Singer Gav, 71,  makes debut solo album

A DOWNEND singer is about to release his first ever solo album – at the age of 71.

Gavin King is also touring with his band Private Dicks, who first hit Bristol’s music scene in the late 1970s and split up in 1981, before reforming decades later.

Gav’s solo album, Skeletons, turns tales from his life story into song.

Lead single Profiled, released on March 23, tells how he believes comic actor and Hollywood star Simon Pegg ‘borrowed’ some of that story for his character in comedy sci-fi horror movie The World’s End: a middle-aged man called Gary King, who wouldn’t let go of his youth.

Gav first sang in public as a choirboy 65 years ago, and has been in and out of bands since the age of 18.

Private Dicks – named after the American slang for a private detective – formed in 1979, appeared on renowned Bristol punk/New Wave compilation album Avon Calling, were played on Radio One and built up a live following.

They split not long after turning down a management contract from Mark Dean, who would go on to manage Wham!, after legal advice that it was the “worst contract ever”.

Following the split Gavin continued to perform in bands but, after becoming a father in the late 80s, ended up in a full-time job managing a dental practice.

Private Dicks reformed in 2005 when Simon Edwards, whose company Heartbeat Records released Avon Calling, reissued the album on CD and asked Gav to “get the boys back together again” for the launch party.

Since then they have played in the UK and abroad. One of the musicians to gig with them, before and after the split, is Robbie Williams’ long-time guitarist Neil Taylor, who also played on Tears for Fears’ smash hit Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

Neil produced Skeletons, with Gav sending him recordings of vocals and music recorded at home in Downend and Neil working on them before the pair met up in the studio, working together on the album for six months.

Gav said: “People have been trying to get me to write a book. I’ve got a lot of stories but I write song lyrics, so I’ve written about certain things that have happened in my life.

“The album is called Skeletons because we’ve all got them.”

Gav said Simon Pegg heard about him while shadowing a beat bobby in the village of Christian Malford in Wiltshire to research hit cop comedy Hot Fuzz.

PC Phil Jones told Pegg tales of Gav’s antics during visits to village pub the Rising Sun – which is the name of the pub in the final scene of The World’s End.

When the film came out in 2013, Gav received a message from a friend who had seen it and immediately thought of him.

He said: “Simon Pegg said (Gary King) is a sad, sad man-child who wants to put the band back together again – but he also said he was his favourite character and the one he’d most like to play again.”

The Voice has approached Simon Pegg’s spokesperson for a comment.

As well as Neil Taylor, Gav has worked with many other musicians who later found success: in the 70s he was in a band called Uncle Po with Dexy’s Midnight Runners violinist Helen O’Hara, and a member of 80s band Distant Cousins, Charlie Jones, played with Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and Goldfrapp.

Gav joked: “Everyone made it big but me!”

Simon Edwards, who is based in Fishponds, decided to resurrect Heartbeat Records just to release Gav’s solo album.

He said: “I first became aware of Gavin back in the mid-70’s when he fronted Uncle Po – he came across as the perfect front man, full of energy, charismatic and with a great voice.”

As well as Avon Calling, Heartbeat Records also released Private Dicks’ single She Said Go.

When the band reformed, Simon would “make a point of catching their live shows whenever I could”.  

After Gavin asked him to listen to his new material, Simon said: “I was so impressed with what he had written, and the reasons behind the songs, I felt compelled to be a part of his plan to release an album.”

Skeletons is released on March 29 and available to order from local record shops, online via the Bristol Archive Records website and sites including Amazon and Rough Trade.

Tracks will also be available for streaming on Apple and Spotify.