Mike Sanchez

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Mike Sanchez
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Sanchez on stage in 2007.
Background information
Birth name Jesus Miguel Sanchez
Born (1964-02-17) 17 February 1964 (age 51)
Hackney, North London, England
Genres Rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, boogie woogie, blues, rockabilly
Occupation(s) Singer-pianist-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, piano, guitar
Years active 1982–present
Labels Doopin Music
Associated acts The Rockets
Big Town Playboys
Jeff Beck
Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
The Big Six
Website www.mikesanchez.co.uk

Jesus Miguel "Mike" Sanchez (born 17 February 1964) is a rhythm and blues singer, pianist and songwriter of Spanish-English heritage. Sanchez is known for his work with the Big Town Playboys and Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, and for his solo career. He is noted for his charismatic on stage presence and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the history and performers of rhythm and blues.[2]

Early career[edit]

Sanchez was born in Hackney in the East End of London to Spanish parents Jesús Sánchez Díaz and Manuela Bastida Gil. In 1975 when Sanchez was 11 his family moved to the Bewdley, Worcestershire area where he attended Bewdley High School and Kidderminster College. Sanchez was influenced by Richard Rogers, one of the teachers at Bewdley High School, who was also known as Ricky Cool performing with Ricky Cool and the Icebergs and Ricky Cool and the Rialtos.

Sanchez, together with friends Ian Jennings, Mark Davies and Tracey Witherspoon formed The Rockets. Tim Bearne joined on drums, Witherspoon and Davies left, and The Rockets became a three piece rockabilly band influenced by The Stray Cats and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Sanchez was introduced to former Savoy Brown, Steve Gibbons and Chicken Shack band member Andy Silvester through Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, and this led to the 1984 formation of the Big Town Playboys, with Ian Jennings on bass, Ricky Cool on lead vocals and tenor saxophone, and John Spinetto on drums.

1985 to 1989[edit]

Silvester had a growing influence on Sanchez, introducing the west coast rhythm & blues of Amos Milburn and Charles Brown to the Big Town Playboys set alongside the Chicago blues of Jimmy Reed and Little Walter. Sanchez had basic piano lessons when he still lived in London, but throughout his time with The Rockets he concentrated on guitar. Silvester encouraged him to practise and develop his left hand boogie-woogie riffs, and the piano became his primary instrument.

John Wallace joined the band on baritone saxophone with Ricky Cool on tenor, but eventually Wallace also played tenor.

In February 1985 Sanchez was electrocuted at a gig at the Grey Horse, Kingston upon Thames, when a loose connection in his amplifier formed a circuit with his guitar and microphone. Ricky Cool pulled the lead out of the amplifier to break the circuit, but Sanchez was hospitalised for several days. The incident became headline news in Time Out magazine and London based newspapers, and led to an interview with Stuart Colman on Radio London. Colman later produced the Crazy Legs album.

In May 1985 Big Town Playboys recorded their first album Playboy Boogie on the Making Waves record label. The album was recorded live over three nights at the Dublin Castle.

In July 1985 the band played a two week residency at the Heartbreak Hotel in Ibiza. Ricky Cool was unable to travel and so John Wallace played a bigger role within the band.

In August 1985 the band toured the UK with Little Willie Littlefield and Sanchez and Littlefield later became good friends.

In March 1986 Robert Plant put together his own band for the Heart Beat 86 charity concert at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. The band also included John Wilmot and Laurence Parry from Rent Party and they did two warm up gigs at the universities of East Anglia and Leeds. Four days later, Ricky Cool played his last gig with the band.

Bookings in 1986 included the Amsterdam Blues Festival and they recorded a live session for Paul Jones on BBC Radio 2.

Procol Harum pianist Gary Brooker, saw the Big Town Playboys several times and invited them to his charity event at Dunsfold Village Hall. Sanchez met Eric Clapton, Amen Corner's Andy Fairweather Low and Albert Lee. The meeting with Clapton led to the band playing on the soundtrack to Color Of Money.

In November 1986 John Spinetto was replaced by Ed Mann of The Mighty Flyers who the Big Town Playboys met at the Peer International Blues Festival earlier in the year. John Wallace was replaced on saxophone by Frank Mead from Juice On The Loose who was introduced to the band by Gary Brooker.

January 1987 saw the first of three tours for Big Town Playboys supporting Eric Clapton. The 1987 tour featured six nights at the Royal Albert Hall. A Norwegian tour was followed by the departure of Frank Mead and the introduction of Al Nicholls on tenor saxophone. Drummer Ed Mann returned to the US in October 1987, to be replaced by Dai Powell, followed shortly afterwards by the introduction of Paul Clarke on baritone saxophone.

