Johnny Marr still fly­ing solo

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - MUSIC -

FOR­MER Smiths gui­tar player Johnny Marr is go­ing back out on the road with his own band in Oc­to­ber to pro­mote his sec­ond solo al­bum, Play­land. His solo work has earned him a Q Hero Award and NME’s Ul­ti­mate Band fea­ture, which placed him above fel­low gui­tar gods like Jimi Hen­drix, Jimmy Page and John Squire. Marr’s only York­shire date on the tour will be at Leeds’ O2 Academy. With The Smiths, Marr pro­vided the mu­sic for hits like Panic and Ask. He will be at O2 Academy Leeds on Oc­to­ber 29. For tick­ets, visit www.o2a­cade­ or call 0113 389 1555. THERE can’t be many peo­ple who’ve had a trum­pet ser­e­nade on their 88th birth­day or­gan­ised by Lady Gaga.

There won’t be many peo­ple, ei­ther, who’ve per­formed for 10 Amer­i­can pres­i­dents, picked up 17 Grammy awards and walked along­side Martin Luther King on a civil rights march.

It’s very rare that I find my­self in awe of some­body I’m in­ter­view­ing but Tony Ben­nett isn’t just any­one – this is the man Frank Si­na­tra once said was “the best singer in the busi­ness”.

In a ca­reer span­ning 64 years the leg­endary singer has pro­duced more than a hun­dred al­bums and col­lab­o­rated with the likes of Paul McCart­ney, Ste­vie Won­der and Bar­bra Streisand.

At 88, most peo­ple have long since re­tired but Ben­nett is still go­ing strong. Next month he re­leases his lat­est al­bum, a record of duets with Lady Gaga, and be­gins a short UK tour that in­cludes a show at the Bar­bican Cen­tre, in York, the first time he’s ever played in the city. Speak­ing from New York ahead of his visit, Ben­nett said he was look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing here.

“I’ve trav­elled all over the world and one of the truths I’ve learned is once you’ve made it in Bri­tain, they don’t for­get you. I’ve played there since the 50s and the au­di­ence keeps com­ing back, they stay loyal to you.”

When you have a voice like his you could ar­gue they sim­ply have good taste. But if Ben­nett has en­joyed a glit­ter­ing ca­reer he cer­tainly wasn’t born with a sil­ver spoon in his mouth.

Born in Queens, in New York, in 1926, his early years weren’t easy. “My fa­ther died when I was young and my mother had to raise three chil­dren dur­ing the De­pres­sion, which was tough.” But his tal­ent as a singer was ob­vi­ous to his fam­ily from an early age.

“I had a lot of aunts and un­cles and neph­ews and nieces and they would come by of a Sun­day to try and cheer my mum up. Me and my brother and sis­ter would be the en­ter­tain­ment for the fam­ily,” he says. “I was about nine or 10 and just at that age where I was won­der­ing who I was and what I might

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