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Michael Holmes - Guitars

Michael Holmes is a founding member of IQ, the only person to have played at every IQ gig for the last 33 years. He began playing guitar at the age of thirteen when his parents refused to buy him a drum kit. “My parents refused to buy me a drum kit” he says, “so I began to play guitar. I was thirteen at the time”.

Skip forward a couple of years to when Mike met Niall Hayden and Kev Sharpe at a sixth form college in Southampton in 1975. Together they formed the nucleus of The Lens, a fairly fluid band in both musical direction and personnel, although the final line-up of Mike, Martin Orford (keyboards), Brian Marshall (drums) and ‘Ledge’ Marshall (Bass) were together long enough to play gigs on the south coast and release a cassette album ‘No TV Tonite’.

In 1981 Mike and Martin disbanded The Lens to start a new musical venture – ‘IQ’. Originally set up to play a wide variety of musical styles, it quickly became clear that IQ really excelled in progressive rock, something that eventually became the mainstay of the live set.

The history and discography of IQ is available elsewhere on the site, suffice to say that now, 31 years later, Mike remains a major writer in the band and has been responsible for the production of every IQ release, both CD and DVD, since ‘Ever’ in 1991.

Besides IQ Mike has been involved in other musical ventures. He was a hard house and trance DJ in the late 90’s, and in 2010 he resurrected the idea of The Lens when he wrote and recorded ‘Regeneration’, fusing prog rock together with trance, ambient and laid back grooves.

In between writing sessions for the new IQ album Mike is currently working with the ‘Pulse’ project, a band put together by studio technician Rob Aubrey which also features Nick D’Virgilio (Drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Tony Levin (chapman stick/bass). Pulse are working on their first album, to be released 'in the fullness of time'.

Mike is the CEO and Director of GEP, a record company originally set up to release IQ’s ‘Ever’ in 1991. GEP has since gone on to sign other bands including Spocks Beard, John Wetton, Renaissance, Jadis, Threshold and most recently Big Big Train and Steve Thorne.

Mike was born in Mumbai, India in 1959, and then again in Wales in 1962. He now lives in Canary Wharf where he is loving early retirement from his previous day job – a web manager for the NHS. He has a fish called ‘Steve’. [Edit: Unfortunately Steve became an ex fish last year…]

Recommended reading

Have to admit I don't read as much as I used to - I blame the iPod on my journeys to work (when I had a day-job, that is). I'm hoping that will all change now I have my new iPad mini... Still, books that have stayed with me for a long time are:

'KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money' - JMR Higgs. The Prologue is titled: 'The F**kers burned the lot', referring to the million pound that Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty burned on the morning of 23rd August 1994. Brilliant book, even if you don't like the KLF (and I'm sure many don't). Amazon says "They were the best-selling singles band in the world. They had awards, credibility, commercial success and creative freedom. They deleted their records, erased themselves from musical history and burnt their last million pounds in a boathouse on the Isle of Jura. And they couldn’t say why."

'The Light of Other Days' - Arthur C Clarke & Stephen Baxter. I've read this book three times and found it inspiring each time. I love the fact that Arthur C Clarke, one of the true visionaries of our times, really thought that some of this stuff might actually be possible in the not too distant future.
 
'Tess of the d'Urbervilles', 'Jude the Obscure' and just about anything by Thomas Hardy. Almost all Hardy novels revolve around the tragic nature of fate. I've always thought that Hardy invented cinematography way before the advent of feature films - his graphic descriptions of landscapes are so 'visual'.
 
'Tales of the City' - Armistead Maupin. Just a great yarn, spread over 7 books... No wait! there's an eighth book? Cor, must download it on the iPad.
 

Recommended listening

You know what its like: an album will be your must-have, desert island disc one day, and not even feature in the top five the next. It might be the fact that I'm writing this at 2 in the morning, but I'm feeling in a mellow mood right now, so:

Vaughan Williams - 'Vaughan Williams - Serenade To Music, Etc'. Many years ago I bought a 7 CD set of Adrian Boult conducting the 9 Vaughan Williams symphonies. This particular disc contains 'In the Fen Country' and 'The Lark Ascending'. Really gorgeous, sublime music - the most 'English' sounding music - and still one of my most played discs.
 
'The Rodgers and Hart Songbook' - Ella Fitzgerald, arranged and conducted by Buddy Bregman. Quite possibly the best recording ever - timeless songs, perfect arrangements and without doubt the best female voice of all time. Check out 'Have You Met Miss Jones?' and 'I Could Write a Book'.
 
'Jordan: the Comeback' - Prefab Sprout. What a great album - not a duff moment, thanks in no small part to the brilliant production by Thomas Dolby. The reverb for the 'Voice of God' on 'One of the Broken' is precisely the reverb God would use... probably.
 
'Moon River' - Andy Williams, composed by Henry Mancini. A real contender for my most favourite song ever.
 

Recommended viewing

I just love films - any films. I spend an unhealthy amount of time in front of the TV, and now with the advent of Netflix and Love Film I could quite happily spend the rest of my life curled up on the sofa watching films. I have far too many favourites to mention them all - here's a few:
 
'Far From the Madding Crowd' - directed by John Schlesinger, starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp and Peter Finch. Richard Rodney Bennett quite rightly won the Academy Award for best original score. I first watched this film when I was a kid - went out the next day and bought the book, and very quickly everything else by Thomas Hardy.
 
'To Kill a Mockingbird' - directed by Robert Mulligan, starring Gregory Peck. I read the book for O-level English at school and lost myself in the brilliant narrative - this film is every bit as evocative and really brought the book to life. Famous for its court room scene in which Tom Robinson is accused of rape, for me the portrayal of Maycomb as a quiet, backwater town is the real magic, along with Gregory Peck's perfect Atticus. Elmer Bernstein won the Golden Globe for best original score.
 
'Radio Days' - directed by Woody Allen. A young kid grows up in Brooklyn in the late 1930s listening to the radio. Doesn't sound that exciting, but might just be the best Woody Allen film ever made, and that's saying something. Nominated for best original screenplay Oscar and a soundtrack album full of gems - 'I'm Getting Sentimental Over You' by Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra is just one of the great tunes featured. Best line - Mia Farrow, after a frantic love-making session on the roof of a Manhattan ballroom: "Boy, that was fast huh? Probably helped I had the hiccups".