Showaddywaddy – still on rock n’ roll road

Oct 2019 Showaddywaddy – still on rock n’ roll road

By Ian Woolley

Showaddywaddy started out in 1973 and their first hit was in the following year with Hey Rock N’Roll .

Theyhave been on the road continuously since then, bringing joy with their infectious doo-wop covers and rock ‘n’roll staples to fans all over the world. Now in their 46th year, I met their original drummer Romeo Challenger at the Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne, before yet another sell-out gig.

I asked him about his early career.

Romeo said: “I started out in a band called Black Widow in 1969, aged 19, and we were lucky to be on the bill at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival which was a great experience for us as a band.”

“We were even supporting the likes of Yes and Deep Purple. What made us unique at that time was we were a stage show involved with demonic witchcraft – long before the likes of Alice Cooper and strange goth bands came on the scene.

“When that fizzled out a few years later, I answered an advert in the local paper in Leicester who were looking for a drummer in a local pop band. The band was called Choice, who ended up being half of what was to become Showaddywaddy. Dave Bartram, Trevor Oakes and Jeff Becks and myself were in this band, and fortnightly did a rock and roll review with another band, which turned out to be the Showaddywaddy line up.

“The nostalgia we brought to the pop fans was unique at that time and even Shakin’ Stevens was the supporting act at one of our gigs. At a time of Glam Rock dominance, we were a refreshing change to those rock and roll fans from a few decades before that. With a phenomenal 24 hits under their belt, countless Top 5 hits and Under The Moon of Love topping the charts.”

Their popularity has never waned. All was going to plan but lead singer Dave recalls the 1978 Royal Variety Performance very well.

“Through our song we had serious technical difficulties as the revolving stage had unplugged our leads. We somehow got away with the problems we were facing, and at least, managed to meet the Queen Mother after the show. One performance we’ll never ever forget that’s for sure,” said Dave.

On doo-wop, Romeo felt very strong about those groups and artists who sold their songs for a pittance.

“Chuck Berry after years of being ripped off always got paid in cash – he demanded it. The only work many black artists could get in America at that time was known as the Chitlin Circuit. Even white bands in those days were ripped off, as we now all know. Fortunately, youngsters today are more savvy,” Romeo said.

Of the original band members, only drummer Romeo survives. Lead singer Dave Bartram no longer tours with the band but manages it. Former drummer of Alvin Stardust Rob now plays in the band providing bass, drums and percussion and once did a stint with Wishbone Ash, with Tommy making the band a six- piece today.

Original bassist Rod Deas retired earlier this year, following Trevor Oakes, Russ Field, Malcolm ‘Duke’ also went into retirement. Sadly, bass player Al James died just before Christmas and after retiring to Spain, Buddy Gask died in 2011.

The current line-up is fronted by Andy Pelos, a reincarnation of Dave Bartram, with many people who see the show thinking he’s Dave’s son. He has a Freddie Mercury-like stage presence about him and he whips up the audience with infinite ease.

As the sell-out at Wimborne witnessed, from their first song to their last, their infectious stage show is a joy to watch as they dance through every hit – with the odd cartwheel thrown in for good measure.

The real question is not WHEN they will ever call it a day but WHEN are they re-booked. As Frankie and the Lymons would say… “This Rock and Roll tour is here to stay!”