Mike Outram

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Peter Bocking: RIP


Pete playing with Victor Brox at the Nursey Inn
(courtesy Butch Mepham)

I found out recently that Manchester guitarist Pete Bocking died last week. He was my first electric guitar teacher and a complete one-of-a-kind. There’s more info available on the net about Pete here:

I’m just learning, also, that he was very well known and loved by the communities within various political blogs, and that they’re just learning about his musical career.

Anyhow, I thought I’d share a few memories of him here.

I first studied with him when I was around 15 or 16 over three years or so. Pete taught from an upstairs room at Barratts Music Shop on Oxford Street, Manchester.

Every Saturday I’d look forward to the adventure of getting to Manchester, having a lesson and then exploring: trawling through all the music shops, buying up most of Music Exchange’s stock, checking out records at Yanks, and milling about at the Cornerhouse Cafe. It was a magic time.

I can’t remember how I came across Pete. I may have just wandered into the shop and seen that he was teaching there. But he really took me under his wing and opened my eyes to studying the guitar. He had a very methodical and detailed approach, and he loved to talk about the theory and analysis of music.

At the time, I was obsessed with Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Led Zepellin and so on. I brought this to him one week, it’s a Vai piece from the movie Crossroads. The following week he had it down, and it’s not easy! He then used it to explain how the arpeggios implied the harmony and then he showed me the Paganini Caprice that part of it is based on, and that led to a section from Bach’s Violin Sonata in G Minor that he really impressed upon me to learn. That was a beautiful thing to do, I think. To take the rock stuff I was into, learn it and then blow my mind with all this other great stuff. And he did that with pretty much everything I brought to show him.

He explained jazz harmony to me very well, and he was very encouraging and motivating. I remember him pressing me to work hard because I wouldn’t have the time later. [Right, he was!] Another thing was the passion with which he played. I remember him playing a blues and really going for it in his playing. He wasn’t a shrinking violet as a player.

I’m really thankful for the tuition and good advice Pete gave to me and especially lucky to have had Pete as my first teacher. Obviously, he must’ve taught many people over the years, so if you’re one of them and are reading this, feel free to add any thoughts or memories below.

He’ll be missed by many.

9 responses to “Peter Bocking: RIP”

  1. daddy Flynn says:

    Thank you Mr Outram,

    For we Blog buddies of Peter Bocking who happen to also be mediocre guitarists that really tells us a lot. I greatly appreciate your comments.

  2. Daniel Stone says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, he was my teacher too for ten years from the age of 7 (i lived very close to him) and i can completely understand what you mean about his teaching style. I am now a teacher myself and i have him to thank, i still have some of his notes in my music folder. I also bought his Taylor acoustic guitar off him at a snip. He once told me that he cried when Twangs the music shop in Rochdale closed down leaving only Dr Rocks (now bonecats) whom he hated both of, and i completely understand that too. Twangs was awesome and bonecats and dr rocks where kack. He told me he once worked with Freddy Starr and was also in a band with John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin (he told me johns favorite card game was the french pontoon called Piquet) Not only was he a great teacher but he also had me mesmerized with his amazingly entertaining stories about his equally amazing life. He held a lot of derision certain famous bands including, The Beatles (couldnt tune their instruments), Blur (nerds), Eric Clapton(stole everything he wrote) which had me in stitches. He didn’t just understand music, he was music to me.

  3. Mike Outram says:

    Thanks so much for sharing some memories of Pete, Daniel.

    Wow, ten years! You must’ve known him well. I remember that story about the Beatles! They played on the same bill, I think. There’s more about that on one of those links at the top. Yep, his stories were really funny.

    I’d love to see his writing if you still have a note or two you could send. That’d be nice. I really remember all the lesson notes he wrote out for me, but I don’t have any of them now.

    Thanks again. Always nice to be reminded of Pete :)

  4. Johnny B says:

    Pete was in a band with me in the 70s for a long time we played all over the north west playing mainly in Blackpool 6 nights a week then private gigs on sunday. Pete was by far one of the greatest players I have worked with he was very much a one off player and person. An awesome musician a great story teller. I remeber Lonnie Donigan coming to stay with us in Blackpool and gave the chance of Pete going to America with him. this saw the final days of Pete in the band we wished him well and Pete was gone only to be replaced by another great guitarist Ashley Mulford (Sad Cafe).
    Several meetings later I always got the feeling Pete missed working with us in the band and we missed him. Pete Bocking R.I.P

  5. Mike Outram says:

    Thanks for sharing, Johnny.

  6. Steve Rogers says:

    I too was one of Pete’s students for a few months, back in the mid-70s in Margate. He always had to slow down A LOT so I could see what he was doing, but it was great to hear him jam. From just a few lessons I learned the important lesson of how to keep my left hand still and let my fingers do the playing.

  7. Deepinder Cheema says:

    It was good to hear in the year 2024 at the start of January Graham Nash on BBC’s Desert island Discs clearly thinking about his eventual tribute to nature and remembering Peter Bocking who was in his first band.

  8. Mike Outram says:

    Ah, nice to hear. Thanks for letting me know that!

  9. DT says:

    I knew Peter in a different light, delivered his daily papers for many years, and grew up just a street up from him. Quiet guy, sometimes heard him playing the guitar from outside and I really never knew his history until after he passed. He was known by the local kids as “penny picker Pete” due to his stooped posture.

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