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Progressive Rock Interviews

Darryl Way

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Darryl Way from 2013

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music? And, I realize you’ve had a long career, so feel free to just hit some of the highlights.

 Best to give you a version of my biog, I think:


At age sixteen won a scholarship to Dartington College of Arts to study violin. At eighteen turned down a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music to study under Antonio Brosa at the Royal College of Music. Brosa himself was a pupil of Sarasate, the 19th century virtuoso violinist and composer. After leaving college he teamed up with Francis Monkman, a prize-winning harpsichordist and organist from the Royal Academy of Music to form the rock band, Curved Air. Whilst in Curved Air, he wrote the music for the top four hit, "Back Street Luv" and was a major contributor to the writing of three top twenty albums. 


With Curved Air he toured extensively, performing in practically every major venue, in every major city in both America and Europe. Before becoming headliners themselves, Curved Air toured with Black Sabbath in the UK and in the USA, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull and Emerson Lake and Palmer. They also appeared on the same bill as The Doors, Steppenwolf, B.B. King, Johnny Winter, and Dr John. 


After leaving Curved Air he released several solo albums in both "rock,” and "classical" genres. Among these, was a "Concerto for Electric Violin" which was premiered on the South Bank Show with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and himself as soloist. He also performed this concerto live on German television with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and in England with the Northern Sinfonia. 


His collaborations include setting the music to two songs by Sir Tim Rice, writing three songs with the renowned playwright and actor, Steven Berkoff and orchestrating and conducting ten of Sting's songs, for an album recorded by the L.S.O. entitled Fortress.  

Further work with Sting included arranging two of his pieces for the Imax film and album of the same name, The Living Sea and acting as his musical director for a tour of Holland and Belgium. He has also worked with Gary Brooker (Procol Harum) orchestrating and conducting "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Salty Dog,” once again for the L.S.O. 

In classical genres he has orchestrated Stewart Copeland's ballet King Lear, for the San Francisco Ballet and Stewart's opera The Holy Blood and Crescent Moon, premiered by the Cleveland Opera, in the United States.


In 1996 Darryl's own opera The Master and Margarita was premiered at The Place Theatre in the West End of London.


Alongside these projects Darryl has also worked as a film and television composer, writing scores for Roger Corman's The Finishing Touch, Rage and Honour I and Rage and Honour II

Television work includes a thirteen part series for ITV called Worlds Beyond, a seven part drama for BBC 2, called Shallom Salaam, the BBC documentary, Macdonald and a pan-European Xmas extravaganza for the Disney Co.


His work in advertising includes the music written for Jaguar, Lindt Chocolate, Whiskas and Phillips Whirlpool advertising campaigns.


As a violinist he has lead the London based Electric Symphony Orchestra for concerts at the Royal Festival Hall and lead and recorded with The Elektra Ensemble, performing classical and contemporary music. 


As a session musician he has performed solo violin on Nicolas Roeg's film Bad Timing, the Jethro Tull album, Heavy Horses, the Sky 2 album and the Marianne Faithfull single "Broken English". He has also played with the National Philharmonic Orchestra on film scores such as, Die Hard, Licensed to Kill and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Darryl also had the pleasure of performing with Eric Clapton on two occasions, for charity concerts.


Recent work includes being musical director for the soprano Emma Shapplin, for a series of televised UNHCR concerts at the Parthenon in Athens.


Recent compositions include a Symphonic Choral work entitled "Siren's Rock,” premiered at the Plymouth Guildhall with the South West Sinfonietta, Opera South West, Naomi Harvey (WNO) soprano and Stephen Crook, tenor. 


Recent projects include writing and producing two albums and DVDs (in 5.1 Surround Sound) for a classical crossover project entitled Verisma. For this project he produced and directed four videos, which have been broadcast on Classic FM TV. He has also directed and produced a video for the EMI recording artist Keedie, a video for a solo project entitled Farandole and a corporate video featuring Sir Digby Jones, for Beacon South West, an arm of the SWRDA.


Finally, during his career, Darryl has created and been a major part of over twenty commercially released albums.


If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

Well, I reckon that I would have retired by now and be growing old disgracefully.

MSJ: What have been some of your favorite albums or best moments throughout your long career?

Obviously the whole Curved Air experience, working with Sting and working with Stephen Crook on the Verisma project. Recently I've also been working with my daughter Rosie on a couple of tracks, most notably “Fire with Fire.”


Are there still new musical horizons you are looking to reach?

Love to make some money.


Who would you see as your musical influences?

As a violinist: David Oistrakh. Rock wise, Spirit, King Crimson, Spooky Tooth, and Family. As a composer: Prokofiev, Bartok and Puccini.


What's ahead for you?

Who knows?


I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

Music that hopefully has an emotional effect on the listener and lifts their spirit.


Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?

Jerry Goodman.


Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?


In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

Not mad about it.


If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch-nemesis and why?

Too many to mention.

If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it?

Don Henley, Stevie Winwood, John Mclaughlin, Stewart Copeland.


If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Spirit, King Crimson, Spooky Tooth, and Mahavishnu Orchestra.

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

Only listen to music for research now.


What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

The Beach Boys.


Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

Certainly not. Well - I don't mind ABBA.


What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Something that involves Ozzy Osbourne that is not repeatable. Other than that, falling through a hole in the stage at a Wolf gig and smashing up my violin and only having my perspex violin as back up. Which wouldn't have been too bad but for the fact that the whole Wolf set was played using viola tuning (a fifth lower than a violin) and I didn't have any spare viola strings. Therefore I had to tune the violin strings down a fifth, which made the violin sound like a bee in a jam jar and also made it impossible to keep in tune. By the end of the gig there was only two people left in the hall. It wouldn't have been so bad, except for the fact that Miles Copeland had come especially to see us that night with a view to managing us. Needless to say he wasn't too impressed, but eventually he did end up managing me.


If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Mozart, Fellini and David Attenborough.

What would be on the menu?

Thai food.


Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

As an old hippy I must say “peace and love” mustn't I?

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at
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