the early years
Richard Hingley was born 20th June 1966 in Richmond, Yorkshire, England. A son of a musician, he was surrounded by music from an early age, either listening to his father compose on the piano or going with him to concerts. Due to his fathers job (a musician in the Royal Air Force) Richard spent his early childhood living in different locations around the UK and Germany. Although always interested in music it didn't really come to the fore until his teenage years when he played a friends guitar for the first time.
"I don't really know what happened, as soon as I picked up the guitar I felt something, it wasn't like a religious experience or something similar, it was just that the music which had been going around inside my head for years could now suddenly flow out, I was hooked I had to have a guitar of my own ".
After a year of early mornings doing a paper round plus saving any money that came his way , he managed to buy that first electric guitar, a black "Shergold Masquerader" a guitar he still has to this day.
"It was one of the most fulfilling experiences I've ever had, spending all that time saving for a guitar to one day walk into a shop and buy one, I can still remember the price £186.25, it seemed like a fortune at the time but it was worth every penny, buying that guitar changed the future of my life for ever."
Delighted with his new purchase there was still one small problem, the lack of a guitar amp. a major over sight maybe (do you need an amp then?), this was solved with a little ingenuity from a few old cables and a soldering iron, making a connection possible to his fathers prized Hi-Fi. problem solved well sort of, with the low output impedance from the guitar meant turning up the volume was a necessity to hear the guitar, this was fine until he forgot to turn the volume down whilst putting on a new album to listen to.
"I'm not sure what has happened Dad, the left speaker doesn't seem to be working anymore, well it was a secret until now - sorry Dad."
Like many other teenagers at the the time Richard wanted to play lead guitar in a top rock band. Emanating the greatest guitar solos of all time on headphones well into the early hours, he even perfected the raised eyebrow pained axe man look in front of any mirror he could find. Playing the guitar was far more important than school work wasn't it?. Going to concerts and buying albums was equally an obsession with any new album learnt by listening to it over and over again until he could play it from start to finish.
At school Richard lacked any real enthusiasm for studies except for where music or sport were concerned, with 3 friends from school he formed a 4 piece band called "Syan White", an unusual name but an even more unusual band line up, the band didn't have a drummer well apart from the fact they had one of the first drum machines available, which they christened Roland (i wonder why?), the band was great (well sort of ) in rehearsals when all of the band members actually turned up. It was at that time Hingley wrote his first song "Waiting for Packer" , a humorous track about Keith Packer the bass guitarist who was consistently late, that was when the politics and egos of being in a band arose as Keith was incensed about being called "late". Weeks of practice ended with "Syan White" playing their one and only gig to date, although it was to the whole school for rag week, just the odd 800 people then. The band were so convinced they would get an encore that they had practiced it more than the gig itself, the encore was thwarted not by a lack of appreciation but by an over enthusiastic headmaster insisting all the pupils got back to lessons.
"Not bad for a one off gig, 800 people all bewildered with the choice of totally unknown cover tracks that only we had have ever heard of, but it was a very memorable experience even though I tripped over my guitar lead on the way onto the stage, hello world!! - BANG! "
It was only after the gig that someone pointed out to Richard that you spell Syan with an "C" not a "S"- "Of course I knew that" an embarrassed Hingley commented, so with that Syan or should we say Cyan White was disbanded. Richard continued playing his guitar and trying to write a few songs, all of which were fairly average to say the least as they would have to include an obligatory 5 minute guitar solo for absolutely no reason what so ever. - Dave Gilmour eat your heart out.
After leaving school Richard was at a loss to know what to do, being involved with music somehow was the obvious choice but how and where.
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the harewood years
In the late 1980's Richard made his first foray into the music industry as a trainee sound engineer at Harewood Studios in London. Harewood was owned and run by John Martin former guitarist with "Guys and Dolls" and a proficient session musician. This studio was a very popular writing studio for pre-production by artists and songwriters. John would also use it as a jingle writing studio when there were no paying clients, making it an ideal place for Hingley to learn the tools of the trade.
"It was an amazing little studio, being so small I wasn't just the engineer, I was receptionist, accounts, sales and marketing, it was an incredible learning experience. It was such a versatile studio with a great sound to it, John had spent a lot of time working out how to get the best out of it. The gear was not lavish but this made the art of getting the most out of it all the more rewarding"
That great sound and the ability to make quality recordings, soon made Harewood one of the most sort after budget recording studios in London. With the growth of Harewood's business allowed Richard to be a little bit more selective towards clients thus helping him to make the transition from engineering to producing. A few major record and management companies would throw there new stars (or not) into Harewood's warren to have their music transformed by the combined talents of Hingley and Martin.
