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Simon Rinaldo – Keyboards

I vividly remember at age five being impressed by my school teacher playing the piano in assembly and I remember asking my Dad if he could buy us a piano so I could learn to play myself. Eventually he bought me a little Casio keyboard for Christmas and some lessons with a local teacher, I soon outgrew the keyboard and progressed to playing the organ. I used to enjoy listening to my parents records; especially Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, The Beatles, Steppenwolf, Argent and Santana… What was that sound that I loved so much? It took me years to discover that it was a Hammond organ… That was the start of my journey. 

By the age of 14 I was playing organ in pubs and clubs, it was more fun than having a paper-round, the pay was better and people bought you drinks. After watching a really great Acid Jazz band playing in the function room of the George and Dragon in Bedford I just knew that I needed to be in a band. A chance conversation with my friend Geoff Holter led to me going down to a dirty and damp old porta-cabin for a jam. This was the night that ‘Mr G’s Secret Room’ was formed. We eventually started playing a few gigs in local pubs and jazz clubs, building up to larger venues and making some waves on the local Acid Jazz scene.

After Mr G’s I was invited to play with a local rock band that I used to follow called ‘Shrunk’, replacing their Keyboard player Jem Davis (who now plays with FM and is still a close friend). This was my first taste of being in a professional level rock band and my baptism of fire. I like to think of this early experience as where I cut my teeth, spending a lot of time travelling in the back of a transit van sleeping on top of Marshall cabs. It was also my first taste of working in a recording studio which I suppose was the start of my love for producing and recording. I enjoyed recording so much I bought myself an 8-track recorder and some mics so I could learn to become a sound engineer myself. I am now the proud purveyor of my own recording studio… But that’s another story…

Pretty soon after Shrunk I found myself playing with all sorts of different bands working as a session musician in the studio and live, including The Quireboys, Andrew WK, even appeared on Top of The Pops. Plus working with a number of great artists that appear in the “where are they now files”. All of a sudden I found myself on tour in Germany with a band called Blunderherd. The lead singer was the whiskey swilling blues man, lyricist and harmonica player that is Lee Vernon; after 25 years we are still working together, for the past ten years or so as Pearl Handled Revolver along with Chris Thatcher and Andy Paris.

In 2013, for Pearl Handled Revolver’s second album release show, we were looking for a suitable guest artist to open for us. Being a bit cheeky I suggested that we ask Del Bromham… as a fan of Stray, I never thought he’d actually say yes. And that was the start of a beautiful friendship with Del and all the Stray boys past and present. It has led to countless gigs with the Del Bromham’s Blues Devils and Stray, including the 51st Anniversary show with the all original line-up and current line-up, playing at some amazing venues alongside some superb bands. Del and Karl even perform with Pearl Handled Revolver on occasion and we now consider both bands to be part of the same family. 

I am very honoured to be included as part of the Stray story, playing some of Del’s original keyboard parts on the records and also bringing in my own sound, hopefully adding more weight and interest to the Stray experience.