Pete, the man
Pete had many sides to his character. He loved the peace and tranquillity of fishing on the Eden, and spending time at his beloved allotment at Elmwood.
He just loved being outdoors both in Scotland and in Italy, the country that he loved.
Pete was a proud and passionate Scottish-Italian. But it was the visit he made to Italy just before he started Art College, that sealed his love for his ancestral home in the north of the country.
He would spend idyllic days in the company of friends, playing his guitar and enjoying the food and outdoor festivals in the local mountain towns and villages. It was on that trip that he forged friendships that would last a lifetime.
Italy was truly Pete’s happy place.
Pete, the artist
Pete was always way ahead of his time when it came to his artistic skills and his inspired, creative thinking.
He was one of very few Bell Baxter pupils at that time to get a coveted place at Edinburgh College of Art. He went on to study and then graduate with a degree in Fine Art.
It was during his time in Edinburgh that he would truly find himself as an artist. Pete’s take on art was not based on traditional or established thinking but was a response to his wild imagination and his fun and quirky personality.
A perfect example of this was the installation that he created for his Degree Show. Pete took inspiration from his grandad’s house in Cupar. He constructed a retro room complete with fireplace and armchair. On the wall alongside the rubberised cast pig’s head he hung a large painting of his grandad with hands coming out holding the tube of a ‘black pudding maker’ that he had fashioned from an old vacuum cleaner. Pete also designed the kitsch pink floral wallpaper which adorned the room and proudly wore the same wallpaper on his suit when his family arrived to view his work.
This was a far cry from the Fine Art that his tutors may have expected or been looking for - but that was Pete - unconventional and unafraid.
Pete’s passion and talent for art turned into a lifelong career.
He began teaching Art and Photography at the Lochgelly Art Centre and then later, he learned the craft of picture framing. Pete’s talent for the finest framing around quickly built him a strong and lasting reputation. His customers were always guaranteed a friendly welcome and meticulous craftsmanship - and every customer was treated like a friend.
Pete, the musician
Pete’s love of music and flair for performing really characterised the amazing and talented the person we all knew.
Pete taught himself guitar as a teenager and with his school friends he formed his first band - Metal Fatigue.
Pete and his friends would have long loud band practices in his garden in North Union St, but that had to stop due to many complaints by neighbours. So his very supportive mum, Louise, became the band’s roadie and would transport the budding rock stars and equipment to a secluded spot in Craigsanquhar where Metal Fatigue could make as much noise as they wanted.
Although Metal Fatigue parted company when the friends left school, Pete’s love of performing was founded.
But it wouldn’t be until the 28th of December 1986 in the Cunzie Neuk in Kinghorn where his on-stage alter-ego Milton Balgoni and the Balgoni Boyz - Steeley (a.k.a Wes Wemyss) and Mungo a.k.a. John F. Kennoway - were born.
They would play gigs on and off together for many years and had created quite a following for their wild covers and wilder originals that would all include a humorous twist and their trademark Fife bent.
It was the band’s choice of costume though that they will forever be remembered for. Milton’s long tartan kilt and top hat will forever be etched into the minds of all that had the pleasure to watch him perform.
Recordings can still be found on YouTube.
Pete, the poet
Performing poetry was something that Pete had a natural and unparalleled talent for. He always had a passion for the spoken word, but it was as a slam poet that he would flourish in this field and show yet another side to his amazing personality and his incredible talents.
Pete competed in many slam poetry competitions as Milton Balgoni and would become the Scottish Slam Poetry Champion in 2004. His poetry was typically broad Scots, rough and ready but fantastically humorous and beautifully crafted.
His friend and fellow poet Mark Thomson acknowledged that Pete set the bar high and taught him and many others that no subject was off limits so long as you delivered it with confidence and skill.
Pete would use this passion to help set up the Stanza Festival in St. Andrews where he would also compere.
He also organized and ran the Spoken Word Tent at the Wickerman Festival in Dumfries & Galloway for over 10 years, something he became well-known for and also something that he loved doing.