Celebrating all the Roy Orbison classics at Bognor's Regis Centre

Barry Steele
Barry Steele

He’s the man with the sunglasses and the black suit who delivered some of the world’s darkest and most emotional ballads.

More than 30 years after his death, Barry Steele & Friends help keep the memory of Roy Orbison alive. They bring The Roy Orbison Story to Regis Centre in Bognor on Friday, August 30.

Barry will take audiences on a musical journey from the early Sun years right through to the late 1980s when Orbison was experiencing a huge resurgence and worked with Bono, Bruce Springsteen and others including super group the Traveling Wilburys.

Barry is promising a night of “solid gold 60s hits and 80s contemporary genius” as the Roy Orbison Story celebrates the musical legacy of The Big O.

“We have been doing this full-time since about 2004 when I gave up my previous occupation. I was a truck driver. It was a complete change of life direction altogether for me! We had started in about 2001 and by 2004 we managed to accumulate enough work to give up the full-time job. It was a bit of a risk but my wife Lynne had a good job and that was a support. But it was a big plunge, and it took at least two or three years before we saw any benefit out of it. By that time we were getting into the live band situation, and we decided to go that little step further and create a band together.”

The challenge since then has been to keep it all fresh: “There are lots of theatres that we have played six or seven times now. It is not easy every year. It is more Lynne’s job to put the show together and do all the hard work. You have to offer something new each time, not completely new, but a bit new. You don’t want people saying ‘Oh, I saw that 18 months ago. I will give it a miss this time.’”

And it all happened by chance: “It was on a family holiday in Cornwall in 2001 that I took the first steps on the road to becoming a professional singer when my wife Lynne and daughter Leonie entered me into a singing competition without my knowledge.

“People were getting up and singing songs and doing all sorts of things. My family had put me forward for it, and I had never done anything like it before. I had never ever got up in public. It took the bluecoats an hour to get me out of my seat! But by the time I had finished everyone was applauding.”

And no, it wasn’t a Roy Orbison song he sang. He did Angels by Robbie Williams.

“But after I had finished half a dozen parents were coming up me saying that I sounded like Roy Orbison singing a Robbie Williams song!

“And I grabbed the idea by the throat. I started rehearsing some songs and I started doing a few gigs in local pubs, basically my apprenticeship. At that point I was still a very shy guy.”

But he had certainly discovered a love of performing: “It was awesome. I was just something that I had never dreamt of, that I would be doing something like this. It just needed the push from the family to get me doing it. The set list has evolved over the years, and with the back catalogue Roy Orbison has it was difficult to choose. But we have used feedback from the audience and of course we sing the best sellers.”

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