Thunder duo Danny Bowes and Luke Morley celebrate 50 years of friendship, fun and making music this month as they head out on an intimate UK tour. In an exclusive interview, axe slinger and songwriter Morley told Simon Rushworth to expect the unexpected…

Rushonrock: Your latest tour coincides with the release of the Mick Wall-penned Danny Bowes & Luke Morley – The First 50 Years but what’s the story behind the life story?

Luke Morley: Mick’s written lots about us over the years. And I mean years and years. So he had a fairly good feel for what we were thinking of and we trust him. Danny and I had done the two-man shows a few years back and we talked quite a bit about our history together. A few stories featured in that show so we had a skeleton to build on as far as the book’s concerned. We sent Mick a few bits and pieces to start with. I found a few old cuttings from the early days just to jog everyone’s memories and then we got going. Both of us did several interviews with Mick to put some meat on the bones and then he came back to us with various drafts of drafts. We whittled all of that down until we had something that we both thought was a true representation of the last half century. Or fairly true! True-ish.

Rushonrock: So how far back did you go?

LM: Pretty much right back to when we met when we were kids. We were 11. So it’s fairly comprehensive. It’s called The First 50 Years and it does what it says on the tin. It starts at school and goes from there.

Rushonrock: How on earth did you remember all of the finer details from the best part of 50 years?

LM: Living the life of a musician, when people are constantly interviewing you, means you become used to telling stories. I’ve been talking to journalists for 35 years now! During that time, some of the stories probably got exaggerated and bent out of shape. And some probably became more interesting than they actually were! But in the process of telling those stories it makes you remember things. The only vague period for me was the 80s. I do remember some of the Terraplane era vividly but other things are a bit of a blur. What I found was, there were some things I would remember really clearly that Danny had forgotten and vice versa. So a bit of that went on! Fortunately there was a natural dovetailing and we’d complement each other’s memories and finish each other’s stories. By and large we both agreed on pretty much everything as it happened! We didn’t see everything exactly the same but pretty much. So what you get with the book and the shows is an accurate picture of our lives for the last 50 years. 

Rushonrock: So are there some stories that remain untold?

LM: Yes, but I think we’ll have to wait until a few more of us are dead before they come out! There are always some things that are best left unsaid…

Rushonrock: But are there stories in the book that are new to fans of you, Danny and Thunder?

LM: Hopefully. I always worry I’ve been boring people for all these years but so far the response to the book and its content has been very positive. I suppose there are some things in there that are significant as far as me and Danny are concerned but that might seem trivial to someone else. Not everything made the final cut but everything that is in there is very personal to us. I think it’s ok. I got my wife to read it all before it was published and she seemed to think it was all good fun. She’s normally very critical! So that’s a good sign…

Rushonrock: Have there been times when you’ve been close to releasing a book in the past?

LM: There was a Thunder biography that came out about four years ago written by a guy called Joel McIver. We got approached by the publisher to work on that and we said ‘ok’. This book is specifically about Danny and I and our relationship and how that’s ebbed and flowed over the years. There are things in this that weren’t in the Thunder book — like working on the Bowes and Morley album and looking at the time when Danny was an agent and when I was making the solo albums. So it’s a bit more comprehensive as far as we’re concerned.

Rushonrock: So without giving away any spoilers can you go back to the very start and tell us about how you and Danny met?

LM: We both attended the same secondary school but the story starts off pretty weirdly because in the first year we ended up in different groups socially. Gradually, I suppose, we sort of got closer. And then we started hanging out properly when we were about 13 or 14. A gang of us was already into music. We used to go to gigs together when our parents would let us and it’s about that time that I got introduced to this guy who was a drummer…well he’d just bought a drum kit and he wanted to start a band. And before I knew it the drum kit was set up in my bedroom at home for some reason! We all skipped off school one afternoon and sat in my bedroom and smoked…as you did in those days. As Danny describes it, he walked into the bedroom, saw the drum kit and it was like fuck me! It was like a magical vision for him and he just thought ‘I need to be around this’. 

Rushonrock: And you’ve never been able to shake him since then?

