was released in 1991.[citation needed]

1990–1995: Los Angeles and London (Welcome to the Wild Country & Fearless)[edit]

"The last night I drank I had a gun put to my head and I was smoking crack on Hollywood Boulevard, out of my brains on whiskey, crack and crystal meth. It scared the living shit out of me. That was the moment in my life where I went, 'Something's gotta change.' Up until then, I was so sick and didn't even know I was sick... I realized that the alcohol and the drugs were just a symptom. The symptom became a problem, absolutely, but it was still just a symptom. I had to get rid of the symptom to get to the real stuff, which is really a spiritual sickness. They call alcohol 'soul murder,' and that's what it is. I've learned some incredible things, and I've been walking forward ever since."

Francis Dunnery on quitting alcohol and drug abuse[8]

Following the 1990 break-up of It Bites, Dunnery settled in Los Angeles, indulging what he later acknowledged to be a disastrously hedonistic lifestyle.[3][7][8] During this period he recorded his first solo album, Welcome to the Wild Country, which was released on Virgin Records in 1991. Produced by David Hentschel, this was a much more rough-and-ready album than the heavily-engineered and technically fastidious It Bites records, consisting mostly of hard rock songs performed by a power trio (although the record did also contain an extended blues-jam song and a keyboard-heavy ballad called "Jackal in Your Mind"). The record enjoyed little success, being released only in Japan. (He regained the rights in 2001, re-issuing it on Aquarian Nation Records.[9])

He has since described Welcome to the Wild Country as "having been recorded at a time when I didn't know who I was" although he disinterred the album and its songs for a tour over ten years later. Towards the end of his time in Los Angeles, Dunnery addressed his drugs and alcohol problems and cleaned up his lifestyle. He has subsequently been open about his problems with alcohol addiction and drug abuse during this period, and a number of his songs refer to the effects that these experiences have had on his life.[citation needed]

In 1993 Dunnery returned to the UK and took up the position of guitarist in former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant's live band. He performed on several tracks on Plant's 1993 album Fate of Nations and played on the accompanying world tour, acting as Plant's main onstage foil. Plant made a guest appearance on Dunnery's second solo album, Fearless, which was released on Atlantic Records in 1994. This performed considerably better than its predecessor, and showed a much broader range of styles. "American Life in the Summertime", the lead single from the album, received considerable airplay in the States.

Dunnery promoted Fearless with his first solo tour of the UK (an all-acoustic affair in small venues). The Glasgow date of the tour was recorded for a live album, One Night in Sauchiehall Street, which was released on the tiny Cottage Industry label in 1995. This album documented Dunnery's change to an acoustic approach, playing solo accompanied only by occasional second guitarist and harmony singer Ashley Reakes (later to briefly find success as the prime mover behind Younger Younger 28s). It was also the first evidence on record of Dunnery's live approach as raconteur as well as musician (which incorporated a surprising degree of confessional story, philosophical musing and salty stand-up comedy).[citation needed]

1995–1999: New York & Vermont (Tall Blonde Helicopter, Let's Go Do What Happens, period of retreat)[edit]

By 1995, Dunnery had relocated yet again, this time to New York City. His third studio album – Tall Blonde Helicopter – was released on Atlantic that year, and abandoned the predominantly pop-oriented sound of Fearless in favour of an eclectic mixture of soft ballads and acoustic rockers. It also displayed a much greater confidence in songwriting.

"I try everything and the number of times I fail is unreal, but I never ever let it beat me and I try something else. People might look at me and say that I am successful, but that is just because I try so many different things. Someone once said to me that Americans are not Americans because they are born there, being an American is a state of mind. It is the need to expand and grow, to explore, basically a pioneering spirit ... I think I have that, the American mindset."

