My Mother and Father were involved in the church, my Father being a Baptist minister, teacher, preacher, footballer, clarinetist, and rather fine chap all round.
Check out www.Bible4today.org which is a collection of my father’s Wisdom over the years, including Cooke’s Tour of The Bible and Thought for the day.
My mum was amazing, and a fine singer. I have one sister, Bev, who is terribly clever and has virtual doctorates all over the place.
My best friend was a small bear called Barley Sugar.
I started playing the piano when I was six years old.
When I was eleven, my sister got a guitar for Christmas. I stole the guitar and started to teach myself using the basic ‘Billy Bell’ book and other bits I had picked up from old Vinyl lying around the house.
I started learning double bass at school mainly because nobody else wanted to and there was a vacancy in the orchestra. But I was desperate to get into a band and play guitar. I continued with the piano, learning quite a bit by ear, my father teaching me to play the blues at an early age. Playing 12-bar duets with him became one of the pillars of my music education.
I was also involved in a band in my local church. I always ended up playing what nobody else wanted to play which at the time was the drumkit.
I was still at school doing A-levels, but not very seriously. At school they had discouraged me from taking formal music training suggesting that I was better at Physics.(Idiots!)
I also grew my hair doing a pretty good Jesus look-alike!
My A-level art teacher was a brilliant sax player. One day he asked me if I would be interested in joining him and his trio in playing at a Saturday night function somewhere. There was money in it and if it went well there could be more gigs. This was my first paid gig and having finally worked out how to get the wacking great double bass to various venues, I continued with them whilst still at school, getting £5 a gig.
I was still banging away on guitar and piano as well, and decided to get some formal tuition on drums.
The band was called Southern Travelers Handbook Jesus Band (What a daft name!) and we were gigging quite a lot by now. One weekend, we were playing at a local festival in Purley where the guest artist was a singer called Judy MacKenzie. She asked us to accompany her on all of her future gigs. One thing led to another and Jude finally asked if I would accompany her personally as her guitarist to play all her gigs including TV, concerts, gigs abroad, clubs etc. I went for this big time and overnight I had become a professional musician and performer- in every way…………… except of course financially.
I was involved in gospel music at the time, but decided with Jude that we would try to explore other areas. We met a musician called Curly Clayton, an old school session guitarist who owned a small 3-track studio in Swan Yard, Highbury. He listened to our material and promised that he would secure a record contract for us within six months. This he did, and we signed to EMI. Jude and I made one album called ‘Thinking it Over’ produced by the lovely Wally Ridley, and arranged by Harry (Lord Rockingham) Robinson.
I started getting work writing for TV, and session work as a guitarist and keyboard player.
After a period of about two years, Jude and I got back together again and started writing songs to secure another deal.
We met up with George Fenton, who became our manager.
George and I became friends and we worked together on several productions and I would often stand in for him on some of the gigs he was offered. Mahler symphonies and Hans Werner Henze operas, and other weird stuff.
I met Producer Norman Stone who offered me several commissions including BBC TV’s ‘Sunday Gang’ (meeting the future wife), Support Your Local Poet for ITV and a series of animation films and TV pilots.
I was called one day by Cliff Richard’s management who were looking for the support act at one of Cliff’s gospel tours. I had been working with Paul Field and his band Nutshell, and they had been suggested as a suitable support. I was booked for this, to MD and arrange the songs for the tour on Keyboards. So I quickly got out the piano books, swatted up a little and bluffed my way into keyboards, synths, programming and all things relatively ‘high-tech’.
The next tour that came up again involved Nutshell (now called Network 3, or Nutbush, or Ner-ner-ner, whatever!)) They were the support band, but I was also asked to play second keys with Cliff’s band which meant doing both bits of the show for the whole run. This was brilliant and I met and became chums with some really great players including the late Graham Jarvis, John Seamore, and Stuart Calver.
I continued with Cliff for a further 4 years.
For the past several years, I have been spending my time working in my Studio in Twickenham. Writing, Composing, Producing, Arranging, and shouting at gear that won’t work.
I have been involved in pretty much all forms of TV, Film, and Media composing and production.
Check out all of the other areas on the website to amaze, make you laugh, or simply ask, “Why did he bother?”
Tina Heath, one time of Blue Peter and Lizzie Drippings. Tina left Blue Peter to have Jemma and has spent time with Jem and Ames bringing up the family as well as doing public appearances, voice-over, acting work and Company Director. Here is some her extensive and impressive CV.
BBC TV Series, Maidens Trip.(lead)
BBC TV Series Sunday Gang for BBC TV several series.(lead)
Target, BBC feature episode.
You and The World, Thames series,(lead)
Churchill’s People, BBC TV.
The Sweeney, Euston Films.
Couples, Thames Series.(lead)
Girls of Slender Means, BBC Series.
The Linden Tree, BBC play of the month.
Black Beauty, LWT.
Yesterday’s Girl, Granada TV.(lead)
Lizzie Dripping, BBC several series.(lead)
Astrofarm, Filmfair, Carlton Animated cartoon TV series
(incl. chickens, dogs, small boys, and children.
Toad of Toad Hall for BBC
Lizzie Dripping stories.
Tina Heath’s Personal Choice
Marathon Sunday Special
Christiana (Ken Anderson Films-American Award for Best Supporting Actress)
Shaking Dreamland.(Eagle Films)
News & Current Affairs
Writing/Presentation for TV
Writing & presenting ‘God’ slots for BBC; Scottish TV; Southern TV; Thames T.V.
12 part series ‘Jesus: then & now’
You and Me,
Lizzie Dripping series (2)
Through The Year audio series.
Cooke’s Tour of The Bible
Books and Mags:
Tina Heath’s book of Babies Names
Columnist for ‘Mother’ Magazine
Numerous VO’s for Adverts/various campaigns
Kellogs Two Shakes & many others.
Jemma Victoria Cooke – Jem Cooke
www.jemcooke.com for all Jem’s credits, news of gigs, tracks and blogposts.
Amy Francesca Cooke – Ames – Stomper
Singer, Fixer, Photographer, Wedding planner, Casting Agent, and now doing amazing things as a proper professional photographer.