Robin George Remembers Pete Haycock of the Climax Blues Band

It didn’t matter what guitar Pete played—he made them all sing.

I FIRST MET PETE WAY BACK IN THE late ’70s. He invited me to his home studio, and we hit it off immediately. After we had a few beers, we recorded a version of the Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight” for some reason. Pete played guitar and I played bass. I’d love to hear it now.

Pete stayed in touch, and he later invited me to co-produce and engineer some Climax Blues Band demos. The sessions were great, and the demos secured the band a new label deal. During the recordings, Pete bought a guitar into the studio that fascinated me. It was a BC Rich Bich 10-string. When I told Pete I’d never seen or heard anything like it before, he sold it to me at a mate’s rate, and it became my trademark guitar throughout the 1980s. I’ve got it hanging on my studio wall right now.

In the early ’80s, Pete invited me to cowrite with him for the next CBB album, Sample and Hold, and he later asked me to audition for the band. I got the job. I used to sit and listen to Pete playing in the most relaxed way imaginable. He’d sit and smile, and the most incredible performances would flow through his magical fingers.

When I recorded the LovePower and Peace charity album in 2008—all profits continue to go to Compton Hospice Wolverhampton, Haven House Essex, and BCAT (Birmingham Centre for Arts Therapies)—I called and asked Pete to add his magic to the proceedings. Pete’s contribution is stunning. His slide guitar is at its very best—sublime and inspirational. Later on, when Pete went to Los Angeles to play on a film score for Hans Zimmer, he cajoled many great musicians to add their talents to the project—all for free! That’s the kind of friend he was.

We continued to bounce off each other both musically and as songwriters, and we grew closer together as we worked on our next project as “Pete Haycock’s Climax Blues Band featuring Robin George.” Pete called the group—which also features Mel Collins (Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton), Charlie Morgan (Elton John, Kate Bush), and Jacquie Williams (Sister Sledge)—the new, “true” Climax Blues Band. We finished the album—entitled Broke Heart Blues— very recently, and then came the devastating news that we lost Pete on October 30, 2013. The album is now dedicated to my co-writer and producer—my brother in guitar—Pete Haycock.

Pete’s sound was unique, and it didn’t matter what guitar he played—he made them all sing. His playing will always astound me. He made it seem so easy, and he could always bring a recording alive with his vibrancy and sensitivity. Pete generally used his classic Gibson Thunderbird on LovePower and Peace and Broke Heart Blues, and as you’ll hear, the roundness and depth of his sound are wonderful. (In fact, I EQ my guitar tone to match his whenever possible.) And, of course, if Pete wasn’t the best slide guitar player in the world, he was definitely in the top one!