He attended Yardley Grammar School where he achieved the distinction of becoming house rugby captain and a member of the first XV. Neil briefly played double bass in the school orchestra until being asked to leave after spinning it on it’s spike during a classical rendition. He was finally allowed to perform some of his own compositions prior to leaving school at the age of 15 with O level Metalwork and a fire extinguisher. He went on to study for his City & Guilds exams at the Birmingham school of Jewellery and Silversmithing.
Neil’s collection of pre-musical jobs is the stuff of Rock & Roll. Apart from being a jeweller he worked in a butcher’s shop, was an aircraft cleaner, grave digger and builder’s labourer before striking it lucky as a coffee vending machine service engineer having worked out that he could use the firm’s van at night to carry his gear to shows.
Neil’s first professional band was called 47th Street. He also graced Chug-A-Lug, a country band in which he played guitar and pedal steel, he was at the time reported by County Music Magazine to be Britain’s youngest professional pedal steel player and spent a while touring the U.K. playing for various Birmingham based bands including Beretta and Broadway 66 before teaming up with Fairport Convention’s Dave Pegg in The Cocktail Cowboys.
In 1986 Neil went to Phoenix Arizona and played for three months on the morning show at radio station KLSX also doing recording session work with his distinctive bass voice.
Arriving back in the U.K. Neil was asked by Mike Sheridan to join Birmingham 60’s legends Mike Sheridan & The Nightriders with whom he spent 3 years before they also became Joe’s backing band and he was also a regular on Radio WM programme The Barmaid’s Arms which was the brainchild of Birmingham celebrity and T.V. presenter Malcolm Stent. Neil played pedal steel guitar on the soundtrack to the 1980’s American High School dance craze film “Shag” before joining Joe on a full time basis when invited by John Taylor to form a new and permanent line up with Phil Capaldi in 1991.
Neil listed his career highlights as playing with Fairport Convention at their Cropredy Festival in 1996. Playing onstage with two other former Nightriders guitarists Jeff Lynne & Roy Wood at Mike Sheridan’s 50th birthday party show and playing The Hackney Empire, Royal Albert Hall and London Palladium with Joe although he considered his finest hour to be with Joe performing at The Concert For George and later in 2008 receiving a Gold disc for his involvement on the Best Of Joe Brown CD.