Francis Dunnery[7]

In 1996, Dunnery was approached to audition as lead singer for his old heroes Genesis, but ended up continuing with his existing solo career. Dissatisfied with Atlantic's promotion of his work (and beginning to suspect that he would need to take more responsibility for making things work in the future) he formed a power trio which played various dates in America. The sound of this band was captured on Dunnery's next album Let's Go Do What Happens (1998), released on Razor and Tie Records whose limited resources caused Let's Go Do What Happens to be initially only released in the United States. During this period, Dunnery also played on Lauryn Hill's 1998 debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and Carlos Santana's 1999 comeback album Supernatural.[citation needed]

"I'm not an easy artist to like because I don't play the rock star role. People love their idols and I don't play that role, so it's a bit confusing for people to love my music and then find out I'm a horse trainer or whatever. It's a big mistake to limit yourself to one thing in life. I don't feel fulfilled by just doing music; I have other sides of my nature that I need to express. It's very damaging not to express yourself, so I like to keep my life full and diverse."

Francis Dunnery[10]

Increasingly dissatisfied with the music industry, Dunnery went into semi-retirement as a musician later in 1998 and set up a new home in the Vermont mountains with his girlfriend,[11] where he devoted the next few years to breeding and training horses (for which he studied under John Lyons, the "horse whisperer"[7]) as well as carpentry, astrology, and Jungian psychology.[12]

Dunnery continued to write songs as and when the inspiration took him. He has sometime commented that his songwriting is a periodic activity, stating in a 2009 interview with the PhillyBurbs online newspaper: "I cannot write songs on a nine-to-five basis. At the risk of sounding pretentious, my songs come from somewhere else and I have to wait for them, so it's not up to me when I receive them. When the songs start to come, they all come at the same time. I may get 20 songs in three to four days and then it all stops again."[13][14]

2000–2003: Return to music (Man, Hometown 2001, Aquarian Nation & the It Bites reunion)[edit]

In 2000, inspired by watching a televised Shakti concert (featuring his old hero John McLaughlin), Dunnery later admitted he "realised there was still a musician in me, and that I had to be as true to that side of my character as I was being to the other sides."[7] He decided to re-engage with the music business, although this time he decided to do it entirely on his own terms and to take as much responsibility for the outcome as he could. His first step was to refresh himself by returning to the UK for the first time in five years to play a few concerts, and his second step was to set up his own internet-based record label, Aquarian Nation, with the intention of releasing his future albums on it (as well as albums by other artists).[12]

For the UK tour, Dunnery formed a new backing band called The Grass Virgins, featuring second guitarist Dave Colquhoun, bass guitarist Matt Pegg, and singer/keyboard player Erin Moran. Surprised and gratified that he remained a live draw popular enough to sell out venues, Dunnery returned soon afterwards for a much larger tour and support slots with Hootie and the Blowfish. The Grass Virgins continued as his back-up band over the next few years, despite changes in the line-up (John Dunnery would replace Colquhoun, John Williams and Wayne Wilkinson joined on keyboards and laptop respectively, and Dorie Jackson replaced Erin Moran).[citation needed]

The first Aquarian Nation release was Dunnery's comeback album, Man, released in 2001. Recorded in Vermont (USA) and Oswestry (UK), the album's music developed some of the electronic aspects of Let's Go Do What Happens (via keyboards and programming by Dunnery and his brother-in-law Dave McCracken, but featured much more acoustic instrumentation (guitars and cellos), a strong vocal interplay between Dunnery and Moran, and pared-down percussion (with almost no drums and with the rhythmic drive provided primarily by Matt Pegg's bass guitar). Man was also Dunnery's most personal and direct album to date, heavily influenced by autobiographical and spiritual matters (in particular parenthood, manhood and reflections on finding a sense of home as well as featuring a strong element of Jungian psychology).[12]

"If rap stars can go on about the drug dealer on 73rd Street in Compton then why can't I sing about Gulley Flatts or Thornhill? That is my history, I am as valid as they are. I love Cumbria, that is where my roots are. I sing about Wasdale and Murphy's pies, because that is part of my history."

