His Grandma bought him a yellow/green ukulele, which he took everywhere and played until each string had broken. Even at this tender age, his love affair with music had begun.
It was when he was eight, however, that things really kicked off. That Christmas, he was given his first full size electric guitar… along with some sage advice from Mick Box of Uriah Heep, who just happened to be staying at the same hotel. What more could a kid ask for? Toby threw himself into music, heart and soul. Stirred by the greats, he now took every opportunity he could to listen to Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Gary Moore, to mention but a few.
But it was when he learned that BB King was seriously ill, that he had a moment of inspiration. What can a devoted fan do when a hero needs support? Record a “Get Well Soon” jam and post it on Facebook, that’s what. And though sadly BB died a few days later, to Toby’s astonishment two of his daughters contacted him to say thank you.
The cogs of the powerful music machine now began to turn. Blues icon, Joe Bonamassa, shared Toby’s video on social media, labelling him a ‘future superstar of the blues’. And so, the Sunday Blues Jam was born. Toby’s weekly Sunday jams swiftly grew in popularity with music lovers all over the world. And in 2015, Toby found himself flying to Memphis, Tennessee to play with BB King’s All Star Band on Beale Street. A dream come true for a ten year old blues fanatic.
Toby’s world now began to spin
Within a short time, he started to feature on many BBC radio interviews and TV programs, including TFI Friday and Tonight at the London Palladium (see full biog for details). And he also had the honour to play with amazing artists such as Bernie Marsden, Walter Trout, and McFly.
Then in 2016, Toby had his next HUGE break. He was cast as Zack Mooneyham in the West End production of ‘School of Rock’; the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This was a true test of Toby’s devotion to a career playing the guitar. He performed several times a week in front of two thousand people, including royalty and celebrities, and still kept up with his school work! And in recognition of the astonishing performances put in by all the original ‘School of Rock’ bands, they were each awarded an Olivier Award. At the young age of twelve, a statue now sat on the mantelpiece.
But live performance is what runs through Toby’s veins. He next played to 20,000 at the Cropredy Music Festival, joining the headliners Fairport Convention on the main stage. The School of Rock cast played to 40,000 at the BBC Proms in the Park, appeared on the Michael McIntyre Show, and opened ITV’s hit show The X Factor to Simon Cowell’s delight. And then, to cap it all, Toby was flown to Hollywood to appear on the Ellen Degeneres/Steve Harvey hit show ‘Little Big Shots’. The viewing audience for that was ten million. He then also headed off to Spain to appear on ‘Little Big Show’.
But it was the Blues Heaven Festival in Denmark in November, 2017, that took Toby’s profile into a different league. A video of him and Chicago bluesman Ronnie Baker Brooks playing together went viral and was viewed over 108 Million times in two months. And the music still keeps pulsing through his veins…
So what’s Toby up to in 2018?
In January, Toby also became the first ‘youth’ artist to represent the UK at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Let’s just say he’s racking up those air miles. And what’s to come in the near future?
Well, he’s the 2018 UK Young Blues Artist of the Year!
Earlier this year Toby was flown to LA to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show: