Interview With Hereward Kaye

October 13, 2017


Looking for a cool new hobby? Pick up a guitar and get learning with Guitar Chords: A Fretboard Sticker Book by Hereward Kaye. With the help of fretboard stickers and detailed instructions from Hereward himself, you will learn everything from how to set up your guitar, to playing a variety of songs! We caught up with the author and learned all about where his love for music comes from and what he has been up to for the past few years. 

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your story?

I was born in the North of England, the son of a tool merchant, with a family business I wasn’t the remotest bit interested in joining. Now, if it had been a band…! I am best known for composing the Cameron Mackintosh-produced West End Musical Moby Dick and for being a member of British acapella band The Flying Pickets, with whom I toured almost everywhere (except the States) for 13 years. I was also lead singer with Rick Wakeman for one album (keyboard player with Yes). 


I was first discovered by Ray Davies of The Kinks – who went on to produce my debut album with Cafe Society in 1975. Over the subsequent 40 years I’ve worked with a number of major names in the UK record industry and West End musical theatre.

Nowadays I run Rok Skool in the South of England. Inspired by the Jack Black movie, I thought ‘let’s do it for real!’ That was eleven years ago. It was for kids at first, till their parents gradually came round to the fact that it could be for them too, and dusted down the old guitar in the attic and the vocal chords and signed up. (

I also run Landing Light Studios – specialized in coaching and mentoring emerging talent through to full scale programming and production. For more, check out

What sparked your interest in music and the guitar?

When I was ten years old, I saw The Beatles, live. She Loves You was at Number One and their follow up, which no one had heard and hadn’t yet been released, was Number One too, on advance sales alone. England and my home town was on fire with them! Incredibly, it was the night that President Kennedy was assassinated.

Blasted back into my bucket seat, riddled with rock and roll, my life has just begun. I’m rafting the white water of adrenaline. John’s right in front of me, wrenching out words like tortured metal and pulling stupid faces. Paul’s on the left, his violin bass pointing up at his eyebrow, which he arches in mock innocence, maliciously stirring the soup of screams. George commutes between the two, his shiny Gretch black as a Cadillac. A big guitar. A big, slow grin. Big hair. Ringo’s on the drum riser behind his grey Ludwig kit, Beatles logo on his bass drum, fringe flopping down every time he hits the snare. Matching hair, matching suits, matching amps – though Paul’s was bigger – Wizard of Oz lighting, electric guitars and the world at their feet.

Starry eyed I crawled from the wreckage, an avalanche of screams ringing in my ears. From Dallas emanated a cavalcade of sirens to freeze time itself to the spot.

Dad picked us up, grave-faced with the news, but who cared? His old world was as dead as a Kennedy. Any philosophy or experience coming from his mouth was instantly extinct. He simply didn’t know, and we did. At the stroke of a Rickenbacker, his lifetime of values became obsolete, dad’s every utterance suddenly utterly worthless. Tools, tradition, British Empire... all the values into which he had been born, all desire to pass them forward like a torch into the unknowing dark corners of the world – f****d, dead as Latin. We were growing up in a society that was tearing up his rulebook with each new Nineteen Sixties day.

Meanwhile, my baby heart was beating in four/four and the future had a soundtrack.

How old were you when you learned to play the instrument?

Ten years old. You can see from this pic [above], I already thought I was a Beatle!

How long did it take you to learn to play?

The song that absolutely inspired me was House Of The Rising Sun, which was a smash for The Animals, a band from my region. It had 5 chords and I HAD to know them! A bloke who worked at my dad’s shop taught me them and I was away. In my Guitar Chords Sticker Book, I’ve actually started with the first chord of House Of The Rising Sun, (the chord of A minor), followed by two more from the song and built it up from there. This book reflects my personal journey through music, in which I have learnt to play by ear, rather than learning how to ‘read’ and then repeating pieces, parrot-fashion. I found my own way around music, as so many more contemporary musicians have done since. It has been something of a personal mission of mine, to somehow bottle all those self-learnt lessons, shortcuts and tricks of the trade, to pass them on to similar aspiring musicians. For, much as musical notation has my utmost respect, is not playing by ear the zeitgeist, the feeling of our time? Don’t we all love music, in this world? Don’t we all want to find a way to play it ourselves somehow, anyhow, as quickly and coherently as possible?

Who is your all-time favorite guitar player?

Probably Eric Clapton, but there are so many great guitarists. I saw Eric on the night Jimi Hendrix had been found dead. He played Little Wing in tribute, it was moving and beautiful.

What projects are you working on now?

I am updating the hire copy of Moby Dick, following a successful 25th Anniversary production of the Show in London last year, and preparing Sex, Chips & Rock ‘n Roll

- another musical I composed (with Poldark writer Debbie Horsfield) – for a 10th anniversary revival in Manchester, UK next May. I also hope to write a Piano sticker book, in the same vein as this Guitar book, if a publisher will commission me.

Acoustic or electric? 

I love them both dearly! One is just so f*****g exciting! And the other is a… friend for life. I think I would have to go with the friend for life, so the answer is acoustic.

What advice would you give to a musician just starting out?

Read my book!



Guitar Chords: A Fretboard Sticker Book

In Guitar Chords: A Fretboard Sticker Book, you'll learn how to set up your guitar and practice finger picking and strumming patterns. Use the stickers to assign colors to each chord on the fretboard, and you'll create an easy-to-use visual guide that will enable you to practice with ease. As your skills progress and your repertoire expands, you'll be ready to perform a wide variety of songs with confidence.