Official Biography

Over the years, Peter White has maintained a reputation as one of the most versatile and prolific acoustic guitarists on the contemporary jazz landscape. Armed with an unparalleled combination of lyricism and energy, he combines elements of jazz, pop and classical guitar to create a sound that is singular and at the same time accessible to a broad audience.

Born in 1954 in Luton, a small town north of London, White and his family moved to nearby Letchworth shortly after he was born. As a child, he learned to play several musical instruments, including the clarinet, trombone, violin and piano. And of course, like so many youngsters growing up during the heyday of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, he gravitated to the guitar.

He learned his first chords on an acoustic guitar, then bought his first electric guitar in his early teens and studied the recordings of the reigning guitar gods of the day – Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. But his musical aspirations ultimately veered back in an acoustic direction following an accident that doomed his beloved electric guitar. The axe was destroyed in a fire, one that White’s younger brother Danny – an aspiring pianist – accidentally started.

“The funny thing is that Danny didn’t actually admit to setting that fire for at least twenty-five years,” says White. “I had been kind of obsessed with the electric guitar at that point in my life, so that episode kind of forced me to go back to playing the acoustic. In retrospect, that’s a good thing.”

Indeed, White’s interests after the accident shifted more toward the music of acoustic artists like Crosby, Stills and Nash, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell. Plugged or unplugged, he had decided by his late teens that music was his calling, and his first professional gig was at a holiday resort in England when he was 19 years old.

Barely a year later, he was invited to join Al Stewart’s band as a keyboardist for a tour of England, Scotland, and the U.S. in 1975. In addition to opening for artists like Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel and Queen, White worked with Stewart in the studio in the making of Year of the Cat, which became a huge hit for Stewart in 1976. The tour and the album marked the beginning of a twenty-year association with Stewart. In that time, the two musicians co-wrote numerous songs, including Stewart’s 1978 hit, “Time Passages.”

By the beginning of the ‘80s, White and Stewart had relocated to Los Angeles, formed a band called Shot in the Dark, and established a music publishing company called Lobster Music. Around the same time, Danny White – he of the burning guitar incident several years earlier – formed a group called Matt Bianco, which included a talented Polish singer named Basia Trzetrzelewska. Danny White and Basia splintered off to launch the singer’s solo career with the 1987 debut album, Time and Tide, which featured Peter White on guitar.

After fifteen years as a backup musician and a session player, White launched his solo recording career with the 1990 release of Reveillez-Vous (French for “Wake up,” a title chosen by White in honor of his French mother). The album included several unused songs that White had written for Stewart, and it became a favorite among contemporary jazz radio stations.

He followed with three records on the Sindrome label – Excusez-Moi (1991), Promenade (1993) and Reflections (1994) – before signing with Columbia for the 1996 release of Caravan of Dreams. He maintained an ambitious release schedule through the ‘90s and beyond, but also found time to appear on recordings  by many of his friends, including Dave Koz, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Jeff Golub, Lee Ritenour, Kirk Whalum, Boney James and many others.

On the road, he has participated in numerous “Guitars and Saxes” tours with the aforementioned players, and has established an annual “Peter White Christmas Tour” – the latter enterprise fueled by the success of his two highly regarded holiday albums, Songs of the Season (1997) and A Peter White Christmas (2007).

Good Day, released in 2009 on Peak Records, a division of Concord Music Group, was White’s first collection of original songs in several years. “I just started going through my backlog of material – songs that I’d never finished, some going as far back as ten or fifteen years – and I discovered that I had a lot of gems that I really wanted to show to the world,” he says. “I wanted to record them in my own time and in my own way, without any outside influence or interference.”

A sense of adventure is at the heart of White’s thirteenth solo recording, Here We Go, set for release on March 13, 2012, on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. The 11-song set, co-produced by White and DC (George Benson, Larry Carlton, Bob James, Patty Austin), features several high-profile guest musicians, including saxophonists David Sanborn and Kirk Whalum, and pianist Philippe Saisse, and includes a range of original material written in the recent and distant past. “I wanted variety,” says White. “I wanted songs that moved me, in the hopes that they’ll move the listener as well. I’m on a journey, and I want to bring with me anyone who’s willing to follow.”

