Back in the year 2000, Gary Mullen, a lifelong Queen fan, won ITV’s Stars In Their Eyes Live Grand Final, with the largest number of votes ever received in the show’s history.
Inevitably, it changed Gary’s life. In 2002 he formed his band The Works. They play the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing on Friday, October 12.
“I didn’t realise it was quite so long ago until my wife mentioned it to me!” Gary laughs. “She said ‘Do you realise it is nearly two decades now!’ But that’s great in a way. Sometimes you just get so caught up in the band and touring and going places that you just forget.”
It also suggests that it has never been a chore.
“Absolutely not. If you are wanting to entertain people, you have got to be enjoying it yourself or else they will very quickly find you out. It can be tough in terms of travelling and being away from your family, but it has been great.”
Speed of success came as a shock to both Gary and his family, he recalls: “In those days, Stars In Their Eyes was just a bit of fun.
"There was no big prize, no record contract. It was just ten minutes of fun and then you go back to your day job. But very quickly people were bombarding me. I was a computer salesman, and within the first month I was able to give it up.
"I sat down with my wife and we said ‘Let’s give it a year and see what happens.’ My manager said when I left my job that the job would be open for me in a year if I needed it. But I never did!”
Since their inception the band have performed throughout the UK, USA, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand to sell-out audiences.
Looking back, Gary is pleased he came into the business through the rather gentler Stars In Their Eyes route rather than today’s tougher competitions: “Now there is just so much pressure and there is so much scrutiny.
"I don’t think it is as good. It has taken music in a very different direction. We had all been in bands and we had wanted to go out and get a following, but those days have gone.
“Now there is the pressure of being on television, and you are yesterday’s news very fast. You are on a conveyor belt.
“There doesn’t seem to be the longevity. There are some great talents out there, but the pressure is on to perform in a certain way and to look a certain way. It is like a cookie cutter.
“Back then, there was no pressure on me. It was just a secondary career. I would go and sing at the karaokes and I would play guitar and write a few songs, and I was ready to go back to my day job.”
But of course, there is pressure of a different kind now; “If you are a tribute artist, your music has got to be as good as the original. You haven’t got the pressure of the record companies breathing down your neck wanting the next album, but you have still got to get it absolutely right. We set ourselves very high standards as a band.
“But there has always got to be space for your own personality. There are so many Queen fans out there. Everybody has got their own different take on it all.”
Tickets on 01903 206206 and online at http://worthingtheatres.co.uk.