The History & The Players
From humble beginnings back around the turn of the century, (thats 2000, not 1900 !!!), Gunrunner have, via a series of natural events, evolved into today’s denim-clad beast, a tight, no-nonsense classic rock covers band that are well-versed in customer care and satisfaction.
This Chelmsford, Essex based 6-piece play genres across the spectrum from blues to hard rock, pop to prog rock, punk and beyond. The band call it their “Classic Rock Jukebox”, an eclectic and well thought-out selection of both anthems and obscure musical gems, all designed to transport the audience back to their younger, formative days, awakening memories of great bands and great songs which are imprinted on their musical souls.
Founded by current rhythm guitarist Spencer Pratten over 23 years ago, the aim was to play great songs and play them well. Musicians have come and gone, but the Gunrunner ethos has always stood firm. The early blues-based repertoire that leaned heavily on Cream, Freddie King, Howlin’Wolf and the like, gradually morphed into a more gutsy, rocky base, and in came legendary tracks from Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Thin Lizzy, The Doors, Whitesnake, Journey, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Queen, Small Faces, Bon Jovi, Bowie, Van Halen Saxon and Judas Priest.
If Classic Rock is your thing, then boy have you come to the right place !!
Here's some info about the Boys wot makes the Noise !!
Rhythm guitarist, backing vocals and the remaining founder member. Guitar lessons in the early 1970s led to a life-long love affair with the old six string, though semi-pro football was always first choice until playing, managing and coaching (and a catalogue of injuries) gave way to the lure of the Gibson SG. Spencer founded Gunrunner in late1999 with old school mates and after the usual transitions every band goes through, we now have the present line up.
His musical influences are wide and varied. Brought up during the 60s and 70s, he was influenced by albums like Led Zep II, Deep Purple In Rock, Paranoid and Split. Nights spent at The Hammersmith Odeon or Rainbow Theatre watching legends like Sabbath, Purple, Uriah Heep, Groundhogs, Montrose, Doobie Brothers, Kansas, Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, Steely Dan, Foreigner, Boston, Bad Company and Motorhead live long in the memory. Gear includes his beloved '84 Gibson walnut SG, and the din comes from a Marshall Vintage 40W all valve Combo.
Spencer is eternally grateful to The Rolling Stones for making it perfectly acceptable for a greying person of pensionable age to prance about various pubs and clubs wielding an electric guitar and dressing like he did in 1972. ( with a slightly larger waistband !!).
Barry started playing drums at the ripe old age of 15, and with three like-minded friends, put together his first band. After about four years together, he got an offer playing full time with a rock and roll band, which he stayed with for all of 18 months. In Barry's own words
"loads of laughs, but not the most challenging work for an ambitious drummer."
From there on he was playing mostly in blues bands, and along with his bass player, performed together for 15 years. Later, Barry ended-up in a three piece band with a ZZ Top feel, but the usual call of family commitments led him to retire from performing. However, the lure of the stage proved irresistible, and Baz decided to get back in the saddle (well, drum seat actually), by joining a local Maldon band playing their own blues tracks.
Eventually, he decided that his heart belonged to classic rock and that is when he found Gunrunner. His audition was damn good and the rest is history. Barry plays a six piece Sonor kit in natural birch with DW hardware and a mix of Zildjian and Paiste cymbals.
Vince is the type of guy every band needs...brilliant on the technical side and no mean keyboard player. Vince spent some time at the legendary Marquee Studios, Wardour Street with world-renowned producer Phil Harding (The Clash, Depeche Mode and Erasure to name a few) where Vince honed his craft.
Live Gunrunner shows feature Vince nailing it whether it be the growling Deep Purple Hammond B3, The Stranglers punk synth, The Doors electric piano or the opening notes to classics like Don't Stop Believing and Jump. Vince is also responsible for the PA system, lights, smoke machines and video effects.
If its gonna be in the set, then its gonna be done properly as Vince would say. More of a prog-rocker than Spencer or Baz, Vince's great heroes are Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman.
Paul Dennis has played in bands since the tender age of 16 but the zenith of his career prior to joining Gunrunner was a progressive rock band called Trilogy, formed in 1981 and lasting for 5 years. Highlights from this time would be a nationwide tour with fellow prog rock rockers Pallas and Solstice, regular stints at the Marquee Club, a Radio 1 session on the legendary Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance, playing at Stonehenge Music Festival, various recordings at EMI and Phonogram, with a track being included on the EMI prog rock compilation album Fire in Harmony.
Pauls main influences are Rush, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Max Webster . Since his Prog Rock days, he has became increasingly fond of the blues, although, as he freely admits, he misses playing in his favourite time signature of 7/4. Paul says he will never be someone who copies other guitarists note for note, but we are sure you’ll enjoy his slant on things when you come to hear the band as this technically gifted guitarist is capable of great lead work.
Although a lifelong Gibson player, (he owns a Twin Necked Gibson SG in the Jimmy Page mould), in recent years he has moved on to a PRS and uses a Custom 24 and Custom DGT model as his main guitars, along with a Line 6 Firehawk 1500 with an FBV3 Pedalboard.
Originally from Athens, Greece, AL-X is an accomplished singer, songwriter and author. Since 1992, he has performed over 3000 live hours with original, tribute and cover bands across Europe. He has fronted numerous original bands including: Silver Bullets, Spitfire, Power Crew, Acolyte, Fortress Under Siege and of course Hannibal which was his personal project. AL-X relocated to the UK in 2011 with his family.
Throughout his illustrious career, AL-X has shared the stage with international artists such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Joe Cocker, Dokken, Saxon, Dr. Feelgood, Scorpions, Wasp, Nightwish, Nevermore, Orange Goblin, Annihilator, Accept and in 2012 had a European Tour with Tarja (ex-Nightwish) performing with his band Hannibal. He has recorded 6 studio albums as a singer.
Power Crew - The Sign of Rage, 1995
Hannibal – This Is U , 2006
Acolyte – Oceans Of Blood, 2007
Spitfire – Die Fighting , 2009
Hannibal – Cyberia , 2012
Fortress Under Siege – Phoenix Rising 2014
AL-X has fronted UK cover bands Saxonized, Black Dog and most recently, Tribe. AL-X also published his first book, “End of Time” in 2001. In addition to joining Gunrunner as their full-time lead singer, AL-X is also collaborating with UK and Greek musicians for his new original project. AL-X is a powerful, emotional vocalist with fantastic range and a great stage presence. Gunrunner are excited and honoured to have him out in front.
Chris was born to play the bass. From wherever was home, be it Essex, Berkshire or Oxfordshire, covers bands were his thing, and boy has he played in a few starting out in 1969, a truly golden period in rock and blues music.
I969 - PowerHouse
1971 - Grid Iron
1973 - Mustard
1976 - Candy
1986 - Single Malt
2000 - Bloozers
2004 - Something For The Weekend
2006 - FourTuned
2008 - Riff Raff
2012 - Andy Robinson Band
2013 - Midnight Ramblers/Mod Squad
2014 - TimeLine
2015 - Bubba Gee
2017 - 33rpm
His career has covered the spectrum from Rock to Blues, from Pop to Acoustic Folk and Glam, though he freely admits that his first love is Classic Rock, the genre that Gunrunner are welded to, and he feels that this will be a match made in heaven.
Like all of us, Chris has his heroes and inspirations, and his bass guitarist of choice has always been the legendary Who bass man John Entwistle, but special mentions also go to Tiran Porter (Doobie Brothers), Rocco Prestia (Tower Of Power), Roger Glover (Deep Purple) and Mark Clarke (Colosseum).