In a career that spans nearly four decades, over a dozen solo recordings and countless performances, White insists that it’s the faces in the crowd and the fans that keep the experience fresh. “I’ll play a live show, and someone will come to me afterward and say, ‘Oh, I loved this CD,’ or ‘This song helped me through a bad time,’” he explains. “Or I get emails from people saying, ‘Oh, I love the way you covered one of my favorite songs on your record back in 1994.’ The idea that someone can write me an email and tell me about something I did on a record that was released fifteen years ago – you can’t buy that. That’s priceless. That’s what keeps me going – the idea that people out there really care about what I do, the idea that I’ve made a difference for someone.”

Personal Biography

I grew up in the sleepy English town of Letchworth Garden City in the 1960s and first got interested in music when I heard the Beatles on the radio. My parents bought me an acoustic guitar when I was about eight and I taught myself to play while also taking lessons on the recorder, piano and then later, clarinet. My music education was going along just fine until one day in 1967 I heard the Jimi Hendrix song “Purple Haze”. I was amazed- never had I heard sounds like that coming out of my acoustic guitar and I decided that from that day on, I had to have an electric guitar. Now if only I could convince my parents to buy me one…

I soon got my electric guitar and set to work trying to play like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), but my rock star dreams were soon put on hold when my beloved axe was burned in a fire (accidentally) set by my brother Danny. Distraught, I turned back to my old acoustic guitar, which had been gathering dust in the corner. The guitar-burning incident, though tragic at the time, would prove to be a major turning point in my life. I started to develop a love for acoustic music, something that continues to this day- I soon found lots of inspiration in the music of Crosby Stills and Nash, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell all featuring acoustic guitar. I now carried that acoustic guitar with me everywhere I went - it became my best friend.

By the time I left school in 1973 I knew that music was my calling, and while all my friends went to college, I worked factory jobs until I landed my first musical engagement playing at an English holiday resort in the summer of 1974. After that I briefly joined a group by the name of “Principal Edwards’ Magic Theatre”, only to see them disband a few weeks later. However, one of the members of that group recommended me to Al Stewart and in early 1975 I was asked to join Al’s band for a tour of the UK and then the USA. It was a most exciting time for me. It was my first trip to America and we were opening up for artists like Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel and Queen. Just to be around these musical luminaries was a great thrill for a 20 year old! That summer saw my first studio experience at the famed Abbey Road studio in London, working with Al Stewart on the “Year of the Cat” album, soon to become a million seller. This was the beginning of a musical collaboration between Al and I that was to last 20 years, during which time we wrote and recorded many songs together, including Al’s 1978 Top Ten hit “Time Passages”.

My brother Danny (remember the guitar burning incident?) had by now made his own way in the music business and asked me to do some recording with his group Matt Bianco, featuring an unknown Polish singer -Basia. I subsequently played on her first solo album “Time and Tide” released in 1987 and also on many of her tours and CDs. Thanks Danny!

In 1990, having been a backup musician for 15 years and inspired by the English group “Acoustic Alchemy”, I decided to start recording my own music and released my first CD “Reveillez-Vous”. I used a French title in honour of my French mother, Gilberte. It means “Wake Up”. Many other solo CDs followed, with several songs becoming No.1 hits on Smooth Jazz radio, such as “Midnight in Manhattan” a song I recorded with one of my idols, Grover Washington Jr. Basia collaborated with me on "Just Another Day", a song from my "Caravan of Dreams" CD.

As well as recording my own music, I have performed on recordings by many great artists and friends, including Dave Koz, Gato Barbieri, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Craig Chaquico, Jeff Golub, Lee Ritenour, 3rd Force, The Rippingtons, Kirk Whalum, Boney James and Marc Antoine. I have been part of numerous “Guitars and Saxes” and “Jazz Attack” tours and have also established my annual “Peter White Christmas Tour”. This is a chance for me and some of my musical friends to play our favorite Christmas music. My first Christmas CD “Songs of the Season” was released in 1997.

Over the years, I have become very comfortable as a performer. I feel a tremendous joy when I’m able to connect with my audience. The purpose of performing is not to show how clever I can be, but to simply invite everyone to have a good time. Meeting people after shows to sign CDs and chat is also something which I like to do, whenever possible. It’s quite different from the days when I was just in the background getting little recognition!

Peter’s latest CD, Here We Go features his first ever collaboration with David Sanborn. “It is a dream come true for me- he appears on the title track, a song that I wrote specifically for him. Kirk Whalum and Philippe Saisse also join me on this album, a varied collection of all-original songs, some new and some, which I have kept under wraps for many years! I hope you like it.”

