A brief biography about Snowboy
This article was "borrowed" from www.snowboy.info - an excellent resource and well worth a visit
Snowboy (real name Mark Cotgrove) started as a D.J. when he was 17 years old.
Inspired by the legendary D.J's Chris Hill and Bob Jones, he used to hire, monthly, the country's most legendary
black music club, The Goldmine.
The Goldmine was Chris Hill's residency and it was voted the U.K's No. 1 club for 12 years and was Snowboy's
grounding in Jazz, Funk and Soul. After doing 24 of these Wednesday events over the years, he found his collection
was getting more biased towards the Latin Fusion that was prominent in the clubs in the late 70's/early 80's and
Snowboy got interested in making all the 'exotic' sounds on these records (particularly by Brazilian percussionist
Airto). So after working a summer season as a prestigious 'Redcoat' at a Butlins holiday centre in 1982,
with his bonus, the day he returned he went and bought his first set of Congas.
After a year of trying to teach himself, Snowboy started having lessons studying Afro-Cuban and Brazilian percussion
with the U.K's grandfather of Latin music, Robin Jones, whom he met at a Samba night at Londons Wag Club run by the
legendary Jazz Dance D.J. Paul Murphy.
A few years later a friend by the name of Bill Bailey decided, as a project, he'd like to put just one record out to
see how the system works - from demoing to seeing it in the shops. So, co-funding it with a friend, Allen Burrell, he
asked Snowboy if he'd like to do the record as Bill was interested in his musical ideas and taste of music as a D.J..
This record (his debut) was called Bring On The Beat and had a B-side called
When Snowboy's Rocking The Mike which he was rapping on, as in those days he was a regular on the mike at the U.K's first rap night,
The Language Club in Soho, London (UK).
The A-side was a "Go-Go" Funk track, very heavy on the percussion, which was when Mark decided to use
the name Snowboy (after a character he played in the show West Side Story - for a local amateur
theatre company called The Little Theatre Club when he was 18).
Around the same time as the release of the single, Snowboy started playing professionally for an artist who he knew
from the amateur theatre company by the name of Chris Sutton. Chris released 3 singles and an album for
Polydor, but, unfortunately, never cracked it. Also, at the same time, Snowboy was asked to tour with the
Tex-Mex legend Flaco Jimenez from San Antonio, Texas. Flaco's label owner, Dave Hatfield, after hearing
Snowboy's first single, wanted him to do a single on his label Waterfront.
The Latin-Jazz single, Mambo Teresa, featured Flaco and broke out big with the
Jazz Dance scene, totally committing to it.
The follow up was recorded for Waterfront but ended up on B.G.P. after buying it from them.
The single Ritmo Snowbo, was another Latin Jazz track and, once again, cracked it on the
dance-floor, with a B-side version of the jazz classic Night In Tunisia sung by
Jackson Sloan (whose debut album was produced by Snowboy).
At this point we are in 1988 and the Jazz-Dance scene was massive in the U.K. The records had all done well and
Snowboy was very active as both a D.J. and percussionist, but, backtracking to when the second single came out,
Snowboy's teacher, after hearing it, got him to play bongos in his Latin band King Salsa and the pianist in this band
was called Danny White who had a very big pop band at the time called Matt Bianco. Danny was going to leave
Matt Bianco with his girlfriend Basia (who was the lead singer) to concentrate on her solo career. Danny asked
Snowboy to play percussion in the band which was a massive break for him, as Basia went on to be really big around
the World and especially America (both North and South). With Basia he did the Johnny Carson Show
and David Letterman and, well, endless T.V. shows as well as touring around the world.
The famous D.J. recording artists Coldcut saw Snowboy's first record on the wall in a collectors record shop,
heard it, and thought the style of percussion was what they wanted for their single Stop This Crazy Thing.
He did it and it was a hit, and at a Coldcut party, Snowboy met Ian Devaney
(who was in the Singles video) and his girlfriend Lisa Stansfield, who had already had her first hit with Coldcut.
It was Snowboy they got for percussion for her first and consecutive tours as well as
recording on all her albums and singles (except the first album), and, like
Basia, he has toured everywhere with her and done loads of T.V. shows.
This was from 1990 to present day, but, back in 1988 (again) the Jazz Dance scene had just been
re-named "Acid Jazz" as an in-joke amongst a group of prominent D.J's in that scene as the music,
Acid House, was breaking big (obviously, musically, both styles have nothing in common).
