After two years of the Landscape Architecture course, however, Rico bought his first bass guitar (a Fender Precision) with his next year’s grant money and much to his parents lack of delight was booted out of college early.
Stuck with having to support himself Rico worked for a while in a chicken hatchery where one of his jobs was to sex chickens (not what it sounds like) before putting in a couple of years work in a local sausage factory.
He joined his first band when he answered an advertisement in the Melody Maker for bass players. He went along to the auditions with about 100 other young hopefuls not even knowing which band he was to audition for. He soon found that it was The Eric Bell Band. Eric had been a founder member of Thin Lizzy, was now going it alone and needed a band. Rico was called back for a second audition and was chosen for the gig. He spent three and a half years in this band touring the U.K. and Europe in their own right and opening on tours for Slade and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, before gigs dried up and Eric went back to Ireland to play in a showband.
Whilst the Eric Bell Band was drawing to a close Rico had also started playing in Raymond Froggatt’s band. Joining at the same time as Phil Capaldi, Rico’s association with his rhythm section pal was now forming. The Froggatt band toured the U.K. and Europe and backed visiting U.S. country acts such as Ronnie Prophet, Don Gibson, Wanda Jackson, The Nashville Super Pickers, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Vernon Oxford and Billy Walker. They also toured as opening act for Roy Orbison, Hoyt Axton and Don Williams as well as playing on three series of “Sing Country” for BBC 2 T.V. The Bruvvers elect then joined Carrie Duncan playing country rock and played for fun with local Evesham band Broken Spur also passing a spell as the rhythm section for Rose Marie.
Professionally Rico parted company with Phil for a while in 1989 when invited by Mike D’Abo to join Mike D’Abo and The Mighty Quintet. John Taylor had asked Phil whether Rico wanted to be part of Joe’s band in 1991 when Neil & Phil had become full time but it was another two years in 1993 before they eventually got their man.
As career highlights Rico lists his first show with Eric Bell. Although, normally, not at all nervous when going onstage his first ever professional show was at a packed Hammersmith Odeon. As the band walked onstage there was a massive surge forward in the audience and Rico became so nervous that he could not even push his jack plug into the amplifier and had to be helped by a road manager to do it. Fortunately his panic soon passed and never re-appeared. He also lists stepping onto the stage with Joe at The Royal Albert Hall (this time without the panic attack) and his first TV show with Raymond Froggatt but later like Neil The Concert For George and the Gold CD with Joe topped it all.