Norman Barratt (5 February 1949 - 30 July 2011) was a guitarist and songwriter, mostly known for his membership of the band Gravy Train and the Christian groups the Alwyn Wall Band and the Barratt Band.
After leaving school he became a trainee accountant but played guitar in local bands The Hunters with Alan Robinson Neil Crook and Elwyn Cheetham and later Newton's Theory. After he had passed his accountancy exams, he became a professional musician and moved to London with Newton's Theory.
The band Gravy Train was formed in 1969 and they signed a two-album deal with Vertigo Records. The two albums recorded were Gravy Train (1970) and Ballad of a Peaceful Man (1971). In 1973 the band signed with Dawn Records and they recorded two more albums, Second Birth (1973) and Staircase to the Day (1974). Although the band planned a fifth album, they split up soon afterwards. Nevertheless, they were one of the most respected progressive rock acts in the early 1970s and their albums are all still available today.
Alwyn Wall Band:
At the start of his recording career Barratt became a Christian, and with the breakup of Gravy Train he made the conscious decision to play with other Christian acts. Initially he worked with the band Mighty Flyers, contributing lead guitar to their second and third albums, Under New Management (1975) and What Kind of King (1975). In 1976 he joined Alwyn Wall, one half of the Malcolm & Alwyn duo, and they formed the Alwyn Wall Band. They signed a record deal with Word Records and released one LP, The Prize, in 1977. The band then embarked on a major tour of European and Scandinavian countries as support to Larry Norman. They spent a year living in Nashville, Tennessee, as a base for further touring, and then the band broke up in 1979.
Barratt still had a publishing contract with ATV Music, and whilst waiting for it to expire, so that he could record his own songs again, he spent the next two years doing studio session work. Acts he worked with included the Mandala Band and the Victor Brox Blues Train.
Once more having control over his work, Barratt then formed the Barratt Band, and in 1980 a new Christian record company, Chapel Lane, invited the band to record for them. In 1981 Playing in the City was released and became an instant hit around the world. Once again, he set out on a major tour, taking in the United States, Europe and Scandinavia. During this period Barratt helped Wall to record his Invisible Warfare album (1981) and worked on the Friends on Tour album with the Barratt Band, Alwyn Wall and Larry Norman.
In 1983 the Barratt Band finally released their second album, Voice
Following the break-up of the Barratt Band, Norman set out on innumerable tours and recording sessions in both Europe and the United States, for artists such as Jessy Dixon, Steve Camp, Sheila Walsh, Phil Keaggy, Steve Taylor, Debbie Boone, Cliff Richard and Barry McGuire.
In 1984, he and Dave Morris, the Barratt Band's keyboard player, released an album called Rock for all Ages, but Barratt had become disillusioned with the CCM industry and made a conscious decision to wind down his involvement with it. He concentrated on playing in the worship band at his local church, and on sessions work for artists such as Paul Young and Andy Pratt. He also produced albums for bands such as Triumph, a Glasgow-based band, and Creed, a German heavy metal band.
In 1988, Kingsway records asked Barratt to record another Christian album, and the result was Barratt that came out in 1989. Although the album sold well in the U.S., it was short-lived in the UK after a warehouse fire in Carlisle destroyed stock, and along with the rest of the Kingsway catalogue it was sold to America.
In the late 1980s, Barratt became aware of problems with his eyesight, caused by developing cataracts in both eyes, and he was forced to reduce his workload considerably. During this lay-off period he says that he received a prophecy and a calling from God to start a new music production company. He therefore created Daval Music Limited, and put a recording studio together. He then produced further recordings by Alwyn Wall, the Jessy Dixon Roots Blues album, and helped to develop new Christian artists such as Sally Williamson and Jan Wall. He wrote and recorded a 35th anniversary Gravy Train reunion album and recorded songs for new Barratt Band and Alwyn Wall Band albums.