Biography En.

From Liverpool to London

RONALD CARYL was born on February 10th 1953 in Liverpool in the north west of England, home to the world famous group The Beatles. Ronald and his sister Zoe were brought up with music, their father Ronnie Caryl being a bandleader and Celia a singer.
The Caryl family lived in Liverpool, but in 1963 the Ronnie Caryl Orchestra gets signed up to play at the Pigalle Night Club in the heart of London. The young Ronnie is just ten years old and starts to study theatre.

During 1964-65 in the height of "Beatles mania", Ronnie starts to get more and more interested in music, watching attentively the musicians in his father's band and teaching himself the guitar.

We are now in 1966, Ronnie makes friends with a local boy with whom he takes the school bus. His friend, who also learns musique and plays the drums, goes to the same school as another drummer going by the name of Phillip Collins. One day, Ronnie meets up with Collins. They both have one big thing in common, to one day be professional musicians. That same year, during a show organized by the Eel Pie Island sailing club (of whom the Collins family were members), Ronnie gets invited to play on the number Cat's Squirrel (a Cream song) with Collins' group The Real Thing.

With his new friend (two years his elder), he gets a part as an extra on the hit film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Occasionally, they both play with the Ronnie Caryl Orchestra. In 1968, at the age of fifteen, Ronnie decides to end school completely and consecrate himself full time to music while still learning theatre. The best of friends and mad on music, the two youngsters begin to meet other musicians. In London's clubs, they get to know the young emerging groups like King Crimson, Yes, Led Zeppelin and others. They play for a short time in the group The Freeholds then find work with John Walker of Walker Brothers fame. In 1968 they decide to set up their own group...

The start of Flaming Youth and Genesis

Late 1968 Ronnie moves in at Phil's house and both practise with the new group Hickory composed of Ronnie Caryl (bass, guitars and vocals), Brian Chatton (piano, keyboards and vocals), Phil Collins (drums, percussion and vocals) and Gordon "Flash" Smith (guitar and vocals).

The group starts to get known for their live dates with their own compositions and particularly with cover versions of songs like Shapes of Things (Yardbirds), Aquarius (from the musical Hair), A Girl Like You (Young Rascals) and, among others, the well known Beatles song Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) which everyone called out for, with a bonus drum solo to wind up their show.

In spring 1969, two songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley put forward a project for an album and a contract for a recording. For this new departure, the group decide to change their name. From now on they call themselves Flaming Youth. All four work flat out elaborating step by step their new songs. They sign up their album, Ark 2, with Fontana Records. The group do a private concert at the London Planetarium to mark  the record's release on the 2nd October 1969. On the whole, they get good reviews but, in November, to everyone's surprise, the album is voted Record of the Month by the famous rock magazine Melody Maker. For their tour, the group take on the saxophonist Dave Brook. They play with full orchestra and choir at the famous Lyceum Theatre in London and then follow up with a series of gigs throughout the United Kingdom. Then during 1970, they go off to do a few concerts in Spain.

Over this period, Flaming Youth bring out several singles, for example, the "cosmic" Guide Me Orion (which is in the English charts for several weeks) then Man, Woman And Child in June 1970 (which came out only in Spain) - two unpublished singles from the Ark 2 album and, From Now On
(Immortal Invisible)
in December 1970.

It's also at this time that Ronnie and Phil hung around at one of the most famous recording studios in London - the epic Trident Studios and become friends with one of the future great sound engineers of rock music - "Tea Boy" David Hentschel. It's here right at this time that they cross paths with up and coming singers like Elton John and David Bowie who were in the middle of recording their own respective albums.

Still in 1970, the group appear on several German and Dutch  television programmes (which can be seen on Dutch Tros TV on the internet - recorded November 1970). However, the group's rapid rise to fame, slowly but surely, starts to fade...the lack of live dates frustrates them more and more. A
certain Rod Mayalls (John Mayalls brother) joins the group  to replace Brian Chatton who decides to leave, then, not long after, it's Gordon Smith's turn to leave. Their music becomes more and more jazz-rock. Ronnie and Phil get bored and look for new channels. Gradually, the group comes to an irrevocable end in the summer of 1970. They play their last concert at the Van Dykes Club, Plymouth on the 15th August 1970.

