This is my life

MAL autobiography

I was born in Welsh nursing home in place called Llanfrechfa, under the Zodiac sign Pisces on the 27th. of February,1944 (my mother Elizabeth's 21st birthday.)
Dad, (Arthur John Couling,) had met mum in Rogerstone, Newport Mon. where she lived with her family, and where he was working with his brother Harold as bricklayers, on a firm called "Hinken & Frewin."
Mum and dad got married on the 16th. of november 1942, just in time, as 2 days later he was called up, and had to join the Army, and although he was in the Home Guards, he had to leave home as he was posted in another part of England.
When I was born he was away stationed in Birminham, but got leave the next day to get to Llanfrechfa, to see how Mum and I were getting along.
I was about three years old,when we all moved from S.Wales and settled down in Wolvercote, Oxford, where dad had bought a house, near where his family lived.
I have two sisters, Carol Ann, who's 3 years younger,and was also born in Wales, and Diane, 4 years younger than me, she was born in Wolvercote, where we all grew up and went to school.
They were hard times, and to make ends meet, everyone had to work, mum in a cake factory, and dad as a builder,and I did paper rounds before and after school and weekends too.
At school I was a bit of a dreamer and did'nt like studying. So I obviously did'nt pass my eleven plus exam, to have a better education.(as you can see by the mistakes I'm making, writing this biog.)
At 15 on leaving school, I got a job as an apprentice electrician on the. Southern Electrisity Board, earning "two pounds twelwe and six" a week. (Wow !!!)

The Meteors (in photo R. Pete Goodwin rhythm guitar- Mal Ryder singer- Larry Reddington,drums, Jimmy O'donald lead guitar,-Malcom West bass)



I started going out in the evenings dancing, (to meet the girls), and made friends with a group of semi- professional musicians, The Meteors. One day at a wedding where they where playing, I asked if I could sing a song with them. I chose the Gene Vincent song "Say Mama". but they played a joke on me (I think...) giving me the wrong key, (what a disaster) but we were all a bit drunk so nobody really noticed, anyway, even so, there must have been something that impressed them about me, as they asked me to come to a rehearsal. It went ok, and I joined the group, just semi pro. playing around Oxford area. I gained experience, and a good reputation, then one day the best Oxford group, The Spirits, (ex. Beatniks) asked me to join them, as their singer Pete Cox, had been called up. I did'nt think twice, I left the Meteors, and soon after left my job on the S.E.B., where I had already be sacked anyway as an apprentice, for non attending night school (I was always out singing), but they'd been kind enough to keep me on as a labourer, digging 6 foot holes for electric cable poles (only good thing was my wage went up to £10 a week) anyway leaving the job was a big relief, (although my dad wasn't at all happy).
After a while we moved up north to Doncaster with new managers Robin Aldrige, from Doncaster, and Martin Yale from Cleethorps, by this time I'd adopted the stage name "Mal Ryder". At first there were plenty of gigs in the working mens clubs, etc. and I even made four 45's from 1963 to 65, "Cry Baby" (B-side Take over), and "See the Funny Little Clown"(B-side Slow Down), both produced by Peter Sullivan, (Tom Jones's producer).
These two singles were on DECCA and Vocalion Pop labels, then I passed over to PYE Piccadilly and recorded another two singles, "Your Friend" a Marty Wild song - (B-side "Forget it"), then "Lonely Room" with (B-side "Tell Your Friend") a song I wrote. both produced by John Shroader.
These record contracts were signed thanks to our London manager David Stones, who also negotiated contracts for us in Germany, first in Wilhemshaven for a month, then the Storyville Club circuit in towns around the country, where sometimes we worked up to 6 hours a night from 4 o-clock in the afternoon till 4 o-clock in the morning , alternating with another great english band, "Johnny, Mike and The Shades".
On returning to England in 1965 we were so stressed, because of so many silly arguments, that the group unfortunatly broke up.
I went back to working with my dad as a builder, untill one day another local semi-professional group, "The Primitives", (who had also made a couple of unsuccessful records) called me to join them. I accepted on the conditions, that we made some changes in the band. Actually, we only kept the bass player, Jeffrey Farthing (Jay Roberts) (who died regretfully on the 21st. Sept. 95.) I called my old drummer from the Spirits, Mick Charleton, and guitarist, Robert Wakely, (Vode Chequer)but he had in the meantime got married, and was working as a floor layer,(what a waste of talent) and did'nt want to know, pity as he was the best I've ever heard, even Dave Sumner who took his place will confirm that, and Dave's up there with the best too. Dave Sumner (no relation to Sting) I'd met in Germany playing with Johnny Mike and The Shades.(they had broken up too .)
He took some persuading but in the end came along. New Primitives complete,!! once again left home and moved this time to Northampton, again new managers Cyd and Mayer Cipin (owners of a cinema where we rehearsed) and Les Jaffa. They rented us a house in Aroundle St., an area destined to be pulled down. We were almost the only ones left on the street: we had some great parties. !!!
We worked the usual Northern clubs, and we made a new single as "Mal and The Primitives" in 1965 called "Every minute of every day"(another flop) on PYE label.
In January 66 we left for a one month tour in Norway. It seemed as though they had'nt seen anything like us before, we felt like the Beatles. Back in England, after an audition for the italian club "The Piper", (that only we passed out of 30 groups taking part), we left England again in early spring 66 first stop Montpellier, south France for two months, then into the mountains at Chamonix for a month, passing first for a one off show in Spain. Then in the summer the Piper Club, Viareggio, Italy.
We had to change our drummer before leaving England: Mick Charleton had family problems at the last minute, so we recruted a young drummer from Leicester. It was his first experience,( I think), with a pro. group, he was good, but it was hard for him at first to substitute Mick Charleton, but it did'nt take him long to prove his worth. His name was David Withers, or as we called him "Pick" (or Pique as he prefered) Withers, as he looked like a Dickens character from "Pickwick Papers". with the small glasses he used to wear, Just for the record, he stayed a few years with me in Italy and played on all my first records with The Primitives. I lost touch with him when he went back to England in 69, and surprised to see him turn up again in the late 70's playing in a new band called "The Dire Straits". (nice one Pique !!!).
The drummer that took his place was Scotish, Robby McIntosh, who I'd met over here in Italy while playing with Brian Auger, he went on to join the Scotish group "The Average White band" after leaving The Primitives (I was sad to hear he died some years later).
 I was doing very well in Italy by this time, that it was pointless going back to England, as I had nothing going for me there, and I was making one hit after another here in Italy,at first with The Primitives cover versions of a "Young Rascal's" song called "I ain't gonna eat out my heart any more" in Italian "Yeeeah", with B side "L'ombra di nessuno" a 4 Tops song "Standing in the shadow of love", followed by "L'incidente" ("Soul finger" with words) on B side "Johnny no", ("Thunder and Lightining") followed by an LP "Blow up".
Success was growing every day, so much so that every song got in the charts, most to N° 1. and selling a million copies, like the my version of the Bee Gees song "I've got a message to you", in italian "Pensiero d'amore", after which I made a musical film, one of four I made in my career as an actor.

