Smooth jazz guitarist Peter White's lyrical lines and musical inventiveness are a joy to listen to. The affable Englishman's charm and playfulness come through in his music, giving his style of smooth jazz a liveliness that others in the genre lack.Born September 20, 1954, to an English father and a French mother in Luton, a town north of London, England, White and his family moved soon after his birth to nearby Letchworth. His brother Danny was born a few years later. As a child, White loved sports, hiking, and tree climbing, but music was most special to him. His father encouraged him to learn many musical instruments -- recorder, clarinet, cornet, trombone, violin, harmonica, piano -- but the one instrument his dad couldn't help him with was the guitar; White was on his own. He learned to play simple chords by experimenting and listening with one ear glued to the radio. Like a lot of musicians, White was heavily influenced by the Beatles and the guitar-driven sound of the beat groups of the '60s. Around age 12, White would go over to schoolmate David Visick's house and listen to his large record collection. His favorites were Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix. He bought his very first LP from Visick, the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.Year of the Cat
In his early teens, he acquired his first electric guitar and amplifier, which survived just long enough to be burned in a fire. Forced to go acoustic, White developed a love of acoustic music. After leaving school at 18, White worked for a few months in a soup-canning factory before getting his first musical break, a summer engagement at a South of England holiday resort. When summer ended, he went back to Letchworth, having whet his appetite for more musical adventures. Traveling to London, the guitarist ended up joining a group that was managed by Miles Copeland (Sting, R.E.M., IRS Records). Copeland also managed Al Stewart, so when Stewart's backup band disbanded, White got an audition call to back Stewart on keyboards. Brushing up on his finger dexterity, White learned a few of Stewart's songs, and soon the 20-year-old musician was touring England and the U.S. In the summer of 1975, Stewart asked White to play keyboards and acoustic guitar on his Year of the Cat album (Arista, 1976). Their collaboration lasted almost 20 years, with White co-writing "Time Passages" (number seven pop, number one adult contemporary, fall 1978) and co-producing Famous Last Words (Mesa/Rhino, 1993).
White can also be heard on the concert CD Basia on Broadway and on releases by Richard Elliot, Warren Hill, Craig Chaquico, Rick Braun, Marc Antoine, Kirk Whalum, and Everette Harp. White and the aforementioned musicians periodically do a concert tour, An Evening of Guitars, Saxes and More, with each artist showcasing their own music as well as collaborating with others on their songs. His solo work continued throughout the '90s with White releasing a slew of records: Caravan of Dreams (1996), Songs of the Season (1997), and Perfect Moment (1998). By Candlelight: Collection, Vol. 2 was issued two years later. In 2001 Glow came out, followed by Confidential in 2004. White then decided to revisit some of his favorite songs from the '60s, '70s, and '80s in his 2006 release Playin' Favourites. The low-key Good Day followed in 2009. In 2012, White delivered the studio album Here We Go, featuring guest appearances by such artists as David Sanborn, Andrew Neu, and Kirk Whalum. In 2014, White released his 14th studio album, the all-original Smile
--- Ed Hogan