Francis Dunnery on letting his Cumbrian roots feed into his songwriting[7]

Dunnery has since commented "I was very depressed when I wrote the 'Man' CD. It was a difficult birth. I was going through such turmoil in my life. My mother was dying, my relationship was ending, and in complete contrast, my daughter Ava was being born. [But] I think I'm at peace with that side of my life now."[13] Despite the weight of the subject matter, Man proved to be one of his most successful and popular albums. Dunnery toured the UK to promote Man, accompanied by Matt Pegg on bass guitar (with occasional guest appearances by other musicians). A live album – Hometown 2001 – was recorded 14 June 2001 at the Whitehaven Civic Hall in Cumbria and released around Christmas time the same year: it featured the Dunnery/Pegg duo plus a guest appearance from John Dunnery and Wayne Wilkinson.[citation needed]

During 2002, Dunnery made several albums released on Aquarian Nation. In addition to releasing Dunnery's own records the label had been set up to release records by other musicians, pursuing a cooperative approach with a degree of profit share and with all Aquarian Nation musicians contributing to each other's recordings. The label had a mission statement to "help support and promote artistic integrity" and went on to sign up to an ongoing partnership with Flying Spot Entertainment for the creation of original film/video programming.[12]

"I could lie and say it was incredible to be playing on the same stage as great artists etcetera, but in reality it was pretty uneventful; sandwiches, driving and half an hour onstage being ignored by two-thirds of the audience. Elvis (Costello), Jools (Holland) and Chris (Rea) are all very cool people but I only spent five minutes a day with them, talking about football and dolphins' vulvas."

Francis Dunnery on the glamour of touring with the stars[15]

The first of these releases was Chris Difford (ex-Squeeze)'s I Didn't Get Where I Am. In keeping with the Aquarian Nation method, Dunnery played on the record, and also produced and co-wrote the material with Difford. which Dunnery also toured as part of Difford's band to promote the album, playing on a tour with Chris Rea and Elvis Costello. The next Aquarian Nation releases developed the label's tone as a platform for songs of a more personal nature. The first of these was Nearly Killed Keith (the debut album by John & Wayne, aka John Dunnery and Wayne Wilkinson from The Grass Virgins), a collection of folk-tinged songs drawn from the duo's day-jobs as jobbing carpenters in the building industry. This was followed by Songs From the Mission of Hope, the debut album by Stephen Harris, who wrote an atypically quiet, mediative and predominantly acoustic album dealing with his own chequered history as an adoptee. Once again, Dunnery produced and co-wrote both albums (and played various instruments on them including keyboards, guitars and drums).[citation needed]

Dunnery's next major British concert (at the Union Chapel, London, 2003) was in part a showcase for Aquarian Nation, featuring performances by Dunnery, Stephen Harris, John & Wayne (with Dorie Jackson), plus a guest appearance by Chris Difford. The concert finale was a two-song It Bites reunion, with Dunnery playing "Hunting the Whale" as a duet with John Beck and the whole band playing "Still Too Young to Remember". The event was recorded and released on DVD as Live at the Union Chapel (credited to Francis Dunnery & Friends) in 2004, with a wider release the following year.[citation needed]

2004–2007: The Middle Passage (The Gulley Flats Boys, House Concerts, second parting with It Bites)[edit]

By this time, Frank was based in Pennsylvania, studying for a psychology degree at Goddard University, and doing session and production work to developing Aquarian Nation as a company. In newsletters, he promised that his next three projects would be a solo album, Dorie Jackson's debut album and new recordings with the reunited It Bites. In 2005, Dunnery released the first of these, a solo double album called The Gulley Flats Boys, a more sedate and acoustic album than its predecessor, featuring next to no drum or percussion parts and sparse use of electric guitar. It was recorded by Dunnery with piano/keyboard player David Sancious and Dorie Jackson on backing vocals. Dunnery acknowledged the album was the product of a mid-life crisis, but embraced the fact.

