Observations of life, love and world events. Live music show of heart & soul showcased through world-class musicianship with Exceptional Singers.
Born in St. Albans with many family members & friends still living in the city, St. Albans Funk is the obvious name choice for the show with songs inspired by my years in St. Albans with its great musical heritage. Written by myself, Bryan Smith from The Push & Mo Pleasure from Earth, Wind & Fire with guest writers including Meesh Jay & Mark Mondesir.
I’m so pleased to showcase St.Albans Funk in my home city with some of my closest and very talented friends from around the world. We wrote our title song (St.Albans Funk) about the Civic Hall (The Arena) especially for the people of St. Albans City.
I was born in the city of St. Albans just outside London into a loving hard working family. I’m the youngest of 6 children, my oldest sibling Peter being 20 years older than me. I was very lucky to have a large family with many nieces & nephews just a few years younger than me, although I am their uncle they were and still are like younger brothers & sisters. One big happy family, I grew up living in a council house in Hill End Lane, St. Albans with my Mum, Dad and youngest sister Carol. This was the family home where the whole family would meet on Sunday mornings, drink tea & coffee, eat toast, catch up on the latest news of the week, mend cars and have great family times, as mentioned in my song “Thinking About The Past”
Our house was always full of the pop music of the day which gave me a great love of music from a very early age. In those days we often had to work to find new music, firstly by listening to pirate radio stations broadcasting from ships offshore, such as Radio London, Radio Luxembourg & Radio Caroline, later replaced by BBC Radio One. There were a few TV programs playing new music including Ready Steady Go, Juke Box Jury & Oh Boy, We would always look forward to Top of the Pops on TV every Thursday evening and Pick of the Pops on the radio Sunday evenings with the latest top 40 songs.
I loved all styles of popular music, especially Motown & Soul, also Reggae, Rock & Country, I just couldn't get enough. My dad had a big valve radiogram that played old 78rpm records before we could afford a more modern record player to play the new 45rpm single and 33rpm LP. At the age of 10, I would spend days of my school holidays at my sister Jill friend’s house playing her vinyl. Later on, I would buy my own vinyl records from Woolworth's in St. Peters Street or The Record Room on Cheques Street, it was here that I first met Graham Kentsley who owns The Hello Sailor Disco Show that performed all over town, Graham went on to open his own record shop, No1 Records, Waddington Road in the town centre. When I was 11 my sister Carol took me with her friends to see my first NME (New Musical Express) show at Wembley Empire Pool with many successful artists of the day, it was a great yearly event.
From the age of 15 I attended live music shows at St. Albans Civic Centre (now renamed The Arena) where they had some great UK acts such as Labi Siffre, Elkie Brooks and St. Albans band The Zombies. Also great American artists like The Supremes & Chairman of the Board. It was at The Civic where I again met Graham Kentsley who had his Hello Sailor Disco Show playing weekly, it's appropriate that Graham & The Hello Sailor Disco provided some great soul & funk music at our first live performance of St. Albans Funk.
As I grew, my big passions were mainly for music & cars. During school summer holidays I worked with my brother Chris who was foreman at David Rand’s the local BMC garage dealership helping work on cars that are now classics, Austin, Morris, MG, Triumph, Riley & Jaguar. I had my first full-time job there when I left school. Although my school teachers tried to persuade me to stay on at school, I just had to leave and work with cars.
From an early age I loved singing pop music to myself and always thought that I would grow up to be involved with making music, I didn't know how that would happen, I just knew it would at some time in my life.
At the age of 19 after a summer in Cornwall, I worked with my brother Don helping to build his Piper Recording Studio in Luton. This was a great experience and my introduction to the music industry. The first person to record at Piper Studios was a local lad called Paul Young who went on to become a successful international artist.
1989 I started my own company and developed my own award-winning TL Audio brand of high-quality valve studio products which have been used on many famous recordings worldwide by many top artists & Studios including Coldplay, Sting, Underworld, Youth, Blur, Pavarotti & Abbey Road Studios. The products are still being used to make great sound recordings in many studios around the world today. I later developed the Fatman Audio Hi-Fi brand. A range of award-winning high-end valve based Hi-Fi products.
