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From the open road to The Big O - Barry Steele on becoming Roy Orbison
It was some 13 years ago, while on holiday in Cornwall, that Barry Steele’s wife and daughter secretly signed him up to perform at a karaoke event. The lorry driver had never even sung in public before.
“I’m sitting there and one of the bluecoats grabbed me. I thought – I can’t get up and sing in front of all these people!“
Facing his fears, Barry wowed audiences with his Robbie Williams cover, and attracted comparisons to the one and only Roy Orbison. With that he soon created the stunning tribute show Roy Orbison and Friends, which comes to the Radlett Centre this month.
The Big O had a colossal career with hits that spanned the decades.
“It’s the voice, it’s definitely the voice,“ says Barry, “that’s what it was in his day. His voice was just amazing.
“The chap never danced and moved around on stage, he just stood still. He didn’t even say a great deal – it was just his voice that everybody loved.“
The show covers all of Roy’s big hits from Pretty Woman to I Drove All Night and features a five-piece live band. Barry is joined on stage by tributes to Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.
“I don’t treat this as a job, it’s absolute enjoyment,“ says Barry. “It’s something I get a massive buzz out of.“
There is one downside to being Roy though – wearing those trademark black Wayfarer sunglasses on stage.
“I have been known to trip over a few times,“ says Barry. “My eyesight’s not great in any case. It’s an occupational hazard - especially when the lighting engineer turns the lights out while I’m walking off!“
Roy Orbison and Friends is at The Radlett Centre on April 18 at 8pm. Details: 01923 859291