Oliver Darling’s reputation as a stylish guitarist has been established by his outstanding work with the likes of Imelda May, Mike Sanchez, Tanita Tikaram, members of the Buena Vista Social Club, and Geraint Watkins & the Mosquitoes among others.
While still at school, he started playing a guitar his mother got from a jumble sale after expressing an interest in playing having heard Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix. His father’s record collection was mainly blues and rock ‘n roll, which for an aspiring young guitarist was a library of exciting tricks to learn. Oliver quickly became a student of the blues and its many forms, but the lessons really started when he began playing with other musicians
His uncle Martin introduced him to some local musicians, including Steve Walwyn who was the guitarist with Dr Feelgood and The Big Town Playboys at the time. Steve invited fifteen-year-old Oliver up on stage to play and shortly after that, brimming with confidence, he started his first band – The Bluetits
Not long afterwards, Oliver saw Mike Sanchez fronting the Big Town Playboys and was blown away with his style, charisma, and level of musicianship. This experience made a lasting impression and his understanding of the whole art of the show began to develop at the same time as his discovery of the true brilliance of Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green.
'I'd always listened to and liked Peter Green, but one day something clicked, and I just suddenly realised how different he was to everyone else. I suppose it was just growing up a bit, kind of like an acquired taste. It also happened to me like that with T-Bone Walker, and especially with Charles Brown and Johnny Moore. I listened to the albums the first time, and thought they were ok, but then something would keep nagging at me, haunting me, and I'd put the album on again, and then be think ''Wow, this is amazing.... I want to learn how to do this!'''
A few years later, The Bluetits were supporting a group which included bassist Al Gare and the guys really liked a couple of Oliver’s performances of T-Bone Walker songs, so they asked him up to do a couple of numbers with them. At the end of the gig, the singer wanted to introduce Oliver, and asked 'what's his name?'. Someone shouted 'Darling', and there was some sniggering and the name stuck.
A few months later, Oliver got his first serious break, when Al invited him to join his own new band, Palookaville! – which also included ex-King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys’ Dean Beresford and Danny McCormack. They quickly developed an underground following and did some memorable festivals where he came to the attention of one of the band’s many fans - Mike Sanchez.
Oliver had become friendly with Mike’s guitarist Andy Silvester, pestering him for stories about Peter Green from the 60s. Unfortunately Andy had to have an operation on his arm, which meant he'd be out of action for a couple of months in the Sanchez band. He asked Oliver to fill in for him which led to Oliver getting his dream job with Mike where he stayed for four years before leaving to pursue his own projects. Mike’s singer Imelda May also left to start her solo career and Oliver joined her touring band in 2015 where he has remained a part of it ever since.
He writes and records his own heartfelt songs and the pick of this current crop will be brought to you by The Last Music Company.
“…he is a virtuoso guitarist branching out doing his own thing, so I’m so pleased to champion that here on The Big Easy at Jazz Fm because there are so many session musicians who are doing their own beautiful blues things and Oliver is one of them.” ~ Kate Pieroudis: Jazz FM