LM: Exactly. It was the next day, I think, and we were in economics lesson. He said to me ‘I hear you’re looking for a singer? I can sing’. I didn’t really believe him. But he insisted that he could and kept rattling on about it and then he said ‘I’ve got a microphone’. That made me think he must be serious. It turns out his uncle and his dad were in a band when they were kids and his uncle still had a microphone. So we said ‘ok, well why don’t you come along and sing?’. So Danny did. And he could! Much to our surprise. And he still can! We were already quite good mates by then and that helps when you experience being in a band with somebody and you endure the trials and tribulations and the miseries when you first start out. It binds you even tighter. We’ve been through a lot together. We met when we were children and, you know, we’re 60 and nearly pensioners now!

Rushonrock: So fast forward to 2021 and you’re finally back out on the road together reprising your successful two-man show from a few years back…with an added book for good measure!

LM: When we were first approached about doing the stripped down shows in 2019 I wasn’t 100% sure. I just thought it might be boring for people listening to two old blokes harping on. And then I thought well, actually, we’ve picked up some good stories over the years when you sit down and think about it. Sometimes you come across some which are quite sad but that’s part of the process. So when we actually started thinking about what stories we could tell and what’s funny and what’s relevant my attention turned towards making things work musically. How would we pull songs down on one guitar and make the most of that and how could we arrange everything? I really enjoyed trying to do that — changing the keys in lots of the songs and getting the most out of a different situation. In the end we really enjoyed doing it and the show got really slick by the end! It was very good. So we decided to do it all again and hopefully it’ll be as enjoyable as it was last time.

Rushonrock: You’re kicking off the tour on the North East Riviera in Whitley Bay. Is it a town you know well?

LM: We did play there years ago at a place called the Esplanade but you’re talking mid 80s. I don’t think we’ve been back there since but I know it’s just up the road from Cullercoats where my good friend Andy Taylor hails from. It’s amazing to think that there are towns that Danny and I have never played before but that is the case on this tour. Places like Ilkley! It’s odd. I don’t mean Ilkley’s odd…I just mean it’s odd that we can still find new places to play after all of these years.

Rushonrock: You were last spotted flanking Andy Taylor at a rare solo outing for the former Duran Duran man. For those who don’t know, just how important a figure has Andy been in your career?

LM: I don’t think it’s overstating it to say that he was the catalyst that I think we needed when Thunder started. After Terraplane was spectacularly unsuccessful we started Thunder and we knew there was something good there. But we also knew there was something missing. We needed an extra ingredient: a bit of guidance or encouragement or whatever. Andy came along at the right time for us and the right time for him. He needed to work with a rock band. It was an interesting thing. I think it was mutually very beneficial. It’s been well documented that during his years in Duran there was quite a bit of frustration because his guitar wasn’t featured as prominently as he would have liked it to have been. When we got together for the first time, when we were making Backstreet Symphony, I just remember him saying ‘turn it up’. In fact, he said ‘turn it up a lot’. That was music to our ears.

Rushonrock: Was Andy’s desire to turn things up a bit of a surprise given his status as a pop icon?

LM: I thought Duran wrote good pop songs but I wasn’t really into them because I wasn’t a massive fan of Simon’s [LeBon] voice. And it wasn’t until Power Station that I realised what a great guitarist Andy was. You just can’t hear it in Duran Duran’s songs. I heard Power Station and thought ‘wow, Andy can really play’. When I met him he had a terrible hangover and he was wearing sunglasses at night. And I thought ‘I like this bloke and he’s a lot more rock’n’roll than I thought he’d be’. We sat down and had a chat and then, about a week later, I went over to his flat in Wandsworth and told Andy I had this riff. We ended up writing She’s So Fine in pretty much one sitting. That’s the first song on the first Thunder album so that’s how critical Andy was to Thunder from day one. He made us aware of lots of things that we suspected about ourselves but probably needed somebody else to go ‘you’re fucking doing this, right? You’re doing that, right? You’re doing that, right?’. He told us to keep doing more of that, turn that up and that positive encouragement — the thing we were in need of most — was what he gave us. Add in the fact that he’d also been in a very successful band and it made us feel a bit more confident. We just needed a little shove in the right direction. Andy provided that in a way that other producers might not have been able to. 

Danny Bowes & Luke Morley – The First 50 Years kicks off at the Whitley Bay Playhouse tonight.

For a full list of dates visit