Dave turns pages on a career that took off 50 years ago

Dave Berry performing at the Mojo Night
Dave Berry performing at the Mojo Night

Fifty years ago, Dave Berry was in the charts with his first hit, Memphis Tennessee, and on tour with Dusty Springfield.

The ‘lad from Woodhouse’, as he still remembers himself, has done alright ever since, and he has a wealth of stories to tell about the people he has met, the places he has been and his treasure trove of experiences.

It all forms the basis for a sold out talk, An Evening With Dave Berry, as part of the Off The Shelf literary festival at Walkley Library in South Road next Tuesday.

“I did a couple of similar things when the book came out, which went very well,” says Dave, referring to his biography, All There Is To Know.

“I chat about my early days in Sheffield with people like Peter Stringfellow and Joe Cocker and the famous venues. I was never associated with the club circuit. Many people think my career started in the working men’s clubs, but we avoided them like the plague.

“We ran our own venues, like the Forresters in Division Street.

“Then I talk about the thrill of playing Sheffield City Hall with the Rolling Stones after seeing all my heroes there, like Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis.

“I do a question and answer session and show footage of my first trip to Amsterdam, which was on Pathe News.”

It is not just about a journey into the distant past, though, says the singer who has maintained his career into a sixth decade after the initial burst of popularity with hits such as The Crying Game, Little Things and Mama.

Dave, who lives in Dronfield with his Dutch wife, Marthi, recalls with pride joining Boy George and others for a Dusty Springfield tribute concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010 and being part of the 2011 Meltdown Festival curated by Ray Davies and featuring Paloma Faith, Ronnie Spector and Sandie Shaw.

“Apart from the 60s, the most exciting times have been in the last few years. The worst thing is to disappear into oblivion and for people to say ‘whatever happened to?’ I have been very fortunate, but then again I have worked very hard.”

It’s exemplified in two more 60s tours lined up for next year, adding up to 80 nights on the road.

A love of touring has not let him.

“My roots were in jazz and blues and I wanted to be a proper touring musician. It’s in my blood. I love the travelling and the hotels and the camaraderie backstage.”

And age is not holding him back. “I feel fine and I’m fit.”

An online age check suggests 72, although Dave prefers to say: “I’m pretty much the same age as Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts. We’re all of a vintage.”

He will no doubt tell his Sheffield audience next week that he has no plans to hang up his microphone.

Not that he ever thought it would last that long in his 60s heyday.

“On tour with The Hollies we were saying: ‘This is brilliant. If we can have another three or four years it will be fine.’”