MARTY Wilde has come a long way from the teenager in love with music, who sang in a Soho club for £1 a night and a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise.

This year the pop idol of the 1960s, who had hits with Donna, Sea of Love, Bad Boy, Tomorrow’s Clown and A Teenager In Love, was awarded the MBE for his services to music.

“I was really emotional. I’m a royalist and I love my Queen. I believe in loyalty and pride in my country. I am not a republican,’ said Marty, who took his wife Joyce and pop singer daughters Kim and Roxanne along to the investiture.

“They enjoyed it more than I did,” he said. “They put on those fascinator things that go on their hats.

“They came in separately from me and were sat in the front so they could watch the Queen. The investiture took an hour and the Queen stood all that time — she is an amazing lady.”

Marty is on a UK tour with his backing band The Wildcats and some old friends including Eden Kane, Mike Berry and special guest Mark Wynter. They will be bringing the Solid Gold Rock ‘n’ Roll Show to Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre next month.

“Eden has been a friend for 45 to 50 years and it’s lovely working together,” said Marty.

“He stays with me at my home, he’s a good buddy and a great act. The show is all nostalgia, a different age, a different time, the best time to be a teenager.”

But it is not all golden oldies who enjoy rock ‘n’ roll. Marty says that in each generation there comes along a group who love the music.

Marty was born Reginald Leonard Smith in 1939, in Blackheath, London. His father was a sergeant in the army, Sandhurst trained, who was posted to Devon and then to Capel Curig in North Wales helping to train army recruits.

“We were lucky being posted to the country during the war.

“I learned to swim in Salcombe Bay and when we went to Mount Snowdon I was the only English speaking boy in the school,” said Marty.

It was his pal Jimmy Mundy that taught Marty his first chords on a ukulele and from that moment his course was set.

“I was fascinated and he showed me how to play.

“The tuning is similar to guitar so it gave me a head start. It was a no-brainer — music is my life blood, it is my religion,” said the singer.

His big break came when he was playing in the Condor Club in Soho and he was spotted by Larry Parnes, one of the top UK managers of the time.

But when Larry went back stage, Marty had wolfed down his spaghetti and headed out the door to catch the last bus home to Greenwich.

Larry caught up with him the next day, waving a contract under his nose, so Reg Smith became Marty Wilde and the teen idol was born.

The late 1950s and 1960s were a time of change, a time when teenagers found their voice for the first time and rock ‘n roll exploded throughout the UK.

“My theory is that war took its toll on our parents, so my father eased off his Victorian influence and gave me an easier time and I gave my kids an easier time,” said Marty.

Now full circle, Marty is working on an eight track mini album of songs for young children.

“Songs for grandchildren,” he said. “I can wake up at 2.30am and lie in bed writing till 6am. It’s the peace and solitude at that time of night that is fundamental to writing.”

Marty’s show celebrating his 60th year in the music business comes to Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre on Wednesday, November 8. Tickets are £33 from 01793 524481 or visit