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Chris reflects on friendship with Dave Neal

Dave Neal, most famously known as drummer for Suzi Quatro, relocated to Kent in later years and, a few years back played locally in a band with Chris. On the third anniversary of Dave's passing, 20th November 2023, Chris looks back on his friendship and playing in a band with Dave...
Dave Neal

Sadly, Dave Neal is no longer with us. He is best known as Suzi Quatro’s drummer from 1972 onwards playing on all her memorable chart hits: ‘Can the Can’, ‘Devil Gate Drive’, ’48 Crash’; recording several albums and touring with her all around the world but I know him as the driving force behind the band I gigged with called DNA, ‘Dave Neal Associates’ from 2013.
Dave had been ill and was in and out of action for some time but eventually got well enough to drum again, rehearsing with what would become DNA with Stuart on sax and keys, Neil on bass and me on guitar.
We got pretty tight as a band and as three of us could take on vocals we could add some close harmony to the mix. Our first gig was at The New Inn, Minster and since they had a large open area to the side of the pub, we had a decent audience. Dave was delighted to be back again and played with a big smile on his face. It’s also memorable because as part of his drum solo in ‘Radar Love’ and completely unexpected by me, he went out into the crowd giving out tambourines, bongos, maracas and, after a little demo of a rhythm, he’d have people joining in. We tended to end our shows with Dave singing ‘Radar’ and doing some kind of solo.
The years with Suzi, (also recording and touring with Georgie Fame and David Essex) meant he was very relaxed with an audience but he always looked the part with maybe a leather jacket, a waistcoat, a shirt and loosely fitting tie.
I often took his talent for granted but came to realise that he could play anything with great drive or subtlety through a whole range of styles. We played songs with some challenging drum parts: ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’, ‘Pick Up the Pieces’, ‘Baker Street’, ‘Message in a Bottle’; versions of musicals like Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Return to the Forbidden Planet’, ‘Bugsy Malone’; and styles from reggae to trad jazz. The blues was probably his first love and he toured Europe with Louisiana blues guitarist Sherman Robertson after leaving Suzi Quatro.
Dave’s drumming career ended on a high when Suzi Quatro asked him to stand in for her drummer at a festival attended by ten thousand in Switzerland. He flew over with her after extensive rehearsals and, as evidenced on YouTube, played a great gig featuring what had been a regular part of their show where the bass and drums each play little solos challenging one another with their creativity and dexterity.
Suzi has his custom-made kit to use in her home studio so Dave’s sound still lives on new and old recordings.
Thanks for the memories, Dave.
Chris Pike
21st November 2023


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