BIOGRAPHY

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Gary Leeds, the only true native Californian amongst The Walker Brothers, was born on 9 March 1942 in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, the only child of Jack, an industrial chemist, and his wife Violet.   He turned out to be somewhat of a joker from a very early age and would often entertain both family and friends, much to their amusement.  He obviously had a taste for the limelight right from the beginning! 

Gary was an avid animal lover, and had several pets including Little Bon the hen, Bourbon the boxer and Pal the collie.  At the front of the family home there were a number of squirrels that Gary used to encourage onto the window ledges so he could feed them peanuts.  He was an active child and was a member of the local police department’s rifle club, played with the Little League City Championship baseball team and was a Boy Scout.   

One of Gary’s first ambitions was to train as a pilot, which was inspired by an inter-state flight he took between San Francisco and Los Angeles at the age of eight.  Upon reaching his teens both his education and leisure time were spent trying to achieve this goal.  He majored in sciences at college and took on various jobs earning cash to enable him to obtain his longed for pilot’s licence.  Unfortunately a freak accident to his knee whilst reportedly teaching his mother to do the twist brought those particular ambitions to an abrupt end. 

Fortunately Gary had developed an interest in music during his school days, and at the age of 14, after constantly drumming on the cushions at home, he decided that he would like to concentrate on playing drums.  He was very proud of his first drum kit, which was a red wooden set complete with animal skins that used to stretch and tighten depending on the temperature, so Gary was forever adjusting them!  He joined the school band for a period of time, but soon formed his own group called The Beltones when the discipline got too much for him, and the group had some success locally while still at school.  A succession of groups followed over the next few years, and firmly established Gary amongst the constantly changing line-ups of bands around Los Angeles at that time.  He joined local group The Standells when they were formed in 1962, and remained with them until he was replaced by former Mousketeer Dick Dodd in 1963, just before they were due to record their first album for Liberty Records. 

One of Gary’s earliest claims to fame was standing in on drums for Elvis Presley when they were appearing on the same bill.  Presley's drummer was delayed at the airport, so Gary filled in for a couple of songs.  Gary and Elvis shared a mutual friend in Jim Smith, later to become better known as PJ Proby.  At the time Gary, Elvis and PJ often played American Football in the park, but their games came to an end when the Elvis fans realised he was there.

It was Gary's friendship with PJ Proby that first brought him to England, as Proby's drummer, in 1964.  Gary soon returned to California where he resumed drumming on the LA club circuit.  During this time Gary visited Gazzari's Club where John Maus and Scott Engel had a residency as The Walker Brothers.  Gary suggested that they should join up with him and try their luck in England.  After further encouragement from Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, a regular visitor to Gazzaris, the trio decided to make the trip to the UK.  They arrived in London on a cold wintry day in February 1965 as complete unknowns, but by the end of the year The Walker Brothers' popularity rivaled that of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and they were mobbed wherever they went. 

Their big ballad sounds and good looks contributed to a very successful combination that took the pop world by storm back in the sixties.  They released a string of records, two of which made the number one slot in the hit parade, together with EPs and LPs, which are still sought after today.  At the height of The Walker Brothers' success in 1966 Gary released two singles as a solo artist, You Don’t Love Me and Twinkie-Lee, both of which peaked at No 26 in the charts.  Three major UK tours took place during 1966 and 1967 but, after the third one, the group announced that they were splitting up to follow their individual careers.   

Gary formed his own group, Gary Walker and The Rain, in the autumn of 1967.  The group consisted of Paul “Charlie” Crane (lead vocals/rhythm guitar/piano), John Lawson (bass), Joey Molland (lead guitar/vocals) and naturally Gary on drums and vocals.  Contractual problems prevented Gary from joining John and Scott in the studio during his time with the Walker Brothers.  However, as band leader, Gary was the driving force in all of the Rain's recording sessions, contributing as songwriter, vocalist and drummer.  Their debut single was a cover of the Classics IV song Spooky released early in 1968.  The single release was supported by a lengthy and very successful UK tour with The Kinks, The Herd and The Tremeloes.  An extensive tour of Japan followed later that year during which the 'Gary Walker & The Rain Album No 1' was released.  The LP was supported by the release of an EP and two singles, all consisting of songs taken from the album.  None of the tracks were ever released other than in Japan, consequently the original Japanese LP is now extremely valuable and rare. 

