Snake Davis calls his beloved bronze coloured saxophone the golden beastie, writes Tony Dewhurst.
“I’m one of those lucky people who found their dream through music,” said Snake who returns to Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre by public demand on Saturday week (August 20th).
“Up until my late teens music was a hobby, just a bit of fun with my pals,” said Snake.
“I played guitar, piano and I sang a bit.
“I learnt some James Taylor and Joni Mitchell songs, played in folk clubs and then went off to university.
“I was 19 when I discovered the sax, and within a couple of months of having the golden beastie my life changed and I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
Davis’ exceptional talent has propelled him from Clitheroe’s Rolling Thunder Club, a quarter of a century ago, through to a burgeoning CV that reads like a Who’s Who of 20th century pop music: M People, George Michael, Paul Young, Soul to Soul, Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, The Pet Shop Boys and Ray Charles.
He also fronted New York Band Zoot and the Roots.
“Clitheroe has a special place in my heart, having played there as a young man and I’ve such great memories of the town.
“I was lucky enough be part of the Ribble Valley Jazz Festival a few years ago and that was fantastic.”
He added: “The most exciting and meaningful thing I do in my musical life is to play to audiences.
“It’s all very well performing in front of 50,000 in Japan, but I’d rather be playing my own music to 250 people in Clitheroe.”
Snake is back on the road again, this time promoting the Snake Davis Band album, Classic Sax Solos.
The new performance will see him showcase pop classic tunes on the sax – from Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street to George Michael’s Careless Whisper.
“In between I’ll be talking about the song’s history, with plenty of anecdotes about the artists and the history behind the song.
“For example, what is their individual ingredient, and how the players produce that magic and what makes them a classic?
“It is my own project and it is a very demanding show musically, but also a great challenge to put my own spin on those great tunes.”
So where did the stage name Snake come from?
He explained: “I was doing a show at Leeds College of Music and one of the girls, who was my best mate, said: ‘You know, you look just like a snake – the way you sort of weave on stage and slither around a melody.’
She added: ‘It would be a great stage name,’ and I thought, “Yeah. I’ll have that.”
These days, Snake remains in demand from the biggest names on the British popular music scene.
He was resident saxophonist on Tonight With Jonathan Ross, and has also worked with James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan and The Spice Girls.
“I look back to those very special days, playing saxophone for M People as they hit the big time with anthems Moving on Up and Search for the Hero - and the career door swung open for me.
“My first love was northern and sixties soul, music flows through me.”
Snake Davis Band, Classic Sax Solos, The Grand, Clitheroe, August 20. £12.
01200 421599. Support from Grace Davies.