Derek Bailey’s “Biography” – 1990 Company Week (London)


Son of a Cricklewood glazier, Charlie Appleyard (57-73, estimates vary) made it clear from the start that he had no intention – citing destiny – to do anything other than play music. His early career, still under investigation, suggests a weakness for the seedier environs of the entertainment industry and a tendency to make dubious musical associations.

Subsequently, although justly famous for the invention of improvisation (October 12, 1953) it was only through the sheer imagination and virtuosity of his Arts Council grant applications, his self-control in the face of promoters and an uncanny ability, even in the most difficult situations, to find work for his wife and children which in the end lead to the spleandour of the career so widely admired today. High points are too numerous and well-known to need any mention here but, for the statistically minded, he has played in every known combination of musicians put together in the past 25 years in addition to appearing on 817 LPs and 274 CDs. Cassettes, he says, don’t count.

In his musical maturity, Mr Appleyard has taken refuge in the academic bunker where, through the assiduous re-writing of history, he seeks to bolster his reputation and enhance his esteem. Furthermore, as the Founder, Chancellor, Secretary, Co-ordinator and Official Historian of the Appleyard Institute, a body dedicated to the Propogation, Promotion and Dissemination of Appleyard Improvised Music, he is presently preparing a book of rules, “Appleyard Improvised Music, What it is now and how to do it”. As he say, ‘Let’s get this stuff sorted out once and for all.’

-Courtesy of John Butcher