Diary of a Musician by Paul Griggs
with over 250 photographs
Available Now

Diary of a Musician

I was given a diary as a present every Christmas and always had good intentions of writing down my daily events. This usually lasted until around February when I would miss a few days and then give up. In 1960 I managed to keep it going and kept a small pocket diary up to date until the late eighties.

I was fifteen years of age and still attending Welwyn garden City High School when I started the diaries and they cover my time as a budding musician who was inspired to take up the guitar by discovering Lonnie Donegan. The trials and tribulations of starting my own band, the Cortinas, and eventually bringing in my brother Nigel on bass guitar. They include the amazing times that I had in the sixties both as a musician and as a fan. Seeing the Beatles live on stage ten times, playing with my band at London's Speakeasy Club in front of Jimi Hendrix, supporting Cream with Eric Clapton which turned into the gig from hell.

When groups named after cars became unfashionable the Cortinas became Octopus and almost immediately signed to Larry Page's fledgling label Penny Farthing Records. We moved away from being a pop group, becoming more progressive and playing regularly at London's famous Marquee Club. After making one album, Octopus disbanded in 1971.

In 1974, at thirty years of age I completely changed my musical direction and my life. Lying about my age, I joined the newly formed Guys n' Dolls (I'm still not sure why). The group was signed to Magnet Records owned by the infamous Michael (now Lord) Levy. We achieved instant success reaching number two in the charts with “There's a Whole Lot of Loving” a record that was made before the group was formed, this meant that none of us sang on it, which caused problems and press controversy. In 1977 there was an acrimonious split in the group when David Van Day and Thereze Bazar were unceremoniously sacked and we continued as a four piece. David and Thereze would achieve success as Dollar. A year later Guys n' Dolls appeared with Frank Sinatra for a week of concerts at the Royal Festival Hall which was one of the major highlights of my career.

I would see my brother Nigel join New Zealand band Split Enz at almost the same time as Neil Finn. Nigel would relocate to Australia and go on to international success with the band.

Guys n' Dolls would have two separate careers, although our success was subsiding in the United Kingdom it was on the rise in Holland where we relocated in 1981, virtually becoming a Dutch group. We had a string of hits there and never performed in the UK again. Guys n' Dolls finally disbanded in 1985.

I soon went back to performing as a solo artist which I still do to this day. As I was completing this book, almost out of the blue and against all odds, the original six members of Guys n' Dolls put aside any past differences and reformed for a major Dutch television show in March 2008.

Paul Griggs 2008.

In Britain during the 1950s many kids were picking up a guitar for the first time, like my brother Paul. Just like other dads, ours could be found in the shed making a tea chest bass and washboard percussion … it was “Skiffle” then and Lonnie Donegan was a big influence for anyone who wanted to sing and play the guitar.

After Lonnie it was the Beatles who inspired Paul and he would front his own band for eight years before eventually achieving chart success, amidst some controversy, with Guys n' Dolls in the seventies.

From talent contests at Butlins holiday camps, to working mens clubs in Sheffield, before eventually sharing the stage with Frank Sinatra at the Royal Festival Hall, this is a fascinating behind the scenes, honest account of life in the music business.

Nigel Griggs

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