Johnny Marr still flying solo
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.o2academyleeds.co.uk 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