1972 – Born. Son of bloke who wrote ‘My Little Budgie’ for Bruce Forsyth.
1978 – First piano lesson. Mrs. Rixon gives me 10 out of 10 in my notebook.
1980 – Play hymns in assembly most days. Not a popular move.
1983 – Perform Shostakovich Piano Concerto No.2 at Queen Elizabeth Hall. I have to jump from one end of the piano stool to the other to reach the notes.
1985 – Appear in ‘Grange Hill’. Newly fitted brace make speaking part difficult.
1986 – Attend Royal Academy of Music on Saturdays. Hate it.
1986 – Play first gig with soul band after school. Love it.
1988 – Leave Royal Academy in a fit of rebellion. Doesn’t go down well with me mum.
1991 – Answer an ad in Melody Maker. Get gig as keys player with The Pasadenas. First gig is Royal Albert Hall. Me mum forgets my rebellious stage and likes me again.
1994 – Join Brand New Heavies. Four years of touring the world and recording. Laugh a lot. Wear flared trousers. Actually think I’m living in the 60’s.
1995 – Start making my own records. Lots of 12” jazz house records, acid Jazz, garage and even a bit of psychedelic trance.
1996 – Play illegal parties including a gig on an Ostrich Farm in Cape Town. Ostriches like to dance. I never forget this.
1996 – 2000 – Make a lot of records, take a lot of drugs, meet a lot of people, discover a lot of scenes, stave off a number of breakdowns.
2001 – Play keys with Zero 7. A lot of singers in the band. Vow to have a band one day where there aren’t any singers. Leave when they ask me to get on a bus touring across America with lots of singers.
2002 – 2004 – Release two albums as ‘Fragile State’. So called because of the physical mess I was in (See 1996-2000). Play Big Chill a lot.
2005 – Record Company goes bust before paying our royalties. Seems like a good time to start a Jazz trio.
2006 – Release ‘Displaced’ as Neil Cowley Trio. From nowhere we win Best Album at the BBC Jazz Awards. A lot of people scratch their heads, including us.
2008 – Release ‘Loud Louder Stop’. Mojo call it a ‘modern classic’ and list it in their Top 50 of the year. No.1 Jazz album of the year in The Sunday Times. More scratching of heads.
2008 – Perform our 3 minute pop song on Later with Jools. As does Adele who I had just finished recording with at the time. She goes on to do OK off the back of my success.
2009 – ‘His Nibs’ features in a TV commercial for Guinness. Cheers!
2010 – Release ‘Radio Silence’. Manager starts nagging me about using strings, cos it would sound nice.
2012 – Release ‘The Face of Mount Molehill’. I write for strings cos they sound nice.
2012 – Play on Adele’s ’21’. Most notably ‘Rolling in the Deep’. People call me the most listened to piano player on the planet. At first I modestly shrug it off. Then I start to hear myself every time I leave the house.
2013 – UK City of Culture Musician in Residence in Derry. Fell in love with a city. Learnt politics.
2013 – Win ‘Artist of the Year’ at the Jazz FM Awards. Nice gold trophy which I dust a lot.
2014 – Release ‘Touch and Flee’. So many beards. So few razors.
2015 – Write and present Neil n’ Dud. A live show and radio programme to celebrate Dudley Moore’s 80th birthday. I’m taller than he was.
2015 – Host a new jazz TV series, ‘Jazz@Metropolis’. Everyone scratches their heads just one more time for old time’s sake.
2016 – Release ‘Spacebound Apes’. Everyone in the universe buys this album.