The information in the above question is inaccurate, Miquel; unfortunately, there are a number of sites out there which have published a lot of inaccuracies. My mother — who was born and raised in Naples, Italy, and who studied music and graduated in piano there at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella — was my first music teacher, and when I was ten years old, she brought me to Naples for a three-month trial period attending Maestro Guglielmo La Volpe’s cello class. At the end of that period, we returned to London, and a week later my mother received a letter from the principal of the Conservatorio stating that I had been accepted for a four-year Italian State scholarship.
For the next four years, 1958-1962, I traveled alone and lived in Naples for eight months of each year (October-June), at a students’ hostel, and attended classes at the Conservatorio. My principal class was cello, with music theory classes with Maestro Ernesto Arnese, and piano classes with Maestro Sergio Fiorentino. I was also obliged to attend classes in Italian language and literature, history and geography. The rest of the time in England was spent catching up with my London high-school courses; all was OK, except I could never catch up in maths ...
(During my period at Naples, I “discovered” Jazz, and over the following years became an avid fan ...)
Upon my return to England in 1962, I was obliged to complete my high-school course, and graduated in June 1963. It this point, it was determined, between me and my parents, that it would be more economically feasible for me to apply for a scholarship at the Royal Academy Of Music, London, which I did, and consequently, auditioned, was accepted, obtained a state scholarship, and began, in September 1963, my full-time four-year period there as a cello student, first with Professor Muriel Taylor, and later with Professor Vivian Joseph. I also attended harmony classes with Prof. Hugh Marchant. I never imagined that I would work as an arranger or a composer, thus, did not attend any composition or orchestration classes.
During those four years, I continued to develop my interest in Jazz, and began to discover that I could understand modern music better, and thus became a fan of much that had developed “Post-Vienna” ...
But my abiding passion had always been the music of the late high renaissance, and that of the first classicists J.S. Bach and his contemporaries (Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi, Corelli, et al — but especially Bach!), and as a result, I was very fortunate to play in several excellent semi-pro chamber orchestras specializing in this music. These orchestras never comprised more than twenty members, and more usually around sixteen. Playing this music, in such small groups, was one of the deepest joys of my life.
In June 1967 I graduated from the RAM with a Performer’s Diploma, and over the next three months applied to audition with several “baroque” chamber groups. The first reply I received was an invitation to travel to Tours, France, to audition with a small group based in a chateau in that area, and the day after I received the letter of invitation, took my first flight to Paris (in an Air France Caravelle), then train to Tours, where I was met by the secretary of the orchestra, and driven to the chateau, where I spent the next two days playing for the principal players and management.
Later, during my studentship at the RAM, I played in several semi-pro chamber orchestras, which was great fun, or should I say, of deep joy ... That’s fun, but on a transcendental level.
While I was at the RAM, during my first year there, 1963, I auditioned to play piano, Hohner Pianet, and Farfisa Compact in a five-piece R&B/rock group, which was based in West London. It was called “U.S. Five”, partly on account of that we were playing a lot of U.S Air Force bases! I answered an ad in Melody Maker, the weekly Jazz and pop newspaper, and was accepted, and played with them for the next two years. The interesting thing is, that I was able to convince the authorities at the RAM to hire us to play at the New Students’ Ball, October 1963, which we did, making us the first rock’n’roll band to ever play in that venerable institution.
I left them nearly two years later, to spend more time focussed on the chamber-group work I was doing, and introduced the band to my fellow-student and friend the brilliant pianist/organist, and now, composer, J. Peter Robinson, who very competently took over the position of keyboardist in U.S. Five!
It wasn’t until after I’d graduated with my LRAM diploma and left the Academy, in late 1967, that a series of “chance” events and meetings eventually led to my working in the field of “rock”. I didn’t “choose” rock; you could easily say that “rock” “chose” me!
No, it was a series of apparently chance encounters, and necessity, which led me to start working as an arranger for pop and rock artists, and others.