Comedy legend (and it’s a phrase we like to use sparingly), JASPER CARROTT is back on the road with STAND UP & ROCK with dates across the UK, getting to the Swansea Grand in this week.
We say use the phrase sparingly because a legend is someone who you remember throughout the years, or in fact they’re dead.
Jasper, we’re pleased to say, is very much still alive, thanks to a successful heart bypass op a few years ago. We all remember him throughout the years, and we can tell you he is dead funny, especially when you see him on stage without the restraints of TV. So he is very much legendary.
Stand Up & Rock is the result of a unique and hugely successful partnership with close friend and rock giant BEV BEVAN (founding member of Electric Light Orchestra and The Move and former Black Sabbath drummer) and his band – yes, another legend. The tour also features special guest ANDY BENNETT, former Ocean Colour Scene guitarist. It’s the perfect tonic and a great night out of full-on laughter and rock & roll to lift the spirits.
Tony Collins talks to Jasper and Bev ahead of the tour, which bring them into South Wales in April.
They started out as 11 year old boys sitting next to each other in school who went on to perform in sold-out arenas in front of thousands of fans.
Schoolboys Robert Davis and Beverley Bevan, who occupied adjoining desks at Moseley Grammar for five years, went on to achieve enormous success as BAFTA Award-winning comedian Jasper Carrott and the acclaimed drummer of some of the most successful bands across four decades.
Jasper says of Stand Up & Rock…….
“It’s not a unique show but nobody else does it, nobody else mixes comedy and rock and roll as a featured evening.”
The origins of the show go back to the early 90s and a previous band, called Belch, that featured Jasper, Bev and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi.
But Jasper and Bev, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, go back a whole lot further.
Jasper told us……..
“The first person I sat next to at grammar school when I was 11 years old was him (pointing at Bev).” Bev chips in, “Our names were alphabetical. I was Bevan.”
“And I was Davis, so it just happened we were on the front row together. That was 66 years ago and we went through all five years.”
The schoolmates went to work at the same Birmingham department store, The Beehive, as trainee buyers.
Bev told us…..
“We swept the floor and made the tea, I ended up in carpets but only stayed one year. I only got the job because it paid for the HP payments on my drums.”
Jasper, who stayed at The Beehive for three years, did not share Bev’s showbiz ambitions at that time.
“I was going to be an entrepreneur. I started a folk club (The Boggery) in 1969 and was always going to be a promoter and run clubs and manage people.
“I was just compering at the club and singing silly funny songs and one thing led to another and people started asking me to do their clubs.
“I was getting £12 a gig and petrol. The equivalent today would probably be £500 or £600. So it was very lucrative to the point where I realised my future lay in entertaining and not in promoting.”
Bev’s music career was already taking off, having left Denny Laine and the Diplomats to form The Move in 1966 and then on to ELO with Jeff Lynne.
Despite the pals not seeing much of each other with ELO spending a lot of the 70s in America, they found time to be best man at each other’s wedding – Bev in 1970 and Jasper in 1972.
The pandemic prevented them working together after November 2019, Jasper recalls a strange feeling from the same time………
“It’s funny, Bev and I were in the pub and I had this overwhelming feeling of foreboding for next year. It was a very disturbing feeling, and when it (the pandemic) all kicked off I started to think that must be it. That’s the only explanation I’ve ever had.”
Bev spent lockdown writing songs…………
“For me it was quite good, to begin with anyway. I wrote so many songs during lockdown and managed to record a whole album (Riding Rainbows with separate band, Quill), so I’ve been really busy.”
After the long, enforced break, Jasper says,
“It’s been exciting to be back on tour with Bev and the band. There was a bit of trepidation at first, not having worked for that long, but the minute we were on stage it disappeared.
“We were playing to sold out houses from the moment the tour began and it’s been fantastic to see audiences coming back to the theatre, having a great laugh, rocking the house, and just remembering what life’s all about.”
“Rehearsals are just a means to an end but as soon as you get on a stage and get that crowd reaction it’s fantastic, it’s a real buzz. There’s nothing to replace it.”
Jasper’s success began with chart-topping comedy record, Funky Moped, in 1975, and led to top TV shows including BAFTA Award-winning “Carrott’s Lib” and BBC series “The Detectives” with Robert Powell.
His “24 Carrott Gold” live show in 2004 broke box office records with 72,000 people at the Birmingham National Indoor Arena.
“I have to keep pinching myself really. I haven’t done TV for about ten years and it’s great because I don’t get the hassle of being recognised. I’ve got the best of both worlds in the fact I can still draw a crowd and yet I can be fairly anonymous.
“One of my greatest pleasures was when my grandchildren came to see me and were really knocked out. For weeks they were doing the routines.”
Bev also feels fortunate in his career……
“I was always going to be a drummer and I think I would have made a living as a drummer, but luckily I did get into The Move, ELO and Black Sabbath, and to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is pretty special.”
Alongside larger theatres, Stand Up & Rock will also be performing in smaller venues, so is that more enjoyable?
Bev told us……
“I generally love a small theatre where you can actually see the audience and they can see you.”
“For me personally one of the joys is getting back to the basic roots of stand-up comedy, eyeball to eyeball with the audience.
“Doing the 500, 600 seaters is going back in a way to those folk club days. That was one of the reasons why I kept doing it since we started Stand Up & Rock. I rediscovered that sheer joy of creating laughter.”
Now we can all start to look forward after a terrible two years, what does the future hold Jasper?
“Staying alive is probably one of our main ambitions.”
“We’ll just take it tour by tour. Ken Dodd was 90 and still getting up on stage. I don’t know how long I can continue, but I will do so until I know I can’t do it as well as I should be doing it. But hopefully it’s a way off.
“And I can always become a drummer!”, he adds, sharing one more joke with his old friend.
Jasper Carrott’s Stand Up & Rock tour with the Bev Bevan Band comes to Swansea Grand Theatre this Wednesday 6th April. You can get your tickets HERE.
They then make the journey to Aberystwyth Arts Centre the following evening – 7th April, tickets for that show are HERE.
Then on the 12th May they’ll bring the show to Venue Cymru in Llandudno. You can tickets for that evening HERE.