The home of this movement was at a club called "Dingwalls" in London which Snowboy was very
much part of, playing there very often in different bands.
A label was formed by the main D.J. there, Giles Peterson, and friend Eddie Piller.
The label was called Acid Jazz and Snowboy was approached to record an album for them.
What is "Latin Jazz" doing on Acid Jazz records?
The biggest mistake the public made was not realising the Acid Jazz was a scene, rather than a
style of music. The music was "Jazz Dance" i.e. any Jazz you can dance to.
Snowboy was part of an Acid Jazz (scene) project on Polydor called
The Freedom Principle which showed off the diversity of our scene;
Snowboy contributed a latin house track which got to No.21 in the national club charts.
Snowboy's debut album in 1988 was one of the first albums on Acid Jazz records as label co-owner GILLES PETERSON
wanted to put something out that documented Snowboy's career to date by licensing all the early singles plus a
record a few tracks to make it current. The album was called Ritmo Snowbo.
As well as playing with King Salsa and Basia then he also joined the James Taylor Quartet to play with them when he
was available, and enjoyed 6 great years with them on and off and has recently been gigging with them again.
Through playing with James Taylor Quartet, Snowboy met Noel McKoy (JTQ's singer then) and featured Noel on two singles (Snowboy's
singles usually represent him as a producer, giving him a chance to reflect his varied music taste as a D.J.).
The first of the two, Give Me The Sunshine, actually went into the U.K. national charts at No. 51.
Snowboy never wanted to put a band out on the road because he was so busy playing with other bands, but because of so
many requests for gigs in 1992 he started performing regularly (time permitted).
Another album was released called Descarga Mambito but it was Snowboy's album, Something's Coming,
in 1994 that gave him the most exposure.
The label Acid Jazz was at its height (as was the scene) and Snowboy was in every other music publication (even on
some covers!), so this album surprised everybody by flying into the U.K. Indie Charts at No.11 (alongside
Depeche Mode and The Smiths!) - an Afro Cuban Jazz album!
Snowboy did 88 European gigs that year and has since played all over the world from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and
Singapore, Turkey to Scandinavia to Ireland.
Snowboy is a producer, a re-mixer (check his re-mixes of Lisa Stansfield,
Roy Hargrove, Coldcut etc.) and has done countless recording sessions,
notably with most from the 'Acid Jazz' scene - J.T.Q., Incognito, Mother Earth,
Negrocan, Corduroy etc. and as a D.J. he hosts the U.K's No 1 Jazz Dance session
called "The Hi-Hat" at London's Madame Jojo's.
Altogether, Snowboy has had 18 singles released on various labels, including two featuring the incredible vocalist
Anna Ross (who he met when she was backing vocalist with Lisa Stansfield) and 12 albums includind a The Best Of Snowboy,
Pit Bull Latin Jazz and The Many Faces Of Snowboy
(which was an album that covered all of his different musical loves) and, of course, three albums on the
San Francisco label Ubiquity/Cu Bop, label that specializes in Afro Cuban Jazz.
In Autumn 2003 he had signed a new record deal with Chilli Funk.
A joint 12" project with The Interns appeared on this label earlier in that year and his
debut album for this label appears late May 2004 and is entitled New Beginnings.
Snowboy is currently writing a history of the U.K. Jazz Dance scene and is a columnist for GRAND SLAM magazine.
He has recently been featured in the books Salsa-Musical Heartbeat Of Latin America by
Sue Steward, Dancin' Salsa - Salsa Hotline Japan and is in the who's who of Latin music.
He is without doubt, the country's best known Latin percussionist and his band is probably Europe's most travelled
Latin Jazz act. He sees himself in the future as recording as many albums and playing live as much as he can to
continue to spread his brand of furious, hardcore Afro Cuban Jazz around the furthest reaches of the planet, and as
the unofficial ambassador for the U.K's Jazz Dance scene!!
Snowboy's proudest association is with his No.1 fan - Professor Robert Farris Thompson of
Yale University (New Haven, CT). He is one of the world's leading authorities on
Afro Cuban Art History and Music and was quoted as saying"In one man's opinion, I think Snowboy is doing and can do at ever higher and widening levels what the Beatles did for Rock".
Snowboy is an endorser of L.P. percussion and Zildjian cymbal's.