Terence ‘Snowy’ White always seemed like an accidental guitar hero. Raised on the Isle of Wight in the 1950s, the modest 74-year-old was a British disciple of the blues boom who today tells us that “the limit of my ambition was to play simple blues phrases over simple chord progressions – and it still is. is”.
White did a lot in his four-decade solo career, which includes the 1983 hit single Bird of Paradiseand continues this year Driving on the 44 album. But stardom has also come to call whether he likes it or not, thanks to playing with peak-time Pink Floyd and a tangling Thin Lizzy.
The lyrics of the new album often sound like you want to hit the road. How difficult was it to retire from live work in 2019 due to your health issues?
In some ways it was difficult, but I had to admit that nothing lasts forever. My fingers aren’t really doing what my brain tells them these days, and it’s become more stressful than fun. It was just time.
On the studio side, however, obviously you can always cut it.
Yeah, but I can do a guitar part and then take a break, instead of doing a good hour and a half.
You were close to Peter Green. What is your best memory of him?
When he stayed with my parents on the Isle of Wight. I only recently realized how surreal it was because he slept in my old bedroom, where I used to sit for weeks learning his guitar phrases – you know, there was Pete, who was snoring. He also helped with the dishes. I washed it and it dried. My mother thought he was a nice boy.
How do you feel when you see Peter portrayed as this tragic character?
Well, he turned into a slightly tragic figure. He got really weird at the end. I went to see him and he was in a really weird way, his fingernails so long they curled up. He would let go. It was sad. But I accepted it as Pete’s way.
Roger Waters has a reputation among music journalists for being quite fierce. Are we all wrong?
Roger can be fierce. He gets into places in his mind where he just doesn’t want to put up with bullshit. Which is fair enough. He can’t stand fools or people who don’t fit his weight, and he gets a little angry with them. But if you work with him and do your best, you are treated extremely well. He’s funny.
What makes you so good at working with superstars?
It’s because I really don’t care. With Pink Floyd [he first toured with them in 1977] I didn’t even realize that this was a particularly large group. I was quite narrow-minded. If there wasn’t a blues guitar solo, I wasn’t listening. I was probably the only person in the UK who had never heard The dark side of the moon. Someone said their manager tried to get in touch and maybe I should call him. I didn’t bother. I just sort of drifted into the gig.
Not impressed with fame?
No. And I can’t understand people who do. I mean, after a long tour playing stadiums and flying in jets, I get home and in less than ten minutes I’m up there unplugging the shower.