Steve Cooke: The Musician of Many Talents Takes Center Stage!

Steve Cooke: The Musician’s Musician

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He is such a stunning presence on stage artistically and physically, what with his moving melodies and long curly blonde hair, that you simply cannot take your ears or your eyes off of him when he performs, and you enter a world of audial and visual delight. Indeed, singer, songwriter, composer, and guitarist Steve Cooke creates a musical aura so electrifying one is simply mesmerized!

A musician on the global stage, Cooke made a name for himself in touring musical theatrical productions and was also well known for his world wide well-attended solo performances and work with a multitude of bands from different genres.

He is also one of the few performers who has mastered the double neck guitar, which has become an integral part of his current work. Driven by his own enthusiasms to make music and fueled by the loving support of his wife Sandra, he is continually creating new songs and evolving artful approaches to old songs, and his ongoing zest for performance of these songs is evident in his shows, which both move and captivate the audience.

The cognoscenti who recognize true talent should be on the lookout for Steve Cooke’s new single, “That’s the Way,” which will be released this month.

Below, Cooke talks about the rhythms of both his music and his life in this exclusive interview with FVM Global Magazine.

You grew up in New Zealand, but have you also lived around the world? 

Yes, but I’m also a British and American citizen, so I’ve been able to live in many different territories. I garnered a lead role in the European tour of the Broadway musical HAIR. I was very grateful to experience Europe from the stage and I later went back and lived in Germany.

You play a double- neck guitar with such agility, was it difficult to learn? 

Yes, it was generally an instrument used for 2 to 3 songs during a 2 1/2-hour performance. I managed to have a major breakthrough and can now play seven songs. Love the guitar. It is indeed special.

I now play it like an 18-string guitar with open tunings. It was a real breakthrough.

Do you now play the double-neck exclusively? 

Yes, I have an hour long show featuring the double-neck with a 15 minute encore. Ideally, I would have another doubleneck as well due to all the alternative and open tunings.

Tell us about your early life, how you became interested in music, and how your career developed.

I began singing in church choirs. I was originally a first solo soprano, and I got my first break at a local radio station singing on Sundays for people who couldn’t make it to church. 

I continued in musical theater, where I was very fortunate to have a run doing musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell and the NY Broadway musical Hair to name a few.

What prompted you to leave New Zealand and what were your musical experiences in other countries you have lived in? 

I had the luxury to tour New Zealand many times. First, as a teenager with Billy TK Senior and his band Powerhouse. In the following years I did the DB tours with Hello Sailor and the Pink Flamingos and the Narks. So, you pretty much exhaust all of the country and a small population. I didn’t want to go to Australia again, because I had already been there with my father, when he was a member of a famous Australian band called Max Merritt and the Meteors, so I moved to London where I had a lot of success with musical theater and my own band Endever, plus touring Europe with my own music, playing festivals combined with radio airplay.

I just had some good airplay last year in Germany again with my song “Going to California”.

When did you start writing your own songs and how did that develop?

I started with poetry when I was very young. And then that went into lyrics and song. I had my first record contract with EMI in Wellington New Zealand when I was 19. My first release was an EP of four songs. Soon after that, I went to develop more songs when I arrived in London, meeting and working with incredible artists and songwriters.

Who has influenced you the most musically, either as a mentor or performer? 

Initially, my father. He was a great musician and singer. He had a record contract with Phillips back in the day and performed and recorded with the New Zealand Symphony orchestra, and later worked in Australia as a backing band for ABC Australian broadcast live TV shows. I grew up with a huge record collection ranging from Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley and the Beatles to Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.

How difficult was it to learn how to play the double-neck guitar and why and how do you use that instrument in your performances? 

The guitar is made by Ovation. They gifted it to me during Covid under the terms that I play it!! An instrument like this can generally end up in the closet, because it’s heavy and difficult to play. 

So, I dedicated myself to learning ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on it, and other songs that Jimmy Page mastered with the same instrument. 

How did you meet your wife and what role does she play in your career?

I met my wife while touring Germany. My European manager at the time showed me a Cosmopolitan magazine where she had a photo and article written about her as one of Germany’s highest female achievers under 26. She was in advertising and had some amazing accolades. She is an incredible supporter. Her role is injecting that German tenacity and organization into the mission. She also helps a lot with marketing and PR. I do have a US manager and an agent, but it’s great to have a life partner who is also part of your career and vision.

What is your musical life like today?

At the moment I’m very busy finishing five Led Zeppelin songs, and two albums with a celebrity guitarist. A lot more doors have opened since I did a commercial this year for Sennheiser with Dee Snider from Twisted Sister.

What are your future plans in music?

I am putting together an all-star band to tour and support the two albums we are producing, as well as my own personal album. I have a new single coming out in January 2024 called “That’s the Way”.

What drives you to continue your music career and what is your philosophical outlook which sustains you?

I believe I’m in the business of love. And what drives me is that the world needs love, especially right now when we find ourselves in wars and hate! 

We need musicians to be more famous and influential than politicians. 

As George Harrison and the Beatles said, “All we are asking, is give peace a chance” and “Love is all you need”.

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