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BIOGRAPHY

GARY SWINARD was born in Ashford Kent England in 1951. His music career spans more than 4 decades playing guitar, bass and keyboards.

At the age of 7 his dad gave him his first acoustic guitar but it wasn't until he met Dave Trott and Trevor Hills at the age of 11 that he started to learn to play. At this time in 1962 the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were just hitting the scene. He remembers vividly traveling to Maidstone and Dover Odeon Theatres to see the touring acts of the day that included the Stones, the Yardbirds, Gene Pitney, Sounds Incorporated, The Ronnettes & Dave Berry to name but a few.

 

 
  His first band was formed in his dads garage next to Musgrove Stores in Ashford Kent in early 1963 that attracted all the local kids from streets close by. The band was named after the film that Cliff Richard starred in called "The Young Ones"and very soon they were playing regularly running their own dances at Kingsford Hall in South Ashford. As there were no real dances for young people then, the kids aged between 11 and 16 could go and meet. Over the next couple of years the group played some local venues learning their craft as and when they could mainly in support rolls.
At the age of 15, Gary joined his brothers band as rhythm guitar player. They were called the Couriers and were getting more wide spread gigs that included all the local village halls. These included: Pluckley, Smarden, Biddenden, Great Chart, Bethersden, Aldington &Brabourne to name a few.
A year after joining, the group was accepted as one of the main opening acts playing at the well known Kent dance venue "The Leas Cliff Hall" in Folkestone Kent, from 1966 to 1970 the group opened for:
Brian Auger, Brian Poole, The Tremolo's, Billy J Kramer, Love Sculpture, The Troggs, Chicken Shack, The Searchers, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Freddy and The Dreamers, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Fortunes, The Barron Knights, The Move, The Mersey Beats, The Foremost, The Four Pennys, The Kinks, Dave Dee Dozy Mick and Tich, Deep Purple, Uriah heap, Jethro Tull, Cliff Bennett, Long John Baldry and the Steam Packet (Rod Stewart was a member as was Reg Dwight alias Elton John), Status Quo, Genesis, PP Arnold, The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, The Nice, Geno Washington, Jimmy James The Easy Beats, Caravan, Soft Machine & Love Affair, the Pretty Things to name but a few.

