For years, Chronicle editor-in-chief ERIC LANGTON has been telling young reporters he discovered Take That’s Gary Barlow. When a TV crew called, he was put on the spot...
OKAY, when I said I ‘discovered’ Gary Barlow I might have been stretching a point.
But as then editor of the Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News, sister newspaper to The Chester Chronicle, I organised a talent contest on behalf of the newspaper which schoolboy Gary Barlow won.
And let’s face it, he never looked back from that success!
My 30 seconds of TV fame came on Sunday with the broadcast of a programme on Channel 4 about Gary’s ‘early years’ – 30 seconds to recount the time when Gary, just 16 and a pupil at Frodsham High School, was one half of a duo called Stax.
He was vocalist and keyboard with a slightly older drummer, John Tedford, who then lived in Runcorn, and provided the transport to gigs for the talented schoolboy.
After winning a heat and semi final, Stax were pitted in the final at the Ball O’Ditton British Legion Club in Widnes against favourites ‘Fizzy Drinks’, described in the 1987 final as be-pop rock and rollers and who were predicted likely winners after a successful television appearance on New Faces – an early version of Britain’s Got Talent. But Gary and John won the Club Act of the Year contest – run in conjunction with Greenall Whitley brewery – by a single point and picked up a cheque for £500.
Fresh faced Gary, wearing silky shirt and white bow tie, wowed the British Legion audience and judges, including me, with two Lionel Ritchie songs and one he had written.
We all know what happened to Gary, but I can’t report on whether his musical partner John found fame. If you are out there John, give me a call to discuss old times.
And Gary, if you spotted the Channel 4 music programme on Sunday, remember, you owe it all to me!