MUSIC PLAYS A MASSIVE ROLE IN EVERY ASPECT OF COMIC'S LIFE
When: Tuesday, November 27, 7.30pm
Where: The Spa, South Marine Drive, Bridlington
To book: 01262 678258
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Contact: 01482 861646
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Visit: www.lennyhenrylive.com or follow Lenny on Twitter at @ITISLENNYHENRY
Roots: Lenworth George Henry CBE was born on August 29, 1958, in Dudley, near Wolverhampton, to Jamaican immigrant parents.
Breakthrough: The comedian became a national star in 1975 when he won TV talent show New Faces, doing an impersonation of Stevie Wonder.
Star: After appearing on kids TV show Tiswas, the comic landed his own TV show which introduced the world to characters such as Theophilus P Wildebeeste, Delbert Wilkins and Trevor McDoughnut.
The Bard: More recently, the comedian has stretched his acting muscles, appearing as Shakespeare's Othello.
If music be the food of love, play on, and have a laugh while you're doing it, says funnyman Lenny Henry. Ian Midgley meets him ahead of his Bridlington show
Y ou can tell how important music is in a household by the size of the stereo.
A state-of-the-art boom-box close to shelves groaning under the weight of hundreds of alphabetically stacked CDs suggests a household that revels in the joys of music.
A solitary tape recorder hoarding a lonely copy of Now 87 speaks to a family unaccustomed to the sweet pleasures of song.
In Lenny Henry's childhood home, in 1960s Dudley, the stereo was massive.
As the comedian remembers it, it was a huge German-built Blaupunkt record player encased in a crate-sized wooden shell that, should The Flood ever return, the Henry clan could quite feasibly turn into an ark and transport animals in, two-by-two.
"It was heee-uge," says the 54-year-old funnyman, who has been a showbiz staple on our TV screens for more then 30 years.
"It was solid oak, a massive thing that was so heavy you couldn't lift it. It was in the front room, which was kept for best. If God had dropped in for tea, he wouldn't have been allowed to go in the front room.
"I suspect that they actually built the house around it – and when we moved, we had to leave it behind.
"It's probably still there, indestructible. Like the monolith from 2001."
It is dinner time and the Midlands-born comedian is sitting in a posh hotel in Salford Quays – not the one you may expect from his TV ad work – sipping lemon tea.
The familiar Dudley accent is present and correct – as is the infectious sense of fun that has earned him a CBE and kept him at the top of the showbiz tree since the early 1980s.
His memories of those early days basking in his father's Fats Domino records, his mum's Jim Reeves, Little Richard and Elvis discs and, later, his elder sister's disco inferno of Kool And The Gang and the American funk outfit The Fatback Band.
There were so many pictures of Elvis on the wall, he says, that he thought he was a relative.
It was an eclectic mix that would, the comedian says, help form the man he is today.
Appreciation of such a wide range of musical styles would later prove useful as teenage Lenny and his pals would seek out different Birmingham clubs – and music scenes – every night in the hunt for girls.
It is no wonder, then, that music has played such a pivotal role in Lenny's life.
Or that his latest stand-up tour, Pop Life, looks at the vast subject of music and how it impinges on every aspect of our daily routines.
The show arrives at Bridlington Spa on Tuesday, November 27, as the second-to-last date on what has been a mammoth 40-night UK tour.
So far, it has been a blast, he says; a mixture of stand-up, memory lane anecdotes, soulful singing and even a spot of Lenny's own grade-four piano-playing.
Just don't clap along while he is playing, he says, it puts him off.
"Music has been massively important to me throughout my life," he says, momentarily dropping out of raucous mode and into reflective.
"When I was thinking of putting a show together, it was the obvious choice. I'm getting to go out and talk about a subject that I'm genuinely enthusiastic about.
"I talk about everything from music at the Paralympic opening ceremonies to my sister's record collection in Dudley – and everything in between."
He may even touch upon his most recent, high-profile musical experience – trying to silence Rolf Harris singing Two Little Boys so that global mega-star Stevie Wonder could perform at the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations.
It is worth remembering Henry's first major career breakthrough came from winning talent show New Faces – like Britain's Got Talent, only with a lower waistband – in 1975 with his impression of the blind soul superstar.
"Oh, that was... fun," he says.
"I had someone shouting in my ear, saying 'get Rolf off, Stevie needs to come on now'.
"But all the people in The Mall could see was me trying to bundle an elderly Australian doing a 12in version of Two Little Boys off stage.
"I was getting booed by 250,000 white people waving Union Jacks. Usually, as a black person, that's when you know it's time to call a taxi and go and hide in your cellar.
"But it was OK in the end. And having the chance to introduce Stevie Wonder on stage was a huge honour for me.
"He's always been a big hero of mine. It's sort of coming full circle."