Ray joined Showaddywaddy in 2017, but picked up his first guitar way back in 1971 at the age of 11 when his elder brother brought a cheap Woolworths guitar home from school. After sharing the guitar for a couple of months and copying the likes of Slade and T-Rex (the first record he purchased being “Get It On”), Ray then swapped half his record collection for a Fender Strat copy and began to try and emulate the likes of Paul Kossoff, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mark Knopfler and Rory Gallagher, all of whom would remain key influences for decades to come.
At the age of 14 (1974/75), Ray started to gig around the local WMC scene with a band called Skint, who included ‘Hey Rock and Roll’ in their set. Various club and rock cover bands followed during the next few years. (Left: Ray, with Dean Loach, April 2017. Pic Andrew Ball)
Ray always listened out for guitar driven music as a young man, especially Free, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd (bands he still listens to today) and some of the other prog rock bands in the seventies. He cites Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album as one of his favourites, always on in the car or on his iPod, (“every home should have one!”) Favourite guitar solos include Jimi Hendrix’s ‘All Along Thte Watchtower’ and The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ which is one song he loves to play at solo gigs.
During this late 70s, Ray completed an engineering apprenticeship with British Steel but left aged 22 (1982) to join his first professional band, touring in Germany and all over the UK.
In his early twenties Ray began to play more acoustic guitar and decided to learn classical. After completing exams, this led to a period of teaching guitar and performing in restaurants and hotels.
From 1985 – 1987 Ray was a member of Arctic Chartre. The band won second place in the Melody Maker ‘Battle of the Bands’ contest and were subsequently signed up by one of the judges, Gerry Bron of Bronze Records. Although they recorded at the Roundhouse Studios, the group disbanded shortly after.
Around this time, through an old bass player friend, Ray was introduced to the wonderful world of arcade games. Since then Ray has been a supplier of music, sound effects and voiceovers for various games companies.
In 2005 Ray joined Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash enjoying 10 years of twin guitar magic - originally with Keith Buck and later Danny Willson (who joined from SWW). Rob Hewins (SWW) completed the original line up on drums and backing vocals. Strong friendships were forged during this time as the band toured all around the world, including a 5,000 crowd at High Voltage Festival in 2010, the biggest crowd played to, to date.
The Wishbone Ash guys are well-respected musicians, and the early Wishbone guitar work still sounds great. They toured with some fabulous musicians and saw Santana, Focus and ZZ Top in close up detail (including preventing Francis Rossi getting run over by a catering truck backstage in Swansea!)
Favourite venue to play at is Newcastle City Hall (a lot of his heroes have played there over the years, so playing there himself is a huge thrill).
Around 2005, Ray also played in ‘This, That and the Others’, a rock covers band featuring the versatile Rob Hewins, Dean Loach and Danny Willson. Also around this time, Ray's daughter Holly sparked his interest in the ukulele. They joined a local ukulele club and began doing small performances together as 'Hatfields Ukes'. Together they have played various local festivals, including a special Maiwoche concert in Osnabruck, Germany. (https://www.youtube.com/user/hatfieldukes
In addition to 4 ukuleles(!), Ray owns 8 electric guitars, 4 acoustics, 2 classical, 2 bass guitars and a mandolin. For SWW he uses Fender guitars and a Mesa Boogie amp.
Early in 2016 Ray joined the award winning ‘And Finally Phil Collins’ touring company and thoroughly enjoyed 70 UK dates with the excellent 11 piece band.
In January 2017 Ray was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to join SWW, playing his first gig at Viva Blackpool on 3rd February. Ray had to learn SWW’s set very quickly and had to listen to nothing else flat out for 10 days, then 3 days playing along with a guitar.
He loves all the set but especially Blue Moon and some of the other harmony tracks, and is really enjoying the Waddy experience so far!
Ray first met Dave and Rod around 10 years ago when they came to see a Wishbone Ash gig in Northampton, being introduced by Danny Willson who he’s known for 20 years.
In additional to his band commitments, for the last 25 years Ray has constantly performed solo electric and acoustic gigs, delighting regulars at his local pubs and clubs. Non-music hobbies include walking, cycling, reading and travel. Ray also enjoys travel programmes on TV, as well as well-written stuff such as Broadchurch and The Bridge.
Ray loves Italian food and especially fish – compared to the band’s current loves of cakes (everyone), smoothies (Romeo), and bananas (Dean…once!)
In October 2008, Ray released his self-penned debut solo CD, ‘King of the West’. The album features a mix of vocal and instrumental tracks, with all instruments played by Ray himself. This was followed in 2013 with a second solo release ‘At the Drop of a Hat’, produced and engineered by Rob Hewins. The album featured guest appearances by some of Ray's closest friends, including Rob Hewins and Danny Willson. Both albums have been received positively.