"Pensiero D'Amore" with Silvia Dionisio

I've taken part in four international Sanremo festivals, and all the top Italian TV shows, photo's on the covers of all top magazines, scandals in the papers of my supposedly flirts, there were paperazzi everywhere, my private life was non-existent, my show's, full houses, and I was getting mobbed everywhere I went. I drove fast sports cars, well, you name it I did it !!!!!

I was a n°1 star in Italy at the end of the Sixties and beginning of the Seventies. and Being accepted as an italian artist I've travelled the world as such, touring Australia, South America, U.S.A., Canada, South Africa, Spain, Greece, Iran and Japan many times. And I've recorded my songs in many different languages.
I sang in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, Madison Square Garden in New York, in Monte Carlo, just to mention a few and represented Italy in the Japanese Song Festival in Tokio with a song I wrote, and won the "best performer award".

At one stage I tried to make it back in England, with a record, using part of my real name "Paul Bradley" for the "Baby Records". We recorded it in London's PYE Studio. All songs where in English. This LP came out in 1980 called "Shilouette" from which was taken some singles - "I'll never be the one" and "Let it be love" which got into the charts in Italy and in many other countries, (but not England.)!!!

For three years or so I've played the part of "Teen Angel" in the italian theatre production of the musical "Grease".

Grease: "Teen Angel"

Today I'm still making records, and doing many shows and TVs appearances, (but not getting mobbed like before), I still have a big following, who have been faithful over the years, but the most important things in my life started on the 22 july 1998: my girl friend Renata gave birth to our son, Kevin Paul, and then three years later 12th. Nov. 2001. our little girl Karen Art. Art, after my dad "Arthur", who died just four days before she was born.

Renata and Kevin

Karen Art and me...