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another picture from Diabetes Forecast
picture from Diabetes Forecast magazine

JOINING BANDS AND HAVING FUN
Gregory laughs, a little embarrassed, when asked about his first bands. "These were early experiments with getting groups together," he explains. "None of these were professional bands." Still, by 1968, he was playing gigs with a group called The Target. This band evolved into a blues band called Orange. "That was probably the most fun I had with a band," he says. "It was fuelled on nothing more than optimism. We were just copying the bands of the day and occasionally trying to get songs of our own together not really having a clue of what we were doing."

Orange split up when Gregory was 18, and things became very tough for him. He suffered from depression and did not perform at all for two years. However, he eventually decided the best thing to do was to just get out and play gigs, so he played with a country band for a while. As soon as he had saved up enough money to buy some new equipment, he formed his own rock band. This group actually made it to the recording studio, but they didn't have a strong songwriter and their enthusiasm eventually fizzled.

Gregory was then laid off from the office job he'd had since leaving school. With a year of welfare benefits coming to him, he decided to take a stab at being a professional musician with another band. This also turned into a dead end. "We just rehearsed every day for a year at the keyboard player's house," he says. "When the money ran out I had to go back home and get a proper job again."

He spent the next 18 months driving a van, gigging with an R & B band, and living with his parents while trying to save up to purchase a house. Then an old friend called.

It was Andy Partridge, whom Gregory had met while playing gigs in Swindon as a teenager. By the time he called, Partridge had already formed XTC. Their keyboard player had just quit, and they were looking for a replacement. XTC was classified as a punk/new wave band for their fast and furious playing style, but there was a sophistication to their songs that was turning heads in the music industry. Gregory was very aware of XTC's progress. "They'd made two albums for Virgin in this country and had got good reviews. Although they were not particularly well-known, things were definitely buzzing."

When Partridge told Gregory they wanted him to join the band, he couldn't have been happier. "The roller-coaster was moving, so I just hopped aboard and I remember thinking: Let's make the most of this. It's not going to last very long, and it'll be a good memory to look back on when you're old and grey."