Charlie Landsborough's not ready to pick up his bus pass yet
HE MAY be a pensioner, but Charlie Landsborough shows no signs of slowing down. The 71-year-old folk and country singer has released his latest album, Silhouette, and will be promoting the offering on a tour which stops off at the Princess Theatre, Torquay, on October 9.
He started singing professionally in the 1970s and in 1994 the song What Colour is the Wind catapulted him into the limelight.
Birkenhead-based Charlie is now one of the UK's top country acts. He is also popular in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
He describes his latest album as 'an eclectic mix with some classic country covers'.
NEW FROM SYMPLY - a wet dog food in a tray freshly steamed with real meat and veg you can see minimum of 68% meat content up to 72% in the adult trays.
Terms: Come and try tray at introductory price of £1
Contact: 01271 440626
Valid until: Friday, January 31 2014
"It's a real mixture of stuff; we've got ballads on there, we've got some slightly rockier things," said Charlie.
"With the wonders of technology now you can send stuff away to bands and have other people put their expertise on them. One of the tracks is a bit odd and it's got an Indian flute on it, it's like Dublin mixed with Mumbai because it's got a river dance backing with a bit of Indian flute on," he joked.
He's amazed at how his recordings can be done in all parts of the world and compiled to make great tracks.
"Some we sent off to Canada and we got a wonderful Canadian harmonica player on them," said Charlie.
"You never see the people, but they add their wonderful musical contributions and it's a delight for me when I can go back into the studio and see what they've done.
"It's amazing what they can do these days. It opens up the whole world. Instead of getting some of these guys who maybe aren't so good from your home town, you can trawl away and come up with the best players from here, there and everywhere."
He's been a country and folk star for 20 years, but say's he's not clever enough for his music to 'evolve' and instead has the attitude if it isn't broke, why fix it?.
"I'm not a musical Darwinian," he said.
"I just write what I feel like writing. I'm not one of those clever people where people say to them, 'I can see a definite progression there'.
"I think there's enough variety on each of the albums anyway. On Silhouette we've now got some slightly rockier things on there so I think all the different influences I've had throughout my life come together."
Charlie enjoys being on tour and is looking forward to returning to the Bay.
"It's a great venue and a lovely area," he said.
"It's a smashing part of the world to play for as we get such a good response. There are a group of friends who usually wait outside for me when I arrive each time just to shake my hand and say hello."
This tour is adding something special and he has started the Charlie Landsborough Amateur Choir Challenge.
"My manager came up with the idea," he said.
"He was watching a choir in his local golf club performing and he realised choirs seem to be becoming more and more popular.
"He thought, 'Why don't we do a choral challenge?' and we lay it open to people of all abilities and ages, senior citizens to children, male voice choirs to mixed choirs.
"They pay £25 to enter which goes to Children in Need. And the winner comes on stage with us and performs two songs, one of my songs and one of their own. We give £1,000 to the eventual winner . So it's a great situation because Children in Need will benefit, choirs get to sing to a lot of people, and it also makes people aware of the music we're doing too. I'm looking forward to hearing the different interpretations."
The former teacher has now been inducted into the British Country Music Hall of Fame.
"It's lovely," he said. "It's always nice to get recognition for doing something you love. To get recognition from your peers is lovely.
"The award is something the grandkids can see when I'm long-gone and say, 'Oh, my granddad did that'. Yeah, I'm very pleased about that."
He's toured all around the globe and got to appear on some of the most well known stages in the world.
"I've been in so many great situations I thought I'd never get into," he said.
"I played on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, which was a fantastic venue for somebody to play in who likes country music because I used to listen to artists who used to play on that stage as a small boy.
"To stand on the very spot where the likes of Elvis, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Hank Williams had all stood, it was fantastic so that was one highlight.
"I also loved performing with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at The Parade of the Proms in Liverpool to a crowd of about 4,000 people. That was an ambition I always held, so they were two major landmarks."
He's enjoyed a varied career before being able to pursue his true love of music.
"I've been playing music since I was a small boy," he said.
"Even while I was doing all those other jobs... I've been a navvy, I've been in the army, and I've been down and out, I've been a primary school teacher and a grocery store manager.
"But at night, when I got home, I would grab my guitar after I'd had my tea, and I'd head to my room to write something and hope I would pursue a life of music."
Charlie now dotes on his grandchildren and is used to big families, being one of 11 children.
"I was the youngest and my brothers were away at sea at different times of the year," said Charlie.
"The house was full of music. My dad sang, my mother sang, my brothers all played guitars and sang, and we had a house full of animals.
"We had chickens out the back. We had dogs, cats, budgies, love birds from Africa, and a monkey at one stage. His name was Jacko.
"My brother Harry picked that monkey up in West Africa, and all the other fellas on the ship had one as well. Out at sea the captain said, 'right, that's it, all monkeys overboard'.
"My brother ended up drugging it with a mixture of aspirin and alcohol to keep it quiet so by the time it got to Merseyside it was a drug addict and a drunkard," he joked.
"When he bought it ashore he kept it hidden, and it was much more relaxed those days. The custom officers came on board and obviously didn't find anything.
"But my brother had this big overcoat on in the middle of summer and the monkey was asleep in his coat pocket.
"As they passed through the gates, they were about 100 yards up the road and the officer shouted after him, 'have a good evening Harry, enjoy yourself… and look after the monkey, won't you?'"