Blackstar Staff Profiles
Find out a little about the people behind Blackstar
Name: Bruce Keir
Job Title: Technical Director.
Background: Electronics engineer. Chief Design Engineer then Technical Director at Marshall Amplification.
Instrument played: Bass guitar.
Interests: Music, electronics, countryside.
Started playing: Aged 12.
Favourite musical genre(s): Rock.
First gig: The Rory Gallagher Band, Newcastle City Hall.
First album: Bad Company – self titled.
Proudest moment: Walking into the Frankfurt Messe in 2007 for the company launch and seeing the first ever Blackstar booth.
Embarrassing gig story: Wrapping my guitar lead round my legs and pulling my amp of the top of its cabinet.
First song you learnt all the lyrics to: The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy.
Best thing about working at Blackstar: The countryside of Northampton.
Guilty pleasure: Smoking.
Name: Ian Robinson
Job Title: Managing Director.
Background: Rochdalian. Electronics Engineer for Marshall Amplification.
Instrument played: Guitar.
Interests: Fishing, Taekwondo, football (Man United!), travelling, food, wine.
Started playing: 12 years old.
Favourite musical genre(s): Metal, Alternative, Indie
First gig: Accept / Dokken Manchester Apollo 1985 (the night I was first introduced to Udo's truncheon).
First album: Accept – Restless and Wild.
Proudest moment: Marrying the wife.
Embarrassing gig story: Starting the first song of a set with my whole guitar tuned a 1/2 step down (when the band was in concert) and I had a floating tremolo and no back up!
First song you learnt all the lyrics to: "Sweaty Betty" the Macc Lads.
Best thing about working at Blackstar: Spending time with some of the funniest, cleverest and sickest people ever.
Guilty pleasure: Holland's meat pie, chips and gravy - with loads of salt and vinegar!
Name: Richard Frost
Job Title: Operations Director.
Background: Abattoirs, Marshall Amplification, packing cases and ROCK!
Instrument played: Throat, drums and guitar/bass.
Interests: Quantum physics, ballet and ROCK.
Started playing: Side drum in a marching band at the age of 11, drum kit at the age of 13.
Favourite musical genre(s): Rock, Rock, Rock, Metal, Rock, Metal, Metal and Rock.
First gig: First gig I went to was Gillan, Coventry Theatre, 1981. Quartz and White Spirit supporting.
First album: Deep Purple In Rock.
Proudest moment: The birth of my son Zachary.
Embarrassing gig story: Not really embarrassing, but shouting so loud at an UDO gig that I nearly ruptured my vocal chords!
First song you learnt all the lyrics to: Speed King – Deep Purple.
Best thing about working at Blackstar: The Olympic standard p**s-taking.
Guilty pleasure: Hmmmm… snack food… Hmmmm… cake…
Name: Paul Hayhoe
Job Title: Sales & Marketing Director.
Background: I spent 10 years running a guitar store before joining Marshall Amplification. After a period there I left and was one of the four bald men to start Blackstar.
Instrument played: Guitar, bass, keyboard.
Interests: Music, photography, fell walking.
Started playing: 1987.
Favourite musical genre(s): Punk, alternative, goth, indie.
First gig: Toyah, Ipswich Gaumont.
First album: Parallel Lines, Blondie.
Proudest moment: Birth of my daughter Emily.
Embarrassing gig story: Using the most ineffectual smoke machine in show business. Instead of a wall of atmospheric smoke, we ended up with a small cloud at the side of the stage that looked like it came from a feeble chain smoker.
First song you learnt all the lyrics to: Anarchy in the UK, Sex Pistols.
Best thing about working at Blackstar: Working in a field you're passionate about with a great team of people. It's like being in a band.
Guilty pleasure: Jolene by Dolly Parton, Sausage Egg McMuffin.
Name: Joel Richardson
Job Title: Marketing and Artist Liaison Manager.
Background: Worked at Marshall Amplification for 9.5 years.
Instrument played: Vocals, guitar, maracas.
Interests: Guitars, amps, music, poetry, lyrics, socializing, football, films, wine, cheese, getting my hair cut.
Started playing: The day after I went to my first gig I borrowed my friend's classical guitar and learnt three chords and started a band. Sadly I never got any better...
