When family comes first in a rock and roll lifestyle

The sought-after guitarrist has played with Herman's Hermits and The Rubettes, but he claims he now prefers a quiet family life

TONY BRYANT

There is a saying that declares "A true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot and his mother drudge for a living sooner than work at anything but his art."

So many musicians have destroyed their families by being away on tour for long periods of time, but others, like Ray Frost, who has toured with a few of the top 1960s and '70s pop bands, always puts his family and loved ones first.

The 60-year-old British singer/songwriter has played guitar with Herman's Hermits, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich and The Rubettes, although he has now settled in Estepona, where he lives with his wife and 15-year-old daughter.

Ray, who has also recorded three solo albums of his own compositions, talks to SUR in English about his career as a sought-after musician and recording artiste, and also, why he has never put this before his family.

Born in Southend in 1962, Ray began playing guitar at the age of 13. His early influences were the Beatles and The Shadows, although he went on to perform with several rock and heavy metal bands on the pub-circuit in Essex. However, the music business did not have the correct appeal at first and Ray turned his back on the industry in order to work as a window cleaner.

"I watched a lot of musicians along the way who would literally sacrifice their mums just to perform, which I found incredible. As they got married and had children, they were quite prepared to throw away their families in order to go on tour. I was pretty disgusted because I am a home-loving man and family means everything, so I walked away from music," Ray explains.

Ray would not get his calling to return to music until he decided to move to Spain in 2000. It was his girlfriend Rocío, who is now his wife, who suggested that he picked up one of the many instruments that he had hanging up in their home.

"It was Rocío who said, 'come on, it's about time you started playing again'. I had around 40 instruments laying idol, and so I first started teaching people to play guitar, bass and ukulele," he says.

His return to live performance happened after he had returned to the UK to look after his dying father. By chance, Ray came into contact with a friend who informed him of a band that were looking for a new guitarist.

"I bumped into a musician who had given me one lesson many years ago. He asked if I wanted to join a band, but I had to fly back to Spain, so declined the offer. Then he explained that this was not a problem because it was The Rubettes: they would fly me to wherever I needed to be," he says.

It was while working with The Rubettes that Ray came into contact with Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, a group that he would perform with for more than a year.

Family man

More recently, Ray has been performing with Herman's Hermits, another of the pop sensations of the 1960s, although he turned down a tour of Australia with the band because he did not want to spend too much time away from his family. He did, however, undertake a tour of Germany with the band.

"They were doing about 160 gigs a year and I knew that I would never be at home, so I decided not to continue after the German tour. I did have a change of mind, and I did a few more UK dates with The Hermits, but then Covid hit. The band was in the middle of the 55th anniversary tour, and it all stopped," Ray explains.

Ray has since concentrated on his own material, which he records in his studio at his house in Estepona, and he has also participated in a few tribute acts on the coast, including the Smokie tribute band, which are performing in Benalmádena next week.

He also fronts The Ray Frost Band, which will be undertaking a tour of the UK in 2023, although he claims that he is getting a "little fed up" and prefers to spend time in Spain with his family.

"Me and Rocío got married in 2020 and our daughter is 15 now. I suppose I have lost the heart for live music, but I would help out the Hermits again if needed," Ray concludes.