Photo by Jon Francis
The Dirty Robbers, playing at the Jack Daniels Birthday celebrations, Dubai 2011
On stage with Palookaville!s Al Gare
On stage Mike Sanchez Band
Photo by Jon Francis
As part of the Palookaville Burlesque Orchestra at The Candy Box Club
Palookaville! promotional pic
A few months later, Oliver got his first serious break, when Al put his own band together, Palookaville!
'Palkookaville! were a great band, we just did instrumentals and audiences loved it, the Spainiards especially went wild!'.
Palookaville! (also made up of ex-King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys Dean Beresford and Danny McCormack) developed an under ground following, and did some memorable festivals in Spain (The Wild Weekend, The Dracula Festival), and Shambala Festival in the UK. Sanchez also became a fan of the band.
Oliver's love of music and appreciation of the best players meant he would often go and see Sanchez's band if they were in the area.
'I got to know Mikes guitarist Andy Silvester pretty well (former bass player of Chicken Shack, and close friend of Peter Green in the 60s). Peter is one of my heros, so I'd always pester Andy for stories about what he was like when they were younger'.
Unfortunately Andy had to have an operation on his arm, which meant he'd be out of action for a couple of months in the Sanchez band. He asked Oliver to fill in for him.
'It was an honour, and would have been my dream job..... then at 24, I joined Mikes band. I ended up staying in the band for 4 years, touring around Europe and the UK, and we also went out to Las Vegas'. Oliver left Mikes band to pursue his own projects, with his own band The Dirty Robbers, and also as a session musician.
Since then, Oliver has worked with many different groups. Highlights include working with members of The Buena Vista Social Club with Rhythms Del Mundo in Milan, touring with Tony Christie, and working with The Dirty Robbers.
He has worked with Tanita Tikaram since 2015, touring and appearing on her album 'Closer To The People'. He has been working with the legendary Geraint Watkins and The Mosquitos, and is currently touring with Imelda May, as well as doing solo, duo, trio and band gigs in and around London.
With Dirty Robber Craig Rhind in Finland
The Dirty Robbers at the Ahlan 100 party, Dubai 2012
Recording at Maida Vale Studios with Mike Sanchez for the Paul Jones Show
BBC Blues Club, 2010
On stage Mike Sanchez and Band
Oliver has worked with many musicians over his career building a good reputation, and today enjoys being involved with some of the best artists in the business.
He started playing a guitar his Mother got from a jumble sale when 10 after expressing an interest in playing after hearing ''Purple Haze'' by Jimi Hendrix at school. He then had lessons for three or four years, before teaching himself. His Fathers record collection was mainly blues and 60s Rock and Roll (especially Big Bill Broonzy), all heavily guitar led. For an aspiring young guitarist, this was a library of exciting tricks to learn, more so than other music around at the time or since, and Oliver quickly became a student of the blues and its many forms. But the lessons really started when he began playing with other musicians....
'I got ok at it (guitar), and my Uncle Martin introduced me to some local musicians, including Steve Walwyn (guitarist with Dr Feelgood and The Big Town Playboys at the time). Steve invited me up on stage when I was 15, and the buzz was amazing, I knew what I wanted to do...'
Oliver then formed his first band, with Chas Chaplin (the drummer from Steve's band) on drums, and firstly Matt Clark then later Craig Rhind (also from Steve's band) on bass....the band was called The Bluetits!
'Retrospectively, I was very lucky to be playing with experienced and tasteful musicians like these, really spoilt-they saved me years of messing around and pointed me in the right direction'.
Around this time Oliver saw Mike Sanchez, then front man of The Big Town Playboys;
'I was really blown away with his style and charisma, and also the level of musicianship, I'd never seen anyone that good before. The fact that it was wrapped up with a great show as well was awesome, he had everything'.
This made an impression, and Oliver's understanding of the whole art of the show began to develop.
It was also around this time that Oliver fully began to appreciate the true brilliance of Fleetwood Mac's frontman and founder,Peter Green;
'I'd always listened to and liked Peter Green, but one day something clicked, and I just suddenly realised. I suppose it was just growing up a bit, kind of like an acquired taste. It also happened to me like that with T-Bone Walker, and with Charles Brown and Johnny Moore especially-I listened to the albums the first time, and thought they were ok, but then something would keep nagging at me, haunting me, and I'd put the album on again, and then be think ''Wow, this is amazing.... I want to learn how to do this!'''
A few years later, around 21, Oliver was supporting a group called Electric Leg (featuring Sanchez's bass player, Al Gare) with The Bluetits, and the guys really liked a couple of T-Bone Walker tracks The Bluetits performed. They asked Oliver up to do a couple of numbers with them. This was also where the nickname 'Darling' came from-at the end of the gig, the singer wanted to introduce Oliver, and asked 'what's his name?'. One of the band replied 'Darling', and when announced, there was some sniggering...! After this, the name stuck.