Fans of country music legend Charlie Landsborough will be devastated to learn that he has decided to hang up his guitar and stop touring.
But before he puts his feet up for good, Charlie is back on the road for a last hurrah and as part of his Irish tour he will be performing at the Millennium Forum in Derry on January 25.
Charlie grew up surrounded by music, with a father who sang ballads and older brothers who played guitar. And it was a passion that Charlie shared from a very young age. It was a long road for Charlie to make his name in the music industry and he admits to having a catalogue of jobs before hitting the big time. “When I left school I did a succession of jobs,” he revealed. “I was a quality control manager, I was a postman, worked on the railway, worked in a flour mill and lastly I was a teacher. When I wasn’t working I was playing music in my bedroom.
“When I was old enough I would go into a pub and sit in a corner and play, all for nothing. I played in the same pub in Birkenhead for 22 years. I did it for the sheer joy of doing something I loved. All I wanted to do was play.
“I had a succession of things going wrong in my life and I kept getting rejected but I look back now and my life has been wonderful in many respects. The people I’ve met and the places I went, they colour your life and I wouldn’t have swapped that at all.”
Charlie started singing professionally in the 1970s, although his major success did not come until 1994 with his song My Forever Friend. He is generally recognised and categorised as a country singer, however, as his fans will tell you, country music is only one part of his live shows and music catalogue.
Charlie’s talent and chart-topping records received the ultimate recognition in 2011 when he was inducted into the British Country Music Hall of Fame.
The singer songwriter recently released his latest album ‘The Attic’, of which he is justifiably proud. “A lot of the songs have been done before,” he explained. “There are only four absolutely new songs on the album.
“It harks back to what I did at the start, sitting in the corner of a pub playing the guitar. It’s me playing acoustic, which is unusual. It is just me and a friend in his attic. It is very stripped down, very musically naked. It is a totally different approach but I like it and I am pleased it has had such a nice response. It has a reality about it and I am glad about that.”
It is with a heavy heart that the singer has decided to retire, but he has said that he might be tempted back for the odd performance and will still be writing music. “It is an elongated farewell and I could maybe be coaxed back,” he admitted. “It’s sad for me and I have really mixed feelings about retiring because my whole life has been surrounded by music.
“I will certainly miss you all but will never forget your great kindness and support and will always treasure the wonderful memories I have of the lovely times I have had with you.
“It’s obviously going to be a bit of a wrench. I made the decision with great regret and sadness but there comes a time when you have to call it a day.”
Before he calls it a day, however, Charlie is looking forward to returning to Northern Ireland for a series of shows and he is particularly looking forward to a visit to Derry. “Northern Ireland is fantastic,” he continued. “I have been going over there for a long, long time. It was a Derry man who first introduced me to Northern Ireland. He heard me playing at a pub in Birkenhead and said the people of Northern Ireland would love me. He sent a tape over to Gerry Anderson who invited me over to be on his show. I first played a show at a pub in the Bogside and I’ve played for both sides of the community. When I first went over for Gerry Anderson’s show the Troubles were still on so it was with a bit of trepidation but the people were so lovely and they continue to be so.
“I have been an ambassador for Northern Ireland ever since. There is a real generosity of spirit and the people are fantastic. They have been incredibly good to me and it’s an absolute joy to be going back.”
Tickets are on sale now from the Millennium Forum Box Office on 028 7126 4455 or online at www.millenniumforum.co.uk.