Andy Revell (born Andrew David Revell, on 21 February 1958) grew up in Bournemouth and started playing guitar after what he describes as a “road to Damascus moment”.
“As a kid I was mad on sport,” comments Rev today, “but I suffered a knee injury through playing too much footie while still growing. I had to give up sport altogether and was quite depressed at the time. I was looking for something else to do to occupy me. I started going to see concerts at a very early age—partly through the influence of my brother who was 5 years older and very into music. He came back from the Bath Jazz and Blues Festival of 1970 and kept going on about a band he’d seen called Led Zeppelin. I got a chance to see them play in December 1971 at the age of 13. They played in the Royal Ballrooms in my home town of Bournemouth. It was an Edwardian music venue that held around 1,000 people I’d guess. Led Zep played for three and a half hours. I was absolutely transfixed by every moment from their opening with Immigrant Song right through the three encores. A highlight for me was Jimmy Page’s extended guitar solo spot in Dazed and Confused. The concert was like a religious experience for the 13-year-old me. I wanted to be Robert Plant but, quickly realising I had no singing voice; lead guitar was the only other way to go! I persuaded my parents to buy me a black Shaftesbury Les Paul copy and a little amp…”
Andy’s first band was Joe Soap and the Bubbles formed in Bournemouth in 1973. In 1974, the band changed its name to Abraxas.
“We played covers, rock standards”, Rev remembers, “Stones, Free but no Zep—I was too much of a devotee and considered it sacrilege to try to copy them! We did a few gigs in the Bournemouth area. We changed our name to Abraxas when we started to take it a little more seriously. It was the same style of music and a few more gigs. I remember playing Born to be Wild, Brown Sugar, some Uriah Heep…”
Rev started his time as a student at Reading University in 1976.
“When I arrived at Reading I initially felt totally adrift,” he recalls today. “For reasons best known to themselves, the university had allocated me to a section of the hall entirely populated by third-year law students. New students or ‘freshers’ as they are known, arrive a week before the older students so I was on my own for a week in a section designed for nine students. I found it very difficult to meet other freshers—I had just returned from a summer spent in California: I was very tanned, had hair halfway down my back and a moustache and beard. I looked about 30 and most people thought I was a postgrad and understandably gave me a very wide berth. Then a second year called Patrick Candler came over one night when I was sitting alone at dinner and invited me to join him and his friends. Rick Battersby and Geoff Mann were in the same hall and were two of the first people he introduced me to. I met Brian Devoil soon afterwards. It was all downhill from there really!”
Andy Revell performed 315 gigs with Twelfth Night between February 1978 and October 1987 (missing just one, through illness, in April 1981). Rev did a couple of sessions but stopped playing the guitar seriously in 1988.
“I probably did 6-8 sessions over a 6 month period,” says Rev today, “and the only one I can remember was for Annabella Lwin, formerly of Bow Wow Wow, just putting down some song demos.”
After writing-up his PhD and becoming Dr. Andrew Revell, he went to work in the AIDS field for the Wellcome Foundation. He has served at board level for two medical communications groups and founded RDI – a non-profit organisation developing artificial intelligence to optimise treatment decision-making in HIV/AIDS – in 2002. He is also the founder and director of Household Design. Andy gained an MSc in Occupational Psychology from Birkbeck College, University of London in 2006.