Local musician Pete Pritchard writes about life in Edmonton – and how it inspired a new song
I grew up in Edmonton, attending Houndsfield School and leaving at 15 to work at the MK Electric factory, then the area’s largest employer.
In those days, before computers, the main interest for youngsters was either football or music. I chose music, and as far back as I can remember all I wanted to do was be in a band. It wasn’t long before I joined a local group and was performing in the local pubs and clubs.
I met so many wonderful Edmonton characters in those early days, and happily, many remain my friends to this day. The band received so much support from the local community that it wasn’t long before MK Electric had to manage without me. My band, The Flying Saucers, had several successful years touring throughout Europe. We even became backing musicians for many artists – including Chuck Berry!
Edmonton has always been full of creativity. My second band, The Avengers, was again made up of local musicians. We recorded several albums together and still occasionally reform for a reunion gig.
I went on to become a freelance musician and my career got a big boost in 1992 when I started working with Elvis Presley musicians; guitarist Scotty Moore, drummer DJ Fontana, sax player Boots Randolph, vocal quartet The Jordanaires, and later guitarist James Burton. These guys played on everything from Heartbreak Hotel to Hound Dog. I was spending more and more time recording in Nashville, and touring America. While playing in Jackson, Tennessee, I was even inducted into the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame!
I loved being in Nashville but I was always happy to get back to my Edmonton home. Since then, I’ve co-owned my own record label, produced an award-winning documentary for BBC Radio 2, and worked with some of the world’s great rock musicians including Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee, Chris Isaak, and Billy Swan.
Last year an invitation came from studio owner James Johnston to record a new solo album at The Cowshed Recording Studio in Bounds Green. It was to be all original work, so I decided to write a song about Edmonton. I wanted to express my love for my home town but also write it as a counter-balance to recent horrendous events.
Of course, we do have really serious social issues that urgently need to be addressed, but Edmonton people are still resolute, full of good humour, kind and generous. Our young people are good natured and creative; we need to invest in them and give them hope. I want them to have the same opportunities that I enjoyed.
My song Edmonton is a snapshot of my life and reflects the happiness that the area has given me. I remain optimistic for Edmonton. The nearby Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and surrounding regeneration can only be a good thing. A few more venues for musicians to perform at would be a good thing too!
Listen to and buy Pete Pritchard’s new album Making Tracks, including thesong Edmonton: