INTERVIEW – Steve Williams of Budgie

Budgie are considered by many to be one of the very first heavy metal bands (Proto-Metal) and a seminal influence on many acts that appeared later during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Their influence has been noted and songs covered by big names such as Metallica and Iron Maiden.

The band formed in 1967 in Cardiff, South Wales and went through a number of name changes before settling on Budgie. Between 1971 and 2006 they released 11 studio albums, 5 live albums and 5 compilations.  We caught up with Steve Williams to talk about his 37 year career as Budgies main tub thumper and he was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

16tonnes: What inspired you to pick up your first set of drumsticks?
Steve Williams: The drummer with a trio playing gospel music at a Pentecostal chapel in Hengoed when I was about 10 years old (1963). I spent the next couple of years beating the shit out of a baby formula tin (filled with marbles) with a pair of my mothers knitting needles.
16T: What bands/artists have had the biggest influence on your playing style?
SW: My earliest influences came from a pretty eclectic bunch that consisted of almost anything I could find in my parents collection of 78’s and, later, 45’s that didn’t jump too much when spun on our old gramaphone (God I sound old!) Connie Francis, Fontana Bass and Glen Miller to name but a few. Later, when I’d grown up, Jimi Hendrix, a relatively unknown band called Trapeze, The Beatles, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple took over as did Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer and Led Zeppelin.
16T: How did you feel when you found out that Budgie had chosen you to take over drumming duties?
SW: Satisfied and rich. Guaranteed £30 a week plus ex’s. (my first real job)
16T: What was the most exiting moment during your career?
SW: That would have to be playing Reading festival in front of 35,000 people. Nothing else quite like it!
16T: What do you think when people describe Budgie as having a huge influence on the invention of Heavy Metal?
SW: It’s quite humbling really to think that something I was invloved in was listened to by, and influenced, young musicians who would form bands that would later become household names like Metallica and Iron Maiden.
16T: Why do you think the band have stayed together (in one form or another) for so long?
SW: Sheer Bloody Mindeness!
16T: How did having Craig Goldy (former Dio guitarist) take over guitar duties effect the band/sound?
SW: He’s a great musician and a lovely, if troubled, man. I enjoyed working with him and would love to do more in the studio and live with him outside of Budgie. He’s one of the most inspiring musicians I’ve ever worked with and I just know there’s a shit hot album inside him waiting for the right people, with the right musical chemistry, to drag it out. As far as the affect his sound had on Budgie, well that’s a little difficult for me to answer as I don’t know what we sound like from an audiences perspective. Onstage it sounded big and powerful and his playing, being more old school, was much more in keeping with Budgie’s style.
16T: With Burke Shelly recovering after falling ill during the recent tour in Poland, what are the plans (if any) for the future of the band?
SW: Can’t answer that yet. Everything depends on Burke making a full recovery and being confident he can physically and mentally cope with the rigours of life on the road. We’ll just have to wait and see.
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Many thanks to Steve for his time and we wish Burke a speedy recovery.
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Find out more about Welsh rock legends Budgie > HERE <
Video of Budgie playing the Old Grey Whistle Test June 1975 > HERE <

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