Rock Till We Drop: Meet Martin Kemp's band



Co-lead Singer – Jimmy aged 74, Lancashire

Jimmy has a raw voice with performance levels to match. He grew up in the North East, living with his publican parents until he walked out in his late teens. He joined a band when he was 16 and has played music ever since.

Jimmy almost played for Tina Turner - he was a back-up keys player should anything go wrong in the middle of the tour, however when it did go wrong, he was in Ibiza and couldn’t be found!

Jimmy’s grandchildren call him the ‘Grand Dude’ and he wants to show them that he still has what it takes in his mid ‘70s.

As well as having an amazing soul voice, Jimmy can play keys and sax.

He lives with his wife in Newcastle and following Covid lockdowns like the majority of the band members, has been desperate to get out and perform.

Co-lead singer - Carmen aged 64, South London

Carmen has a beautiful soul voice and has never had the opportunity to sing professionally. She only came to singing in her mid ‘30s but often sang so quietly that people couldn’t hear her. After singing lessons Carmen’s teacher told her that due to hay fever, she could never turn into a professional singer.

She has only ever sung church music until now so how will Carmen take to rock or pop?

Carmen is recently single, having been in a relationship for the past 42 years. Now in her mid ‘60s, Carmen has moved into her own home and has the support of her adult daughters.

Guitar - Leburn aged 64, Bath

Leburn is American rock ‘n’ roll royalty who has found himself living in rural England and he says it’s “like being in the longest episode of the Archers.”

He has played with Marvin Gaye, Chaka Khan, Debbie Harry and formed a Reggae band. Leburn was also on the same stage as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers but life took a different turn when he lost everything to substance abuse.

Leburn made a fresh start with his wife and moved to the UK, he pulled pints and dreamed of the life he could have had. Now single he lives in a bedsit in Bath doing the occasional gig. “I get paid £70 and it costs me £30 in travel – sometimes the only thing for dinner is an onion.”

With the promise of a festival stage and a crowd shouting for more – will a place in Martin’s band bring back Leburn’s ambition and fire for playing?

Bass - Richard aged 72, Sunbury-on-Thames

Richard started playing the guitar at boarding school. He has worked as an engineer for most of his life, including electronics for concord, hearing aid technology and mostly recently repairing industrial catering equipment.

Richard lives with his pet bird in a cottage in Sunbury on Thames.

Richard finds any opportunity he can to get out and play music – whether that be at the local food bank or care home. He says it’s his way to get him out of the house.

Richard’s family haven’t seen him perform for years.

Keys - Eileen aged 80, Aberdeen

80-year-old Eileen started her musical journey during World War 2 when as a child, she used to listen to “all the wonderful singers that were around”. She started playing songs on the piano simply by ear and insists she does read music now.

Relentlessly upbeat, Eileen played for the Royal Family for 25 years at an annual ball, and describes it as, “wonderful, just wonderful”. Over the years she has met the Queen Mother, the Queen and the late Princess Diana.

Eileen still regularly plays in a church band with her children.

Drums - Roy aged 95, Bedfordshire

Roy has been a semi-professional drummer since the age of 16. When Roy was 20, he was in reserved occupation during the war and became a well-known West End drummer. Roy used to play gigs in Working Men’s Clubs and then larger venues across the UK.

Roy now lives with his wife, who he met when he was 50 and married at 51. Roy has no other family apart from his wife’s nieces and nephews.

Roy retired on the eve of his 87th birthday and still plays practice drums at home, he also continues to indulge in his passion for listening to music.

Replacement drums – Barry aged 79, Kent

Barry has been playing the drums since 1961 but in order to make a living, he worked as an electrician until retiring 14 years ago.

Barry joined a band called Gambler in the 1970’s who he still plays with today.

When Barry was 21, he signed to record label Decca and recorded two singles with a band called The Limeys.

Barry also worked as a promoter booking David Bowie and his band for just £50, before they hit the big time.

Barry met Martin Kemp’s musical director Toby Chapman when he was 14 years old, when he asked Tony to join his band. Now Toby is able to give something back to Barry by asking him to be a part of this incredible experience playing at the Isle of Wight Festival in front of a huge live audience.

Barry lives with his wife Maggie of 58 years in Kent and has two daughters, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Source BBC TWO

February 21, 2022 6:12am ET by BBC TWO  


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