Pick Withers

 

David ‘Pick’ Withers (born 4th April 1948 in Leicester, England) was the original drummer for the  world renowned band,   Dire Straits,  and played on their first four albums, which included hit singles such as ‘Sultans of Swing’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Private Investigations’.

 

He first played a drum in the Boy’s Brigade and was given a few rudimentary drum lessons by the band master, Barry Bond, who owned the local bicycle shop.  He became a professional musician at the age of 17, joining a band called The Berkeley Squares when they went to Germany.  After six months of touring Germany, the band returned to England, struggling to maintain their professional status, whence Pick jumped ship and joined a band called the Primitives, who went on to become  very successful in Italy.  In 1969, Pick returned to London where he stayed with The Doc Thomas Group, whom he befriended in Italy.  Unbeknown to Pick, they were now named Mott The Hoople and it was whilst staying with them, attending various auditions in London,  they pointed out an advert in the Melody Maker which turned out to be a gig with a band called Spring.   He then became a  member of  Spring who secured a record contract with the RCA/Neon label.   The band recorded and released one album, which became a collector’s items, recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Monmouth.  They had.a cult following and Pick is very proud of the work he did with Spring to this day.  One funny anecdote: when Dire Straits were on their first American tour, a fan came into the dressing room clutching a Spring album, which he duly wanted signed, but only by Pick as Dire Straits didn’t interest him!

 

Whilst at Rockfield Studios, Pick also recorded with the following:

 

Michael Chapman – ‘Wrecked Again’,

Prelude

Andy Fairweather-Lowe

Nick Lowe,

Del Shannon

Hobo

The Shortwave Band

Dave Edmunds

Foghat

Ian Anderson

Brewer’s Droop (co-incidentally, Mark Knopfler later joined this band )

 

Pick has fond memories of Rockfield Studios, being a member of their football team, herding the cows for milking (it was originally a farm) and living in a studio environment enabled him to undertake a more rigorous practice regime.  For a short but concentrated period, Pick deputized with Brinsley Schwartz who both played in their own right and backed Dave Edmunds on a British tour, which featured Dr. Feelgood as the opening  act.

 

Moving up to London again, Pick became involved with the folk/rock scene and worked with Bert Jansch, Ralph McTell and Magna Carta, all of whom he made studio albums with.  He also worked, in this period, with Rab Noakes continuing a rhythm section partnership with Rod Clements of Lindisfarne fame.

 

Just prior to meeting Mark Knopfler, Pick was playing with Charlie Dore’s Back Pocket doing the same venues that he would later revisit with the embryonic Dire Straits.

 

The rest is history – Dire Straits went on to become one of the biggest rock bands in the world.  Pick was a founder member and stayed for six years, playing on four studio albums plus one live recording, ‘Live at the BBC’, and a compilation album was released just after he left the band entitled ‘Money for Nothing’, most of which were recordings he played on.   Whilst with Dire Straits, Pick played on the ‘Slow Train Coming’ album by  Bob Dylan with wonderful musicians such as Barry Becket, Tim Drummond and produced by the revered Jerry Wexler (founder of Atlantic Records).  Pick’s style with Dire Straits was referred to in the magazine,  International Musician, December 1980: ‘Water of Love from the first Dire Straits album provides the clearest example of Withers’ role as mood maker.  With the snares turned off, he carries the beat on the hi-hat while playing off-beats on the toms.  On the choruses, the off-beats are switched to the hi-hat.  The effect  is a floating swirl of rhythm with the song developing over it’.  

 

After leaving Dire Straits, Pick worked with the following musicians:

 

Gerry Rafferty - recording

Joan Baez at Prince’s Trust gig, Wembley Stadium

Robert Plant – recording

Phil Carmen – toured Switzerland  (Brian Auger was MD and keyboard player) – recorded ‘Live at Montreux Jazz Festival’ CD

Gallagher & Lyle – tour

The Blues Band (Paul Jones)

Long John Baldry

Dennis LeCorriere (Dr. Hook singer)

Dave Kelly Band

GFB (Gary Fletcher Band)

 

Pick is a master of his craft and greatly respected by his fellow musicians.

 

He moved to the Wirral  four years ago due to a family tragedy and has  recently formed a new band, Pick ‘n Mix ,  and is performing some of his favourite music, namely good,  old fashioned blues, soul and vintage R&B as well as some new material to boot.  He has been lucky enough to get London  soul sensation, Daniel E. Walker, to sing with the band as well as local musicians from the Wirral area, one of whom, Keith Graham (affectionately known as Professor Dot) played with the great James Burton, Elvis Presley’s guitarist.   He also has two very young guys in the band, aged 17 and 18 so their forthcoming gigs are not to be missed – a very exciting project.