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British Rock ‘n’ Roll pioneer brings the 50s to Frome

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BRITISH Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Marty Wilde performs nostalgic hits from the 50s in his show ‘Marty Wilde and the Wildcats’ at Frome Memorial Theatre on Friday 28th February. 

Ahead of his show, Frome Times caught up with Marty Wilde to talk career highlights, the change of music over the decades and his love for the Queen!

You have been to the Memorial Theatre before – What do you like about performing in Frome?

“I have been to the Memorial at least four times before, I love it. It think it is a lovely area, a beautiful area, it’s one of those personality places. It’s quite a steep hill that’s what I realised, it must be a tough place to live in the winter with the ice and the snow down. But also, my bass player Roger Newell, he comes from Frome, so I’m well-acquainted with Frome and I come down sometimes to see Roger.”

The Memorial Theatre describes the show as a ‘musical rollercoaster’. What are your highs and lows of your career?

“The high was definitely getting my first hit record which was ‘Endless Sleep’ in 1959. But, I think seeing my daughter Kim go into the charts with ‘Kids in America’, as myself and my son Ricky wrote it, was a very special time. It launched Kim’s career which was a lovely thing to do. 

“Also, last year I turned 80 years old and I got to number seven in the UK charts with my album ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’, not bad for an old lad! 

“I also have a new album coming out this year called ‘Running Together’; both of my daughters, Roxanne and Kim, feature on it. 

“Running together is very important to me in many, many ways. If I get anywhere near the charts again, I’ll be thrilled to bits.

“I also have a tour ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ which comes out in October which will be 30 dates, so a busy year.”

A busy year, it seems you’re showing no signs of slowing down. How is it still touring after many decades in the business?

“As time goes on it takes its toll, so you just hope you can stay strong and you can do the things that you want to do. The last few years have been wonderful really, I’ve been a very lucky man in many ways.”

You mentioned about your songwriting for Kim, but how does it feel to have passed on your love of music to all of your children?

“I’ve often said that it is probably the best gift I could have ever given them as a father. The love of music, which has been one of the biggest mainstays in my life, the fact that it has been passed on gives me colossal pleasure. I’ve probably passed on a lot of bad habits as well as parents do, but I think that’s the most important thing I have passed on to them.”

You are acclaimed as the ‘pioneer’ of British Rock ‘n’ Roll – how has the genre changed since your career began in 1957?

“It has been a colossal change. I mean I was listening to Ariana Grande this morning, and that really shows you how far music has changed. Styles have changed and also in the background, now you have 1,000 lawyers and accountants and 1000s of songwriters, when in the old days, you only had one person or two people writing a song. 

“It has become far more difficult to become a star in many ways because the competition is so fierce. Musically, it has come on well and the essential thing is to try and instill the love of music. It’s free, it’s something the government can’t get hold of, no-one can spoil it for you, a great classical piece or a great pop piece that you love, becomes a soul thing. 

“The most exciting times though were the late 50s, it was the time. Rock ‘n’ Roll was a whole new kind of rhythm section. It was known in America to a certain extent with the Blues, but it was a totally new style to young people. You had songs that came out at that point that are still played today, old radio stations rely on songs from that era. To last that long is incredible.”

You received an MBE in 2017 for your services to music. What was it like to receive the honour from the Queen? 

“It was incredible, it came right out of the blue. My wife gave me a small brown envelope that looked like a tax demand! I thought I had  tax letter! But it was a letter to ask if I would accept the honour and of course I said yes. It was a lovely thing. I’m a royalist, I’m very proud of my Queen and Kate who is a beautiful lady will be Queen one day, and I’m very proud of her.”

Speaking to our Frome Times readers. What can everyone expect from ‘Marty Wilde and the Wildcats’ at Frome’s Memorial Theatre on February 28th?

“If you like nostalgia music, music from that era, it’s a bit like putting on your favourite overcoat, it’s a warm feeling. Our show is a happy show, I’m not out there trying to be a young man, I poke fun at myself but I also demonstrate the virtues of living in that time which was absolutely brilliant. That music has lasted and people come from miles around to hear that, to be part of it, it’s their one chance to relive their youth again.”

Above:Marty Wilde with his bass player of over 30 years, Roger Newell from Frome. Photo by David Hawley.

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