A Japanese group, The Carnabeats, appeared with Gary and The Rain during their tour and, following this, Gary recorded a single with the Carnabeats, Cutie Morning Moon.  Scott Walker wrote the lyrics and co-produced the song.  The recording session took place through the night and, as it was completed, they spotted a pale moon in the sky, hence the inspiration for the song title. 

A further UK single, an Easybeats song, Come In You’ll Get Pneumonia, was released before the group split up early in 1969.  Gary was forced to return to the USA because his work permit had expired again, Paul Crane became a producer, John Lawson joined the post-Honeybus group Lace and Joey Molland went on to become a member of Badfinger. 

In 1975 Gary returned to the UK music scene during The Walker Brothers' reunion, which produced the top ten single No Regrets from the album of the same name.   A further two albums, 'Lines' and 'Nite Flights', followed, the latter featuring Gary on lead vocals for the self-penned numbers Den Haague and Death Of Romance.  The Walker Brothers parted again in 1978. 

Gary disappeared from public life, marrying his English wife Barbara on 17 November 1979.  During the '80s Gary's artistic talents came to the fore again running his own business making models of castles made from sand blended with Gary's "secret resin".  The '80s also saw Gary on UK TV once again, making a guest appearance on the ITV game show "Tell The Truth" where he totally hoodwinked a rather embarrassed Suzi Quatro.  Gary and Barbara's son Michael made his arrival on 17 December 1986.  In more recent years Gary has turned his hand to casting and creating models of the Titanic wreck as she now lies at the bottom of the ocean.  Gary uses a number of materials for his models, including bronze.  Following on from the success of this venture, Gary has also been creating individually commissioned models of the hands of babies, children and newly-weds. 

Gary received a sensational welcome and three standing ovations when he appeared on stage on 16 July 2005 for the first time in 27 years, at the White Rock Hotel in Hastings with fellow Walker Brother John.  Gary performed two memorable numbers from his days with The Walker Brothers: Twinkie Lee and Dizzie Miss Lizzy.  Gary and John were accompanied on stage at the White Rock by Chris Black & Blackcat.

Gary returned to the White Rock Hotel, again accompanied by Chris Black & Blackcat, on 3 December 2005.  On this occasion Gary fronted the band for an extended set that included his self-penned songs Den Haague and Death of Romance from the classic Walker Brothers' album 'Nite Flights' - the first time that any songs from this album have been performed on stage.  Amongst other highlights was the finale, Land of 1000 Dances, which has long been associated with Walker Brother shows.

In March 2006 the 40th anniversary of The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore was celebrated by Universal Music's reissue of a four track CD single and a commemorative limited edition vinyl single.  May 2006 saw the CD -  'The Best Of Scott Walker & The Walker Brothers' - hitting the  UK Album Chart.  To coincide with these releases Gary, and fellow Walker Brother John, were interviewed by a number of magazines and UK radio stations.  Gary was also very much in demand by the media when the 5CD Walker Brothers' Box Set 'Everything Under The Sun' was released in July 2006.  The "Box" includes sixteen previously unreleased songs from the Walkers'  sixties back catalogue.  As Gary says, "it's like finding an entire Beatles' album that you never knew about, isn't it?" ........ it IS!!  

In August 2006 Gary and former Rain member Joey Molland shared a very emotional - 38 years on - reunion.  This meeting has given them the inspiration to write more songs, with a view to working together again in the future.  Following on from this, September saw Gary as guest of honour at a charity weekend in Newcastle.  This successful event was attended by local guests together with members of his Discussion Group, who were all thoroughly entertained by his stand-up routine, which has now come to be expected of him.

With the advent of 2007 Gary is currently working on many new projects, one of which includes the Universal UK release of his Gary Walker & The Rain Album No 1.  More details of his future plans will be revealed soon.

January 2007 


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