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Beat Instrumental
August 1972

ALUN DAVIES - Player of the Month

Alun DaviesAlun Davies began learning his first chords on a ukulele that lived in the same house that he did. Then he progressed onto a second-hand guitar. ‘It was one of those terrible Italian things,’ he remembers. ‘It’s very good for you to learn on a guitar with really rough action though. You know, strings six inches off the fret board! When you eventually get a better model it makes everything much easier.’

When he’d finally mastered the basic chords he set out playing the music of his day. ‘It was the whole Donegan era and I've just progressed through the impetus. Skiffle contained the basic elements of folk and rock. I got off on the folk thing.’

‘I started going on the road and performing at folk clubs. It was my way of playing myself out of the office clerk syndrome. Then I teamed up with a guy I knew at school. That was Jon Mark, now with Mark-Almond. I worked with him for quite a time.

‘Eventually we did an album for Decca, which was recorded in a day! It was called Relax Your Mind with Jon and Alun. We were so young and green we really got maneuvered in those things.’ It was then that they began playing some of the US Air bases in England and learned a little more about entertainment. The lesson still plays an important part in Alun’s work.

After the Jon and Alun experience, he began earning his living by giving guitar lessons. Some of these took place at the Cecil Sharpe House, the hub of the British traditional folk movement, and others were part of the Inner London Education Authority’s evening class scheme. ‘I began concentrating more on my guitar playing. I then found there was a lot of session work available for a finger-style acoustic player.’

Through the session work that followed, AIun teamed up with four other session musicians and made an album. The band — and the record - were called Sweet Thursday but they never appeared on stage together. Now the album is a collector’s piece with the line up of Brian Odgers, Harvey Burns, Jon Mark, Nicky Hopkins and Alun. ‘It was around that time,’ recalls AIun, ‘that I met Paul Samwell-Smith who booked me for sessions with Cat Stevens.’

The first album he made with Cat was Mona Bone Jakon and after only six weeks they began work on Tea For The Tillerman. ‘By that time I was getting to know Steve (Cat) quite well,’ says Alun. ‘One day he said: "Why don’t we go out on the road together?" At that time Mark Almond were forming and as I’d known Jon for so long I had to toss up to decide. But I was getting a buzz off Steve’s music and I wanted to follow that path through.’

Now, AIun is a permanent feature of Cat Stevens’ musical accompaniment. He’s also recorded his own album entitled Daydo, which will be released by CBS. It’s a collection of the songs that he’s been writing while sitting on the touchline of Cat’s success.


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