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Tony Wall

I grew up in Birmingham, with my three brothers and sister. It was my father Ernest, who opened my mind and my heart to music. He loved it. Dad played the harmonica and introduced me to my first guitar when I was thirteen. I had been on a school holiday to Grange Over Sands or The Lake District as it is known and one night a Christian folk group were playing "This World Is Not My Home". I recognised the song from my Jim Reeves collection and they were playing in a finger picking style. I new there and then that I wanted to learn this method of playing the guitar.

So on my return home I pestered my dad so one day he took me to a second hand shop in Smethwick, Birmingham and bought me this semi-acoustic jazz guitar with an action fit for a double-bass! Boy, those first chords were tough to learn and even tougher to play! It took me ten minutes to play 'Blowing in the wind’ and another ten to recover!

I kept on pleading with dad for an easier guitar to play, until one day, he turned to my mother and said, ‘Lucy, here’s £30. You can buy that new carpet for the stairs you’ve been nagging me about or you can give it to the lad for a new guitar. It’s up to you.’ Mom, I’m glad to say, loved me more than she needed a new stair carpet because within the hour, with 6 pence bus ride to Birmingham and £29,11 shillings in my back pocket, I was off to Woodruff’s to buy my next guitar. An Ekco Ranger which I still have, and which is still a dream to play today as it was back then.

I have fond memories of dad and me, and the music. Together, we played his great favourites, such as Tom Paxton’s ‘Last thing on my mind’ and the old cowboy song ‘Clementine’ and of course, This world is not my home.

At the end of the sixties, I was in my last year at school and performing with my friend Greg Dunbar. Ralph McTell’s ‘Streets Of London’ Simon & Garfunkel’s The Boxer were part of our repertoire and opened the door to us into the Folk scene and clubs like The Station in Sutton Coldfield and The Acorn in Erdington.

Greg and I were involved in youth work in Birmingham when we became friends with singer / guitarist Les Laine and his partner Della who a great singing voice. We all joined forces and became ‘Common Folk’. We had a good following until my partners in crime went off to teacher training college and the group dissolved. We were growing up!

Later I met Lena. We were married in May 1974. So for quite a while, family life and work took over. We had three beautiful children and the music, though not forgotten, was left on the back burner.

In 2001, a stroke took Lena away from us. Now the children have all grown and flown the nest. Now older, and I hope wiser, I have returned to my very first love, Music. Playing my guitar and singing are treasures I enjoy every day. Life has taught me to live for the moment. As for the rest, what will be will be. Let’s hope Music will always be part of it