"Encounters With a kilted maniac - I mean bass player!" TWR catches up for a quick chat with Steve Hackett's latest bass player, Nick Beggs. Photographs by Alan Hewitt and Roger Salem.
I threatened Nick with a grilling during the recent Italian tour (I won't repeat what he threatened me with in return but the photo gives a good idea!) but sadly that never materialised due to other demands on both mine and Nick's time. So instead, I e-mailed Nick some questions and here are the responses which he kindly gave to me....
“I told you - no tongues!”
TWR: What were your earliest musical influences?
NB: I always loved Progressive music. All the bands of that era excited me. I know exactly where I was when I first heard Close To The Edge and it blew my mind. Genesis were the same. I played Seconds Out until it crackled. A Trick Of The Tail was also a big favourite of mine.
TWR: Your original career was as a Graphic Designer, wasn't it?
NB: Yes, I trained as an illustrator.
TWR: When did you decide to put that aside and take up a musical career?
NB: When my mother died I was seventeen and was left in charge of my 15 year old sister. I decided at that point that I was going to love my work and I still do! I have the best job in the world. More recently I was lucky enough to tour with John Paul Jones as part of his trio during the late '90's and early 2001. I actually love working with my heroes because I am still a fan of their music to the point of obsession.
TWR: The first band I heard you with were, of course, Kajagoogoo. Did you play with any other bands/artists prior to that?
NB: Yes, I had quite a few embryonic projects before getting a record deal with The Goo, no one of note though.
TWR: What did you do after the demise of Kajagoogoo?
NB: I sessioned for a while. Did some music study and then formed Ellis, Beggs and Howard.
TWR: Who else have you worked with before taking up the cudgels with Steve?
NB: Steve Howe, John Paul Jones; ABC, Cliff Richard, Belinda Carlisle; Howard Jones; Midge Ure; Right Said Fred; Seal and China Crisis.
TWR: From the technical side of things, tell us a bit about your bass rig and set up for the tech heads among our readers...
NB: I use the new TC Electronic Rebel Head RH450 and speaker system. I think it is the best rig on the market right now and will revolutionise bass back-line.
TWR: How did you become involved with Steve and were you already a fan of his music?
NB: Yes, I was a fan of his solo work from the get go. But we met at an EMI conference back in 1998 when I was playing for Belinda Carlisle. He was presenting his new remastered back catalogue and spoke to me about my sound which he really liked. We hooked up for tea and said we should work together at some point. Eleven years later, here we are!
TWR: You said to me during one of our conversations that you physically transcribed all of the bass parts for the songs at the recent gigs. Is this something that you always do in preparation for a tour?
NB: Yes. I simply refuse to be the guy who doesn't know what he's supposed to be playing. Also I'm the new boy in the Steve Hackett band and they are all so amazing. It was my intention to know everything I needed to know before I set foot in the rehearsal room so I worked on it all over two months prior to that. I wanted to hit the ground running and not hold up proceedings. So, I wrote out every tune and then consigned them to memory.
TWR: You will be working with Kim Wilde again shortly, is there anyone else you are going to be working with and who would you like to work with if the opportunity arose?
NB: This year so far I am in five bands; Kim Wilde, Kajagoogoo; Howard Jones, Nick Hayward and Steve Hackett. I also have other projects on the go with Mick Karn and Ricki Wilde plus a possible session with Trilok Gurtu. As far as a wish list is concerned, I have always wanted to work with Tony Levin, Brian Eno and Trevor Horn.
There you go, as you can see Nick is an incredibly busy boy and as anyone who has seen him play can tell you, he is also an incredibly talented one! Thanks for putting this together for TWR, Nick - see you on the road again in a few months' time!