Timeline

1954
  • Born September 20, 1954 in Luton, a town a few miles north of London, England
  • Father – Kenneth White. Mother – Gilberte (French). Peter already has an older brother John (1953)
  • Peter and his family move soon after his birth to nearby Letchworth Garden City
1955
  • Sister Michele is born
1959
  • Younger brother Danny is born
1960
  • Peter’s father teaches him to play the recorder and piano and also teaches him to read music
1963
  • Hears the Beatles for the first time
  • Gets his first guitar, a steel string acoustic, and starts teaching himself to play (*he has still never had a lesson in his entire life)
1964
  • Learns to play the clarinet, cornet and trombone (coached by his father) and joins the Letchworth Town Brass Band
1967
  • Attends Hitchen Boys School and meets David Visick, who sells Peter his very first LP – The Beatles’ “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”
  • Starts taking private harmonica lessons
  • Has violin lessons at school (the only instrument Peter learns in school)
  • Gives up playing the clarinet and brass instruments
1967
  • Hears Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and Eric Clapton’s guitar playing on “Sunshine of Your Love”
  • Gives up piano lessons and asks parents for an electric guitar
1968
  • Acquires his first electric guitar and amplifier, which is soon burnt in a fire set by his younger brother Danny
  • Goes back to his acoustic guitar and starts to learn to play fingerstyle after hearing Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas” on the radio
1969
  • Gives up the harmonica and violin and all music education at school to concentrate on Science and Maths and continues to teach himself guitar and piano.
  • Hears Led Zeppelin for the first time and is inspired to get another electric guitar
1970
  • Listens to Emerson Lake and Palmer’s first LP at friend David Visick’s house and starts to take up piano lessons again after a 3-year break
1971
  • Hears Joni Mitchell “Blue” LP and is taken with her melodies and lyrics and for the first time starts listening to song lyrics.
  • Now interested in playing both acoustic and electric guitar and piano
1973
  • Finishes secondary school (high school) and works for a few months in a soup canning factory
1974
  • Gets his first professional engagement playing electric guitar in a dance band in Cornwall, in the South West of England
  • Later auditions for and joins the band Principal Edwards
1975
  • Gets a call to join Al Stewart’s band on keyboards, touring England and America
  • Al invites Peter to Abbey Road Studios to play keyboards and acoustic guitar on his upcoming “Year of the Cat” album, produced by Alan Parsons
1976
  • “Year of the Cat” is released.
  • Al, Peter and the band go on a world tour to promote it. Al relocates to Los Angeles, CA
1977
  • Writes his first song with Al, “Time Passages” and records again at Abbey Road Studios, where Peter meets Paul McCartney who is recording the London Town albumv
1978
  • Moves to Los Angeles to help Al finish the album “Time Passages”
  • “Time Passages” is released and goes on tour to promote it
  • Decides to live full time in the USA
1979
  • Al Stewart and Peter tour Japan for the first time
1981
  • Forms a band called Shot in the Dark, who also backs up Al Stewart
  • Al releases his “24 Carrots” LP featuring Peter on acoustic guitar and keyboards
1982
  • Shot in the Dark release their self-titled and only LP
  • Al releases a live album “Indian Summer” featuring Peter on acoustic guitar
1984
  • Brother Danny forms the group Matt Bianco, featuring Basia on vocals and Danny on keyboards, and asks Peter to record some guitar on their first album “Whose Side Are You On”
  • Al Stewart releases “Russians and Americans” LP and Al and Peter tour Europe as a duo
1987
  • Danny and Basia leave Matt Bianco and record Basia’s first solo album “Time and Tide”, featuring Peter on acoustic and electric guitar
  • Hears Acoustic Alchemy on the radio and starts to make plans for a solo album
1988
  • Al releases “Last Days of the Century”, title track written by Al and Peter
1990
  • Releases his 1st solo album “Reveillez-Vous”
  • Goes on a world tour with Danny and Basia
  • Steve Chapman becomes Peter’s manager
1991
  • Al Stewart and Peter tour USA and Japan as a duo and record the shows for a live album
  • Performs his first full-length concert as a solo artist at the JazzTrax Catalina Island Jazz Festival in October
1992
  • 2nd solo album “Excusez-Moi”
  • Al releases “Rhymes in Rooms”, a duo album recorded live with Peter on acoustic guitar, accordion and piano
1993
  • 3rd solo album “Promenade”
1994
  • 4th solo album “Reflections”
  • Plays his last tour with Al in the UK and then goes on a world tour with Danny and Basia
1995
  • Signs with Columbia/Sony
  • Peter is a part of the first “Guitars and Saxes” Tour (with Richard Elliot, Warren Hill and Craig Chaquico)

