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Showaddywaddy: Still rocking 50 years on!

This year marks 50 years since legendary Leicester band Showaddywaddy released their debut single ‘Hey Rock and Roll’ to the delight of teens everywhere…

To celebrate, we chat to drummer Romeo Challenger who is still rocking the stage at 74 as part of the band’s special anniversary tour…

If you live in Leicester you’re bound to have heard the name ‘Showaddywaddy’ at some point, even if you weren’t around in the 70s…

Picture: Paul Coltas

Alongside Kasabian, the colourful eight piece are one of the most successful bands to come out of the city – playing Top of the Pops, and even scoring a number one single and album back in the day. The band are currently in the midst of a national tour – marking 50 years since their debut single hit the air waves.

Romeo Challenger – the band’s drummer, is the last remaining member of the original Showaddywaddy line-up. And he’s still enjoying it as much as he did back in the day Pukaar is pleased to learn.

“As the drummer in the band, I’ve got the best seat in the house! I can see the reactions of the crowd and everybody having the best time. A lot of them are coming back and reenacting their teenage years, so it’s quite a nostalgic event for them and a lot of fun for me too!” he revealed.

I look out and can’t believe I’m still here doing this in my 70s – enjoying every minute! It’s mind-blowing really…

Romeo joined Showaddywaddy in his early 20s and never looked back. Although he’d enjoyed some success in other local bands, joining the eight piece changed his life – and took him on the musical journey of a lifetime…

Picture: Paul Coltas

“We did TOTP in the 70s and Bob Marley was there,” he said recalling one of his most surreal moments in the band.

“He was one of my favourite artists, but I was so afraid to go up and speak to him and ask him for an autograph! To this day I regret it so much… On the other hand, we did a gig in Birmingham and who would turn up but John Bonham from Led Zeppelin – my favourite drummer of all time!” he went on to reveal.

“I was so knocked out when he actually came into our dressing room after the performance and said ‘lads, I enjoyed you very much’. That – coming from the world’s greatest drummer from the biggest band that every existed, is something I still cherish to this day…”

Although Romeo has lived most of his life in Leicester, he was actually born in Antigua. He moved to the UK aged 5 and spent a few years living in London’s East End before moving to the city he loves for its rich diversity.

At school, he displayed a talent for football and was signed to Leicester City for a short time alongside Peter Shilton and Jeff Blockley. It didn’t work out. However, success still beaconed the spirited youngster, when he took up the drums aged 12.

“When it came to deciding what career I wanted to do, music and playing the drums came into the fore for me and that’s where I am now. Drumming isn’t just my career – it’s my passion. It’s just something that I absolutely enjoy and something which seemed to come quite naturally,” he said.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve been playing so long that the muscle memory kicks in, so although it requires a lot of energy, that makes it easier…”

Picture: Paul Coltas

Romeo is someone who likes to keep busy and keep fit. Giving back is important to him, so he teaches twice a week at schools in the Leicester area. He also enjoys cycling, going to the gym and doing 2-3 gigs a week.

“During the first year of Showaddywaddy, we were on the road doing 300 gigs a year, which is ridiculous. Now we’re doing two or three gigs a week which for me, is slowing down!” he tells us.

I love it – it keeps me young at heart. Even in the 70s, I never went down the ‘rock and roll’ route – the drugs and all the rest of it. To me being on stage and getting that adrenaline-that’s the real high for me…

As for the highlight of Showaddywaddy current tour, Romeo doesn’t miss a beat when giving his answer.

“De Montfort Hall. Without doubt”, he says.

“It’s such an iconic venue which every local musician aspires to play at. When I started playing as a youngster, that was certainly my goal. For me just setting foot in the place was fantastic – it was like the O2 and Wembley all rolled into one!

“I’ve been lucky enough to play there many times, but to play there again on this tour, after so many years was amazing – a special moment for sure.”

Showaddywaddy are set to play Loughborough Town Hall Friday, September 13 and Melton Theatre on Sunday December 8.

To find out more about the tour, visit:

By Louise Steel

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