Star will party like it's 1983

THIS year marks the silver anniversary of a Suffolk pop star's rise to success.

THIS year marks the silver anniversary of a Suffolk pop star's rise to success. It was 25 years ago, in 1983, that Nik Kershaw's I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me was first released and now he is to reprise the hit song in the ITV1 show Now That's What I Call 1983

AH, the songs of '83 - Howard Jones's What is Love and New Song; Tony Hadley's True; Paul Young with Wherever I Lay My Hat; Kajagoogoo's Too Shy and so many more.

Some will look back on the mullet hair-dos and shoulder pads with affection, others will recoil at the memory and others will be too young to remember any of it.

For one Ipswich songwriter, though, 1983 was to mark the beginning of a pop career that made him a household name and, for many young women, a heartthrob.

Nik Kershaw was a quiet chap with a huge talent whose songs were unmistakeable and catchy.

Now he is to make a rare television appearance in Now That's What I Call 1983, a musical tribute to the year.

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Along with the artists already mentioned, Nik will also be performing alongside Ali Campbell (Red Red Wine); Nick Heywood (Whistle Down the Wind) and Heaven 17 (Temptation)

This is a one-night only event, presented by Denise Van Outen, on Friday, November 21.

In an interview for the show Nik Kershaw says 1983 marked the signing of his record deal and the recording of his first album.

It was also the year that saw the release of I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me for the first time. He says: “The song wasn't a hit in 1983 though - it only just crept into the top 50.

“In those days you built careers. I started off in a radio station and dealerships and everything around the country. It was all made very clear when I released the record that that's what it was for. Obviously you hope for the best, but it didn't (chart high) and nobody was put out by that.”

Asked how he handled the pressures of being a pop star, Nick says: “I was a bit of a rabbit in the headlights. Whenever I was in a band before I was the one standing at the back with a pint of lager on the amp, so when it did kick off and people were pointing cameras at me and asking me for quotable bits of pieces. I was useless.”

Would he have handled it differently now?

“You can't say because it would all be different. Of course you would handle it differently as you are older and a little bit wiser. I wouldn't want it to happen again is the easy answer because it does completely take over your life.”

Nik says that when he is asked for his proudest moment most people expect him to say Live Aid. “But that was just a weird day. As an actual gig it was a bit of a washout for me. I forgot my words and it was not my finest hour. It was a great day though.

“There have been a few moments on stage - probably in the middle of a tour - (when) you're in the zone and you can just be there and feel great about it.”

Back in the eighties, there was lot in the press about a feud between Nik and Howard Jones - was there any truth to that?

The singer acknowledges the reports. “Yeah, I don't know what that was about. We (were) like the Blur and Oasis of our time. But no, it didn't exist.”

Nick Kershaw was brought up in Ipswich and went to Morland Road Primary and Northgate, which was then still a boys' grammar school.

His first taste of live performance was as a member of the Co-op Juniors drama group, in Ipswich, where, he says, people still speak of his Tweedledum.

It was in and around Ipswich that he performed his first gigs as a musician.

His debut was with a band called Thor at Rushmere Village Hall. The name was changed to Half Pint Hogg but success still eluded them, even when the “Half Pint” was dropped and they became just Hogg.

During this time Nik worked in the Ipswich unemployment benefit office by day and rehearsed with Hogg during the evenings but then he was offered the chance to be guitarist with another Ipswich band, Fusion.

When the group disbanded in 1982, he advertised in Melody Maker magazine and found a manager to help him launch a solo career. He eventually secured a record deal and began to release singles.

Although the first release of I Won't Let The Sun Go Down on Me reached only number 47 in the singles chart in 1983, his second single reached number four and was the launch pad for a series of hits and that famous appearance at Live Aid.

As well as writing and performing his own music, Nik has also worked with Cliff Richard, Ronan Keating, Jason Donovan, Imogen Heap, The Hollies and Gary Barlow and he's recorded a duet with Elton John.

Speaking on his website about the way he goes about planning an album he said: “I play the songs to friends and as a lot of my friends are in the business, they're usually not shy in expressing an opinion. I take in what they say, carefully process and consider their opinions and then totally ignore them!”

-Now That's What I Call 1983 is on ITV1 on Friday, November 21.

AS for that rivalry between Nik and Howard Jones - here's what Howard had to say:

Q: What was your first performance on Top Of The Pops in 1983?

A: “I performed New Song and after that moment it just exploded. I was 28 years old at the time and I had been in bands since I was 14 years old, so it was a long wait. It was so exciting to do all the things that I had dreamed of doing.”

Q: Back then there was a lot of press about a supposed rivalry between you and Nick Kershaw. Was any of it true?

A: “We were both solo artists and very musical so people will always want to compare you and create rivalry. I'm doing my 25th anniversary concert and Nick's going to join me on stage. It will really dispel that myth, as we have become really good friends recently.”

Q: Was the fame something you enjoyed?

A: “For me it was all about making music, making albums and doing concerts. It wasn't really about the fame side of it. I had some big hits in America at the height of it all and then I felt it was time for me to do something else, not really in the spotlight, just get on with the music. It was such good fun and I am really glad that I had the chance to do that.”

Q: Do you still enjoy performing your classic hits?

A: “I'm happy if I can play them live on stage, it's trying to re-invent the songs without destroying them. But mainly I see it as looking after the people who stuck with you.

“I think you have a relationship with a lot more people through music. I feel it's important to act well when I meet fans as they have put a lot of faith in you when they were young and they believed in you. I always like to go and meet people after shows to have a chat, I feel that's important.”

Q: There are a number of other big eighties acts taking part in the show, how does it feel being back together again?

A: Howard Jones: “It's great, I think we have become better friends in the last four or five years and that's because we see more of each other now. The eighties were big, but for me it's great to meet up with all the other acts and know somebody else who has been through the same things. There are very few people around who know what it's like so when you find people that do, it's like a sanctuary.”