Chris Phipps is a name linked with over three decades of music on television, and has always had a talent for documenting the regional roots of pop and rock and showcasing them whether on a local or world platform.
Back in his native Midlands he told the story of 'Brumbeat' in Channel 4's 'Motor City Music Years'. In his adopted home of the North East he was recruited to co-produce Channel 4's controversial music show 'The Tube', capturing superstars and unsigned acts alike on a global scale and throwing them into our front rooms every Friday night from 1982 to 1987. Chris has since been dubbed the 'Simon Cadell of 'The Tube''!
Since then he acted as consultant to ITV1 and Channel 4 popular music listing 'Top 100' programmes as well as major biopics like 'Bob Marley — Time Will Tell' and cutting edge current affairs documentaries.
His main passion and pride in the region's music achievements led him to co-produce an award winning series and book devoted to 'Northstars'.
Chris is currently producing documentaries on North East life and music for BBC4 and Radio 4 for 2011. Tyne Idols is a new challenge for this in-demand public speaker, radio and TV guest. It means he can talk about and share his knowledge of rock and pop non-stop!
Ray Laidlaw has been actively involved in music and TV for over forty years.
Following his education at Newcastle College of Art and Newcastle's legendary Club a GoGo in the 1960s, he began his career as drummer for the British rock/folk group Lindisfarne.
After achieving national and international success in the early '70s, he then co-founded two other bands, Jack the Lad and Radiator, before returning to Lindisfarne in the mid-'70s. Ray took responsibility for the creative direction of the group's visual output and established a strong bond with TV director Geoff Wonfor. Together they produced and directed Lindisfarne's early promo films. Ray was appointed the band's manager in the mid-'80s, running the concert promotion and recording activities as well as continuing to play drums.
In the 1990s Ray established a music publishing company that produced original music for TV drama and advertising, opened a recording studio on Tyneside and managed a number of other writers and performers. Clients and projects during that period included Chas Chandler, Jimmy Nail, EMI Records, and Kitchenware Records.
In 1998 Ray co-produced a one hour TV documentary 'Lindisfarne — Rock of the North', with Geoff Wonfor as director. Subsequently they have worked as a team on numerous TV projects. Over the last ten years, Ray has also produced many high profile live events including 'Sunday for Sammy' and 3Bandstand concerts. In addition, Ray has been a member of the Tyne Tees TV Programme Consultative Panel, a mentor for the New Deal for Musicians and a director of the Whitley Bay Playhouse Trust.
Paul Irwin's interest in music began with underage forays to the likes of Mingles in Whitley Bay, the Mayfair, and Tiffanys, with a realistic false ID in order to take in as many live gigs as possible.
He was hooked though it wasn't cheap going to gigs but he had a plan. His older brother, Dave Irwin, was a news editor for Northeast Press and if he could persuade Dave and his editor, Ross Weeks, that they would benefit from gig and album reviews then life would be a whole lot easier. For the next few years Paul did exactly that, and got his hands on tickets, albums and goodies a-plenty.
During the early '80s Paul played with a few North East bands including NWOBHM-ers Warrior, Satan and the Tygers of Pan Tang until the spandex wore thin and the need to find a proper job kicked in.
In 1990 Paul started EastCoast Taxis with two vehicles, building up to a fleet of 200+ cars today. To diversify, EastCoast Tours was created and began to cater mainly for incoming passengers to the Port of Tyne International Terminal. Different tours were created such as 'Newcastle in a Nutshell', with guided tours of Northumberland and Weardale proving very popular.
Paul, with Chris Wilson, also created the successful 'Whitley Bay & Tynemouth Guide' booklets which included original written pieces from local luminaries such as Ian La Frenais, Bob Langley, Peter Mortimer, 'Hairy Biker' Si King, Ray Laidlaw and many more.
A devout fan of all kinds of music almost since his own release date of May 10, 1966 — the day after The Beatles recorded 'For No One' and the day before Beach Boy Brian Wilson began work on 'Heroes and Villains' trivia fans! — Chris Wilson is a freelance graphic designer based in sunny, tropical Whitley Bay.
Among countless design-centric ventures and adventures over the years, Chris through willyswideweb.com has designed over sixty rock music biographies for the London publisher Helter Skelter, many local projects including the much loved 'Whitley Bay & Tynemouth Guide' (in collaboration with Paul Irwin), and his 'hobby' website whitleybayinthe70s.com which recounts golden memories of growing up in what was our very own Coney Island.
Many other exciting projects that are currently reaching fruition include creating bananastan.com with the legendary Van Dyke Parks and his LA label Bananastan to promote and release the wonderful music of sunnier climes, the Official Biography of the great Jon Hiseman which is now in print, an all-new in-depth Official Website for the world class jazz/rock band Colosseum which finally goes 'live' soon, and various projects for Durham and Newcastle Universities.
Chris can now be found stabbing fiercely at the Mac keyboard well into the tropical night beneath the Jamaican stars. (If anyone knows if there is a London bus for hire somewhere in the Caribbean, please let him know...)