"(The house concerts) give the incredible feeling of being heard. I didn't really understand the importance of that until I started doing them. For an artist – in fact, for every human being – it's an incredible and fabulous feeling to sense that someone really heard what you said or played... During the house concerts there's the intimacy of one man with an acoustic guitar, talking to people about philosophical things. You can't really get into people's souls like that if they've had a pint of beer and are standing screaming at a rock god. So what I do instead is simply play good music. I'm 46 years old and I can't really get into the concept anymore of wanting people to like me. You have a good gig if your energy successfully pours off the stage and the energy of the audience pours back onto the stage, and you have that oneness in the room, with there being an exchange. But if the audience just sits there and they are not going to come on board and they are not going to contribute to the energy of the evening, there is nothing that I can do."

Francis Dunnery on playing house concerts[3]

In 2005, Dunnery embarked on a "house concert" world tour, suggesting to fans that they book him to perform in their own homes for a paying audience, in a drug and alcohol-free environment. The concept proved to be very popular, not least with Dunnery himself, who has described them as "phenomenally successful". Dunnery continues to perform house concerts to this day and describes a typical performance as "(showing up) as a friend – you can't show up as a rock dude or something – and it's just me and my acoustic guitar, no amplification, singing my songs and holding a 90-minute lecture on the human condition. I sing songs and tell stories of my life. It's not a party; it's more like going to church, but church with swearing!... (There is) an exchange of energy that I call a 'jacuzzi'. At the end of 90 minutes, everybody has dropped their ego. They don't even realise that has happened, but they have gradually taken off their clothes and gone into that energetic jacuzzi together. Something like that is a lot harder to achieve in a rock music arena."[3]

In 2006, it was confirmed that the reunion of the original It Bites line-up had foundered and that Dunnery had been replaced by singer and guitarist John Mitchell (Frost*, Kino). In October 2007 Dunnery released a free download of a song called "Feels Like Summertime", which had initially been written for It Bites shortly before the band's original split in 1990 and was reworked as part of the unsuccessful 2003 reunion. Dunnery had rearranged and reworked the song for a third time (with new players), and made it available to promote a full-band "electric" tour which – although based mostly around his 1991 solo album Welcome to the Wild Country – featured several It Bites songs.[citation needed]

2008–2009: The Band Traveller (House concerts, DVDs, plus work with James Sonefeld and The Syn)[edit]

In 2008, Dunnery continued to perform numerous solo performances and house concerts, this time centred on material from Tall Blonde Helicopter. His summer and fall schedule included a full-band tour, culminating in a performance in Seattle which was recorded by Flying Spot, Inc. for subsequent release as a special edition concert/documentary DVD. (Originally scheduled for a 2009 release and titled Louder Than Usual, this was finally released in September 2010 as a DVD with accompanying CD) Earlier that year, Dunnery released an "official video bootleg" DVD from the 2001 Man tour, titled In The Garden of Mystic Lovers. Later, he produced and played on Snowman Melting, the first solo album by James Sonefeld of Hootie and the Blowfish.[citation needed]

Dunnery would join singer Steve Nardelli's revived 1960s progressive rock/beat band The Syn as guitarist, playing alongside Nardelli, keyboard player Tom Brislin and bass player Jamie Bishop as well as two members of American progressive rock band Echolyn (guitarist Brett Kull and drummer Paul Ramsey). Dunnery also brought in his backing vocal foil Dorie Jackson. He was musical director for the band's 2009 album Big Sky. This line-up of The Syn began an American tour in April 2009 but broke up after six dates.[citation needed]

2009–2010: A Blast From The Past (The New Progressives and There's A Whole New World Out There)[edit]

Dunnery announced the formation of his "New Progressives" project,[4] which had two stated aims – the first to reclaim and rework the songs Dunnery had written with It Bites, and the second to develop a new approach to progressive rock. The project was to feature a core band centred on Dunnery plus the involvement of various collaborators from various[16] periods of progressive rock history. The core band featured Dunnery on lead vocals, guitar, keyboards and tapboard and drew on the same line-up he had assembled for The Syn the previous year, minus Nardelli (Tom Brislin, Jamie Bishop, Dorie Jackson, Brett Kull and Paul Ramsey).[citation needed]

Dunnery's next album, There's a Whole New World Out There, released on 3 October 2009, was centred around the New Progressives (plus guests) and featured a succession of reworking of old It Bites songs, plus a variety of similarly rearranged cover versions. The New Progressives toured the UK, American and Australia to promote the record, with guest appearances from other musicians where possible.