In 1988, to supplement the Big Town Playboys gigs, Sanchez started to perform as a solo artist in and around the West Midlands, primarily at the Tardebigge in Redditch. In April 1988 Sanchez continued the solo theme when he played piano for Paul Jones at Raezor Studio in Wandsworth on a reunion album for Jones' own outfit The Blues Band. In May 1988 Andy Silvester introduced Sanchez to his friends Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie and Rick Vito from Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood then planned and promoted a US tour for Big Town Playboys for the following year. June 1988 saw Big Town Playboys play at the Savoy Hotel to commemorate Eric Clapton's 25 years in the music industry. This was followed in July by another charity concert for Gary Brooker, this time at the Wintershall Estate. It became known as A Concert By The Lake and featured Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Andy Fairweather Low. In autumn 1988 there was another change in personnel, when drummer Dai Powell left and was replaced by Clive Deamer. This brought about a period of stability for Big Town Playboys.

In March 1989 Big Town Playboys played at the inaugural Burnley National Blues Festival. As well as their own set they played two more backing Little Willie Littlefield and Champion Jack Dupree. The following night Sanchez played a solo set. In May 1989 Big Town Playboys went into Hope Bagot Village Hall that had been converted into a recording studio. This was the start of the recordings that were later released as the album Now Appearing on Blue Horizon. Dave Baynton-Power played conga on the recordings as well as engineering the sound, and he then joined the band as their permanent sound engineer. The day after the initial recordings, Big Town Playboys played at a wedding party organised by Peter Richardson. Richardson saw the band many times, and introduced them to Jeff Beck. In July 1989 Andy Fairweather Low asked Sanchez to stand in on piano at a charity event in Brighton as the regular piano player Gary Brooker was unavailable. In late August 1989 Big Town Playboys flew to Los Angeles for the tour promoted by Mick Fleetwood. This included an appearance on the Pat Sajak show, as well as shows in Boulder, Aspen and San Francisco. The tour was marred by saxophone player Al Nicholls contracting altitude sickness and being hospitalised for two days, although the tour continued without him.

1990 onwards[edit]

Eric Clapton played a series of Blues Nights at the Royal Albert Hall at the start of 1990, and the Big Town Playboys were the support act. Robert Cray was also a part of the show, and he asked the band to play at his wedding a week later. They appeared on the Ronn Lucas television show and followed this with a performance at The Comic Strip end of filming party in Soho. This led to Peter Richardson reacquainting the band with Jeff Beck.

The Now Appearing album was finally released and they tied this in with more television appearance for Anglia Television and on Jools Holland's The Happening. They appeared on the acoustic stage at Glastonbury and then they performed several shows as part of the Heineken Music Big Top series.

At the start of 1991 Peter Richardson arranged for Big Town Playboys to jam with Jeff Beck at the Town & Country Club in Islington and this ultimately led to the recording of Crazy Legs released by Sony Music.

Martin Pryce put together a band called Hoola Boola Boys and recruited Sanchez on piano / vocals. They played approximately 100 shows, mainly in pubs on and around the Welsh border. Eventually schedules clashed and Sanchez stopped playing with the Hoola Boola Boys to concentrate on the Big Town Playboys.

In February 1991 Peter Richardson asked them for the use of three songs for the soundtrack to The Pope Must Die, and they also joined Jeff Beck and Anne Dudley in the Angel Studios in Islington to assist on the background music and sound effects. Later that month Big Town Playboys flew to Los Angeles at the request of Mick Fleetwood as he wanted them to open his new L.A. Blues Club. They played a week-long residency, and played alongside Bo Diddley, Floyd Dixon and John Lee Hooker as well as Fleetwood himself and other members of Fleetwood Mac.

At a private party in May 1991, Andy Silvester announced that he wanted to leave the band, but he agreed to stay around to help find his replacement. Throughout the summer they played many gigs, with a view to finding a replacement for Silvester, but this led to many guitarists appearing for just one show. Silvester left after a show at Kidderminster Town Hall in September 1991, with Ricky Cool returning to MC the event as well as joining the band on stage. Al Nicholls left the band at the same time, to be replaced initially by Rohan Lopez.

In November 1991 sound engineer Roy Williams put together a band of local musicians to play a few charity shows. Sanchez was joined by Steve Gibbons, Trevor Burton, Kate Pereira and others to form The Journeymen.

Sanchez and the Big Town Playboys headlined many European music festivals and worked with several noted blues musicians, such as Jimmy Nelson, Lowell Fulson, Carey Bell, Don and Dewey, Little Willie Littlefield and Joe Hughes.

