Big Bruvva Brown still going strong

Mick Ferris
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Picture this… it was 58 years ago that Joe Brown became a youthful, cheery star with the No 1 hit ‘A Picture Of You’.

He might not be a young heartthrob anymore, but he still has the cheeky Cockney charm that captivated audiences back when even The Beatles appeared as his support band.

The energy’s not diminished either – nor the trademark spiky hair – from the days even before that when he played guitar for Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on ground-breaking TV pop show Boy Meets Girls.

His guitar playing was renowned – it’s Joe’s guitar you can hear on ‘The Sound Of Fury’, Billy Fury’s seminal album, recently voted the most inspirational British Rock ‘n’ Roll Album of all time.

Joe is known for his tireless live schedule and, to celebrate 60 years in the business, he is now on a marathon 78 date UK tour that keeps him busy through to Easter.

He reaches Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion on January 29.

“This is a proper show and I’ve a great new band with me too” says Joe. “It’s fantastic to be out there in front of a thousand people who are listening to every word you say. They seem to like it and I certainly do!”

To coincide with the tour comes a 60th Anniversary box set containing six CDs, a DVD, a badge, a plectrum, reduced original posters and a stunning 48 page book. The book has a wealth of photos old and new and details Joe’s career across the years, a stunning item in itself.

The live show also contains something new and something old. The music veers from his classic songs, such as ‘Sea Of Heartbreak’, to traditional rock, from something by Chas and Dave to something by George Harrison (who was a very close friend).

Joe said: “I’ll be playing most of my old hits but we’ll be playing different stuff too – a nice Italian waltz, an Irish jig…there’ll also be songs there we’ve never played before.”

Joe was only a teenager when he started playing guitar on television, his lively persona and impressive playing catching the attention of the musical bigwigs and making him one of the first home-grown pop idols – and he did it all himself. Unlike modern-day, often short-lived stars who graduate from shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent in those days you made your own career.

Moving away from pop after a string of hits he became a star of musical theatre even performing alongside Dame Anna Neagle in ‘Charlie Girl’. There were films, too, from the pop era fun of ‘What A Crazy World!’ to appearing alongside Bob Hoskins in the thriller ‘Mona Lisa’.

While never leaving the stage, Joe found a new lease of life as the 20th century came to a close with veteran rockers finding a new place in the public’s heart. With albums that managed to entertain old fans yet find a new audience for their imaginative and timeless concoction of blues, folk and rock, Joe was not only playing sell-out tours but also popping up at festivals such as Glastonbury.

Joe’s professional career is an inspiration as it clocks in now at 60 years. His unique blend of virtuosity and entertainment was something that was recognised when he was awarded an MBE in 2009 and also a Mojo Magazine award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. He also returned to the Top 20 Album Charts with a gold record for his ‘The Very Best Of Joe Brown’ release.

And, while Joe is a master guitarist, he’s no mean player of the ukulele either. He accompanied himself on the instrument (a moving rendition of ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’) when closing the Concert for George tribute show and will be playing the ukulele on this tour along with banjo, guitar and mandolin.

Joe himself sums it up best…“What you see is what you get he says. “I am what I am – I can’t be anyone else.”

Three cheers for that!

Tickets for the show at the Cliffs Pavilion can be obtained from

Mick Ferris

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