Archives - Wired For Sound

with Chris Hawkes at Hesketh Crescent, Swindon, 02-01-69
With Chris Hawkes at Hesketh Crescent, Swindon, 02-01-69

Dave Gregory was 10 years old when he discovered the Beatles. "It's like I grew up with them," he says. "It was the most perfect soundtrack to a childhood that you could ever have; it was impossible to ignore. And it wasn't just the Beatles, it was mainly electric guitars. There was some magical aura about them that was so mysterious and intriguing. I knew that I had to have one of these things."

At that age, Gregory couldn't afford to buy a guitar himself, and his parents weren't going to oblige. But being classical music buffs, his parents did want to encourage his interest in music, so they bought a piano. "They were happy to pay for piano lessons," he recalls, "and it was valuable because I learned about music theory. I grew up learning to read and write music almost as I was learning to read and write English." He also learned to play the cello.

Despite his parents' best efforts at moulding him into a classical musician, he never gave up his fascination with electric guitars. "It wasn't just rock music, it was the whole romantic image of it as well that appealed to me," he admits. "I couldn't see any real glamour in sitting in a stuffy orchestra scraping a cello or playing a piano dressed in a smart suit. That did not appeal to me in the slightest."

Just before Christmas 1966, he was finally able to afford his first guitar. He was 14. "It was a cheap Dutch imported Rosetti solid-body guitar," he recalls. "It had a lot of switches and flash bits on it, and that was good enough for me." Now he could spend all of his spare time getting acquainted with this instrument that intrigued him most. As new bands came out with new sounds, Gregory become more and more inspired.

"I learned all the chords from all the songs on the first Troggs album," he says, "and then as soon as I'd done that this guy Jimi Hendrix appears, and Eric Clapton and Cream. I certainly had to rethink the entire thing because they just took the guitar to an entire other dimension! It really gave me a good shake. I was completely addicted at that point."

It wasn't long before he was getting together with friends and forming bands. But the young guitar enthusiast would have to face an unexpected challenge before achieving his rock ambitions. At age 16, he was diagnosed with insulin-dependent (type I) diabetes. It was a shock no one else in the entire family line had diabetes. (Later, however, his brother, Robert, would also develop diabetes.)

For Gregory, the diagnosis was a hard blow, but he took it in his stride. He learned how to keep his blood glucose in control, told his friends what to do if he had an insulin reaction, and got right back to making music.