Howie started playing guitar at twelve and loved Rock & Roll music, all he ever wanted to do was play his guitar. His early influences were Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins - and being a guitar player, of course, Scotty Moore. Like all youngsters he used to play along to records in his bedroom.
Reality hit, however, when he left school and went to work for the National Coal Board as an engineer - he hated it!! But he still kept dreaming of becoming a musician. At that young age, if you told him where his musical path would take him - travelling the world, meeting and working with his musical heroes, then onto being on the road with his family and being able to share some incredible, unique experiences, he wouldn't have believed you because this was impossible. Although while working in a freezing workshop on night shift, he'd have settled for a tiny, tiny piece of it.
At twenty one, he left the Coal Board and moved to the city, where he spent a year or two playing in local bands in every smokey bar and music venue he could - All he wanted to do was play.
In 1986, "The Class of '58" was formed. This period happened to coincide with a lot of the original fifties artists coming over from the USA, playing the increasing Rock & Roll festivals and gigs on the Revival Circuit. Howie being known as a good, reliable guitarist was offered the opportunity for him and his band to back these stars on tour - Both in the UK and Europe - He couldn't believe his luck!! He got to work with, not only rockabilly artists off the famous Sun Record Label
, but also the household hit-makers of that era, not to mention the British stars of course. It was a very exciting time.
The one constant Howie has had in his life, from being a youngster to where he is now, is The Class of '58. As you can imagine he has many great memories and stories - some repeatable and some not! The one "stand out" story though, was having supper sat next to DJ Fontana
and just spending the evening chatting. Then weeks later, DJ greeting Howie like an old friend and introducing him to Elvis' legendary guitarist, Scotty Moore
! As a big Elvis fan since being a kid, this was just mind blowing. Coming from a small Welsh mining community, thirty years after these records were recorded, this should've been impossible - Wow!!
The thing is, he says, stories are like buses - when you wait for one, another one comes right along and a
nother "pinch me" moment for him was when he sessioned out with Freddie "Fingers" Lee and ended up on the Ray Charles
show, on a warm evening in France. He couldn't believe it! The Class of '58 has become Howie's life. He's spent many, many years gigging, travelling and generally having a great time and it has presented him with a great many opportunities and experiences. The band has now evolved and Howie feels it has been elevated to another level of enjoyment and opportunity.
Time goes by so quick and the band is now a family business. What Howie enjoys most is, now his sons have grown up, telling them the stories of some of those tours - Some believable and some unbelievable. If people ask if it's hard work, he says "No, the Coal Board was hard work - This is a love affair - playing your music with your family, travelling to great places; it doesn't get much better!".