From Tubular Bells to Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom: Henry Cow’s John Greaves comes clean

Metal Hammer

John Greaves grew up in Prestatyn in north Wales and his musical path might have
taken a different direction had it not been for the death of a bass player in his father’s dance band, The Ray Irving Orchestra. At that point the 13-year-old Greaves had taken piano lessons and was able to read music, so his father bought him a bass guitar, telling him, “Bass is dead easy, you can learn this in a month.” 

After this early musical education, Greaves declined his father’s offer of a permanent place in the band and instead went to Cambridge University in 1968, where he met the members of Henry Cow and promptly joined the group. He also had stints with the Ottawa Music Company, a rock composer’s orchestra whose members included Steve Hillage, Mont Campbell and Dave Stewart of Egg.


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