John Gregson is a super guitarist and another good egg.
John has played guitar in West End shows such The Bodyguard and Matilda. Outside of work John likes to keep active, is an avid reader, keen absorber of podcasts and is ‘constantly searching for deep meaning in incidental jokes on The Simpsons’.
So, onto the nitty gritty John …
1. Where were you born?
2.Where did you grow up?
3. What jobs have you had? (Any jobs before you became an artist/musician etc)
Front of House (FOH) usher at The Usher Hall, Edinburgh; Music & Guitar teacher
4. What got you started?
My Dad gave me a copy of Queen’s Greatest Hits Vol 1 when I was 12, and as soon as I heard Brian May, that was *it*. That sound and that energy just spoke to me and I had to understand how to do it, too!
5. How old were you when you started?
6. Did you do any training? Where did you study?
I studied academic Music at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, whilst taking guitar lessons outside my degree, plus summer schools at the International Guitar Foundation.
7. What was the first piece of work you did?
After graduating, I moved to Somerset to work at Wells Cathedral Music School. I was also a specialist guitar tutor for The Southwest Music School & The International Guitar Foundation during this period. I then moved to London to become a freelance guitarist and stopped full-time teaching. My first professional ‘guitar gig’ was the new musical of Love Story in the West End.
8. What piece of work are you proudest of?
Love Story was an important show for me, it introduced me to the West End with incredible musicians I still play with a lot to this day on other gigs. We recorded the album at Abbey Road, which was a surreal experience for my first year in London!
9. What are you best known for?
‘Depping’ in the West End, where we cover for other musicians in case of illness, holidays etc. If you cover a large number of shows this can be quite busy! It requires a wide stylistic range, nerves of steel (you don’t rehearse with the band beforehand) and a good demeanour to work with all the various people in the orchestras. I love it, and appreciate the challenges it brings.
10. What do you like most about your art form?
The fact I get to play guitar (which is still my hobby) and people seem to enjoy it enough to pay me! Even without the job requirement, I’d still be spending the majority of my time with some form of stringed instrument, making noise (neighbours permitting).
11. What are you working on now?
12. Describe your favourite kind of working day.
Anything that ends in a gig in the evening is great – and variety is always appreciated, maybe recording or rehearsing during the day for other projects then playing a show at night is very satisfying, if also tiring!
13. Who were your arts inspirations growing up?
14. Who are your arts inspirations now?
13. What top tip would you give to someone starting out in your artform?
Ultimately, our job is working with people – having a sense of humour, conviviality and humility around others is as important as the music you make.