WillWin Music Projects
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WillWin Music Projects was set up in 2005 to take live Guitar Music into Schools.
Pete Willsher was born in Southend-on-Sea Essex on the 11th June 1943. He took an avid interest in the Guitar at 6 years old. His father, Les, was able to help him as he used to play the ukelele, in the George Formby tradition. As a pupil at Southend High School Pete had already formed a small band. The Rock & Roll era was just beginning! Pete shared a desk with Viv Stanshall, who was later to form the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. The school also had Robin Trower and Dave Mattacks on its roll. Gary Brooker, of Procol Harem, was at Westcliff High, just along the road. The Southe East Essex music scene was really buzzing at that time, 1958, and Pete made an important decision. He turned his back on a planned career in Medicine / Science and worked, part time as a hairdresser whilst playing gigs with various local bands before, finally, forming one of his own - Andy & the Coasters. Taking their, home recorded, tapes to London the group were soon recording with Joe Meek, of Telstar fame. EMI / Parlophone took them on and changed the band's name to Houston Wells & the Marksmen. Hits with:- This Song's for You, Only the Heartaches & Shutters & Boards were followed by the best selling album, Western Style. The Marksmen tour with many American Country Stars such as Hank Locklin, Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash
Like many young musicians of that era they did not understand the legal workings of Show Business and the Recording Industry. The group had not been given a 'Proper' recording contract and the Band folded up in the mid / late 60's.
Determined to carry on Pete took jobs with Burns Guitars and Sound City. At the latter he learned to play Pedal Steel Guitar. Still Gigging at night Pete's musical interests were not limited to Country Music and some of the session musicians he met encouraged his interest in Jazz and many other musical forms.
It was about this time that Pete moved to Maida Vale, in London, and began working with professional bands both in the UK and abroad. He was becoming known in musical circles and, due to his 'Unusual' style and his ability to play Pedal Steel Guitar, was being offered work in recording studios and on Radio & TV. He played on thousands of albums and took part in many broadcasts and concerts.
The late 70's saw Pete forming a partnership with Keyboard player Keith Miller. Their company - Impossible Productions, could & did take on just about any musical enterprise. After a few years Keith & Pete went their separate ways, though remaining good friends. Another production company was formed with Robin Lumley, cousin of the famous Joanna. Successfull, for a while, this partnership ended when Robin wed an Australian film director and moved to Perth in Western Australia.
About this time a recession hit Britain and, along with lots of others, the music industry was badly hit. There was virtually no work for Sessionmen. Pete kept trying and formed a band with Singer / Songwriter Dave Heggs. For a while they were the resident band on the BBC's Nightride programme. Sadly the programme was cut and, once again work was hard to come by.
Once again it was decision time! With his girl friend, Judy, Pete went to live in Zimbabwe where he was able to work as a Session Musician, Band Member and Guitar Teacher. Pete loved Africa and it's people and worked, happily, there for a number of years until Robert Magabe's Fascist Dictatorship brough Zimbabwe to its knees and forced Pete to return to England in 2000. Not just to England but back to his birth place of Southend on Sea.
All in all the Music Business has cost Pete, 3 marriages, countless girlfriends, 3 properties and 2 businesses. His philosophy is that life is not about money but about experience so, it is no surprise that, though now semi-retired, Pete, with his friend Dave Windle has formed WillWin to take Guitar music into schools.
A natural showman, Pete's presentations in schools has proved a great experience for pupils and staff alike. Feedback from staff has been very encouraging, with reports of increased interest in Guitar playing and music in general.