One evening, Ronnie and Phil meet John Anthony (producer of the group Genesis) at the Marquee Club, London. He lets them know that his group are looking for a new guitarist and drummer, due to the successive departures of Anthony Philipps and John Mayhew. From what they see in Melody Maker, this is a group that's busy with plenty of live dates and that's exactly what they're looking for. So, naturally, they audition for this young group full of promise.

The rendez vous is made for early August. The audition takes place in the family home of Peter Gabriel, the singer of Genesis. Ronnie still remembers to this day his first interview, sitting on a chaise longue next to Mike Rutherford, guitar in one hand glass in the other, by the swimming pool. Other musicians were there, waiting their turn. The last to audition were Ronnie and Phil. The latter gets the job as the group's new drummer but Ronnie, despite having more than impressed the group, decide that his style of music is more blues than progressive rock. Despite, the insistance of his friend, Ronnie (and the other guitarists present) don't get the job so sought after. Nevertheless, the group, with whom Ronnie is on excellent terms, ask him to play with them at a concert at the Aylesbury Grammar School on the 16th December 1970.

Different sessions

Following the Genesis episode, Ronnie Caryl gets involved in several different musical projects. One of his first jobs is on the show "Shoot Up At Elbow Creek". Then he starts up the group Sanctuary in 1972 (with his friend Preston Ross Heyman, plus Sharon Campbell, Bob Efford and Brian Mulcahy), with whom he records an album in 1973-74. Phil even came along and did a chorus on "How Could You Change Your Mind", a track for a future album that sadly still lies unpublished and hidden away in the draws of a famous music label.

1973 sees the birth of a new group led by Peter Banks (ex-guitarist with Yes), a jazz-rock group with the doubtful name of Zox & The Radar Boys, and with whom Ronnie plays guitar for their live concerts and several jam-sessions in and around London. The group also comprises experienced musicians like the guitarist and violinist Mike Piggott, John Howitt on bass and a certain Phil Collins (a for taste of a parallel career with Brand X).

In 1974, Ronnie and Phil join up again with David Hentschel (producer with Genesis from the period of Trick Of The Tail-1976  up to Duke-1980), who's working on Startling Music, his first solo record which includes reruns of tracks from Ringo Starr's successful album Ringo from the previous year. They record this one at Ringo's Startling studio in Ascot. The following year, 1975, and still together, they help out in the recording of another friend, the talented but little-known Irish singer Eugene Wallace on the album Dangerous, with, on drums, Roger Taylor from the group Queen. During October and November of the same year, an old friend, Charles Marling, gives Ronnie a call to help in the recording of his first album in the famous Apple Building studios, founded by The Beatles.

In 1976, Ronnie leaves for six months on board the world famous cruise ship The Queen Elizabeth II, as part of the official band. In 1977, he takes part in the successful musical Elvis plus six television shows. That same year, he plays twelve-strings guitar on one of Michel Polnareff's biggest French hits, Lettre à France, co-produced by David Hentschel. In 1979 and 1980, Ronnie can be seen playing on a total of twelve different shows broadcast on American television and other English-speaking countries.


Early 1980, Ronnie Caryl is in South Africa. One evening, he bumps into Dennis Wilson and his brother Brian of The Beach Boys. They become good friends, particularly Dennis,"He was such a great guy ! We knew each for such a short while, but there was a real friendship, something all too
rare in our trade. I remember water skiing with Dennis while Brian was in the speedboat and then we'd stay up all night 'til dawn
". A few months later, Ronnie learns of Dennis's tragic death.

