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Senior Lecturer in Commercial Music Performance, University of Westminster

Adrian York was educated at St. Paul’s School and at Sussex University where he studied composition with Jonathan Harvey (1979-82). Adrian furthered his studies at the Guildhall School of Music where he took courses in arranging for orchestra and jazz ensemble and studied piano with Carola Grindea and John Taylor.

Born into a family of five generations of musicians, Adrian York knew from his earliest years that he wanted to follow his family trade. After playing piano, oboe, trumpet, bass recorder, popular and orchestral percussion at school, he realised aged 16 that he wanted to be a keyboard player. After a succession of local bands aged 17 he joined Simon Townshend’s band On The Air who were a fixture on the London pub rock circuit and with whom he signed a deal with Warner Brothers, releasing one single.

Adrian started his professional career wearing a sailor’s hat in the early 80s boyband Roman Holliday, a retro pop-swing band that took the world of girl’s magazines by storm. The band’s most successful release was ‘Don’t Try to Stop It’ which peaked at number 14 in the UK charts allowing the band several years of international touring and promotion. Adrian joined the band in 1982, staying until the band split up in 1985. Highlights included touring around Europe, America and Japan, often supporting Culture Club and the Stray Cats or headlining venues such as the Ritz in New York. In the UK the band was a mainstay of the club and college circuit either headlining or opening up for bands including Mari Wilson, The BelleStars and Ian Dury and in all Adrian appeared with them either live or in broadcast one hundred and thirty-three times. The band appeared on Top of the Pops on several occasions as well as The Old Grey Whistle Test, Radio 1 In Concert and numerous other TV and radio broadcasts. They reformed for a well-attended one-off reunion gig at London’s Borderline Club in 2005.

After Roman Holliday Adrian played for a year with MCA signing The Lost Boys, a project fronted by ex-Rezillo the late Jon McGlauchlin (Kid Krupa) and Charlie Francis, but then returned to the Guildhall School of Music for a further year to further his jazz studies and in the process recording and touring with one of his heroes, Canadian jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.

From the late 1980s Adrian became a fixture on both the pop session, light entertainment and jazz circuits, performing, recording or broadcasting (often as musical director) with acts including:

Working Week, Helen Terry, Sarah-Jane Morris, Juliet Roberts, Mari Wilson, Sandie Shaw, Jimmy Ruffin, Seal, Definition of Sound, Goldie, The Nolan Sisters, Lisa Stansfield, Ronny Jordan, Desperately Seeking Fusion, Phillip Bent, Ian Shaw , Alison Limerick, Meera Syal, Lillie Savage, Zachary Breaux, ANC 25th Anniversary Show, Gay Pride, Michael Bolton, Ruby Turner, Edwin Starr, Geno Washington, Paul Jones, Shirley Bassey, Paul Young, Anthony Quinn, Little Anthony and theImperials, Darts, Hotei, BBC TV Serial Pie In The Sky, Mark Murphy, Pattie Boulaye, Rebecca Wheatley.

In the 1990s he became musical director for JAZZ FM LIVE EVENTS for whom he ran the Dinner JazzQuartet, Rhythm Blues & Soul Revue, Cotton ClubRevue and Miles Davis TributeGroup. He has also been a featured pianist or bandleader at venues including Quaglinos, The Green Room (Cafe Royal), Pont de la Tour, The Grosvenor House, The Dorchester, The Waldorf, The Groucho Club, Dolphin Square , Coq d’Argent, Aurora and Sartoria.

For the last few years Adrian has primarily performed with Europe’s top cabaret diva Barb Jungr, the “Neasden Queen of Soul” Mari Wilson, and as m.d. for the show Girl Talk which features Mari and Barb alongside British jazz star Claire Martin.

For many years Adrian was a Professor at The Guildhall School Of Music and Drama, visiting lecturer at University of Westminster, London College Of Music, Brunel and Thames Valley Universities.

He was a tutor at BRIGHTON ROCK (Musician's Union summer school) and made appearances and gave workshops with the Musician's Union Muzictech Band.

For Jazz FM he ran the Jazz FM JAZZWORKS school workshop programme delivering over 60 workshops in schools in the London area. Other education work included contributing modules to the National Syllabus, training young bands to play at Buckingham Palace for the Prince’s Trust and in his role as syllabus director creating new exam syllabi for Rockschool for electric guitar, bass, drums and popular piano. He also runs creativity, communication and leadership workshops which are attended by executives from many major companies.


  • –present
    Senior lecturer in Commercial Music Performance, University of Westminster