"You aren't supposed to have all the answers when you're 15 – that's not what life is like. Life, to me, is about growth, it's about where we begin and who we become, and to that end I think my music is very true to me, and to the mood that I am in when I am writing it. I'm not the most popular artist in the world, but I sing about real things, about issues that people, quite understandably, don't want to deal with. People want to sing "We Are the Champions" or "I'm the Leader of the Gang I Am" – I certainly did when I was younger. But I think that is why I keep my fans without doing lots of publicity and promotion, because I sing about things that, if you get it, make a connection. People draw meaning from what I sing about, and that is powerful. It is a reflection of my soul, which I know isn't to everyone's taste but those that like it really like it." (Francis Dunnery)[7]

In 2009, Jem Godfrey (Frost*) announced on the Frost* Forum that he and Dunnery had both contributed solos to the title track of Big Big Train's upcoming album, The Underfall Yard.[17]

2011–present: Future and Past (Made in Space and Frankenstein Monster)[edit]

On 12 August 2011, Dunnery released a new album called Made in Space (which was written and recorded in a contemporary R'n'B style) and took out an accompanying "Astrology Theater Show " tour of the UK, which featured himself and Dorie Jackson. He also announced that he would be recorded a cover version of Peter Gabriel's The Rhythm of the Heat as part of Sonic Elements, a new "fantasy rock" band put together by Dave Kerzner. In 2012, Dunnery made a guest appearance on Steve Hackett's album Genesis Revisited II, singing on two tracks – "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight" and "Supper's Ready" (the "As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)" section) – as well as contributing additional guitar. Dunnery also made a guest appearance on Hackett's subsequent Genesis Revisited tour, singing at the Arcada Theater show in St Charles, Illinois on 20 September 2013, and at the Scottish Rites Auditorium in Collingswood, NJ 27 March 2014, where he sang much-loved Genesis favourite, "Selling England by the Pound".

From late 2012 to autumn 2013, Dunnery worked on a very different but equally personal project, recording a set of songs originally written by his late brother Barry's 1970s hard rock band Necromandus. The resulting album, Frankenstein Monster, was released by Aquarian Nation on 16 October 2013. Regarding the album, Dunnery commented: "I must say that this has been one hell of a journey both emotionally and musically. I learned so much about my brother during the making of this album and so much about myself ... Listening back now as it comes into focus I am very pleased and proud of the results. We have kept very close to the originals, sometimes exact and where it need a little more musicality or space we were smart enough to add our own parts without ruining the song. I know exactly what Baz would have liked so I only added things I know he would have liked. Paul Brown and Sconna [John Dunnery] were with me all the way, they both worked their arses off for months on end. Tony Beard was a star. He completely kept the youthful enthusiasm that [former Necromandus drummer] Frank Hall had yet also added a little more pocket and musicality to the tunes."[18]

For late 2013, Dunnery put together The Sensational Francis Dunnery Electric Band, which toured both Necromandus songs and songs from the Francis Dunnery back catalogue.[18]


Personal life[edit]

Frank Dunnery is the younger son of Charlie Dunnery (a former member of the Jimmy Shand band), and his wife, Kathleen, both now deceased.[19] His elder brother Barry "Baz" Dunnery (whom Frank cites as his greatest single influence)[7] was a highly regarded rock guitarist who played with heavy rock band Necromandus and subsequently Ozzy Osbourne's first post-Black Sabbath band (preceding the formation of the Randy Rhoads-led Blizzard of Oz band[20]) and the ELO-spinoff Violinski. The brothers remained close until Baz's death in June 2008, and Baz would join Frank onstage on several occasions.[citation needed]

