Marty Wilde at 85 opens up on touring again and how he never got over his dad’s death | Music | Entertainment

Marty Wilde early performance (Image: Getty)

Singer Marty Wilde is about to set off on a 20-date tour of Britain and release four new tracks – at the age of 84.

The rock ‘n’ roll icon, whose parents had to sign his first music contract when he was discovered aged 17 in 1957, never dreamed he would still be performing live when he celebrates his 85th birthday in April.

He says: “I had not thought I would last. I just carried on.”

Now 65 years since he first topped the charts, Marty, one of UK’s first home grown heart-throbs, is embarking on a Greatest Hits UK Tour alongside the release of a four-track EP – a mini album.

The father-of-four says he has no plans to retire: “The only thing that will stop me is if something tough comes into my life physically. Other than that, I will carry on forever.”

Catapulted into stardom with the hits Teenager in Love and Rubber Ball, when the 6ft 5ins singer married his wife Joyce, in December 1959, it took 30 police and two mounted officers to control the 2,000 screaming fans waiting outside the church.

Marty Wilde and Joyce Baker marry

The Wedding of Marty Wilde and Joyce Baker (Image: Getty)

Marty Wilde and Joyce Baker marry

Police had to stop crowds at the wedding (Image: Getty)

Made an MBE for his services to music in 2017, he has been unstoppable – even writing numerous songs for other artists.

This includes his daughter, 1980s pop star Kim Wilde, 64, for whom he co-wrote Kids in America and Cambodia with his son Ricky Wilde, as well as songs for Welsh singer Sir Tom Jones, soul band Hot Chocolate, rock groups Snow Patrol and Status Quo, and TV personality Lulu.

Marty WILDE and Kim WILDE

Marty and Kim singing live (Image: Getty)

Marty’s new single Two Eyes Streaming, written and produced himself – is a love letter to his past and is dedicated to his late father who died when Marty was 21, after living away from the family home as a sergeant in the Army for much of his early childhood.

He recalls: “My father worked away in the Buffs (East Kent Regiment) during the Second World War.

“He died suddenly aged 48. We were probably closer then than we’d ever been. It took the wind out of my sails. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over his death.”

Marty, christened Reginald Smith, adds: “We used to laugh at the same things. We used to laugh at the Goon Show, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers, and things like that.”

Marty as a small boy with his parents

Marty as a small boy with his parents (Image: Daniel Spiller)

His new song is being released alongside a video which captures Marty in his thatched family home in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, looking through photos from his childhood and a postcard written to him by his father.

Postcard to Marty signed 'Your Ever Loving Daddy'

Postcard to Marty signed ‘Your Ever Loving Daddy’ (Image: Daniel Spiller)

“The song is dedicated to all men – and women – who have to do something where they’re away from their kids. There is that kind of terrible loneliness. I don’t think it ever really leaves you.

“I’m sure Prince William could talk about that. The loneliness of not having your mum or your dad there. I can never find out enough about my dad.”

He adds: “My father was a personality – I get my performance gene from him. He loved singing and acting around.”

Marty Wilde as a baby with parents

Marty Wilde as a baby with parents (Image: Daniel Spiller)

The cover of the single is also reminiscent of his father and features Marty as a young boy dressed in army uniform.

“It’s me in a little army hat with a walking stick, instead of a gun,” he says.

Marty dressed as a soldier

Marty dressed as a soldier (Image: Daniel Spiller)

Marty adds there is no secret to his eight decades of success, but some of it, he thinks, is down to the “stoicism” of his generation which was in part instilled by his mother, who encouraged him not to complain and to “get on with it”.

“You’re fighting age but apart from a creaky body and getting out of bed being a major achievement, I’ve done alright,” he says.

Marty today outside his home in Herts

Marty today outside his home in Herts (Image: Daniel Spiller)

His passion for performing is another reason why he is refusing to retire: “I love everything about performing.

“I’m singing silly love songs like Teenager in Love. I mean, it’s great if you’re young and 18 and people are telling you they love you. But when you’re 85 that’s crazy, you know, it’s crazy.”


Marty recently performing live (Image: Getty)

The fourth track on his new album – Talkin’ ‘Bout Elvis is dedicated to his hero Elvis Presley – the inspiration behind Marty’s career.

He narrowly missed meeting his idol in person when Elvis had been posted to Germany during a stint in the US Army in 1959.

Marty had planned to play Elvis his new song Bad Boy but at the last minute he was told by his manager, Larry Parnes, he would not be able to because he had to promote his new song on TV. So Larry went alone to meet the King of Rock and Roll.

Marty recalls: “I gave Larry my record to play to Elvis and begged him, ‘tell me what he says, tell me what he really thinks. Don’t tell me any lies.’

“The next day I called Larry, who was with Elvis, and Larry said, ‘Elvis thinks it’s a hit.’ And it was. Bad Boy reached number seven in the UK charts.”

Elvis Presley during military service 1960

Elvis Presley during military service 1960 (Image: Getty)

Marty always believed in the endurance of rock and roll, saying: “I’m damn sure, it was in the Express newspaper years ago when a journalist asked me, ‘Do you honestly think rock and roll is going to last?’

“And I said absolutely it will last, it’s one of the most important advents in music.”

Despite his decades of success, he is modest about his talent and that of other pop icons of his day: “We weren’t singers. Not really, but it didn’t matter because we had style and a sound which people recognised. And that’s the key to it.

Marty with rock and roll singers

Marty with rock and roll singers (Image: Getty)

“If people can recognise your voice immediately, you stand a chance of success. Buddy Holly had a weird voice, but it was a great one.”

And in approaching 85 years he still loves modern chart music, saying: “It’s such an eclectic chart, it’s incredible, in America for example you’ve got Beyonce singing a western song with a banjo, Texas Hold ‘Em, which I think is great.

“Someone recently asked me, ‘do you honestly still watch and listen to the American charts?’ I said, ‘Yes, yes, I do. Every damn week I do because I want to hear what’s going on’.”

66th GRAMMY Awards - Show

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles (Image: Getty)

Marty said his life-long enthusiasm for songwriting stems from his observations of people and a deep sensitivity.

He says: “I study people, I’ve always done that even as a child.

“I feel these emotions. I mean, silly thing really to admit, but I can cry at the least thing. I see something that really hits me. I can’t understand that myself. I think, ‘What a strange man you are Marty’.”

Marty in his home studio in Herts

Marty in his home studio in Herts (Image: Daniel Spiller)

But he says his refusal to retire is not just down to his love of the job. He also wants to make people happy.

“It was tough for all those children way back in the 1930’s. You know, having to face someone like Hitler. It was staggering.

“This country is in such a rut. I want to see a bit more positivity from my country which I love to bits.

“People decry Churchill. He didn’t make every decision right, he made some terrible ones but what he did do was lift the nation.

“I think when a person sees our show and all the young artists out there doing great work for their fans, it lifts them.

“That’s what you want. You want to lift people. If you’re going to do a job, do it well. Get this country back on its feet.”

Photo of Marty WILDE

Marty Wilde on stage (Image: Getty)

The UK tour will see Marty perform in Burnham-On-Sea in Somerset tonight, do a homecoming show at London’s Blackheath Halls on April 27 to celebrate his 85th birthday and will finish in Wimborne, Dorset, on December 4. 

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