Duncan came to Leeds around 1974/5 having run away from a Teacher Training College after a year and a term! He took a ‘temporary’ job as a Lab Technician at a Leeds High School. With a head full of musical influences from folk clubs through rock, to classical, he was keen on forming a band to pursue his own compositions and feature twin-lead, harmony guitars as much as possible....
....so when Luigi formed in 1976, it was from a ‘school band’ that used to jam at lunchtimes and after the school day was over. These sessions took place in the basement in a Physics Lab! ...L A B... became Luigi Ana Da Boys! This was allegedly an improvement on the original name we came up with... Gnome’s Law! The band had played for a school production of W B Yeats ‘At the Hawk’s Well’... for which Duncan came up with original music.
It wasn’t long before Duncan & Dave decided to look for a more permanent line-up and take our rock to the pubs!
Luigi #1 was born…
Duncan (guitar & lead vox), Dave Roberts (bass & backing vox) quickly hit the pub-rock circuit around West Yorkshire with new-found mates, local Leeds lads, Rob Steeles (drums) & Martin Llewelyn (guitar)
Luigi gigged hard through ‘76, In ‘77 Martin left and, replaced by Geoff Taylor, Luigi #2 began to play further afield. Luigi #2 saved as much as they could to venture, for their first time ever into a studio... Petal, in Leeds.
The boys had never been in a studio before and found the recording process a tad daunting, to say the least!
Engineer Derek Deegan had them play the backing tracks ‘live’ as a three piece... rhythm guitar, bass & drums - with no advice given - so they ‘silently’ ploughed through all the backing parts with lyrics ‘mouthed’ and no melody lines played to give ‘clues’ as to where they were at any one point... quite daunting on the longer pieces! They also never twigged that where the backing ‘stopped’ mid-song for a bar - or even two - or longer! - that some sort of ‘count’ other than within their own heads (or ‘theatrically mouthed’ at one another) might be a good idea! This meant that when time came to fit that vocal part, or those twin-leads, in the gaps that had been left... well, let’s just say that some ‘counts’ went quicker than expected, some slower!
Mistakes made in the initial backing tracks too - with Derek offering the old chestnuts ‘we’ll do overdub corrections later’ or ‘we’ll fix it in the mix!’
This never happened of course - the boys ran out of time - well, ran out of budget really.
The whole process from arriving, setting up the drums and getting everything mic’d up - to finishing the mix and leaving took a total of just 16 hours.
The boys left with their master tape to have 1000 copies made - taking the finished article ‘warts and all’.
No money was left for the intended colour sleeve and artwork either... The best they could afford was a plain white cardboard sleeve with a single-sided printed insert inside it.
No sooner was the LP released, the dreaded curse of all bands raised its ugly head… the offer of a ‘contract’ and it’s financial implications and also the spectre of ‘does the band try to ‘make it’ professionally’? For those in a full time day job, the answer was an emphatic ‘no’.
There were already personal ructions within Luigi #2 and a new bassist, Dave Turner was brought into the band. Within weeks, Geoff decided to leave and seek fame and fortune in a heavy metal band! - One that would ‘try and make it’! – So Dave Turner brought in Phil Cockerham, one of his ex-band mates from ‘Jobe St Day’ and so there was Luigi #3 and #4.
This Luigi Mark 4 line-up gigged on for a few months, including some University gigs, but things began to fall apart again, with Phil leaving, Geoff rejoining and then the killer blow, front man Duncan (who still wrote all the material) leaving to team up again with Phil along with two more ex-Jobe St Day members (Mick Hayes & John Kewley) - a band called ‘Motley’ being the result. But this band gradually petered out too.
Although ‘Luigi Ana Da Boys’ had carried on gamely for a while – bringing in keyboards and abandoning the original ethos of being a twin-guitar-harmony band - ‘Luigi’, as intended in Duncan’s original concept, was effectively over before 1980.
After Duncan left Luigi, so did Martin – and Duncan spent a good few months teaching him to play bass guitar! Martin did well at his new task and they were in various bands together through the 80s and 90s… ‘Sharp Practice’, ‘The Way’ and ‘Another Way’ …then came the surprise addition of Geoff once more, in ‘Hello Again’!
All those bands had a short shelf life though and two decades passed… then Duncan & Geoff joined forces once again around 2001 when the Duncan McFarlane Band (a folk-rock band) started to develop and began gigging around the UK at folk festivals and venues.
