HEARTTHROB 80s pop star Martin Kemp is getting up close and personal with a Sussex audience this autumn.
The bass player in Spandau Ballet and EastEnders bad boy has enjoyed a hugely successful career in music, movies and TV, including his appearance this year as a judge on the BBC’s Let It Shine alongside Gary Barlow, Dannii Minogue and Amber Riley, and has faced many personal challenges, including the diagnosis of two brain tumours and the resulting epilepsy.
Now the 50-year-old silver fox will hold An Audience with Martin Kemp at The Hawth in Crawley on November 24. He will talk about his life and being in the business – and members of the audiences will be able to put their questions to him live.
Martin found global fame when he joined his older brother Gary’s New Romantic band Spandau Ballet as their bass player. The band reached No 5 in the charts with their 1980 single To Cut A Long Story Short, following it in 1981 with Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On), which peaked at No 3.
But it was 1983 that saw them hit gold when True reached No 1 and made the American charts, and Gold reached No 2. In Martin’s own words, he described how Spandau Ballet epitomised the New Romantic pop culture: “Everything was larger than life: the clothes we wore, the shoulder pads, the hairspray. It was all about excess, which is why I think bands from the 80s never kind of transposed and found their way into the 90s very well, because the 90s became very street.”
In 1984, the band took part in the famous Live Aid famine relief single Do They Know It’s Christmas? “We knew it was the biggest gig that was happening,” Martin has said. “It’s very rare that when you’re in the moment you realise how big that moment is but Live Aid was just an exception to the rule. You knew and you understood how many people were watching it, you knew what it meant to others. Also, you have to remember this was the first time that a festival had happened that was outside of the heavy rock arena because before that it was just the arena for heavy metal. So it was everything, it changed politics, it changed everything and we knew that at the time.”
In 1988, Martin and Wham! backing singer Shirlie Holliman, also one half of the pop duo Pepsie & Shirlie, were married and they have two children, Harley Moon and Roman.
A former pupil at the Anna Scher Children’s Theatre and a TV actor by the age of 10, Martin returned to his acting roots and with brother Gary starred in the acclaimed 1990 movie The Krays. He moved to Hollywood and made a series of movies including Sugar Town opposite Rosanna Arquette before returning to Britain, where he underwent the removal of two brain tumours.
He joined the cast of long-running BBC soap EastEnders in 1998 as Steve Owen. He said at the time, “The part I’m taking on here is definitely not just a hard man. He’s a very clever character, he’s intellectual, he’s multi-layered, he’s a great chance for me to take on a great part.”
Hugely popular, he won a series of awards for the role including Best Male Actor at the National TV Awards and Sexiest Male at the British Soap Awards.
After starring in a series of TV dramas, he came third in Celebrity Big Brother in 2012 and last year appeared as the Childcatcher in a touring production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opposite Jason Manford, Phil Jupitus and Michelle Collins. And this Christmas, he appears as Captain Hook in Peter Pan – The World’s Biggest Pantomime in Birmingham and Wembley.
After Spandau Ballet split up in the early 1990s, they reformed in 2009 and embarked on a world tour. This year, the band reissued their 1986 multi-million selling album Through the Barricades as a specially remastered and extended 30th anniversary deluxe edition.
An Audience With Martin Kemp is at The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley, at 7.30pm on Friday November 24. Tickets £25. Phone 01293 553636 or visit parkwoodtheatres.co.uk.