Stardust to sprinkle 70s magic at Eastgate

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“I’m really lucky and, believe me, I know it,” said 70s glam rock icon, Alvin Stardust, speaking to The Southern this week, ahead of his gig at the end of this month in Peebles.

Part of the Rewind to the 70s series of shows taking place across Scotland until the autumn, the performance will raise funds for the National Autistic Society.

One of those behind the Eastgate gig is Susan Wilson from Aberfoyle. She and Stardust met several years ago and the star got to know her son who has autism and offered to help in any way he could.

He will perform hits from a musical career which spans the 50s to the noughties, as well as tracks by other artists.

And, with his trademark one black glove and Elvis-style quiff, he has great showbiz stories to tell, after meeting everyone from Buddy Holly to Frank Sinatra.

Most of those expected to pack the Eastgate Theatre’s auditorium on March 30 will be familiar with Stardust’s catalogue of hits from the 70s and 80s, so might be surprised the still sprightly 70-year-old pensioner has never stopped performing.

Or the fact that he’s familiar with the Borders, having visited numerous times while performing.

“Yeah, I’ve been to the Borders loads of times. I’ve actually been coming to Scotland to perform ever since I was 16.

“I love playing in Scotland – the audiences are always great and very supportive.”

After starting out with teenage band Shane Fenton and the Fentones in the 60s, he struck chart gold as 
Alvin Stardust with his debut hit My Coo-Ca-Choo in 1973, eventually amassing seven top 10 entries, in a chart-span lasting almost a quarter of a century.

“I actually had more hits in the 80s than the 70s, but someone writes something once about you being from the 70s and it sticks. But to be honest, there was some great music and with the fashion of the time, I think it’s now more appreciated as a decade.”

But the intervening years since his chart successes have not seen the native of London’s Muswell Hill, where he was born Bernard William Jewry during the Second World War, resting on his black leather-clad laurels.

Part of the Green Cross Code road safety campaign in 1976, Stardust actually managed to make looking both ways before crossing the road cool, with his famous tagline of “You must be out of your tiny minds”.

He played a pub landlord in the television soap Hollyoaks in the mid-90s, before treading the boards in various theatre productions, including his much-lauded role as the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, at the London Palladium.

Stardust admits he did not come from an especially musical family. But on a Saturday night, several uncles with their banjos and ukuleles would get together, accompanied by Stardust’s Auntie Edna on piano, for a typical East End knees-up.

“In those days people couldn’t afford to go out much, so you made your entertainment yourselves,” said the man who originally wanted to be a pro rugby player before he settled on being a singer in a band.

These days he says he performs when and where he wants, mainly for fun, simply because he can afford to please himself.

“One day I might be playing in a small rockabilly club, the next I could be up in front of 15,000 at a festival,” said Stardust, who was voted best live festival act in 2012.

He added: “To still be doing this after all these years is wonderful – in fact, being Alvin Stardust has been absolutely amazing.”