David Gregory was born on September 21, 1952 and grew up in Purton, a small village a few miles from Swindon, Wiltshire. He has two brothers: Ian (later to find fame as Dukes Of Stratosphear drummer - E.I.E.I. Owen) born in 1954; and Bob in 1962. Their father - Roy - was a clerk at the railway works in Swindon and their mother - Margaret - stayed home and brought up the children.

As a child he took piano and cello lessons, yet, like so many young boys growing up in the early '60's, was soon hooked on another instrument - the guitar. In 1963 Dave discovered The Beatles. Nothing would be the same again. A small portion of Dave's quote on George Harrison - in the March 2002 issue of Guitar Player - says it all...

"Harrison's chord at the beginning of the movie A Hard Days Night was the sound of a giant door opening to a magical world. Seeing him with his immaculate hair, sharp suit with velvet collar, and a brand-new Rickenbacker -- that was everything I ever wanted."

He began playing an acoustic borrowed from a friend, soon forming a band with school-friends - Chris New on drums, Martin Woolford on guitar - Dave handled the bass duties. Shortly after, he bought his first "proper" guitar for the princely sum of 14 guineas - and along with Chris, Martin and school-friend Alan Shurey - played his first gig (as The Four Aces) in March of 1967, at the village youth club in Purton.


The Four Aces were short-lived, and Dave - inspired by an early exposure to Jimi Hendrix - in 1968 formed Target, a loose collection of like-minded friends. Target changed their name to Pink Warmth in 1968, around the same time that Dave first met another young guitar player, Andy "Rocky" Partridge, at St. Peter's Church youth club in the Penhill district of Swindon.

"We began to see familiar faces returning to those ramshackle evenings," Dave later said of their newest fan, "not least of which was a skinny little kid with a deathly white pallor, tasseled suede jacket and hair cut just like Peter Tork from The Monkees."

In 1969 Dave and Alan joined drummer Tony Climpson to form blues trio Catfish. The group's lineup was later augmented by singer Rod Sheppard and, after installing Dave's friend Terry Jackson as manager, they changed their name to Orange. After Orange fell apart Climson joined another local outfit, Stiff Beach, featuring the burgeoning talents of one "Rocky" Partridge.

After an enforced eighteen-month break from music due to poor health (Dave was diagnosed in 1970 as suffering from diabetes), he joined a semiprofessional country and western band - New Country Roads, in 1972. Two years later Dave was a part of a blues band - Alehouse; with guitarist Larry "Mole" Williams, bass player Tony Green, drummer Tony McCondach and singer Rod Goodway. The group recorded an unsuccessful demo - featuring two songs co-written by Dave: "Funky Junk" and "Magic Moon" - for EMI's progressive offshoot - Harvest - in 1975.

In the same year, Dave Cartner left The Helium Kidz. The group's leader, Andy Partridge, invited Dave to audition for the band and, although he joined them at a rehearsal at a school hall in the Rodbourne area of Swindon, nothing came of this.

In 1976 Dave got the offer to join prog-rockers - Profile - and relocated to the Forest of Dean, but after a change of name to Gogmagog and just five gigs he found himself back at his parent's house and was forced to take a job with the White Arrow parcels service. In his spare time he played with Dean Gabber and His Gaberdines, who released a cassette only album - The Ginsberg Tapes - in 1978.

It was while playing with the Gaberdines that Dave watched his old mate Andy Partridge's outfit - now renamed XTC - start to take off.

He would often bump into Andy and the two of them would trade guitar licks and reminisce about people they knew in the local band scene during the early 70's.

In January 1979, Andy telephoned Dave during the band's US tour. Keyboard player Barry Andrews had just quit and Andy wanted Dave to join in his place. Dave's first performance as part of XTC was at the BBC studios at Maida Vale on 8th February, and he "officially" became a member of the group on March 5.

The Dave Gregory years saw the band hit its highest commercial successes as well as its lowest troughs. Though hit singles such as "Making Plans For Nigel" and "Senses Working Overtime" should have catapulted them to international fame, Andy's breakdown on stage in France in 1982 and subsequent refusal to tour signaled a massive change in direction for the band.

At times, while the group was fighting with management and record companies over income, Dave - as the non-songwriting partner in the group - was often forced to seek work outside the band to supplement his income.

Over the years Dave became an in-demand session player, and has played with Marc Almond, Mark Owen, Blondie and Peter Gabriel amongst others.

Dave remained with XTC until an acrimonious split during the recording of Apple Venus Volume One in 1998. It seems that Dave was unhappy with the direction Andy's songs were taking and felt that he had little to contribute to them. Having been an integral part of XTC's sound over the years - his magical guitar and keyboard arrangements crucial to the band's development - he saw Andy's increased independence and skill in these areas as making his role within the group almost redundant.


Since leaving XTC Dave has made regular live appearances with (ex-Marillion) Steve Hogarth's H-Band and French singer-songwriter Louis Phillipe. He's launched his own web site (www.guitargonauts.com) and is currently working on his first solo album.

Note: Dave has been instrumental in the creation of this web space. He's answered my frequent questions and volunteered his services & information. He contributed, of his own volition, hundreds of dates - as well as details - to Optimism's Flames' list of all the XTC live gigs. (Well - he couldn't sit by quietly while I got it all wrong!) He's been ultra-approachable and nothing shy of incredibly giving. To get this much aid from anyone is worth mention - to get it from one of your musical heroes, damn! wesLONG

© Darryl W. Bullock and Optimism's Flames