Interview: Joe Brown
IT’S been half a century since Joe Brown first picked up his microphone professionally.
In those early days he performed alongside the likes of Johnny Cash, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and Billy Fury.
And unlike many of the stars of the Sixties, Joe never stopped working. Fifty years on he’s as busy as ever.
“I’ve never been a sit about bloke,” says the 68-year-old singer and guitarist. “It’s just my job and I like it.
“I’d be bored if I didn’t do it.
“I can’t always remember where I’ve been or where I’m going, in fact, where was I last night?” he laughs. “But I always put on a good show.”
Joe is currently on a 50th anniversary tour which covers the length of the country, and it’s coming to Blackpool next Friday.
“It’s not a small tour, I hate those people who grumble about doing a handful of dates – you can’t call seven nights in some different parts of the country a tour,” he says.
“This one isn’t one of my longest; it’s about 40 but at least it’s tour size.
“I did 50 something last time, so I get a bit more rest days with this one.
“And you know I don’t have a support act. I’m on stage from the opener. I think people should get their money’s worth.”
Joe, who was a rock and roll legend in his day started playing with skiffle bands in East End pubs and Butlins camps, and went on to have a host of top 10 chart entries with his own group Joe Brown & The Bruvvers in the 1960s.
Joe’s first manager was Larry Parnes, whose other proteges included Marty Wilde and Billy Fury.
These days however, Joe enjoys having control of his career.
He said: “Of late I’ve at least had the opportunity to look at a project and see if I can make a fair job of it, and if I can then I’ll go along and do it.
“At this stage in the game we have total quality control over what we do.
“That was a big bugbear in the past when people would put records out without our permission – some of them were just jam sessions.”
He and his band are able to route their tours themselves, so they’re not playing to Manchester one night and London the next.
“After 50 years you’ve got to get something out of it haven’t you?
“And nowadays if I’m approached to do something I want a load of questions answered before I go into it.”
Over the years he has appeared on both stage and screen, in addition to television presenting and DJ-ing for BBC Radio 2.
And he’s not just for the older fans these days, Joe’s website describes him as a ‘cool oldie’ and it’s not wrong — he’s played Glastonbury, it doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Over the years the audience at Joe’s gigs has expanded to include youngsters as well as fans from the 1950s and 60s.
“We change our music a little bit and the audience change with it.
“There’s still all the old favourites for our older fans, but some teenagers come to see the show.
“It’s great to see younger people. I don’t specifically try to appeal to a certain age group, we just play our music.”
And it has been announced that the veteran rocker will receive an MBE this year to mark his time in the music industry.
“I’ve been around in the music industry for as long as I can remember, having bought my first guitar for £1 when I was 10.
“Most of my family are involved in music, too,” he said. “So to be honoured for something I’ve loved doing all my life is wonderful.”
l JOE BROWN — Blackpool Grand Theatre, November 6. Tickets on 01253 290190.