Unless they’ve been living in complete isolation for the best part of thirty years, you’d be hard set to find someone who hasn’t heard the name ‘Bonehead’ when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll. The legendary guitarist of Oasis fame has been instrumental in creating so many of the well-known and not so well-known classics from the band’s first three albums. He’s now been known to make a regular appearance playing alongside Liam Gallagher since the launch of LG’s solo career in 2017.
We got in touch with the legend to pick his brain and memories. We want to thank you, Bonehead, for taking the time for us and for answering our questions.
Q. From Guigsy’s oversized shirts to Liam’s stance, Oasis had many iconic ingredients, with your Epiphone Matsumoku Riviera being one of the most recognisable. What was your guitar, and do you have any early memories from learning to play?
A. I still play that same guitar today on stage with Liam. I used it on all the Oasis recordings and live shows so it’s pretty iconic I’d say! My first guitar was probably an acoustic I shared with my brother, nothing special I don’t think. He played guitar and I taught myself using his. We were in a band together in the early 80’s and I played keyboards. He used a black Squire Stratocaster, which I’ve still got. It’s a great sounding guitar, as good as any Fender. I think the early 80’s Squires were really good in the same way the Matsumoku Rivieras are. Early memories of learning to play guitar are just sitting around in the bedroom playing along to records and figuring out the chords to the songs. I had a guitar chord book which showed you all the chords and how to play them and I just figured it from there myself. I remember learning ‘Lola’ by the Kinks and ‘Hanging Around’ by the Stranglers.
Q. We all know the now iconic photo of you and your mates gathered around your Jackson Pollock van at Spike Island to see the Stone Roses. Are there any other gigs that stand out from your youth that were special to you or influential in forming your love of music?
A. The Stone Roses were always influential to forming a band. We used to go and see them in a club called ‘The International’ which was owned by their manager Gareth, so the played there a lot and we always went to see them when they played. We actually tried to nick Reni when we didn’t have a drummer in the 80’s but he didn’t want to know! Funnily the guy who ended up drumming for us ended up being Reni’s drum tech when they made it big. I used to go to loads of gigs. ‘The Hacienda’ nightclub used to have a local band night in the 80’s and I was always there as well. I think just watching bands play was influential rather than one particular band.
Q. Noel regularly refers to his almost apprentice like relationship with Johnny Marr and Paul Weller, while Liam seemed to strike up a long lasting friendship with Richard Ashcroft. Did you strike up a relationship with anyone while in Oasis or ever have somebody give you guidance in the early days?
A. I struck up friendships with a lot of the bands in the early days though I wouldn’t say any stand out as being influential in the sense that they gave me guidance. I loved playing with The Verve, Cast, OCS, etc. Still friends with a lot of the people we played with in the early days. I’d say the people around me in Oasis were the biggest influences back then.
Q. Oasis had and still have an incredibly loyal fanbase. No doubt over the years some have crossed the line with their obsession with the band. What is the strangest encounter you have had with a fan over the years?
A. We had loads of strange encounters with fans in the band, too many to try and remember really. We had a dwarf jump onstage once somewhere in the USA, right at the end when we were playing ‘I am the Walrus’. He grabbed Liam’s tambourine and started dancing around the stage with it. Freaked us out till one of the security picked him up and threw him back into the crowd. He was one of those proper dwarves like you see in the circus. One time I had a group of fans turn up at my house from Italy. They’d flown over to London to find Liam and Noel’s house then caught a train to Manchester. They jumped in a taxi and asked the driver to take them to Bonehead’s house. Luckily he knew where I lived and they arrived and sat outside till I showed up. I spent an hour with them chatting and signing stuff and away they went. We used to get that a lot but nothing so mad it’d do your head in.
Q. The days of queueing outside record shops for the release of albums appear to be long gone unfortunately due to the vast amount of streaming services and internet sites that music is now consumed on. Do you think that people don’t give songs and albums the time and attention they deserve now? And what is your view on Spotify, YouTube etc. being the most popular sources for people to listen to music?
A. We all know Spotify etc. don’t pay bands enough and that’s something you could talk about all day. It is what it is now though. It’s 2020 and that’s not gonna change. I use it all the time now and love it, though you’re right I tend to skip through albums without listening to the whole thing, whereas with vinyl or CD I’d put it on and play it right through. I’ve done that with Tim Burgess’ listening parties. Put an album on and listened to the whole thing all the way through, which was a great thing to do. Would be nice if streaming services like Spotify paid the artists what they deserved, as obviously they can’t rely on income from sales anymore. We were probably the last of the bunch that actually sold any large amounts of records. It’s a subject you need more than a page to talk about though.