In February 1992 Lopez left and Leo Green joined on tenor saxophone followed a short time later by Nick Lunt on baritone. In March 1992 another jam session with Jeff Beck led to Beck asking the Big Town Playboys to help him to record Crazy Legs as a tribute to Cliff Gallup. Stuart Colman was brought in as the producer, and the tracks were recorded in July 1992 at the Townhouse Studios in London.

Sanchez and the Big Town Playboys headlined many European music festivals and worked with several noted blues musicians, such as Jimmy Nelson, Lowell Fulson, Carey Bell, Don and Dewey, Little Willie Littlefield and Joe Hughes.

Solo career[edit]

Sanchez left the Big Town Playboys in December 1999 and pursued a solo career, although his debut solo album Just A Game was cut and released in 1997 while still with the Big Town Playboys. In 2001 Sanchez became a member of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings (replacing pianist Gary Brooker).

By 2001 Sanchez had formed a seven-piece rhythm and blues outfit under his own name featuring guitarist Andy Silvester, bassist Al Gare, drummer Mark Morgan (also formerly of the Big Town Playboys), The Harlem Horns (Al Nicholls and Pete Cook), and Doo Wop vocal group The Extraordinaires. This line-up often featured Dublin born vocalist Imelda May who later launched a hugely successful worldwide solo career through Decca/Universal.

In 2003 Sanchez produced and recorded soundtrack material for the film I'll Be There, which starred Charlotte Church and Craig Ferguson.

The Blues in Britain magazine named Mike Sanchez as UK Keyboard Player of the Year from 2000-2004.

Sanchez also collaborated with Swedish blues artists Knockout Greg and Blue Weather, recording an album based on jump blues and blues shouters such as Young Jessie, Roy Brown and Wynonie Harris. The album, along with his releases Blue Boy, You Better Dig It and 2003 DVD Release Red Hot...LIVE! was released on his own label, Doopin' Records.

Currently Sanchez is fronting a six-piece titled Mike Sanchez and his Band, featuring from Leicester based outfit Drugstore Cowboys bassist Nick Whitfield and guitarist Tom Bull, former Big Town Playboy Mark Morgan on drums, Martin Winning (Van Morrison) on tenor saxophone and baritone saxophonist Nick Lunt (Jools Holland's Rhythm & Blues Orchestra). He also regularly performs with his four-piece lineup "The Portions", as a soloist at International boogie woogie festivals and with several other bands across Europe most notably in France with the Drew Davies Rhythm Combo.

In December 2007 he featured as part of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings opening for Led Zeppelin during their reunion show at the London O2 Arena.

Personal life[edit]

Throughout his career Sanchez was based in Bewdley and then Kidderminster in the West Midlands until January 2010 when his father died and Sanchez moved to the province of Avila in Central Spain to take care of his mother, an Alzeimers sufferer. Sanchez continues to remain busy every year with concerts across Europe whilst settling down in the Sierra Gredos with his English bride and their first child Louie (born 4 November 2012).

Discography[edit]

  • Playboy Boogie, Big Town Playboys (1985 - Making Waves)
  • Now Appearing, Big Town Playboys (1990 - Blue Horizon)
  • Crazy Legs, Big Town Playboys with Jeff Beck (1993 - Epic)
  • Hip Joint, Big Town Playboys (1994 - Blue Horizon)
  • Ready to Rock, The Big Six (1995 - Vinyl Japan)
  • Struttin' Our Stuff, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings (1997 - BMG/RCA)
  • Just a Game (1997 - MS-001)
  • Off the Clock...Live!, Big Town Playboys (1997 - Eagle)
  • Six Pack, Big Town Playboys (1998 -BTP)
  • Anyway the Wind Blows, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings (1998 - BMG/RCA)
  • On the Road Again, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings (2002 - Ripple Records)
  • Just Can't Afford It, Mike Sanchez (2000 - Doopin)
  • Blue Boy, Mike Sanchez (2001 - Doopin)
  • Women and Cadillacs, Mike Sanchez with Knock Out Greg & Blue Weather (2003 - Doopin)
  • You Better Dig It, Mike Sanchez (2008 - Doopin)
  • Babes and Buicks, Mike Sanchez with The Beat From Palookaville (2010 - Doopin)
  • Almost Grown, Mike Sanchez featuring Imelda May (2012 - Doopin)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Madden, Michael (1 June 2014). Mike Sanchez Big Town Playboy. Music Mentor Books. ISBN 978-0956267979. 
  2. ^ Torreano, Bradley. "Biography: Mike Sanchez". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 

External links[edit]