Max Boyce was born in Glynneath. He has always lived there, but his family were originally from Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley. A month preceding Boyce's birth, his father died in an explosion in the coal pit where he was working. At the age of fifteen, Boyce left school, went to live with his grandfather, and followed his father's footsteps by working in a colliery "for nearly eight years". In his early twenties, he managed to find work in the Metal Box factory, Melin, Neath as an electrician's apprentice instead, but his earlier mining experiences were to influence his music considerably in later years.
Boyce first learned to play the guitar as a young man, but he showed no particular flair for the instrument, nor an actual desire to become a performer. In his own words: "[I had] no desire at all to be anything. I had a love of poetry, and eventually started writing songs without any ambition to build a career. It just happened. I started writing songs about local things and it evolved." Nevertheless, in time he became competent enough to perform at local eisteddfodau, one of the earliest known recordings of his work being "O Na Le", a folk tune in Welsh that Boyce played at the Dyffryn Lliw eisteddfod in 1967.
In the early 1970s Boyce undertook a mining engineering degree at the Glamorgan School of Mines in Trefforest (now the University of South Wales), during which he began to pen tunes about life in the mining communities of South Wales. He started out performing in local sports clubs and folk clubs around 1970, where his original set began to take on a humorous element, interspersed by anecdotes of Welsh community life and of the national sport, rugby union.
Max is a singer/comedian and a huge fan of Rugby Union. Amongst his prolific output, is a song relating how the Welsh "cheer on" their team by singing... "hymns and arias".... so now you know.
Boyce's greatest musical success in recent years was his 2003 tour of Australia, coinciding with the Rugby World Cup which was being hosted there at the time. He held concerts in Adelaide and Melbourne, but the highlight was his sold-out performance at Sydney's Opera House, which was later released on DVD as Max Boyce: Down Under.
Boyce has a wife and children, who live away from the public eye in his hometown of Glynneath, in South Wales.
Max continues to play an active role within this community, having been in recent years the president of Glynneath R.F.C. and the Club President of Glynneath Golf Club, where the “Max Boyce Classic” is held every two or three years.
Hymns And Arias
Live at Treorchy