John – Lead Vocals
Hi, John (aka Wailing Johnny) here. I joined the Burns Unit in 2004 as their vocalist. I have been singing all my life, literally since I could talk, and will turn my hand (or vocal chords) to anything from Classical to Rock. These days it’s mainly Blues/Rock with the band or when I’m not singing with the Burns Unit I can be found singing a cappella folk or accompanying myself on the guitar or bodhran. It took me a while to get used to not singing with my finger in my ear but now I just love wailing to a whole load a bluesy rocky numbers. I’m never happier than when the adrenaline kicks in and we’re performing live on stage to an appreciative audience.
Alun – Lead Guitar
After Neil, ( the bass player) I guess I’m “the new kid on the block” in The Burns Unit but, clearly, “kid” is a misnomer and as for new … I’ve now been in the band for a very long time indeed! I don’t actually remember when I joined but, for some reason, I do remember which guitars I took along to the audition: a 25/50 Anniversary Les Paul and a canary yellow Les Paul Catalina. Understated – not!
I started playing guitar in the early ‘70s and played my first gig in ’73 – I say gig, but we could only play one song from start to finish (Beautiful Sunday by Daniel Boone … why on earth … I have no idea!!) – not the most auspicious entry into the world of rock ‘n’ roll. By the late ‘70s I’d done some recording and was in a band at university that supported quite a few bands on UK tours, including the Welsh band Sassafras, who I’d been a fan of for many years. Really nice guys … I remember a few free pints locked-in together behind the bar after the gig. No comment about some members of the band that later found fame as Marillion though!
Duleep – Rhythm Guitar
I joined a group of work-friends to practice a few rock numbers, just to provide some musical entertainment at a lunch time Christmas event at my work place. At that time I had not really played guitar seriously, only strummed a few chords on my own. The group of us called ourselves the ‘Burns Unit’, after Patrick Burns.
With Patrick being keen on Blues, and with his encouragement I managed to learn and play rhythm guitar on a few blues and rock songs that we played that Christmas event.
Having enjoyed the practicing and our first performance, I took it a little more seriously (i.e. more practice, and remembering the chords!), and have stayed with the group to its current form. I like 60’s – 70’s rock music, and am a big a fan of ‘Dire Straits’. I also like ‘new-age’ guitar music and flamenco.
For my day job, I try my hand looking at doing ‘Physics-type’ things!
Neil – Bass Guitar
I joined the Burns Unit in October 2017 as the bass guitarist, having never played bass before! I had a lot to learn in preparation for my first gig with them in December of the same year.
I like rock music from the 60s and 70s and am a big fan of The Who, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and basically any bands that make a loud noise.
I have been at the University of Southampton since 1985 and am a perpetual student, aka Professor in the School of Electronics and Computer Science, holding a Chair in Intelligent Sensor Systems.
Glenn – Drums
I started playing drums so many years ago that I don’t want to admit to anything!
In those days I played timpani believe it or not, and just occasionally the drum kit. I didn’t have a kit of my own, so it was all very amateur, sporadic, “seat of the pants stuff” – come to think of it, I still play like that!
I taught myself to play, but did have the advantage of very musical parents and upbringing. My Mum was a singer, and Dad was a semi-professional concert/classical pianist (although he did also play jazz, pop, and something called “boogie”).
I was a founder member of the Burns Unit, and we held the early jam sessions in our dining room. This occurred when Maureen suggested we buy a drum kit and take things a bit seriously. This was after she heard me play for the first time (for her), and after about 25 years break for me, accompanying a famous singer, Alf Kogan (who was Alma Kogan’s elder brother). This was at Alf’s house one evening and I played on his kit. Maureen’s comment driving home that evening was “That was good – I didn’t know you could REALLY PLAY!!”.