Dunnery also has one sister, Faye, who is married to music producer Dave McCracken, who claims Frank Dunnery taught him "everything I know".[21] and has collaborated with his brother-in-law, most notably on Dunnery's Man album, and on Ian Brown's Music of the Spheres. Dunnery's nephew, John Dunnery (Barry's son; currently half of the folk-rock duo John & Wayne), has contributed to his uncle's live concerts and recordings.[citation needed]

Dunnery has three daughters from three different relationships. He married American singer Julie Daniels (frontwoman of the rock band Star 69) on 8 December 1990 in Las Vegas, Nevada.[22] The marriage ended in divorce.[when?]

Charitable work[edit]

In 2002, Dunnery founded the Charlie and Kathleen Dunnery Children's Fund, a volunteer-run fundraising charity based in his hometown of Egremont, and named in honour of his late parents. Explaining his reasons for setting up the charity, Dunnery has said "My mother was a wonderful woman... so this is my way of honouring her and my dad. A line in one of my songs is that the only thing you get to keep is what you give away – I like that idea. I think that by the time you are 40 if you aren't doing something to help others then you probably should be. People take all the time and I think it is nice to put something back."[7]

The fund raises money for projects and activities supporting the health, wellness and educational needs of children and young people in the Egremont area.[23] He continues to support the charity via regular concerts in Egremont as well as participation in and publicity for various sponsored events.[24][25]

In October 2012, a group of Dunnery fans collaborated on the tribute album Green And White Stripes. 14 songs, mainly from his solo career, are covered, in various styles, often differing markedly from the original. The profits from album sales go to the CKDCF.[citation needed]

Discography[edit]

Solo[edit]

Albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "American Life in the Summertime" (Atlantic Records, 1994)
  • "What's He Gonna Say?" (Atlantic Records, 1995)
  • "Homegrown" (Atlantic Records, 1995) Australia
  • "Too Much Saturn" (Atlantic Records, 1995) USA/ UK Promo only
  • "The Way Things Are" (Atlantic Records, 1995) USA Promo only
  • "I Believe I Can Change My World" (Atlantic Records, 1996) Europe/ Australia
  • "Spiritual" (Atlantic Records, 1996) US Promo only 12"
  • "My Own Reality" (Razor & Tie, 1998) Promo only
  • "Riding on the Back" (Razor & Tie, 1998) US Promo only
  • "The Wounding & Healing of Men" (Aquarian Nation, 2003) US Promo only
  • "Good Life" (Aquarian Nation, 2005) US Promo only

DVDs[edit]

  • Live at the Union Chapel – credited to Francis Dunnery & Friends (Aquarian Nation, 2004)
  • In the Garden of Mystic Lovers (Aquarian Nation, 2008)
  • Louder than Usual (Aquarian Nation/Flying Spot Entertainment, 2010)

With It Bites[edit]

Albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "All in Red" (Virgin Records, 1986)
  • "Calling All The Heroes" (Virgin Records, 1986)
  • "Whole New World" (Virgin Records, 1986)
  • "Old Man and the Angel" (Virgin Records, 1987)
  • "Kiss Like Judas" (Virgin Records, 1988)
  • "Midnight" (Virgin Records, 1988)
  • "Still Too Young to Remember" (Virgin Records, 1989 – remixed and reissued 1990)
  • "Underneath Your Pillow" (Virgin Records, 1989 – remixed and reissued 1990)
  • "Sister Sarah" (Virgin Records, 1990)

DVDs[edit]

  • Live in Tokyo (It Bites, 2004)

with The Syn[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Big Sky (Alliance Records, 2009)

Guest and session appearances[edit]

As producer[edit]

