A TALENTED young rock musician is celebrating after signing a recording deal with the world's second biggest record company.

Pete Shoulder, who recently turned 18, travelled to London last week to put pen to paper on a six-album contract with the American arm of Sony.

"I'm delighted. I just can't believe it. It hasn't sunk in,'' said Pete, of Waldridge, near Chester-le-Street.

"I'd always dreamed of this and hoped I'd be in this situation. People in the industry can't believe how good a deal it is.''

His manager, Steve Weltman, said: "It is a very exciting time and it is what any artist craves. The company is very excited to sign him and we are excited to sign.

"Everyone is looking at Pete Shoulder as a talented artist with a long-term career.''

Pete will spend the next few months writing more songs and he could get the chance to develop his talent with some of rock's best known songwriters.

It looks likely that his career will be launched in the United States - the lucrative market that all artists want to crack - before Britain.

Although unheard of outside the North-East, he has built a following on the region's pub and club circuit among older blues and rock fans.

The guitarist and singer began playing gigs at the age of 13 with his trio Blue Shoulders, which broke up last year after performing to 8,000 people at the Stanley Blues Festival and recording an EP of original material, Light of Day. Audiences were astounded at the talent of such a young musician and one reviewer wrote in a Newcastle-based roots music magazine in 1999: "This boy is going to be a legend.''

Pete recorded several of his songs earlier this year with a backing band made up of former members of Durham band Sugarwood.

John Kearney, of Northern Recording, the Consett studio where the tracks were cut, said: "This is a massive deal.

"There is no question that Pete is an enormous talent - guitar playing, singing and song writing.

"The fact that one of the four major global record companies has signed an 18-year-old, who has come out of the North-East circuit is a massive success for the industry up here.'