In 1968 The Couriers went to Norway and played to packed venues. Gary states "It was like being the Beatles."
Upon returning to the UK the group played to packed houses wherever they went.
It was about this time that Noel Redding, formerly bass player with Jimmy Hendrix, hooked up with the band to help them record. Gary had first met Noel when the Young One's supported Noels band the "Lonely Ones" in 1963. On many occasions Gary and his friend lead guitarist Andy Kealey would enjoy jam sessions at Noels Kentish Farm House that included guests such as Jeff beck etc. Unfortunately even Noel could not get the band a recording contract and though the band sounded great live with Steve Marriott on vocals. Steve was a tremendous singer and shared the same name as the famous Steve Marriott singer of the Small Faces. Steve went on to record under the name of Steve Mack.
Following obtaining gigs in London at the Pink Flamingo and the Round House in Piccadilly the band members changed and Andy left to join another band called Tristam Shandy who became a recording band and the house band at Nottingham Palais. Drummer Les Samson drummer of the Couriers went on to play with 'Stray Dog' who became internationally recognised, and later joined the Noel Redding Band as did Andy.
In 1970, at the advice of their manager Bob Steptoe, the Couriers changed their name to "Cleopatras Needle" bringing Dave Trott in on bass, Trevor Luckhurst on organ and Gary changed to lead guitar from bass. Later Trevor left and was replaced by Mick Warren, an excellent lead guitarist, thus bringing the band to an all guitar band. The band was riding high on the Kentish club scene regularly performing at the very prestigious night club Neros in Ramsgate Kent and Southsea in Hampshire and around the UK.
As Cleopatras Needle became too long a snappier name was sought after. Once again in 1973 the band changed name again to "Oliver".
Garys day time job was working as a salesman for a Colborne Garages in Canterbury selling Volkswagen cars. Gary hooked up with his old friend Trevor Hills again and started writing songs in Trevors bedroom. Later he was given a chance to record some of these songs at Ian Gillans, (Deep Purple), studio in Kingsway London but they were never released in the UK, only in Europe.
Gary left Oliver in 1977 to form his very short lived Gary Lee James Band, a six piece band that never really got off the ground.
Moving to work in London, Gary had a two year break from playing live but still carried on recording. He was given a break by a wealthy business man and recorded a single under the guidance of Bill Farley who had worked with David Soul (Starsky &Hutch). Again the record named "Anna" &" Do You Remember" was never released and slipped into oblivion.
Returning to Ashford in 1979 he helped an old friend out who asked him to join a country band playing guitar. In just a few short months "The Sounds Country Band won the Country People Magazine Award for best new UK band for 1980. Their story was covered by an independent TV company which was filmed as a documentary; sadly he does not have any footage. Recording an album called "Breakthrough" and after touring for 18 months he left Sounds Country due to health problems. It was hard to make any money on the road he says, I could not afford to buy sufficient food as I had to send money home for the mortgage plus sleeping in a big pink bus was no fun at all and bloody cold in winter!
Returning to working in London in 1983 in the hotel business, Gary was invited to play and record in Houston Texas at the world famous Gilley's night club. Here the movie Urban Cowboy was filmed staring John Travolta. Gary was offered a record and management contract. Unfortunately due to UK issues and red tape he was not able to sign at that time. Whilst working in the early 80's Gary was also an active member of the Golden Lions Childrens Trust. With the help of British Caledonian Airways this organization gave handicapped children the chance to fly and visit places that included Edinburgh Scotland, Amsterdam, Cardiff in Wales. They called him "Gary Guitar".
From 1983 to 1986 he played semi pro with a small trio he formed called "The Good, Bad and the Ugly", it was a fun trio with no pressure he adds, and in 1984 he joined the Gary Dean Band, a four piece that was very popular on the local pub scene. This band toured the UK and visited Amsterdam.
During 1986 Gary met up with Steve Marriott and Mick Warren after attending the funeral of Dave Trott who sadly died of Cancer at the age of 37. Following this meeting Live'n'Kickin was born and is still kickin' today.
This band became, and is still, one of the premier bands in Southern England; it also became one of Disneyland Paris favorite show bands for special events in Disneys Village.
In 1996 Gary recorded a solo album with his old friend Trevor Hill called "Songs of My Life". The songs were a compilation of works written by Gary during the 70's &80's
Following some personal changes and the selling of the family travel business in the March of 2001 Gary moved to Florida and met his lovely wife Robbin who shares her life with him "We are like two peas in a pod" he says "And she is the best thing that has ever happened to me".
His first six months was spent getting used to the Florida life style before getting into music. He joined a well known local band Jimmy Dee and Niteflight before setting up his own 6 piece show band now called "Think Big Live" (http://www.thinkbiglive.com).
Specializing in tributes the band cover The Blues Brothers, Elvis, Garth Brooks, and the one Gary loves to perform, Eric Clapton. Apart from playing many of the major hotels in Orlando these shows have taken the band to Nashville and Las Vegas.
Gary has recorded three albums in the last 4 years, 'After five', 'Day of The Hurricane'and his most recent under the name of Smooth Crew with his friends Joe Bolero on sax and keyboard player Jay Newcomer who wrote most of the songs. He also guested on an album by a band called the Wurms. Currently he has just recorded a Christian song entitled 'I Give My Praise To You'. He is dedicating this song to Don and Marjorie his parents and his Father-in-law Harry Arnold who are now in Gods hands in Heaven. He says that the song was written when Robbin his wife was visiting her dad who was very ill and has since passed. He said the song came out of nowhere. It is due for world wide release in July 2015 and will be available on Itunes and other major sites together with a hard CD copy through CD baby.
Other achievements whilst in the US include the writing of a Childrens book "Tom and the Mysterious World of Spudsville", a book that he hopes to turn into an audio CD one day. He has also written a guitar tuition book called "Fun Hum and Strum". He says: "Life is never dull as there is always something to do or create, I cannot sit down and let life wash over me.
Gary currently works for Aston Martin & Jaguar in sales in Orlando Florida.

My life so far has been a very interesting one so one day I will write my memoirs which will be entitled:
"NEVER THE PATHS SHOULD MEET" when time permits.


BANDOGRAPHY
-----------------
1963-1965 THE YOUNG ONES
1965-1969 THE COURIERS
1970-1973 CLEOPATRAS NEEDLE
1973-1976 OLIVER
1977-1977 THE GARY LEE JAMES BAND
1979-1981 THE NEW SOUNDS COUNTRY BAND
1982-1983 SOLO (VISITS TO TEXAS & GILLIES NIGHT CLUB)
1983-1984 THE GOOD, BAD & THE UGLY
1984-1987 THE GARY DEAN BAND
1987-2001 LIVE'N'KICKIN'
2001-2002 JIMMIE DEE & NITEFLIGHT
2003- Current THINK BIG LIVE & SMOOTH CREW