Great Music Stories

The story so far by GuyB

Since January 2015, I have produced and presented an audio celebration of music, bringing together benchmark interviews and an exciting radio show format that has won a loyal following across the UK and abroad. Great Music Stories (GMS) has chronicled artist stories over time through the highs and lows, tackled the big issues head-on and I’ve gone into bat for hundreds of grassroots bands often struggling for airtime. A recognised trend-setter for calling things early, GMS has a proven track-record in moving the dial for a generation of rising artists. Three former bands of the year went on to get signed and hit the mainstream charts.

The interview format has a distinct personality and many listeners have referred to the rockshow as their favourite show on radio. The marriage of interview original approach and radio show format has garnered industry recognition – with seven nominations for national audio/radio awards. During the lockdown era, my show gained two nominations in successive years as best music presenter, a volunteer project from ‘the rock caravan’ standing in the company of the biggest names in the industry.

Whilst GMS started out as a multi-genre project, within a year the cause focused on championing a new generation of grassroots rock and blues artists – ‘modern rock’ was the phrase we coined. To this day, the format is portable and has bandwidth. We have also followed the stories of classic artists and dipped into other genres. GMS can work across any genre as it’s ultimately about the meaningful stories behind music, the creative process – and its contribution to culture and society at large.

A compelling interview series

Since 2015, GMS has earned a reputation for stand-out interviews. The signature format is the a 60-minute hour special with an artist, although we also do thematic seasons on topics that involve short, quick-fire interviews with a group of artists. For around 200 artists, we have told their story over time, speaking to each at key points through the year. After 7 years, more than 1,200 interview hour specials and 3,850 shorts have been recorded, presenting a benchmark archive of artist stories – as they happened – over time, and through some key events in history.

Birth of a different kind of rockshow

Working in parallel with the interviews, I started a rock show in 2015 to give a platform for a new generation of rock bands that my interviews were beginning to focus on. At the time there were very few radio outlets for this music and the show quickly gained a reputation for leading the charge on dozens of new bands. The show format attracted a loyal weekly audience for whom 5pm on Fridays became fixed calendar event. During the show I didn’t just play new music, we made the discovery of artists exciting and many gained long runs – and the show became well known for live listener engagement, which reminded us of the value of radio over podcasts. A lot of the music we invested in was picked up by others. We helped to create a ripple at the start, for a scene that has since gained significant momentum.

The lockdown years

In February, had decided to take a break from local radio after a 5-year run – and weeks later Covid struck. With millions of people in lockdown it was a time for the enriching warmth of audio, so I set up a radio station from a knackered caravan that I parked at the end of my garden.  Monty Python but seriously passionate in equal measure, it proved to be a golden age for GMS, the freedom to create an editorial style that broke with convention, was brave over safe and original in format. From the spirit of invention we ran interview seasons that tackled the big issues – such as ‘the working musician during lockdown,’ mental health, ‘the road to recovery’ after lockdown, DEI and ‘women of rock.’ We also organised there weekend festivals on radio – with the ‘modern rock wellbeing festival’ proving to be one of the grassroots highlights of the lockdown era.  An intensive run that seamlessly married radio with the ongoing interview series, the ‘rock caravan’ era gave hundreds of artists a lifeline in the non-gig age and helped thousands of people get through a succession of lockdowns and home isolation. The listeners powered it and we recognised them as the stars of the show by giving them their own series.

As Neil Mach commented in his 2020 article: “Guy doesn’t just spin tracks – his commitment to really get behind bands and give them concerted attention over time is an important factor in helping to get bands noticed. Here the interplay of an engaging radio show with in-depth feature hour interviews combine well to give music fans the chance to really get under the skin of a band or artist.”

Looking forward

With Covid restrictions falling away, in February 2022 I decided to take a break. Part of the healing and recovery process after such a strange time in history requires a moment to stop, to refresh and to reappraise. I am using time this spring to think about what next for the radio show, I am starting work on the Great Music Stories book and am working on new ideas of audio interview series that resonate with a new post-Covid era. But the interviews continue. It’s a time for new ideas and there will be a new chapter. The Great Music Stories continue…

Seven years in numbers

363 Friday radio shows

Over 200 days of Covid

More than 1,000 first plays

1,245 interview hour specials

3,801 interview shorts

48 Bands of the month and 65 albums of the month

7 bands of the year – 3 subsequently signed by Earache Records

7 seasons of the New Horizons series with 420 bands

5 online festivals with more than 388 live sets

5 sponsored festival stages

7 listener T shirt runs

2 editions of ‘Modern Rock’

