Shakin ‘Stevens:’ I came to the moon to play Elvis. For the first time I got regular wages’ Pop and rock

S.There was an accidental moment in January 1980, which profoundly affected the British charts for most of the next decade: Shakin ‘Stevens appeared on children’s TV for the first time as a solo artist – after BBC 1 on the school show Chagers Play Pop – for Epic Records, Hot Dog His third single. At the moment, Stevens was a professional singer for 11 years, in the softness of recording success.

Epic didn’t sign him because it tracked his career through the underground of UK rock’n’roll – he and his band The Sunset have been playing 50s music for years; John Peel tried to make a record with them on their Dandelion label; They inaugurated in 1999 for the Rolling Stones in London. It signed him because he was one of the stars of Elvis, a Jackbox musical from the West End in London from November 1977 to April 1979. He was already a family entertainer and you can sell family entertainment.

Rock’R’Roll revision was already a big business. Shoddiwaddi was still a large single group after Stevens signed. Darts and matchboxes were hits. However, almost all groups shared the gig circuit they shared with Sunset: Sideburn and Wrinkles, Smoke Club and Bedford Van. (“When we were moving around in a van and couldn’t find a hotel or anything like that, we would giggle and then sleep in the back of the van with some chips. When you wake up in the morning, it’s not a very nice sight.”) But Shakin ‘Stevens was different: Although already a hot dog hit before the age of 30, he was handsome, had a voice that didn’t really sound a million miles from Elvis, and didn’t hold the air of anyone who was interested in punch-ups after the shutdown.

Entertainment… Shakin ‘Stevens on stage in 1982. Photograph: Blue Georgesen / Rex Features

Britain attracted him to his collective heart by thanking him largely on children’s TV. If there was a TV show, Stevens was in it: in 1970 he appeared on Oh Boy alone! (Jack Good, Elvis restores the camouflage behind the musical instrument), Top of the Popes, The Russell Hearty Show, Entertainer, Multi-Colored Swap Shop, Calendar Goes Pop (on which he attacked the young host, Richard Medley), The Tulsi And much more. The following year he was at Jim Will Fix It, The Little and Large Show, Ralph’s here! Okay ?, Rajmataj, Seaside Special Plus TOTP, Chagers and Interchange Store Repetitions. Later there was The Visit, where he went to the hospital with a young fan trying to help him out of his coma.

“You used to do a television show this Saturday morning. You have to do your bit. You had to go and promote your new revelation. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, ”says Stevens, now 72.“ Your parents were watching them and must have liked what they were watching so they would encourage their kids. And then they’ll bring them to the show. These kids have grown up with me.

These kids also made Stevens the UK’s largest solo artist in the 1980s: 31 hits, which spent a total of 254 weeks on the charts (by comparison, Madonna managed 252 weeks on the charts and Michael Jackson only 238). There was even an oddity hidden in this run. Mary, Marie, her first top 20 single, which was a cover of a song from the Blasters, an underground band from LA that brought rock’er to the punk scene in the city, and whose album hit a small number. “I had some publicity away from America and had a break,” he says. “The guy said to me, ‘Instead of wandering around here, would you like to hear some records?’ Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me No. That was the turning point for me.Hot Dog was my first hit in the UK, but it was Mary Mary that really changed things.It went on the German charts and it stayed there for nine months.It was really open to me and then this The Ole House opens it up even more. “

Odds were always there. If you find a copy, it’s worth reading the biography, published in 1983, co-written by his former manager Paul Barrett (a card-carrying communist who played to the benefit of Stevens and the Sunset Party: “We were innocent. We thought we were just a gig.” Each was for its own sake, but it was not for me “). It portrays Stevens in the 1970s as an actor around whom Iggy Pop could be wary: Enraged at a company party and having a fun response, Stevens rose to fame at the dining table, crushing the food on his feet: “Scream, you damn! You! Scream for Tom John, so you can scream for me! “

Stevens doesn’t really think about wildlife these days. And when I ask if Kenneth Tinan once lured Eddie O’Brien, the once novelist, to his daughter’s birthday party, he avoids the question. “I will tell you what I think of him. It was a big party gig. The person who caught my attention was Max Wall. My mother loved Max Wall. His sense of humor, whether you like it or not. And we don’t gig. And I have been delighted to sit down with Max Wall. I can’t believe it. I had to hold hands. Here I had breakfast, in contrast to Max Wall. It was great, great thrills for me.

Yes, but Edna O’Brien? What did he or she try to use your stingy hips?

“Well, everyone was a bit tipsy. Getting down and whatever. Whatever the meaning of the descent. After Gig we went back to someone’s flat, but I can’t remember anything else. ”

Rock on… Shakin 'Stevens in 2015.
Rock on… Shakin ‘Stevens in 2015. Photo: Martin Godwin / The Guardian

Stevens was born in 1948, the last of 13 children, two of whom died. He was so younger than any of his siblings that you can trace the development of music through how they listened to music. “Long before I arrived we had a wind-up gramophone and it moved to the Danset record player. Growing up I listened to the records. “

When he played for the club as a teenager, what should have happened was rare when a week or so after the Ultimate was invited to the newly professional Sunset for the Rolling Stones in London. “Our director put an ad on Melody Maker. John Lennon performed the Rock ‘R’ Rolls concert in Toronto and had a white suit like Chuck Berry. And the director got a message from him, ‘Listen, if you can wear the suit you wore in Canada, why don’t you come to us and join Gig?’ The Stones found out about it and they sent someone to a gig of what we were doing at the University of Cardiff. They saw the gig, they liked it and the next thing we knew they gave us a gig in London.

The Sunset traveled frequently to the studio, and played live all over Europe, but their work was largely unpredictable and it led to Elvis’ death – and Good’s decision to present Stevens with a career gift came through on stage. “It has completely changed my career, no doubt. I went to audition and sang several songs on the piano. And before I could leave, Jack and Ray Kunny came over and said, ‘You got the part.’ I was on the moon. And for the first time, I was getting regular wages. I think I missed two shows. The theater was packed every night: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, two shows Friday, two shows Saturday, Sunday off. You come to the David Bowie show, you had Carl Perkins. Understanding and understanding of actors and actresses. It was a place to go and I loved it every minute. “

He still plays old songs, although he has changed them around in concerts these days (from the 70s onwards he insisted that Rock’All was all music, not just 1955 sound). But one thing will never change. He will never be Michael Barrett to the public. “Call me Shaki, not Michael. It’s been a while since I’ve been stumbling, but it’s like calling Moody Waters McKinley. “

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About the Author: Rusty Kemp

Tv ninja. Lifelong analyst. Award-winning music evangelist. Professional beer buff. Incurable zombie specialist.

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