"We were hardly Stock, Aitken and Waterman but we could take an initial idea from an artist or band and turn it into something good, let me tell you with some of the acts that the companies threw at us then this was a major achievement. It was also very frustrating as our talents were not getting the recognition they deserved, we would turn no ones into sellable acts for the record companies. It would amaze us the people who would get deals, if only the public had heard the original demos, I think i've got some of those original demos somewhere".
This frustration was to have an effect as Richard started to put pen to paper or rather pick to string. He started to write again although most of it would be music rather than lyrics.
"At that stage of my writing I would struggle writing lyrics as they would always seem very embarrassing to me, It was difficult to open up with feelings or subjects. So I concentrated writing songs with strong melodies and used to hum a lot, well with no lyrics how else could I see if it would work".
This lack of lyrics would lead to a chance conversation with one of the clients working with him at Harewood, Gary Osborne and Richard Kerr were working on new songs in a joint writing collaboration. Gary who's prolific lyric writing had caught the attention of Elton John when he took a break from writing with Bernie Taupin, meant that Osborne wrote a great deal of the lyrics on Johns "Single Man" album including the hit "Blue Eyes", this had led to him writing a lot of the lyrics for Jeff Waynes classic album "War of the Worlds". Richard Kerr meanwhile had written the classic track "Mandy" for Barry Manilow", although Kerr had originally called the track Brandy which was subsequently changed by Manilow.
"There I was minding my own business strumming my guitar while Gary and Richard had gone to lunch, I had been working on a track for a while and must have lost track of time, I looked up to see both of them looking at me as I strummed and hummed my heart out oblivious to their presence. I remember being so embarrassed even more so when Gary asked me about the song, after all I was in front of two very established songwriters. It's mine I said, really? Gary smiled "it's bloody good, what's it called?, "er not sure I haven't got any words for it", The next thing I knew Gary asked me to put it on tape and send it to him by the morning as would like to listen to it on the plane to L. A.
This chance conversation had led to Osborne writing the lyrics for a song called "Higher than Heaven". Gary was managing Lorna Bannen ex singer of Shak Atak at the time and wanted to use the song as a track to help her get a solo deal, After two days in the studio with Lorna singing and the incredible talent of Raf Ravenscroft who had played the solo on Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street, they had a great track on their hands.
"It all happened so quickly from Gary getting the track to getting in the studio and recording it was only about 2 weeks, I was on cloud nine, I was sure that I would have a hit on my hands"
It was at this time Hingley realised how tough the music industry could be as Lorna couldn't get a deal and the track was put out to tender, to this day the song remains unsold but has had the interest of many artists including the likes of Whitney Houston to name but a few.
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the jam years
It was at that time that Hingley started working with Chris Staines a producer and session musician, Staines was in the process of buying a studio in London called "Jam Studios" and was pretty anxious to get Richard to work for him as house engineer. Jam studios was formerly the Decca number 4 studio and had a big live room and an incredible past recording portfolio. The prospect of working at such a great studio was real draw for Richard and he agreed to join up with Staines.
"Leaving Harewood was such a difficult decision as I'd had such a great time there but the chance of working at a studio with such a history was very exciting. It took a little bit of time for Chris to put together the financing for the purchase of the studio so I was able to slowly leave Harewood and make sure that I trained someone up to replace me"
Staines as well as trying to buy Jam Studios in London wanted to have another residential studio outside of London. As chance would have it on a visit to Cornwall Staines stumbled across an old chapel in Launceston, it was in desperate need of repair in, but it was perfect., Jam South-West was born. Staines really wanted to have a similar equipment line up in both studios and he asked Hingley to be heavily involved in the re-equipping and re-build of both of the Jam studios.
"I guess Chris wanted someone to oversee the equipment side of both studios, ideally he wanted an artist who had started in one studio to be able to carry on without too much fuss in the other. I had been really interested in studio design and acoustics which I had been studying away from audio engineering, The prospect of getting involved with the building, restoration and design of Jam Southwest was very exciting. We almost had a blank sheet of paper to work with for Southwest, being an old chapel the size of the building lended itself to a large recording room plus space for some other smaller specialist booths. One consideration was that as a listed building we needed to make sure that the original integrity of the building remained intact.
Hingley found himself at the centre of the construction of Southwest, commuting down to Cornwall most weeks and staying onsite in a caravan, not very glamourous but it served the needs. The construction process was going well until an unforessen problem arose. By clearing out the centre of the chapel had led to some movement in the building itself, one side of the chapel had to be underpinned and strengthened, this delayed the opening of the studio by 6 months and but a strain on the already tight finances. During this time Hingley went back to London and concentrated on the launch of Jam London.
"it was nice to get back in the studio again and working with some great producers and bands, the real surprise was that in fact Harewood was so much more demanding as now I had runners and studio management so I could just concentrate on the recording.
to be finished! - sorry