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Walter Wray: brief biography

"Can a Catholic school choirboy from Portsmouth, England realize his dream to become a "rock-star poet?" Under all but the most extraordinary circumstances, No! So begins the story of Walter Wray.

Walter Wray was born on February 7, 1959 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. Melodic pop singer/songwriter Walter Wray began singing in local church choirs as a schoolboy. However, by the age of 16 he had mastered the guitar, and started writing songs with his first band, entitled Shitehot.

Lured from the altar by the likes of T. Rex, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Velvet Underground, Wray decided Heaven could wait while he raised a little Hell. Sheffield University, then a burgeoning scene of developing superstars including Def Leppard and the Human League, seemed an appropriate place to start. It was there that Wray taught himself the sax, ate magic mushrooms, drank Yorkshire Bitter, and formed a formidable 4 piece called The Junk. Reading music and English literature at Sheffield University, Wray continued writing until in 1986 he, and his band, Junk, signed to local label Native Records. Junk's debut album, Cuckooland, and accompanying single, "The World Doesn't Turn", were all that emerged from the deal, though the single did enter the UK indie charts. Their sophomore release seemed to create more waves inside the band than out; inspiring Wray to move on to a more productive, as well as lucrative stage of his career.

Barely in London a fortnight, in 1988 Wray was recruited to front KING SWAMP; a career building move which lasted two years, during which they signed to Virgin and toured extensively throughout the U.S. Both the band and the tours brought Wray critical raves, but leather and lights were never meant to be more than an exciting chapter in the Walter Wray story. It’s tough to search for your soul while hordes of screaming fans are trying to tear your pants off. After signing to Virgin Records and touring extensively The Swamp petered out, despite more positive press for Wray's songs.

So, Wray stripped down to a six string acoustic and hit the road solo, on a troubadorial, dues-paying, poet-scribing journey of self-discovery. It was during this time he came to realize that, "Writing songs is like panning your own excrement for gold, except song writing needs more paper." Opening for INXS, Jeff Healey, Gary Clarke, Julia Fordham and Jools Holland, Wray went on to deliver his debut album in October 1993. Co-produced with Sting guitarist Dominic Miller, "
Foxgloves & Steel Strings" drew fawning reviews from the critics. The first single taken from the album, "Heaven On Our Side", was inspired by the blue and gold mask of Tutankhamun. The second excerpt, "Can't Call It Love"/"A Hand To Hold", conversely took its subject matter from the black US doo wop singers of the 50s and 60s.

A poet was born, and the critics took notice; finding nuggets of genius in his "songs that hum and burn like fireflies on the rampage," (The Independent) delivered by, "a voice that grabs you by the guts and refuses to let go" (Making Music). Night after night of sold-out shows convinced the poet in Wray that this rock star better get his butt back in the studio if this dream of his was ever going to become a reality. Collaborating with former KING SWAMP bandmate Dominic Miller (who had since moved on to write, record and tour with Sting) Wray created Steel Strings. It's an impressive body of work at any point in an artist’s career, but even more so since it is his stunning debut."

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