Shortlisted for 7 national radio awards

and 180 lockdown rock kitchen episodes

Listener Comments

Artist Comments

"A massive thank you to GuyB for going into bat for us when not a lot of other people would. The help and support has been an absolute beacon of light at times when everything else was pretty dark."
Wayne Doyle, Scarlet Rebels
Wayne Doyle, Scarlet Rebels
“Without wanting to appear ungrateful, there are times when a list of upcoming interviews can bring on a strong urge to run the other way. But when Guy's name is on your call sheet you tend to brighten up because you know you will be taking part in an engaging conversation that will be fun and never predictable. He's got a quick wit and an excellent sense of humour.”
Danny Vaughn
Danny Vaughn
“Sometimes the best things in life are invisible. When it comes to Great Music Stories, the radio show GuyB has produced since 2015, we don’t see Guy doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes, nor are we aware of his Herculean efforts, but the results are heard and appreciated loud and clear by our music-loving ears. Thanks, Guy, for making a visible difference to the airwaves.”
Sari Schorr
“Guy and his show have managed to help launch the careers of many bands in the emerging rock scene. His loyal listeners are rewarded with engaging, fun and interesting content - which is always fresh.”
Verity White
Verity White
"The support and love that Guy Bellamy gives to the musicians that he features on his show is currently second to none. He's one of the most supportive and enthusiastic guys we've met through our journey so far. Whoever chooses to get Guy on board is in for a real treat"
Ryders Creed
Ryders Creed
“Guy is the finest DJ anywhere. Mixing Monty Python/Kenny Everett style surreal humour with music, he has massive appeal to all audiences and it’s done with such a beautifully light and irreverent touch that one simply can’t fail to be won over.”
Hoss Thompson
Hoss Thompson
“Guy has shown himself to be a tastemaker in the scene. His show is loved by listeners and bands alike - and when he recommends a band, the industry sits up and takes note.”
Sky Hunter
Sky Hunter
“GuyB has been shining a light on and championing the grassroots rock scene for a while now, especially women in rock, who often get forgotten from the mainstream stations. What I love when I chat to Guy is that no interview is the same, you never know what to expect, it’s always complete madness filled with humour, yet a deep love for the scene and you chat like you have known each other your whole life.”
Elles Bailey
"Guy is a radio voice for artists he believes in. His unbiased - unaffected by dictated playlists and stats - approach fuels the fire behind his impact. Over the years I have both observed and been involved with the authentic growth and organic reach of his Great Music Stories show, which has truly come into its own in 2020 when listeners have felt the need to connect more than ever. I guess you could say his listenership is like one big family. Radio needs more characters like Guy"
Lynne Jackaman
Lynne Jackaman
“GuyB is one of those unique and vital souls who nurture the growth and exposure of new bands carving their way into the vast cavernous halls of the music industry. His devotion to spreading the gospel of music to the world and bringing bands he believes should be heard by a bigger audience is a motivation and inspiration to new groups and artists getting a foothold on the hopeful rise to the top of the pyramid.”
Blurred Vision
Blurred Vision

Industry Comments

"Great Music Stories has become the reference-point interview archive charting the resurgence of a new rock music in Britain today through a new generation of young bands"

“Guy’s shows are a rare breed these days, because they give new and, in many cases, previously unheard acts a chance of exposure to an audience that both trusts his choices, and has come to expect him to unearth new talent before anyone else does. Without his help, a band like Massive Wagons would have struggled to find an outlet – Guy can take enormous credit now that they are an established Top 20 act, because he was championing them from the beginning. It’s for this reason I feel his shows are so important – they genuinely champion new and developing acts, and they genuinely make a difference for new talent looking to get heard.”

“Not only does Guy provide a platform for grassroots acts, he catapults them forward. The coverage from Guy’s show has helped various emerging acts get signed by bigger labels and one of them went on to achieve a Number 16 in the UK Charts. We need more people like this.”

"Guy is an incredible supporter of emerging talent who works tirelessly to give artists an engaging platform to tell their story and get to the heart of what it's really like to be a musician in the digital age."

Sample show mash

A portrait of Modern Rock’s benchmark chronicler and commentator

An article by Neil Mach and Claire Lloyd