Rock and country legends Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly will all descend on Wimbledon next month as a touring team of tribute acts comes to town for a one-night-only performance.
Louisa Clarence-Smith catches up with former lorry driver and lead act Barry Steele, who impersonates Roy Orbison in the show.
Barry Steele as Roy Orbison
Louisa Clarence-Smith: You’ve made a career out of impersonating Texan singer Roy Orbison for the past 13 years. How did you get into it?
Barry Steele: I used to be a lorry driver for Asda. I have always sung but I was extremely shy to use my voice so it was a few people that gave me the confidence and the push to do something about it. I was on a family holiday in Cornwall in 2001 when my wife Lynne and daughter Leonie entered me into a singing competition without my knowledge. A fellow competitor said to me I sound just like Roy Orbison singing Robbie Williams and from there the tribute was born.
LCS: What can audiences expect from the show?
BS: The performance is a contemporary production celebrating the life and musical legacy of the 'Big O'. It’s a multi-media show with a fabulous band, a big screen featuring both live-streaming and images from the life and times of Roy Orbison, interspersed with factoids and information about the life and times of what is considered to be one of the best singers the world has ever known.
LCS: You’ve toured around countries including New Zealand, Holland, Germany, Austria and the USA as Roy Orbison. What’s life like on tour?
BS: Our home is in the West Midlands but on tour we’re permanently staying in Travel Lodges and Premier Inns. Now we do nearly 90 shows a year. We do have a lot of fun because of course after the show it’s chill time. We all get on extremely well and everyone’s got a great sense of humour.
LCS: Why do you think Roy Orbison’s music has remained popular?
BS: Predominantly our audience is an older generation but feedback we’ve got from all the shows has been fantastic. To me it’s not a job it’s a complete enjoyment and for me to see and feel the enjoyment we give to people is just overwhelming. I just love singing the music. I never realised before just how much passion and tragedy was in his life which comes out in his songs. His songs are timeless.
Roy Orbison and Friends; New Wimbledon Theatre, 93 The Broadway; Saturday, September 6; 7.30pm; £23.40; atgtickets.com