After this trip to Africa and now back in London, he takes part in several shows on the BBC programme Oh Boy, Let's Rock and especially on the show starring the british singer Lulu, called Special Lulu. Having become good friends, she invites Ronnie to record on her next two albums, Lulu (in 1981) and Take Me To Your Heart Again (in 1982) and, to join her on her two respective tours. Ronnie remembers "Lulu as a great Artist and one of the nicest Women I've ever met".

It's during 1982, that Ronnie records a single under his own name in the EMI studios at Abbey Road in London. The two songs, You Got It and How Can It Be Right, come out in 1983. Following this, a contract is signed with a record label to record an album, but, unfortunately, nothing comes of it. In 1984 and through to 1985, Ronnie plays several times in the north of England with Mik Kaminski (violinist with the group Electric Light Orchestra) under the name of Violinsky.

In 1985, Ronnie has the great honour of being invited to play with some of his idols like Eric Clapton, Gary Brooker (of Procal Harum) and Andy Fairweather-Low on the occasion of a charity concert near the town of Guildford. A year later, he takes part in a well-known TV series called Tutti Frutti with Emma Thompson, which is a big success in Great Britain.

In 1987, he starts a long collaboration with the singer John Otway up to 1990. The same year, Gary Brooker reinvites Ronnie to play in his club for the charity concert No Stilleto Shoes with other musicians like the guitarist Hal Lindes (ex Dire Straits), the drummer Bob Clouter, the saxophonist Frank Mead, the bass-guitarist Dave Bronze and, of course, Andy Fairweather-Low on guitar.

During 1988, after a number of concerts in different halls and clubs throughout England, Ronnie finds himself in a recording studio for the new album of Stephen Bishop (the American composer of the 1985 worldwide hit Separate Lives for the film White Nights), entitled Bowling In Paris. Ronnie shares guitars with Stephen Bishop and Steve Lukather (guitarist from the group Toto). The album is partly produced by Phil Collins, for example the very bluesy number Hall Light, where Sting is on bass and vocals and Eric Clapton is on guitar.

The First Album

During 1992 and 1993, Ronnie Caryl takes part in the musical Good Rockin' Tonight - spending an hour and a half on stage every night. With this wealth of experience behind him, he finds the energy, late 1992, to record his first solo album with the help of some of his friends. So he finds himself in a studio in London with around ten songs mostly written with Charlie Marling but also with Otha Smith and David Cole. The musicians he invites along are the pianist Neil Drinkwater, the drummer and percussionist Preston Ross Heyman, Ronnie's sister Zoe on vocals and of course Phil Collins who has the drumsticks on four songs, one of which is titled Somewhere Within - a successful song that came out as a single. (Collins, who is right in the middle of a Genesis tour, comes over to help Ronnie with the video clip). The album comes out on the 8th of December 1994, under the title Leave A Light On. There are a number of very personal songs with a mixture of styles like Sweet Love, the very funky Jealousy, ballads like One Of Those Days, the bluesy Only You or the very atmospheric Where The Wind Blows.

In the middle of 1993, Ronnie does a tour of the United Kingdom in the role of musical director, guitarist and singer for the scottish singer Maggie Bell. In 2004, the record Maggie Bell The River Sessions comes out - an album recorded on the November 1st 1993 at the Pavilion Theatre in
Glasgow, Scotland.

In 1994, Ronnie, in the company of pianist Neil Drinkwater, joins the group The Free Spirit for a long world tour that finishes in England in 1995 with a big show television show on the BBC.


1995 marks the start of a new life. It's the year that Ronnie and his wife Melanie decide to move to the south-west of France. It was actually after visiting friends in the area in 1993, that they both fell in love with the region and ended up buying a house there. It isn't the first time that Ronnie discovers France. Several times during his youth he spent his holidays there.

Early 1996, he's contacted by Phil Collins to take part, as rhythm-guitarist, in the recording of Phil's new album Dance Into The Light, followed by a long tour and a number of TV shows around the world, in particular the French show Taratata with Nagui in February 1997, where Phil presents him in person in front of millions of viewers.

1998, sees the release of the DVD Live & Loose In Paris, recorded in France in December 1997, which includes the highlights of two concerts (at the Palais Omnisports de Bercy) from the Dance Into The Light tour.

