Dave Markee: The veteran rock man

Tuesday 1st April 1997

From playing stadium gigs with Eric Clapton to leading worship in settings large and humble, DAVE MARKEE has done it all. The rock industry veteran spoke to Stuart Dearsley.

Dave Markee
Dave Markee

One of the most powerfully anointed worship albums of recent years is 'Yes Lord!' by Dave Markee. The privately distributed album exudes the prophetic resonance of a Kevin Prosch while its recorded-live atmosphere is at times electrifying. Dave has for many years pastored Folly's End Fellowship in Croydon and yet still finds time to lead his band at celebrations and ministry including trips to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship.

Ever since Buzz magazine ran a cover story on Dave in March 1982 under the title Clapton's Bass Believer, Dave has lived with the peculiar tension as a man of faith with a pop star past. In fact, the pop and rock luminaries with whom Dave has played bass (guitar or stand-up) read like a Who's Who Of Popular Music. As well as Slowhand Clapton, Markee has gigged or recorded with the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Eagles through to Bing Crosby, Henry Mancini and Ginger Rogers! Today he tours with his hard rocking worship band and still finds time to lead Folly's End Fellowship.

I met up with Dave at his home in Surrey Street, Croydon which for 700 years has been the site of a street market. Indeed, Dave's earthy, blunt persona and accent, completely lacking either the affectations of rock star or professional pastor, would not be out of place behind the stalls.

Can you tell me a bit about your early life?
"Well, I was born in a little place called Haxey which is just south of Scunthorpe. My school years were spent in Scunthorpe and it was there at about the age of 15 where I developed my interest in music. In fact, it was then that I decided that music was the only thing for me."

Are you married and do you have a family?
"Yes, I am married and have been so twice although they were both to the same person, ZoŽ, whom I first married in 1965. I have three daughters, one aged 30, one who is 24 and the final one who is 11.I also have three grandchildren who are 10, six and 18 months."

So is it strange having a daughter who is only one year older than your grandson?
"Yes, it was a bit funny at the time with my wife giving birth one year and then my daughter the next, but the two kids get on great with each other."

When did your musical career start to take shape?
"It started in the late '60s when I decided that if I was to really make a go of music, I would have to go to college and I accepted a place at Trinity College in London where I spent three and a half years learning about music."

So after college it was back out into the wide world of music?
"In about 1970-71 I joined Alan Price's band (ex-Animals) and played with them for about three years and then I went into sessions after that and worked quite a lot with one of the Rolling Stones ex-producers, Glyn Johns."

Tell me a bit about your association with all those big names.
"At the height of my success I was probably one of the top three calls in London, if not Europe. I was with Eric (Clapton) between 1979 and 1982 and during that time I did about one and a half world tours. It was a great experience to play with him and his band and I have the greatest respect for them all.

"I also worked with Joan Armatrading and was on her third album which featured that great track 'Love And Affection'. I also played with Waylon Jennings and Jesse Coulter (country stars), on an album put together by Glyn Johns. This also featured Kenny Jones (Small Faces), Henry Spinette and Bryn Haworth. The album was called 'White Mansions' and it was the story of the American Civil War.

"I also did an album with Pete Townsend and Ronnie Lane as well as being on Chris Rea's first album. I did some of the Pink Panther stuff with Henry Mancini and there was also Bing Crosby and Frank Zappa. As well as them I had the pleasure of playing with the Rolling Stones in Nassau (Bahamas) when Bill Wyman wanted to play pool! We ended up playing till 7.30 the next morning!"

Tell me about your Christian conversion.
"Well, it happened after I had finished recording Joan Armatrading's album in 1978. I was offered 10 days in the studio with Bryn Haworth and Bryn told me a lot about Jesus. It started me thinking and a few months later when I was in the Bahamas doing the album with Glyn Johns (February 1979), I had really hit a bad way in my relationship with my wife and life in general. I went down to the beach and all that I could think about were the things that Bryn had told me about God. He'd told me that he believed that God was real and that you could have a relationship with him. What could I lose? He was either there or he wasn't. He'd ended by saying that if I just prayed and asked him to help me and show me the way forward, one of two things would happen, either I would get no response or I would get an answer and that if he was right, I was missing out.

"Bryn had also sent me a Bible for Christmas and I started to read at Genesis, but by halfway through I was bored so I picked up the phone one day and rang him. I thanked him for the Bible but told him it wasn't for me! He told me I was reading it wrong and that if I really wanted to know who Jesus was, I should start with the Gospel of John.

"I did as he said and I came across one verse which I couldn't get out of my mind. 'I am the way, the truth and the life.' This really challenged me for a few months and on April 28th, 1979 at 11.05am I knew what I had to do. I knelt down in my kitchen at home and surrendered everything to God. I asked him to forgive me and to come into my life and I felt His Spirit rush in."

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Reader Comments

Posted by Joan Tully in Essex @ 12:13 on Sep 13 2017

I'm just re-typing your 'Sometimes when I feel out on my own' to use at a Cafe Church - great song and timeless

Posted by Doreen and Terry Goo in London @ 11:29 on Nov 25 2014

We met Dave recently whilst on holiday and perceived Dave to be an extremely spiritual, genuine, caring gentleman. It was our pleasure to add Dave to our list of acquaintances.

Posted by Jo-Ann in Las Vegas @ 22:27 on May 4 2013

I heard about Dave through an article by Sheila Walsh. I think it's great how the Lord changed your life. Stay strong in the Lord!

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