The dMb saw Dunc & Geoff team up with drummer Nick Pepper, bassist Tony Rogerson, melodeon-player Steve Fairholme and fiddler, Anne Brivonese – this first line-up playing over ten years on the folk circuit before their first personnel change. Tony hung up his bass, making way for Mart Ward to return to the fold!
This second dMb line-up still gigs regularly all over the UK…
Visit the Duncan McFarlane Band's website for all the info about them.
In 2012, Geoff & Duncan were asked by Otley Festival to do a spot in a Sunday afternoon festival concert as ‘Luigi’ – so the DMcF Band bassist, Martin Ward and drummer, Nick Pepper, were drafted in to play a set of some 50mins or so.
Particularly poignant in Martin’s case, he had been van driver, roadie and assistant sound engineer for the original Luigi line-up, back in the day, so to finally play Luigi material was very special for him!
2013 saw Duncan have two operations and generally be much under the care of the NHS. Whilst recuperating, Geoff kept him company during the daytime, most days of the week, in Duncan’s home studio. This enforced ‘confinement’ steered them on a course to try and totally re-record the original Luigi album totally from scratch!
Having made a start, it became apparent that, to complete the job ‘properly’, there was a large amount of previously unrecorded Luigi material that could also be captured for posterity!
There were all the songs that had gigged extensively and had been in contention for inclusion on the original LP, yet had been left off due to the fact that only so many minutes per side could sensibly be included on a long-playing record!
Then there was all the material that Duncan wrote and that Luigi gigged far and wide with after the point the LP had been made! Undaunted, they set themselves a working deadline, arranging a full blown ‘Luigi Revisited’ gig in Leeds for November that year.
An all points bulletin had gone out to old Luigi fans asking for demo tapes, bootleg recordings, anything they might have to help the boys remember all the old material. The response proved very fruitful.
The tapes that duly arrived unearthed some long forgotten moments and gems!
Our particular thanks go to Rod Holt (Luigi’s old sound engineer) and Pete Murphy of Wigan, who had a wealth of bootlegs! Cheers guys!
Whole sections of songs were now refreshed in the memory and the reconstruction of all the ‘best of’ the Luigi material was in full swing.
By the time the gig date arrived, only eleven of the intended twenty four tracks had been completed – so on November 23rd 2013 ‘Luigi Revisited’ took to the stage at TJs Club on Woodhouse Street in Leeds to a Luigi-hungry audience of almost 300! It was a resounding success!
Geoff and Duncan played two hours plus of the old twin-lead Luigi material (plus one new track written specially for the night!) and were aided quite marvellously by Martin Ward and Steve Foster sharing the bass duties, Jon Bedford playing keyboards on five or so of the more ‘Prog style’ numbers, Nick Pepper and Berni Gilmore sharing the drum duties – Martin, Berni and Steve also sang backing vocals, Berni also played acoustic guitar on some songs! – and finally, on one epic number, ace vocalist Rachael Sutcliffe sand lead vocals.
There was a fabulous light show put on by Tim Wall and the ‘Wee Dog Sound’ team (led by Ani & Gerry McNiece) absolutely nailed all the sound engineering!
Despite more ill-health issues and other time-constraint problems all through 2014, the boys managed to get all 24 tracks finished & mixed by December of that year, then mastered by Tony Bonner of Clipstore, Leeds, and off for manufacture early in 2015.
A two CD set, each of those CDs clocking up 64 minutes that’s 128 mins of Luigi – all beautifully set off by a fantastic piece of artwork by a Luigi fan (since the beginning!) …Bowes-based artist Duncan Storr.
His work shows many Luigi ‘song references’ in its colourful expression of the original ‘Feeling the Ceiling’ theme.
Luigi have stepped out a few times (locally) over the past couple of years and played a launch gig for the new double-album in 2015 at The Chemic Tavern, Leeds. They also played a small festival at The Grove Inn, Leeds - as five-piece with Steve Foster adding keyboards!
Currently the band is built around Duncan (Luigi himself!) on guitar & vocals;
local hero Sam Hirst on guitar & vocals;
the mighty Steve Foster on bass, keyboards & vocals;
and our magnificent rhythm section....
Martin Ward on bass & vocals;
Berni Gilmore on drums & vocals;
We WILL be gigging from time to time; and are currently recording new material for a new album, so keep watching this space!
We’ll see you all further on! - Luigi