ROMEO Challenger, one of the founder members of Showaddywaddy, was a young footballer playing alongside the legendary Peter Shilton, for the Leicester City Club boys team.

But the drummer turned his back on the pitch in favour of music and the rock ‘n’ roll band that notched up a string of hits including Under The Moon of Love, Three Steps to Heaven, Who Put The Bomp, Pretty Little Angel Eyes and Hey Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Coincidently, bandmate guitarist Trevor Oakes is the father of professional footballers Scott and Stefan Oakes.

Romeo’s own son, Ben, is also a sportsman, he is Ben Challenger the high jumper who won a silver medal in the 1998 Commonweath Games and bronze four years later.

The drummer believes the longevity of Showaddywaddy is down to the fact they are all about entertaining the crowd.

“We don’t have any political undercurrent, it’s not our agenda, we give entertainment to people.

“We have been going for more than 40 years and our fans are inducted into our music by their parents, the music is played around the home,” said Romeo.

The band enjoy meeting and greeting their fans after the shows and tomorrow, fans will have a chance to get up close and personal to their rock ‘n’ roll heroes at a Dancin’ Party at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre.

Romeo was born in the West Indies and grew up in Leicester, listening to the music of Cliff Richard and The Shadows, The Beatles and The Stones.

“We weren’t a rich family so I had to buy my first set of drums myself, so I took a paper round. I bought the kit for £12, practised, joined a band and was semi-pro at 15 years of age,” he said.

He turned professional in 1969, and with a prog rock band called Black Widow played the famous Isle of Wight concert when Jimi Hendrix was the headliner.

“It was a shop window for groups, Kris Kristofferson played and then we supported Deep Purple, and the rock band Yes — it was all good experience for us,” said Romeo, who also played with an originals band called Choise.

Eventually Choise merged with fellow Leicester band The Golden Hammers and in 1973 Showaddywaddy was born, named after the du-wop sound of the 1950s.

They were persuaded to appear on the TV talent show New Faces, the X Factor of the 1970s.

“We were doing a series of cabaret clubs, the chicken in the basket-type places and word of mouth was spreading, when a TV producer from ITV saw us and thought we would be ideal for the programme.

“We protested against it to our management at first, but it was the right thing to do because it expanded our fan base to millions of people.

“But I still believe it is better to go out and play the village halls, then the pubs and gradually build up. If you get instant fame you are not going to want to do the travelling all night on the M4 for a gig.”

Today Showaddywaddy are still one of the hardest working bands in the UK and in demand to perform arena tours with names such as David Essex, The Osmonds and David Cassidy at venues such as the O2 Arena and the Royal Albert Hall.

Following on from the success of last year’s Next Chapter album the band are currently working on a new project, but Romeo says at the live shows they make sure they play all the big hits.

“We know what people want to hear,” he said.

Tickets to see Romeo and Showaddywaddy at the Wyvern at 7.30pm tomorrow are £19.50.

To book, call the box office on 01793 524481 or visit - Flicky Harrison