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A Short Bio:
One of the things that made Caravan's late 1990s/early 2000s one of their best was the presence of the excellent lead guitarist Doug Boyle. In a band where guitar had always played a minor part, his addition really brought something new to the band's sound, and the version of "Nine Feet Underground" that was featured in Caravan's live set was sufficient evidence that Boyle was the perfect choice for the job.
Doug Boyle grew up in a period where a lot of exciting things were happening on the music scene. "In retrospect this was a golden era musically for young impressionable ears. The Beatles and Stones were happening and most of the records came into our house (with great, glowing electric guitars). My parents had met at music college and they also had Bartok, Stravinsky and Miles Davis records. I still enjoy all that music, but for me, the electric guitar has always been *it*!". Boyle began playing seriously at age 11, learning from various music books, and when his ear improved, taking things off records. "I pretty much locked myself away for the next few years, inspired at different times by players such as Hendrix, Blackmore, McLaughlin and Holdsworth".
After leaving school, Boyle formed and joined various bands for the next few years - "trying on different musical hats...". Eventually, he was offered the job of lead guitarist in ex-Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant's backing band. He appeared on the albums Now And Zen (1988) and "Manic Nirvana" (1990) - co-writing five songs on the latter - and did a lot of touring around the world from 1987 to 1992, including three lengthy North American tours (May-July 1988, October-December 1988 and May-November 1990). An experience which left Boyle with contrasted memories. "Robert respected the fact that I could play, but not that I was trying to find my own style. For my own part, I was pretty arrogant and uncompromising at the time, and didn't respect the fact that he was paying me good money to do what he felt was right!... Eventually, I was kicked out of the band". He nonetheless played on two tracks, and co-wrote two others, on Plant's 1993 album Fate Of Nations.
A couple of years freelancing followed - sessions, odd gigs etc. - including touring and recording with famed violin player Nigel Kennedy. "I had met Nigel through his girlfriend Jacquie Turner who used to go out with Roy Harper. This is an immensely satisfying gig for me, covering a huge range of music and utilising unusual groups of instruments (accordion, oboe, bassoon etc.) as well as combining improvisation with very arranged and complicated sections, somewhat in the 'Canterbury' style!". This collaboration was renewed in the Spring of 1998, when Boyle rejoined Kennedy's band for a European tour. Among his other activities were live gigs with all-female group Never The Bride, on whose eponymous debut album he played in 1995.
In September 1996, Doug Boyle joined Caravan to rehearse for their first tour in several years. Initially, that was as temporary "replacement" for missing member Geoffrey Richardson who was busy with other commitments. But everybody in the band was so happy with this addition (David Sinclair was reported as saying "how great it is to have a good guitarist at last!") that he has now become a full member. As to how Boyle was recruited, Pye Hastings had seen him play at a gig and, after chatting to him, realised that they had a great deal in common, in particular the fact that Boyle is a fan of Caravan's music, even though he is too young to have seen the band play live in its heyday.
"I can't remember when I first heard Caravan", says Boyle, "but I remember being impressed by the combination of whimsical song forms allied to long evocative instrumental sections, and truly inspired keyboard work. I think the strength of the music comes from its unique aural identity and a sens of wide open spaces coupled with intimacy. As with most 'Canterbury' music it seems to exist in a place away from the trends and machinations of the music industry - pure... I have been a fan ever since. My favourite albums are In The Land Of Grey And Pink and For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night".
But Boyle is not just a Caravan fan. He is a also a lover of the whole Canterbury scene. "I also love the music of Egg, Hatfield and National Health. Dave Stewart and Mont Campbell are hugely important musicians as far as I'm concerned, as well as Phil Miller, whom I play with sometimes. His compositions are as poignant as they are fiendish to learn and execute. A most enjoyable challenge. All these people remain an inspiration to me, and I feel really privileged to have been able to play with some of them. I should also not forget Henry Cow and Soft Machine. My feeling is that what unites these people is the intention to create music without the limitations and confines of labels like rock, jazz or classical. It exists purely for its own sake, under the umbrella of ART".
Having previously appeared on the live set Canterbury Comes To London and the second volume of 'classics rearranged', All Over You Too, on which his playing was prominently featured, Boyle made his proper album debut with Caravan in 2003, contributing his abundant talents to the Unauthorised Breakfast Item album. In addition to his Caravan membership, he has also guested on Phil Miller's album, Out Of The Blue, and joined a trio incarnation of In Cahoots for a couple of French gigs in June 2001, and was a major contributor to Dave Sinclair's 2003 solo album, Full Circle.
In October 2008, Boyle released his debut solo album The Third Rail, featuring appearances by Canterbury legends Jimmy Hastings, David Sinclair and (in his final recording session) Pip Pyle. More info on Doug's website.