I toured with the first leather-clad Japanese guy

Saxophone and flute player Snake Davis
Saxophone and flute player Snake Davis

Snake Davis’ winding musical voyage has propelled him from Clitheroe’s Rolling Thunder Club, a quarter of a century ago, through to a burgeoning CV that reads like a Who’s Who of 20th century pop music.

“I played with The Alligator Shoes at the Swan and Royal in the early nineties and I remember a lovely, vibrant jazz and soul scene,” recalled Snake, who returns to the town as one of the headline acts at next month’s Ribble Valley Jazz Festival.

“I’m really looking forward to playing Clitheroe again and meeting some old friends.”

Snake added: “It will be the perfect environment for what I do.

“Clitheroe is nice and relaxed – just the right sort of place for my music.

“I’m a soul boy at heart really.”

Davis is renowned for his skill and expertise in playing both the saxophone and flute and the audience can expect a set of melody driven jazz funk as well as dipping into some classic soul.

These days, Snake remains in demand from the biggest names on the British popular music scene, as resident saxophonist on Tonight With Jonathan Ross, and has also worked with James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan, Paul McCartney and The Spice Girls.

“It is strange, I had no ambition to be a professional musician,” he added.

“I didn’t discover the saxophone until I was 19, but then within three months of having the golden beastie in my hands, my life changed and I knew that was what I wanted to do.

“It was a life-changing, career-changing moment.”

Snake had immersed himself in the northern music scene, playing sax for M-People as they hit the big time with anthems Moving on Up and Search for the Hero – and the career door swung open.

“My first musical memories are how much I loved to sing, not whether I earned two and six from a church choir wedding, but just how much I enjoyed it and how music gave me that special feeling that nothing else did.

“I toured Japan with Ekichi Yazawa and he was the first Japanese guy to put on a pair of leather trousers and sing rock and roll in Japanese.

“He was like a cross between Elvis, The Beatles, Cliff Richard and Mick Jagger – completely bizarre.

“The audience got it, and that’s why music is a universal language because it can deliver so many messages.”

One of Snake’s earliest performances, he recalls, was a solo rendition of Willow Weep for Me on 1980s pop show The Tube, with Jools Holland and Paula Yates.

“I was wheeled into celebrate the anniversary of the saxophone, and that was very exciting, thrilling and scary.

“I just stood on an orange box in the middle of a live audience and played to millions on nationwide TV.

“But I got spotted on that and called down to London to do some big sessions, so it was huge milestone too.

“The most exciting and meaningful thing I do in my musical life is to play live because music flows through my veins.

“I’m one of those very lucky people who found their dream through music.”

Snake Davis Band, The Grand, Clitheroe, May 4. 01200 421599 (£12.50)