One of the un-sung heroes of Birmingham's music scene was talented guitarist Pete Oliver who passed away in April of 2006. Pete was involved in a number of local bands during the 1960s including Johnny Neal and The Starliners and Mike Sheridan's Lot. While Pete never made the "big time" his knowledge of music and the influence he had on many local guitarists was considerable.
The photo shows the 'Boss' band line-up from 1973 which has from left to right; Jon Fox, Pete Oliver, Dave Hollis and Jim Onslow. Jon Fox who kindly sent this picture and Graham Ashford (Bobby Ash) who informed me of this recent sad news about Pete Oliver are just a few of the many people who have fond memories of him. Other tributes from Birmingham musicians are shown here as follows:
(Johnny Neal): Pete Oliver "Dead Legs" helped me out on quite a few occasions and as a member of the Starliners. He was very well known and respected in the Birmingham area and was a top salesman in the music shops.
(Bob Watkins of the Bobby Ash Sound): I can remember Pete when he started at Yardley's at the bottom of Snow Hill where Sound Control now stands. He was about four stone soaking wet I seem to remember. He played the first set for the Bobby Ash Sound at the Rum Runner one night - what an act to follow! He was a really talented musician but he never made you feel anything other than an equal, although of course, most of us knew we weren't in the same street musically.
(Martin Willis a.k.a. Steve Martyn of Monopoly and the Joe Brown Band): I'm 57 and bought my first guitar off Pete when I was 12 when he was at Ringway Music. Later he went to Yardley's, Wasp, and Woodroffes where I had the pleasure of working with him in the shop for nine years until it closed in 1983. From there, Pete opened his own shop called Muzos. Apart from being a great musical instrument salesman, he was an even better guitarist. I can honestly say that apart from Albert Lee, who was also Pete's hero, he was the best and most versatile guitarist I have ever seen. I've played with some of the best including Joe Brown so can say it without fear of contradiction. Musically and personally, Pete had a lot of bad luck in his lifetime. He turned down a place in The Move and ELO - I think Jeff Lynne almost pleaded with him to join. A lot of famous people owe a lot to Pete Oliver and I hope they will take a minute to reflect on how he helped them and wish him well on his last gig.
Will Hammond (of The Uglys): Pete Oliver was a gifted guitarist. A lot of people will probably remember him as one of the staff at Ringway Music or later on, the owner of his own store 'Wasp' which was opposite the Locarno. He was a great force in Birmingham music and encouraged every young guitarist that entered the place. I certainly spent some happy hours in his company swapping riffs or just playing together when the shop was quiet. I know that I, amongst many guitarists of that period will remember him with great affection.
My sincere condolence goes out to Pete Oliver's family and friends.
If you have any good stories or anecdotes about Pete Oliver that you would like to share, his son Rob would love to hear from you. Please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org