Pete York
August 15, 1942

Pete York
PETE was born in  Middlesbrough, England  on 15th August  1942.

1950  he began to play on a toy drum and his mother's cooking pots while listening to  American jazz on the radio; probably his first exposure to drum legend, Gene Krupa.
Pete played drums throughout his school years and joined the Trent College Jazz Club, School Orchestra and Army Cadet Force Band. On leaving school in 1960 he had acquired some rudimentary technique on the drums and his enthusiasm was growing fast for a life in music.
He went to Birmingham and soon got involved in the music scene there, playing everything  from Dixieland to modern jazz.

In 1962 came his first TV appearance with an award-winning new jazz group.
Pete had also begun to play blues and R & B with Spencer Davis, Steve and Muff.
Eventually the Spencer Davis Group would record in 1964. The record releases  that followed resulted in critical acclaim in many countries and ever-increasing chart success.

"Keep On Running” reached Number One in 1965 to be followed in the next year by "Somebody Help Me”, "When I Come Home”, Gimme Some Lovin'” and "I'm A Man”.

Pete appeared with the SDG in several films, countless TV shows around the world and is heard on all the million selling singles and albums.

But there always comes that time to move on and Steve and Muff had already left.

In 1969 Pete left Spencer on friendly terms to form a unique duo with Eddie Hardin.

Hardin & York were sometimes dubbed "the World's Smallest Big Band” and released several albums with great success, especially in Europe.

The duo often played as opening act for bands like Deep Purple and it is from this time that Pete's friendship with Jon Lord and Ian Paice stems.

By 1972 Pete York's Percussion Band  had hit the road. It featured a brass section and three drummers as well as guitarist/singer Miller Anderson. Occasional guest drummers in this adventure were Ian Paice, Keef Hartley, Roy Dyke and Keith Moon.

Klaus Doldinger was a much acclaimed saxophonist bandleader from Germany and in 1973 he put together a package including his own Passport group plus guests, Alexis Korner, Brian Auger, Johnny Griffin and Pete York. It was a mixture of stylists and it worked beautifully.

The next year came a call from Jon Lord for Pete to play with "Rock Meets Classic” an experimental mix of rock group and orchestra which Jon had pioneered with Deep Purple a couple of years earlier. This year of 1974 also included a revival of the Spencer Davis Group for American and European tours.

Six weeks in Bali with Eberhard Schoener and a German film crew  resulted in the album and TV special "Bali Agung” in 1975. In the same year Klaus Doldinger invited Pete to tour again with Johnny Griffin, Les McCann and Buddy Guy. The recording of Jon Lord's "Sarabande” also took place during this year.

In 1976 Pete could not resist Chris Barber's invitation to play "Echoes of Ellington” with his band and Russell Procope and Wild Bill Davis from the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
Pete stayed happily with the band to tour Africa and Australia and accompany exciting guests.

In spite of playing more than 250 shows a year Pete took time to marry Mecky on 16 June 1977 and their village wedding was a star-studded event with everyone from the Purples to the Barbers showing up.
Trummy Young from the Louis Armstrong All Stars and John Lewis from the Modern Jazz Quartet joined the Barber Band for "Swing Is Here” in 1978.

The formation of Pete York's New York took Pete away on tour a lot . Daughter Stephanie was born on 3 May 1979. The responsibility of  keeping a regular band on the road as Chris Barber had always done was not easy but Pete kept it going until 1983 and produced several recordings of their jazz-rock music. There were many other sideman gigs for Pete, such as with Dr John and Charlie Watts Rocket 88. The Rock and Blues Circus made its first tours with Chris Farlowe, Jon Lord and Colin Hodgkinson and there were Direct to Disc albums produced.

In 1984 Pete moved to Germany with Mecky and Stephanie and a new phase of life began for them.

Pete decided to invite some of his old colleagues to tour under the motto  "Pete York Presents...”
Spencer, Chris Farlowe and Brian Auger all came on the road with Pete and frequent rhythm partner Colin Hodgkinson.

A chance meeting with TV director Michael Maschke led to discussions about various TV projects and the idea for " Superdrumming” was born.

Brian, Colin and Pete continued touring and made TV shows which included their comic lunacy as well as some great music. In 1986 a cartoon film scripted by Pete and called "Dracula Junior” was completed involving their music and voice talents.
By now the group had been christened "Daddy and the Steamers” by Stephanie.

Pete had long wanted to play some straight swinging jazz with some of his old friends and the opportunity came in 1987. The TV series "Villa Fantastica” was written by Pete and directed by Michael Maschke. Every show featured a live number played by a swinging quintet, Roy Williams, Dick Morrissey, Brian Auger, Harvey Weston and Pete.

Pete was writing and performing in the series "Vorhang Auf” and the first series of "Superdrumming” featuring Ian Paice, Louie Bellson, Cozy Powell, Gerry Brown and Simon Phillips was filmed in a church during a snowy February.

The next year, 1988, the production of the second series of "Superdrumming” featured Billy Cobham, Bill Bruford, Dave Mattacks, Zak Starkey, Nicko McBrain, Jon Lord and Eddie Hardin.

