Laurence Archer – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Laurence was five years old when Reuben married Lynne, his mother. He grew up in Teddington, later moving with the family to Somerset at the age of Twelve. The young Laurence was a keen and talented footballer and one day at a junior school match, he was spotted by a Chelsea Football Club scout. A date was set for a trial at the clubs grounds, with the view to him joining their junior squad.
Unfortunately on that very day, Reuben had a bad car crash. Thrown through the car’s windscreen, he sustained a broken jaw in three places. Completely thrown by the news, Laurence, now totally unnerved, lost concentration and failed the test. If things had gone the other way, we may have celebrated Laurence the First Division footballer (as it was then) and not the consummate guitarist that he later became.
Prior to moving to the West Country, Laurence began to take a keen interest in cycling. With the acquisition of a fixed-wheel racing cycle (track iron) which he painted yellow, the same colour later adopted for his signature Gibson Flying Vs, Laurence became passionate about road and track racing, entering many events at club level.
That passion for cycles is still present today, but for the motorised variety, as he is a proud owner of a Triumph and a Ducati, riding them at every opportunity possible.
For the past 15 years the speed freak guitarist has maintained a high level of performance in various formulas of karting, winning many events throughout the UK. However, running his own company serving the film industry has taken its toll on his time, even causing problems with recording and playing in his band, Stampede.
Laurence formed his first band with his father Reuben at the age of 16 and the following years, through and up to the demise of Stampede, are documented in Reuben’s section – so we need to fast forward to 1984. Following the demise of Stampede, Laurence formed Rhode Island Red. However, even though considerable material was written and recorded, the band failed to be signed. Laurence then followed on with a solo album for Japan, this time with far more success. There were other projects, but his main break came when he was contacted out of the blue by Phil Lynott.
Phil, having wound up Thin Lizzy, was planning a new band called Grand Slam and because of Laurence and Reuben’s time with Wild Horses – and also being under the same management as Lizzy – Phil was well aware of Laurence’s ‘axe’ capabilities.
Phil had great memory when it came to musicians and had played on stage numerous times with Horses, so Laurence was an ideal choice for him to make. Laurence would also be in the company of an old friend, as Grand Slam’s keyboard player was Magnum’s Mark Stanway, who played keys on Stampede’s last album, Hurricane Town.
The story of Grand Slam is well known and of course ended when Phil sadly died. Laurence was now once again out on a limb.
Some session work followed, along with projects that didn’t come to fruition, but the next break came with an offer to join Brit rockers UFO. The band was about to record a new album and Laurence immediately began work, co-writing material and rehearsing.
High Stakes And Dangerous Men was the studio album which elevated the band back onto the mainstream circuit and the next move was a Japanese tour, which resulted in the live album, Lights Out In Tokyo. Following this, UFO decided it might be a good idea to invite Michael Schenker back to the fold – which turned out to be a non starter – and the band consequently survived, hiring several axe men until the stable line up they have today.
With not much on the horizon, Laurence, like Reuben ten years earlier, put away his guitars and walked away from rock and roll to start his film props company.
In 2008 and for a little bit of light relief, he borrowed a Strat from Reuben and formed AWE, a blues outfit with UFO mate Clive Edwards, saying these days it just has to be fun.
Then came the call from Reuben to reform Stampede. Laurence agreed, saying that this was not going to be easy, especially with his work and family commitments. It hasn’t been easy, but he’s hung in there and Stampede will work around things to enable him to do as much as he can – he has also recently made promotional videos demonstrating Yamaha guitars.
Laurence uses Gibson and Yamaha guitars and Marshall amps (at the moment!).