Favourite musical genre(s): Indie, Rock, Metal... everything with guitar and a deep bass line.
First gig: Blur, UEA 1994
Favourite guitarist: Bernard Butler, Wilko Johnson, Graham Coxon, Steve Mason, Jeff Beck, Gary Moore, Gus G. too many to mention...
Proudest moment: Seeing a wall of Blackstar amps on stage with Gus G. and Ozzy. Talking gear with Eric Clapton, James Hetfield, Billy F. Gibbons and many more.
Embarrassing gig story: Getting barred from the pub I was playing at that night for acting too arrogant.... (my hero was Liam Gallagher at the time!), jumping around on stage and falling off.... having the power cut at a venue for being too loud.
Best thing about working at Blackstar: Unbelievable products, working with my bandmates, the buzz of seeing guitarists discover the sound in their head.
Guilty pleasure: Luton Town FC.
Name: Keith Dudley (BCB)
Job Title: International Sales Manager.
Background: 16 years in National Newspaper marketing followed by 18 months as Assistant Manager of a large guitar store in Birmingham. Then followed by almost 7 years at Marshall Amplification before joining Blackstar.
Instrument played: Guitar.
Interests: Football, Music, Motor Sports and Skydiving.
Started playing: Late starter at 17 years old.
Favourite musical genre(s): IToo wide and varied but mainly classic rock and acoustic stuff.
First gig: Thin Lizzy at Birmingham Odeon.
First album: I bought two at the same time: Live and Dangerous – Thin Lizzy and Rumours – Fleetwood Mac.
Proudest moment: Scoring a goal at the Hawthorns in my precious blue and white stripes and my dad was watching.
Embarrassing gig story: Not a gig, but being given a $7000 guitar to demo an amp in the States, having a video camera pointed at you and the piece of c**p wouldn't stay in tune.
First song you learnt all the lyrics to: I never learn all the words to anything and always used to forget even the BVs on a gig.
Best thing about working at Blackstar: Working with amazing products and with a team of people and NOT ONE ego present between everyone.
Guilty pleasure: Can't state without fear of prosecution.
Name: Cliff Brown
Job Title: Chief Design Engineer
Background: Playing music and building and using guitars, amps, mixers and studios
Instrument played: Guitar
Interests: Guitars, Amps, Pies and Pasties
Started playing: 1974
Favourite musical genre(s): Rock
First gig: Black Sabbath, Queens Hall, Leeds 1980
First album: Thin Lizzy, Live and Dangerous
Proudest moment: Playing live at the Albert Hall with my band 'Actual Proof' in 1983
Embarrassing gig story: Being thrown out of Brixton Academy for fighting with an ex-girlfriend
First song you learnt all the lyrics to: UFO 'Only You Can Rock Me'
Best thing about working at Blackstar: The perfect blend of professionalism and utter lunacy
Guilty pleasure: A recently acquired taste for Sainbury's own brand blended malt whisky
Name: Alex Matthews
Job Title: Financial Controller
Background: Qualified ACMA finance manager with over 30 years in manufacturing, distribution and high-growth companies in a variety of industries from Electronics ATE, Automotive, Housewares and now Guitar Amps.
Instrument played: Acoustic Guitar, Ukelele, Harmonica and a bit of keyboards (not sure which bit)
Interests: Music, Motorbikes, Dinghy sailing
Started playing: Started playing my Dad's Ukelele when I was about 12 then grew onto classical guitar, learnt piano at school, not sure how the harmonica happened?
Favourite musical genre(s): No particular favourite, wide range from Killing Joke, New Model Army, Alice in Chains, Stranglers, Focus to Russian Classical such as Shostakovich
First gig: Supertramp at Plymouth Guildhall in 1975 (Crime of the Century tour)
First album: Salty Dog by Procul Harum
Proudest moment: Watching my daughter perform in the CYO at the Royal Albert Hall Music for Youth Prom
Embarrassing gig story: Can't think of one
First song you learnt all the lyrics to: Sick man blues by The Goodies
Best thing about working at Blackstar: Great team of professionals and generally knowing that what we are doing sounds so good and is so cool
Guilty pleasure: What speed limit sign??? & Red Wine