In 1989 there were tours with Chris Farlowe, Zoot Money, Tony Ashton, Jon Lord, Miller Anderson, Colin Hodgkinson and Pete in an All Star group.
The "Superdrumming” TV show won a Silver Award in America and a third series was planned.
By now the location was a disused steelworks and the guests included Jon Hiseman, Steve Ferrone, Mark Brzezicki, Trilok Gurtu and the return of Ian Paice.
The band on this series featured Miller, Colin, Brian, Jon and Barbara Thompson.
There were also more TV tapings of "Villa Fantastica” with the Swing band plus singers Maria Muldaur and Zoot Money.
The success of live gigs with the Swingers encouraged Pete to take a jazz group on the road.

"Superdrumming” was now well-known in Germany and in 1990 an invitation came to present it live in Freiburg. The drummers were Ian Paice, Jon Hiseman, Cozy Powell and Pete together with the All Star band. The show was sold out in a couple of hours.
Daddy and the Steamers continued to tour and Pete played in a duo with Brian Auger.

January of 1991 saw the first extended jazz tour "Hollywood Swing” featuring the musicians from "Villa Fantastica” and the tours would go out every January for the next ten years.

The Freiburg Festival invited Pete to organise a week of events involving around forty of his musical friends. There were concerts of "Superblues”, "Wind In The Willows”, "Lady Sings The Blues”  and "Hollywood Swing” which featured many of the stars from Pete's life in music.

Pete's Fiftieth Birthday was celebrated with a big open-air bash in Switzerland in August 1992. Musicians from all Pete's bands and projects came together to play for a crowd of 8000.

On a TV Award show Pete's Sixties All Stars with Jon Lord, Spencer Davis, Eddie Hardin and Paul Jones had the celebrity audience dancing in the aisles with a medley of their hits.

The revival of interest in Sixties music led to more offers for the Spencer Davis Group and they played to 10,000 people at a festival in Scotland and 15,000 in Amsterdam.

The old hits like "Gimme Some Lovin'” were being used in Hollywood movies.
In August Pete took a five piece band into Europe's biggest Variety theatre in Berlin for a three month run.
There were more jazz gigs, more Spencer Davis gigs in 1994 but the highspots were concerts with Jon Lord and Orchestra.
By the following year this project was known as Jon Lord and the Gemini Band.
1995 was the debut year of the Pete York Big Band playing a programme of swing classics.

All the old Spencer Davis Group recordings were now available in a CD box set and, during a sell-out week in Birmingham, Steve and Muff Winwood both came along to hear the band.
The Birmingham International Jazz Festival invited Pete to play for a week and at the same time rehearse and premiere the Tribute to Gene Krupa "Drummin' Man” which Pete had devised.

Hardin & Yorks "Wind In The Willows” and "Pete York's Super Drumming”, both filmed some years before, also appeared on DVD. These releases were a satisfying way for Pete to celebrate his 60th birthday in this year, as well his 25th wedding anniversary with Mecky.

In September Pete staged a sell-out concert with an all-star cast in Starnberg playing swing and R&B.
A trio with Helge Schneider and Jimmy Woode had already proved a success and Helge produced a film "Jazz Club” in which the trio played a central part. This would arrive in German cinemas in 2004.

In Spring 2005 Pete had a call from the manager of Eric Burdon. Although very busy with his New Animals touring band, Eric wanted to do a short tour of Greece with only piano and drums.

Christoph Steinebach,  a young and spirited exponent of blues and boogie would play piano.

The music was right out of the youth of both Eric and Pete, the blues of Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Witherspoon, the rock of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Drum Legends and their band played the first concerts to good audiences and excellent critics, most hailing the idea as original and exciting. They also took the whole show and a film crew to Gran Canaria where a concert was filmed for a DVD release.

The beautiful music arranged by Martin Schrack for the Swing concerts with the Kammerorchester Schloss Werneck was dusted off and brought to sparkling life again in Pete York’s Swing & String Orchestra for a few concerts.

Pete got the call to join Helge Schneider on some big open-airs in Summer and as a result was asked to join the upcoming „Kampf Im Weltall“ Tour.

2018: Pete York's Blues Circus with Roger Glover...

© Heinz Kronberger

© Oskar Henn

Spencer Davis Group:
Muff Winwood - Pete York - Steve Winwood - Spencer Davis

© Klaus Muempfer

© Heinz Kronberger

Rogers Club Germany

Pete York - Helge Schneider

© Mathias Kretz - drums & percussion

Pete York - Bernhard Castiglioni
Dear Bernhard, you have made an oldish man very happy. I am so proud to be included in the Drummerworld roster. Life can't get much better. I now have a new dream. That all of us drummers one day get together for a party in that ridiculous hotel in Dubai. Bill Gates can pay for it. I hear he's taken up bongoes. Health and happiness to us all.
Pete York

© Mark Wohlrab

Steve Ferrone & Pete York

thanks for your visit!

220'000 subscribers