I was born in December 1976 In Chelmsford, England, and developed a passion for rock music and guitar playing in my mid teens. In my late teens I departed from the art college path and went to study guitar full-time at London’s G.I.T. (as it was at the time; later the London Music School). I graduated with a platinum award and shortly afterwards started working as a guitar teacher and transcriber. Around this time I started playing some gigs and getting hired as a studio session guitarist.
I then self-financed my own instructional video (for advanced picking and two-hand tapping techniques and such) and subsequently entered Guitarist Magazine’s ‘Guitarist Of The Year’ contest in 1999 and again in 2000 (reaching the finals of the former and winning the latter). I was interviewed by - and featured in - Guitarist Magazine a number of times as a result of the award, benefitting from their enthusiasm and support for my playing and material.
In 2001 I made my first album, which was released independently and received positive reviews, and the following year I auditioned for the British melodic rock band TEN, and was invited to join. In 2002 I gained touring experience with the band, covering Japan and several countries in Europe as well as undertaking a UK tour and festival appearances in England. I was also signed as a Yamaha endorsee, playing their Pacifica Custom guitars exclusively, and featuring in their Japanese catalogues and promotional materials.
More session work followed and in 2003 I started my own side project band, The Chris Francis Band, playing live sets comprised of my solo album instrumentals plus various cover songs (from Zappa to Cheap Trick). 2004 saw the recording of TEN’s ‘Return To Evermore’ album and I undertook press promotion for its release, including an interview for the Japanese magazine ‘Young Guitar’ (the same issue of which – July 2004 I believe - also featured transcriptions of my guitar work). Also in 2004 work began on my second solo album, ‘Studs N’ Sisters’, which was eventually released in 2006 after a busy recording schedule with TEN in 2005.
More recording sessions also came my way in 2004, this time for EMI and their film/TV music label KPM. I was also hired as a guest speaker by Thames Valley University for the first of my lectures for them on ‘Composition For The Guitar’ to undergraduate students, being then invited to return the following year.
Having learned a little studio engineering while making my second solo CD, I engineered and performed the guitar and bass parts for the next TEN album, ‘The Twilight Chronicles’, at my own home studio. The album was released in 2006, followed by press promotion and festival appearances.
A little more session work, as well as touring as part of the children’s show ‘Tracy Beaker Gets Real’, followed and in 2008 I decided to leave TEN to focus on my own song-writing and a different musical direction.
Next I conceived the imaginary band Scratch Matinée and wrote dozens of songs, recording the 2010 album ‘Notes From The Incurable’ (with a session singer), which was briefly released to some positive reviews. It was a tremendous learning experience - but an ambitious conceit - to write, arrange, engineer, perform, record, mix and master all thirteen songs of this theatrical concept album myself (all of which took place over three years). Anyway, it turned out to be more of an exercise in discovering my not-inconsiderable limitations than anything else (and there's a 1981 Frank Zappa album whose title seems to lend itself here). So, unhappy with the final sound quality, I pulled the album shortly after its release. However, the song 'Summer Days' resurfaced as a digital single in 2011, 'The Scarlet Ice' following in late 2012, each having been reworked and remixed by US producer/ composer/ engineer/ guitarist and solo artist Blues Saraceno. A second Scratch Matinée album ‘Lives And Archives’ was written but is as yet unrecorded.
As of Spring 2013 I am the guitarist in the new Oxford based band The Soft Tops.