''As a song poet there are few in the world today to match him'' (Green Man Review, USA)
Gary Miller is a Durham (UK)-born songwriter, musician, and performing & recording artist with over 30 years professional experience in many aspects of the Music Industry. He is also a qualified and experienced freelance community arts practitioner; musical director for theatre; professional music industry tutor, lecturer, mentor; published poet & writer.
Gary Miller was born in Durham in the North East of England and raised in Sherburn Village, a small ex-coalmining community three miles east of Durham City.
He first rose to international prominence during the mid-Eighties and throughout the Nineties as principal songwriter, lead singer, guitarist & mandolin player with The Whisky Priests, the internationally renowned folk-rock band with a worldwide cult following that he founded in 1985 and fronted with his twin brother Glenn (“the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion”) - they were once described by a discerning UK journalist as “the Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of the Folk World".
He simultaneously and successfully co-managed the band’s entire business affairs with his twin brother Glenn and together they founded their own independent record label Whippet Records, in 1988, for releasing Whisky Priests and related recordings worldwide.
The Whisky Priests released a string of internationally acclaimed albums but were particularly renowned worldwide for their incredible live shows : -
“A Whisky Priests show is the sort of stuff to make your hair curl; honest, earthy, loud, raucous and tremendously uplifting” (Folk Roots, UK)
When the twin brothers decided to rest The Whisky Priests indefinitely in 2002 for personal reasons, Gary took a sabbatical from live performance and professional recording due to what became a long-term illness but continued working in the music industry, for example, as an agent at Adastra (now known as Strada); as a music industry tutor; on a variety of projects in collaboration with other artists; as a commissioned songwriter; and as a qualified and experienced community arts practitioner, developing and working on a wide variety of community projects through the UK as a musical director and workshop leader.
In 2010, after a long break, he returned to recording and performing with the release of ‘Reflections on War’, his landmark ground-breaking debut solo album and first CD of all new material in 10 years.
In the meantime, he has worked with many other musicians, poets, songwriters and artists on a wide range of Collaborations and continues to do so, continually broadening his musical networks and creativity.
In 2013 he began work developing and recording 'Mad Martins', his most ambitious project to date, in partnership with his friend, collaborator and internationally acclaimed poet Keith Armstrong. Featuring original songs, poetry and spoken word narration, 'Mad Martins' depicts the extraordinary lives and times of the notorious Martin brothers, William, Jonathan & John, born in the 18th Century in the South Tyne area of Northumberland. Recording & Mastering sessions continued sporadically throughout 2014 & 2015, resulting in a total of 50 tracks spread over 3 CDs (one for each Martin brother respectively), housed in a beautifully designed and lavishly packaged 104-page fully-illustrated book, containing lyrics and additional narrative text telling each brother's tale in full chronological detail. 'Mad Martins' was eventually completed in 2017. 'Mad Martins' has now been developed into a full-blown theatre project with an official launch performance to be held at the City Theatre, Durham, on Saturday 5th October 2019, as part of the Durham Book Festival. An official website dedicated entirely to the 'Mad Martins' project is online here.
Towards the end of 2016, following a 15-year period spent living in other regions, he relocated back to his native County Durham, reclaiming his roots and gaining a new focus on his creativity. Refreshed and reinvigorated, he is forging ahead with a new-found passion and drive. He now lives in Ferryhill.
In 2017, he went into business partnership with his life-partner, illustrator and designer Helen Temperley (Winkin Bitsy). Their first collaboration was the 'Mad Martins' book, with Helen coming on board to provide around 100 pieces of artwork for the project, helping to bring it to completion at a stunning visual level.
Helen is now Gary's official illustrator and designer and continues providing visual images for all his projects, as well as logos, icons and merchandise. Together, Gary and Helen have newly established 'Whippet Workshops', for providing long-term and large-scale community projects, and 'Whippet Lodge', a holiday retreat for creative artists and musicians.
Gary & Helen's latest creative project togethers include: -
'From Coalfield to Battlefield', about the history of the Durham Light Infantry told through the stories of real-life individuals, with Helen providing illustrations to accompany all of Gary's songs.
'Northern Grit', a performance, exhibition of illustrations and upcoming CD and book, based on major North-East of England characters such Joseph Skipsey the Pitman Poet of Percy Main, Catherine Cookson, Mary Ann Cotton, Peter Lee, Georgae Stephenson, and more.
'The Butcher Baronet', a 2-hour folk-opera, exhibition, film documentary collaboration with Lone Pine Pictures, and upcoming double CD and book about the tale of Durham's legendary 'Dick Wittington' character John Duck.