The day that changed my life;
2015 I went to see an old school friend, Bryan Smith and his band “The Push” playing in St. Albans. We hadn’t seen each other for over 20 years. During the break, I told Bryan that I had some ideas for songs but not being a musician I couldn’t play them but I could sing the words & melody. Bryan said “come along to my studio and sing them to me, let’s see what you’ve got” I replied, “Having known each other all these years, wouldn’t it be great if we could produce something special”. As I’m not a performer or musician my first visit to Bryan’s studio was a bit nerve-racking for me, I remember pulling up outside his house and thinking this is a bit like going to the dentist. A lot of artists are insecure, even experienced and successful ones. This was my first experience of singing my ideas to a professional musician or almost anyone. I had always thought that no one would like my songs let alone want to record them with me. I sang my songs to Bryan and to my surprise he liked them and wanted to work on them with me. The next studio session was great and we soon got into a comfortable way of working together, I would sing my song with the melody, Bryan writes the music, I usually have an idea of what I think the production should sound like but working with Bryan using his talent combined with his recording & production skills takes our songs to a much higher level. I love our recording sessions as we bounce ideas off each other and using Bryan’s experience, develop the ideas into complete songs. The exceptional guitarist, professional musician Bryan Smith and me an ideas man/songwriter, it seems something special happens to the creative process when we work together.
A few months after Bryan & I had been working on our songs I was fortunate to be invited to a birthday party for American Multi-Instrumentalist and Music Director Mo Pleasure. It was Mo’s night off from a UK tour as MD for Bette Midler who was playing at the 02 in London, there was live music all night with great musicians & singers from the band getting up to play, it was a fantastic private live show. I got to meet Mo briefly and wish him a happy birthday.
For those who aren’t familiar with Mo, Mo Pleasure is Music royalty who has played with many of the world’s great artists including Ray Charles, Earth, Wind & Fire (Music Director 8yrs), Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Michael McDonald, the list is extensive and very impressive. Mo is at the top of his game having recently played in New York with Bette Midler & Nile Rodgers. Visit the Mo Pleasure page on this website to learn more about Mo's great career, see the videos on the home page. Despite all of Mo’s music industry success and fame, he is one of the nicest, kindest and most humble people you could meet. A real gentleman and caring person who has time for everyone and very keen to help young artists move forward in the music industry. It’s quite amazing that 15 years ago Mo & I both had the idea of starting a new music company that would be run like a big family bringing artists together on new projects, the funny thing is that Mo and I only met in 2015 and although our lives are so different we are so much the same. We are like brothers as well as great friends, Mo splits his time between America & UK depending on workload.
Over the following few months after Mo’s birthday party, Mo & I became friends and I asked if he would like to hear some of the songs that Bryan & I were writing and possibly play on a song. To my amazement, Mo liked our songs, played on them and joined us in writing the album. Mo’s influence, writing & playing takes the music to yet another level. Mo also brought a friend, one of the world’s top drummers, Mark Mondesir to play on some of the tracks and other friends like The London String Group who play with other great artists such as Muse, Beverly Knight, Phillip Bailey & ABC. We now have a strong writing team with Music Director Mo Pleasure and access to a world network of great musicians and friends who are happy to play on our songs and at our shows, including a network of great vocalists that we are working with.
Like everyone, I’ve had highs & lows in my life, good times & bad. My songs reflect some of my life’s experiences and observations. Some of my songs are very personal to me, others cover world events. I’ve always known that it’s family, friends & love that really matters, as reflected in the words of my songs “Travelers Song” and “Our Family”. Making my own music has opened up a whole new world to me. I’ve been so fortunate to have met and to be working with a great network of musicians & singers, all so eager to help and perform at a very high standard. I will always be grateful to all of them for their help with my project which has turned into a live music show with songs inspired by events in my life and others lives, also observations of world events, such as our song “Hell is Empty” which I wrote about the wars going on in the world today. Also, "Rise" a positive song which was inspired by Alica Keys speech at The Washington women's march.
I’m proud to be from St. Albans, that's why we’re launching the show in St. Albans, we have written a song for the city called
St. Albans Funk about the early days of St. Albans Civic Hall, or The Civic as we used to call it.
I am so excited about the future and the music we’re producing. We are developing our ideas and recording the first album which is the soundtrack for our first live music show that was performed in The Arena - St. Albans 25th May 2019. As I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by a variety of great music over the years, I have many musical influences which would probably explain why my songs appear in many genres. Through our songs, we can help educate and highlight problems in the world and hopefully make a difference in a good way. Our productions not only feature some of the world’s top musicians who have played with many of the great artists around the world they also feature outstanding and great new emerging singers who have also performed with some of the world’s top artists such as Bebe Rexha & Grammy award-winning Ariana Grande.
We are planning to release our first song “St. Albans Funk” shortly which you will be able to see on YouTube.
We welcome your support and look forward to seeing you at our shows.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
Peace & Love, Tony Larking