Ex-Grammar boy’s sideline in country

Charles Knowles, in his scrubs.
Charles Knowles, in his scrubs.

By day, former Boston Grammar School pupil Charles Knowles is a professor of surgery in a London hospital as well as a leading figure in the charity Bowel & Cancer Research.

Now, he has revealed his new sideline – as a country singer and songwriter.

Artwork for Charlie's single.

Artwork for Charlie's single.

His first single, The Man You Take For Worse, has just been released, to be followed by an EP recorded in LA and a possible tour in the US.

It was written by Charlie, who has decided to donate all proceeds to the charity Bowel & Cancer Research, of which he is a trustee.

The EP was produced in Los Angeles by Grammy award-nominated Brandon Friesen and features Chris Condon (MD for Billy Ray Cyrus) on guitars and rock backing vocalist Stevie Vann Lange.

Charlie, a professor of surgery with Barts Health NHS Trust, was in the US when he got the country music bug. At the time he was in a four-piece punk band in London.

“We decided that playing the Clash and the Stranglers was great fun, but it was almost impossible to find paying gigs in London,” he said.

“If there was a light-bulb moment, it was in Austin, Texas, in about 2011.

“I was staying at the South Austin Motel and went across the road to the Continental Club.

“The house band called Heybale were playing with Red Volkeart on lead guitar. They were fronted by Gary Claxton (great voice and nothing too flash on the acoustic guitar: RIP 2016) – and I thought ‘I could do that’.

“Then my lifelong friend and fellow musician Dr Frank Cooke decided to learn the lap steel guitar and that pushed us into doing some old Nashville classics.”

Charlie’s country band started in 2016 after he and Frank met a keyboard player they had been with in a band at school.

“The story-telling simplicity of country music (it’s just three chords and the truth) suited my song-writing and many songs followed,” he said.

The Man You Take for Worse is available through iTunes and Amazon.

The video, shot in East London, is available on YouTube.