  • Chris DiffordI Didn't Get Where I Am (Aquarian Nation, 2002) – also co-wrote and played guitars and keyboards on all tracks.
  • John & WayneNearly Killed Keith (Aquarian Nation, 2002 – also co-wrote and played drums and organ on all tracks)
  • Stephen HarrisSongs From The Mission of Hope (Aquarian Nation, 2002 – also co-wrote and played guitar, piano and Mellotron on all tracks.)
  • John Gilmour Smith – "The Story We've Been Sold" (Aquarian Nation, 2010; also co-wrote, and sang on several tracks)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alan Williams (December 2008). "Musician Who Was Egremont Through & Through". Egremont Today. Retrieved 30 November 2009. 
  2. ^ WOMAD (June 2002). "Label info". WOMAD.org. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Paul Tingen (October 2009). "Francis Dunnery takes to the stage again". Performing Musician magazine. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Francis Dunnery (2009). "Nothing Lasts For Long (2009 article by Francis Dunnery on the music of Genesis, his childhood and reimagining his music)". Francis Dunnery homepage. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Jason Sidwell (September 2001). "Francis Dunnery on Classical Guitar". Total Guitar magazine (copy hosted on fansite). Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Thelma Atherton (15 June 2001). "Calling All the Heroes". Egremont Today. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Karl Connor (18 October 2007). "Been There Dunnery That". The Whitehaven News (reproduced on CKDCFC homepage). Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Gerry Galipault (17 August 1995). "Francis Dunnery's Just Happy To Be Alive". Pause & Play online music magazine. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Francis Dunnery biography, Aquarian Nation Records homepage
  10. ^ Nalia Francis (2008). "Art As Revelation". phillyBurbs.com (reproduced on Aquarian Nation homepage). Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  11. ^ Francis Dunnery biography, Aquarian Nation homepage
  12. ^ a b c d "In Conversation with Francis Dunnery". Classic Rock Society (copy of article hosted on Francis Dunnery fanpage). 2001. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Nalia Francis (2009). "Francis Dunnery, A Man of Many Parts". PhillyBurbs.com (copy of article subsequently hosted on Francis Dunnery homepage under the title "Art As Revelation"). Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  14. ^ Nalia Francis (2009). "Francis Dunnery, A Man of Many Parts". PhillyBurbs.com (second archived copy of article). Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  15. ^ Marina Bunzl (15 February 2010). "Marina Bunzl interviews Francis Dunnery". XMedia (University of Exeter). Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  16. ^ Francis Dunnery newspage, August 2011
  17. ^ "Godfrey and Dunnery". frostmusic.net. 
  18. ^ a b News on Frankenstein Monster project on Francis Dunnery newspage, October 2013
  19. ^ Dunnery family profile
  20. ^ Ozzy Osbourne by Garry Sharpe-Young (in the Rockdetector book series); retrieved 25 September 2008
  21. ^ "FRANCIS DUNNERY: The Mentor & The MAN Tour
  22. ^ First Name: Francis
    Last Name: Dunnery
    Gender: Male
    Spouse First Name: Julie
    Spouse Middle Name: C
    Spouse Last Name: Daniels
    Spouse Gender: Female
    Marriage Date: 8 December 1990
    Marriage Location: Clark, NVMarriage info: Record Type: Marriage Record
    Instrument Number: 92705
    Book: 1214
    Page: C247510
    Certificate Number: 1990982705
    Recorded Date: 14 December 1990
    Recorded County: Clark
    Collection: Nevada Marriage Records data
    Source: Nevada Department of Heath and Human Services (1966–2007); collection of Nevada marriage records was provided by Nevada's Department of Heath and Human Services, 4126 Technology Way, Suite 100, Carson City, Nevada 89706
  23. ^ Charlie and Kathleen Dunnery Children's Fund website; accessed 14 April 2010
  24. ^ Peter Watson (15 May 2002). "Children's Fund Tribute to Frank's Parents". Egremont Today. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  25. ^ "Dunnery Fund Helps Provide Magnificent Library for Bookwell". Egremont Today. 12 July 2005. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 

External links[edit]