FLICKY HARRISON reports on the legendary music star, who is all set to bring his songs and stories to the Wyvern Theatre

ROCK ‘n’ roll star Joe Brown has the world of circus running in his veins, as his grandfather performed with the legendary Buffalo Bill in his wild west shows.

Joe’s new show is coming west but is hardly wild as it is Joe’s music stripped back to basics, a man with his guitar and whole lot of tales to tell from a career spanning the decades.

Just Joe comes to Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre next month, when he will be plucking the strings of mandolin, banjo and ukulele, a favourite instrument of his and his pal George Harrison.

“We loved playing the ukulele together,” said Joe.

The former Beatle was best man when Joe married his second wife Manon, former parter of Small Faces singer Steve Marriott.

Joe performed his own version of I’ll See You In My Dreams on the ukulele at the concert in memory of George, but his association with The Beatles goes way back, in fact it was the Beatles that supported Joe.

“They had their first big hit at the end of ’62, and they opened for me at the beginning of ’62 in Liverpool,” he says.

“No one realised back then how big they would be, but I could see they were different.”

Joe was one of the first artists snapped up by rock impresario Larry Parnes, but prior to that the musician had founded his own skiffle group, The Spacemen, based in his parent’s pub in Plaistow called The Sultan.

To fund his music Joe took a job with British Railways as a steam locomotive fireman.

Then he was hired by TV producer Jack Good to play guitar in the resident orchestra of the TV series Boy Meets Girl and he turned professional. It was during this time that Joe met and became friends with Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, who were guest artists on the show.

Ironically Joe was set to tour with them but his single, A Picture of You, had stormed up the charts. Their car crashed and Eddie was killed and Gene was crippled.

“I would have been in that car,” said Joe. “I miss Eddie, he taught me so much about rock ’n’ roll.”

Alongside his music Joe appeared in a number of feature films, stage musicals and television. He starred with Marty Wilde in What A Crazy World in 1963, Charlie Girl in the West End, Three Hats For Lisa with Una Stubbs and Sid James and presented the children’s TV series Joe and Co for the BBC.

Both his children followed his footsteps into music, Sam as a pop singer and Pete as a record producer, then a member of his dad’s band and more recently a leader of a bluegrass band. Also Joe’s step daughter, Mollie Marriott, is a singer.

When Joe brings his new show to Swindon he will have as special guest, the American-born Henry Gross. Henry was the founder of the chart-topping group Shah Na Nah, who performed at the famous Woodstock Festival.

Henry is both guitarist and singer/songwriter and he and Joe have been friends for more than 30 years, since they met in Nashville. It was his idea that Joe should do an ‘audience with’ style show.

Joe said: “Henry’s a great performer and he talked me into doing this.

“I said: ‘You’re kidding, I can’t do that, I play instrumentals and stuff, you can’t just go dinging away on a single guitar, you’ve got to have someone to play with, do harmonies with,’ and he said: ‘Well, I’ll come with you,’ and that was that.”

Tickets to see Joe and Henry are £28.50 from 01793 524481 or visit www.swindontheatre.co.uk.