Rick McKay has been passionate about music since before he could walk or talk. His favourite household item as a toddler was his Mum and Dad’s radiogram, on which he would spend hours listening to the likes of Guy Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Marty Robbins. One day he heard Elvis Presley’s voice on the radio and from then on he knew that music was where his future lay. Hungering for more of the sounds he loved Rick soon discovered a wealth of other artists, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy, Jackie Wilson, Del Shannon and his all time favourite, Roy Orbison.
At the age of 9 he bought his first guitar with money saved from chores and a loan from his uncle. It didn’t take him long to get going and soon he was playing along with many of his favourite songs for many hours at a time. His first live appearances were both in school productions. The first, aged just 9, was actually a stand-up comedy routine, and the second, aged 11, performing guitar instrumentals at a school concert. By the age of 15 he’d joined a semi-professional band playing gigs after school and on weekends. It wasn’t until he formed his own band aged 17 that he began taking on the roll of lead vocalist.
In 1987 Rick was picked for the role of Elvis Presley in the theatre production of Forever Elvis where he stayed for the next few years, working solo acoustic gigs in between. 1989 saw the show become the first ever rock musical to tour in Russia.
HMV records ran a promotion called Route ‘89 which aimed to promote “New Country” in the UK that year. On discovering Rodney Crowell, Dwight Yoakam, Ricky Van Shelton, and later on Garth Brooks, Rick was inspired to fly to Nashville and try his luck, which he did in April 1994. Rick was signed by GMC Records in Nashville on only his second day in town and released two albums in the US. He also spent time recording with legendary drummer and producer, Ritchie Albright, an original member of Waylon Jennings’ band The Waylors.
On his return to the UK Rick became involved in a number of projects, which ran simultaneously over the next few years. He continued to work as a solo act, as well as with his own band and took on another lead role in theatre, this time as Garth Brooks in, The Thunder Rolls.
Following The Thunder Rolls Rick co-formed a duo, Pure Country, with his wife Jodie. The duo quickly built up a loyal following, winning a number of “band of the year” awards in the UK and eventually travelled to Texas, where they performed at Fort Worth Stockyards during the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering and also headlined several shows at the Liberty Opry near Houston. Rick was forced to cut down and eventually stop touring in 2005 due to a developing throat problem. On October 18th 2010 Rick had an operation to remove scar tissue from a cyst on the flat surface of his vocal chords.
In 2011 Rick began playing a few dates with rockabilly trio Hot Doggin' and Pure Country. He also began taking work as a backing musician, playing lead guitar with Paul Ansell’s No9 and 8 piece rhythm and blues band Laura B & The Moonlighters. He has also played drums with The Steve Cherelle band, The Doggone Honkabillies and The Counterfeit Crickets, and double and electric bass in Rock 'n' Roll Paradise, We Three Kings of Rock 'n' Roll, Patsy Cline & Friends. In Roy Orbison & Friends, he again took on the role of Johnny Cash, and, for a year or so, he replaced Ian Aiken, the original front-man with Psychobilly legends the Wigsville Spliffs, who has now returned from his retirement to front the band.
After jumping in as a last minute replacement for Marc Robinson’s usual double bassist, Rick found himself playing regular gigs with The Counterfeit Crickets in 2012, becoming involved in a number of Robinson’s productions in various guises, sometimes on bass, sometimes guitar and even drums. Most notably, on hearing Rick’s impersonation of Johnny Cash, Marc Robinson offered him one of lead roles in Hank, Cash & Cline, which soon developed into a full theatre show in it's own right, Johnny Cash Revisited. The new show includes Jodie in the role of June Carter Cash and the fabulous band, Starkville.
Currently, Rick continues to tour with Johnny Cash revisited, as well as playing bass in the successful rock 'n' roll show, Be Bop A Lula. He also has his own Rockabilly/Country/Americana band, The Starkville Three, which gives Rick the opportunity to feature his self-penned songs alongside his favourites by other other artistes. He will be playing bass in Jodie McKay's band on her upcoming shows.
In 2020 Rick will be touring the UK in a number of productions and different guises.
They are as follows…
JOHNNY CASH REVISITED (Johnny Cash)
THE STARKVILLE THREE (Lead Vocals and Guitar)
BE BOP A LULA (Double and Electric bass)
JODIE McKAY (Double and Electric bass)
PLUS: Occasional shows with BUDDY HOLLY’S WINTER DANCE PARTY (The Big Bopper) and HANK, CASH & CLINE (Johnny Cash)
Full details of all shows and bands can be found on our "EVENTS" page.