  • JazzTrax Christmas Tour with Rick Braun, Daniel Ho and Gregg Vail
1996
  • 5th solo album “Caravan of Dreams”
  • “Guitars and Saxes” Tour (with Kirk Whalum, Marc Antoine and Rick Braun)
  • JazzTrax Christmas Tour (with Slim Man, Freddie Ravel and Paul Taylor)
1997
  • “Guitars and Saxes” Tour (with Craig Chaquico, Richard Elliot and Rick Braun)
  • 6th solo album “Songs of the Season” and goes on promotional tour to promote it in December
1998
  • 7th solo album “Perfect Moment”
  • “Smooth Jazz Christmas” Tour (Dave Koz, Peter White, David Benoit and Brenda Russell)
1999
  • “Guitars and Saxes” Tour (with Kirk Whalum, Marc Antoine and Everette Harp)
  • “Smooth Jazz Christmas” Tour (Dave Koz, Peter White, David Benoit, Brenda Russell and Rick Braun)
2000
  • 1st Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards
  • - Best Guitarist
  • - CD of the Year “Perfect Moment”
  • - Song of the Year “Midnight in Manhattan”
  • - Best Collaboration “Peter White and Grover Washington, Jr.”

  • "Smooth Jazz Christmas” Tour (Dave Koz, Peter White, David Benoit, Brenda Russell and Rick Braun)
2001
  • 8th solo album “Glow”
  • 2nd The National Smooth Jazz Awards

    - Best Guitarist

2002
  • 3rd The National Smooth Jazz Awards

    - Best Guitarist

2003
  • 4th The National Smooth Jazz Awards

    - Best Guitarist

  • “Guitars and Saxes” Tour (with Jeff Golub, Richard Elliot and Steve Cole)
  • 1st Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair)
2004
  • 9th solo album “Confidential”
  • 2nd Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Rick Braun)
2005
  • The Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards/ nomination for “International Artist of the Year”
  • “Jazz Attack” Tour (with Rick Braun, Richard Elliot and Jonathan Butler)
  • 3rd Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Rick Braun)
2006
  • 10th solo album “Playin’ Favorites”
  • “Guitars and Saxes” Tour (with Jeff Golub, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot)
  • 4th Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Rick Braun)
2007
  • “Jazz Attack” Tour (with Rick Braun, Richard Elliot and Jonathan Butler)
  • Tours Japan for the first time as a solo artist- with Mindi Abair
  • 11th solo album “Peter White Christmas with Mindi Abair and Rick Braun”
  • 5th Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Rick Braun)
2008
  • Signs with Peak Records/Concord
  • “Guitars and Saxes” Tour (with Jeff Golub, Gerald Albright and Jeff Lorber)
  • The Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards

    - International Instrumentalist of the Year

  • 6th Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Rick Braun)
2009
  • 12th solo album “Good Day”
  • “Dave Koz and Friends Christmas” reunion tour (Dave Koz, Peter White, Rick Braun, David Benoit and Brenda Russell)
2010
  • “Guitars and Saxes” Tour (with Jeff Golub, Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum)
  • American Smooth Jazz Awards
  • - Guitarist of the Year
  • - Album of the Year “Good Day”
  • - Song of the Year “Bright”

  • 7th Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Rick Braun)
2011
  • “Jazz Attack” Tour (with Rick Braun and Gerald Albright)
  • Oasis Contemporary Jazz Awards (presented at Seabreeze Jazz Festival)

    - Guitarist of the Year

  • 8th Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Kirk Whalum)
2012
  • 13th solo album “Here We Go”
  • “White Hot Summer Groove” Tour (with Euge Groove)
  • Soul Train Awards/ nomination for “Best Contemporary Jazz Artist/Group”
  • 9th Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Rick Braun)
  • Billboard #1 Smooth Jazz Song of the Year "Here We Go"
  • Groove Jazz Music #1 Song of the Year "Here We Go"
2013
  • Mid-summer collaboration shows with David Benoit featuring David Pack
  • 10th Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Rick Braun)
2014
  • “Jazz Attack” Tour (with Rick Braun and Euge Groove)
  • 11th Peter White Christmas Tour (featuring Mindi Abair and Rick Braun)