From 1998 onwards, there follows a series of world tours; one to promote Phil Collins's compilation album Hits - released in October 1998 (different TV shows among which the famous Hard Rock Live & Live By Request), another in 1999 to promote the Disney studios film Tarzan, a tour in 2002 for the album Testify, which sets off from London to New York via Hamburg and Paris, where Ronnie does an acoustic version with just Phil at the RTL2 radio station, then, several dates in 2003 to promote  the new Disney film Brother Bear where Ronnie has the huge honour of joining on stage for the premiere in New York, one of his idols, The Diva Of Rock, Tina Turner.

The Second Album

2002 sees the recording of his second solo album One Step At A Time, released on the 18th April 2003. A remarkable record, inspired by his musical idols yet at the same time employing his own particular style of subtle guitar playing. Accompanied by the dependable Charlie Marling, with Colin Copperfield and a new team of musicians composed of Yannick Bernard, Vincent Epaud and Jean-Louis Suschetet, he again expresses his strongest feelings thanks, not only to some blues-rock numbers, but also to some great songs like How Can It Be Right (a 1983 title re-recorded for the occasion), where Phil Collins again makes a memorable appearance.

Back On The Road

In April 2004, Ronnie Caryl plays in Bordeaux (with two members of the Bordeaux group the XII Alfonso) for the first time at the Beatles Days festival (this concert celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale between France and England and at the same time is a tribute to the greatest rock 'n roll band of the 20th century, The Beatles). Then, in May, he's off with Phil Collins for the latter's last world tour under the title of Finally...The First Farewell Tour (for which a DVD is recorded, once again, in France at the Palais Omnisports de Bercy in Paris), which takes them from Italy to Russia via the States, Lebanon and, finally, the Czech Republic in November 2005.

Since 1995 and in between the five world tours with Phil Collins, Ronnie Caryl comes back home to his adopted France to join up with musicians from the same region as himself for various gigs throughout the country, playing his own compositions. He pays tribute to all the great names in blues and rock like Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Joe Cocker, Sting/the Police, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Oasis, Coldplay, while also doing his own very personal renditions of songs by Phil Collins or Genesis, like I Can't Dance, Easy Lover, Another Day In Paradise, One More Night or Separate Lives. He also, occasionally, takes on the role of teacher, giving Master Classes for budding musicians in different music schools.

Every year since 2005, Ronnie Caryl has been one of the pillars of the Rochefort-en-Accords festival in Charente-Maritime, France, as has BJ. Cole the talented pedal steel guitar player, Paul Tiernan (Donovan's ex guitarist) also, and the Welshman Geraint Watkins. The last few years have seen Hugh Cornwell (ex Stranglers) and Robyn Hitchcock, but also French artists like Jacques Higelin and Gabriel Yacoub. All these artists get together on stage at the end of every festival for a huge "jam", much to the pleasure of the public and the musicians.

has also had the opportunity to play several times at another festival in the same region of France, the Festival Hippie of Matha, however the 13th August 2006 is a particularly special day as he is joined on stage by his old friend Charlie Marling. On this occasion they sing together, reggae-style, the title song from Ronnie's second album One Step At A Time. A big emotional moment for these two friends.

In November 2008, Ronnie and his friend the pianist Brad Cole get a call from Phil Collins to help out with an acoustic charity concert in Switzerland.

Throughout 2009, he does a series of solo concerts before heading off, late November, to Switzerland again, only this time on his own with Phil Collins to do a mini-concert in aid of charity to mark the 50th anniversary of the Panathlon Club of Geneva. They play four songs : Separate Lives, Another Day In Paradise, Sussudio and Stand By Me, this last one sung by Ronnie. During his stay in Switzerland, Ronnie recorded two songs on Going Back, the new Phil Collins album of cover versions from the famous Motown label.

                                                                                                                                                                                      To be continued ...

Translated from French to English by Tim Hale... Thanks to him.