Sixties star PJ Proby, at the Ipswich Regent on Wednesday, interviewed
- Credit: Archant
PJ Proby has a refreshingly forthright view about how his life has changed since the heady days of the 1960, when he was one of the biggest - and most notorious - names in pop music.
“There’s nothing wrong with living a normal life like I do these days,” he says.
“But how can you really enjoy not making millions like I did? You can’t beat having money and all that it brings. I used to have a jet, a schooner, Rolls Royces and homes in Chelsea and California, but not these days. After all, getting up and singing is the only thing I know how to do.”
Proby, born James Marcus Smith 77 years ago, is one of the stars of the Sixties Gold tour heading around the country. It’s a stellar line-up with an extra-special guest.
The Searchers were formed back in 1959 and haven’t stopped touring since. They had massive hits in the 1950s with hits like Sweets For My Sweet, Needles and Pins and Don’t Throw You Love Away - all number ones - as well as Sugar and Spice and When You Walk In The Room.
Original guitarist John McNally still provides that distinctive Rickenbacker guitar sound and bassist Frank Allen has been with the band more than 50 years.
Brian Poole and The Tremeloes had eight hits with singer Poole, one of which, Do You Love Me, was a chart-topper. They returned to the top slot in 1967 with Silence is Golden two years after Poole had gone solo.
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The group also had a plethora of hits and have teamed up with Poole again for this tour.
Wayne Fontana, with or without The Mindbenders, charted with the likes of Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Game of Love - a US chart-topper - and Pamela, Pamela. Extra special guest for this tour is Gary Puckett, whose number one hit Young Girl is rightly acclaimed as one of the defining hits of the decade. It even reached the top 10 again in 1974.
Other hits included Lady Willpower and Woman Woman, with Puckett celebrating his 74th birthday during the tour.
Proby, whose catalogue of hits contain the likes of Somewhere and Maria, both from the musical West Side Story; and Hold Me, tells me this will be the first time he’s toured with Puckett.
“I’ve never met him, but I’m a big fan of his voice. His writers were all old friends of mine, especially Jerry Fuller who I’ve known since 1958. Then after finishing his collaborations with Jerry, he went with my producer and had more success, so we’ll at least have a lot to talk about.”
Not surprisingly, the incident when his trousers split on stage leading him to be banned from many theatres is not among what Proby regards as his career highlights.
“As for highlights, there’s too many to go into. After all, there’s 52 years to consider. Really, everything I’ve done is a highlight. But I’d have to say Paul McCartney introducing me to the world in 1964 is a big highlight. A low point would be Mary Whitehouse ruining all that.”
Even at this point in his career, Proby is still ambitious.
“I don’t have a favourite record, my favourite is yet to be recorded. All my other songs are efforts to produce something better.”
He isn’t a fan of today’s music industry.
“The DJs today seem to think they are the artist and would rather talk than play records; also there’s no more hit parade and you can’t go out and buy a record. Everything’s on computer these days, it’s a world of robots and I’m a front porch singer.”
Sadly Proby hasn’t got a big spot on the Sixties Gold tour.
“They’re only giving me 20 minutes and it’s difficult to get all my hits in as they’re all ballads. In fact, I’ve speeded up some of the songs that I do.
“Even Maria, I’ve rearranged most of the songs, and for this one, instead of string, I’ve used guitars like Queen. On Burning Love, which is an Elvis song, it’s speeded up a bit like the Tina Turner version.”
After the UK tour, Proby, along with Puckett and The Searchers are off Down Under.
“Yeah, we’re doing a cruise out of Australia, Chubby Checker is also on the bill and he’s a real mover on stage like me. We’re gonna boogie that boat,” he laughs.
The Sixties Gold Tour, with The Searchers, Brian Poole and The Tremeloes, PJ Proby, Wayne Fontana and Gary Puckett, stops by the Ipswich Regent on September 28.