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TGtS Meets...Peter Howarth

From touring with The Who to duetting with Sir Cliff Richard, lead vocalist of The Hollies, Peter Howarth has done it all! As well as his impressive music career, TGtS chatted with Peter about rocking out in the West End and performing a live unplugged acoustic session here Swindon.

Is this your first time performing in Swindon?

I actually played guitar in Joseph in 1982, but apart from that I don’t think so, so I am really looking forward to it.

You’ve been in The Hollies for almost 9 years now, what was it like joining an established band that had been making music for 40 years?  Had your paths crossed before?

It's always a little scary stepping into someone else’s shoes, especially a legend, you're always compared against what has gone before and for a lot of fans although they are pleased the the band is carrying on, for them you can never replace the original and frankly, I believe you cannot. What you can do, is your best, treat the songs with respect and try and forge over time a little niche for yourself.

After 10 years now and recording three new albums with the band, I feel naturally more a part of their amazing story. My only connection previously with the Hollies was through their keyboard player Ian Parker who played in my band Sahara in 1984 for a short while, it was through Ian I was originally asked to join when Allan Clarke left,  I was committed to playing the part of Roy Orbison in the West End at that time so it wasn't possible, I told him if the chance ever came again, to let me know immediately and he did following the tragic death of Carl Wayne and here I am.

Were you a fan of their music before you joined?

I loved their music but the big fan in my family was my brother, he nearly fainted when I told him!

Are you enjoying being on your own for a bit, doing the solo acoustic sets, or do you miss having the band around?

I love doing the solo acoustic thing it is both very scary and rewarding at the same time.

Do your solo acoustic shows make you feel like you’re going back to your roots as a classically trained guitarist?

It certainly has reconnected myself with my first love, not so much the classical as the joy of playing, learning and finding a new style for myself. 

What do you enjoy playing most, electric or acoustic guitar?

At the moment acoustic, it’s been a long time since I have played electric in anger.

You’ve sung and played with Sir Cliff Richard for many years, can you tell us a bit about your time?

I am very proud to have worked alongside, sang duets, recorded, and toured with one of Britain’s true legends. An amazing experience with a truly amazing man. I have spent nearly 25 years working on and off with him and it is always like going back home, always good fun, travelling the world with people you love, how can you beat that?

What was it like to perform in the West End as Roy Orbison?  Was he a hero of yours?

Oh my goodness, what an experience, certainly one of the best in my life, 8 shows a week 30 songs a show for about 4 years,  hard work, but so rewarding and totally addictive, I wasn’t a huge fan  of Roy before , but I certainly am now, the songs will now always, always be part of me.

What’s your favourite song to perform and why?

Psalm 23 at the moment because although I wrote it for Songs of Praise it means a lot to me as I played it at my mother in law’s funeral She loved the song when I wrote it and was always so proud of me, so it affects me in a positive emotionally way, as I naturally think of her when I’m playing it.

Which song usually gets the best reaction from the crowd?

It’s a close call between “Pretty Woman” “He Ain’t Heavy” and “Devil Woman”.

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