Ray Cooper on Ray Cooper:
Scottish mum, English dad, Irish ancestral connections. Grew up in Surrey, Hampshire, Lancashire. I was about 13 when I first heard someone strumming an acoustic guitar. I remember being rooted to the spot in amazement, so I went home and borrowed my sister's neglected Christmas present, complete with Play Guitar In Only Three Days instruction book, and immediately had a purpose in life.
I started on the bass guitar a year later, for the traditional reason that I had two friends who played drums and lead guitar, and they said if I played bass I could be in their band ... which sounded like the most exciting thing in the world. School bands, then art-school bands. Early influences: blues, English folk-rock, American psychedelia and country rock, Velvets, Iggy Pop, then we were suddenly playing punk without knowing it.
Dropped out of Brighton art college, joined an arty punk band called Amazorblades, went pro, didn't eat much for the next few years. Bought a cello 'cos I wanted an acoustic kind of bass to play in case the power failed. Met a drummer called Lee (later to join Oysterband); we flirted with pop, got pissed off with pop, discovered African music, found a band called OK Jive, were the darlings of the music press for about 5 minutes.
I left under acrimonious circumstances to join some old pals in the fridge and watermelon business who later became known as 3 Mustaphas 3. For a while my identity became strangely confused with that of Oussack Mustapha, Nightingale of Szegerely. - Simultaneously tried to be a singer in my own band, which became reasonably unsuccessful. I also appeared on various singles and sessions ... and all this before I met Oysterband in 1988 Oysterband are easily the best band I have played in and with them I have released 18 CDs and toured 27 countries. I started living in Sweden in 2000, and developed a love of Swedish folk music. Today I divide my time between Scotland, England and Sweden.