Doncaster rocker John Parr gears up for 80s festival Rewind North

John Parr, in his studio, at his Sykehouse home. Picture: Liz Mockler D1010LM
John Parr, in his studio, at his Sykehouse home. Picture: Liz Mockler D1010LM
  • Doncaster rocker John Parr set for 80s festival
  • Star will play Rewind North with other big names from decade
  • Three day spectacular in Cheshire in August

Thirty years ago next month, a song by a former Doncaster clubland stalwart was released, slowly climbing all the way to the top of the American music charts and turning its creator into a global star.

That man was John Parr, the song was of course St Elmo’s Fire and it is incredible to think that it was way back in the summer of 1985 that the song became a mainstay on radio and television around the globe.

Three decades on, the song remains an 80s classic, the opening bars enough to get anyone ready to step onto the dancefloor and rock out with an air guitar solo or two in true pop star style.

And later this summer John will be marking the milestone when he takes to the stage at a huge three-day festival featuring a host of top acts from the decade that brought us big hair, shoulder pads, deeley boppers and Rubik’s cubes.

He is one of scores of musical legends performing at Rewind North, a huge feast of 80s nostalgia that will be staged at Cheshire’s Capesthorne Hall in August.

And the Sykehouse-based singer can’t wait to strap on his guitar and take to the stage once more.

He said: “It really is a top class festival and I am really looking forward to it.

“There’s such a great vibe about Rewind and its going to be one of the highlights of the summer for me. As well as being a chance to play my music, it will also be a good chance to catch up with a few old pals too.”

He will be joining a stellar line up of some of the biggest and best known acts of the decade including the Boomtown Rats, Sheffield favourites The Human League and ABC as well as a host of other acts including OMD, Jimmy Somerville, Kim Wilde, Kid Creole and The Coconuts and Soul II Soul.

He said: “I don’t normally do retro shows, for me it isn’t about looking back, it is about looking forward to the future.

It really is a top class festival and I am looking forward to it

John Parr

“But a couple of years ago, I was asked to do Rewind in Scotland and it was amazing. It was such a slick festival, really well done - top classs - and I loved it. So I am really looking forward to it.”

With dozens of acts to squeeze onto the bill, John, 60, is only expecting to play a couple of numbers with one of his other smash hits Naughty Naughty and of course, St Elmo’s Fire all set to get the crowds rocking.

The singer, who has also written a string of Hollywood soundtracks and worked with a host of big name rockers including US rocker Meat Loaf, Sir Tom Jones and Who star Roger Daltrey, has come a long way since first forming a band in school at the age of twelve. After endless nights performing in the pubs and clubs of Northern England with Ponders End, his breakthrough came in 1985 with St Elmo’s Fire, the lead single from the movie of the same name, a coming of age drama starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. It spent two weeks at the top of the US Billboard Charts, smashed into the UK top ten and was a hit across the world.

He added: “People still go wild for it when I play it. We’ll be rehearsing with the house band. Those guys are great, they really know their stuff.”

“But I am looking forward to soaking up the whole festival atmosphere and meeting up not only with some of my old mates from the music scene but the guys from behind the scenes too. Its one big family.”

His appearance at Rewind is part of a packed summer for John, who also penned the globally famous Gilette “The Best A Man Can Get” jingle.

He has been recording tracks with Bobby Kimball of 80s rock favourites Toto, best known for their classic Africa, and has been working with European rockers The Scorpions, best remembered for their whistling-fuelled 1990s song Wind Of Change.

“We have been recording some music in a flamenco acoustic style,” he said. “The finishing touches are just being put to a documentary about it, so that’s something else I am looking forward to as well.”

And if that wasn’t enough, he will also be performing some concerts in Europe this summer alongside gravelly-voiced Welsh songstress Bonnie Tyler, whose hits included Holding Out For A Hero and Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

And proving his place in the 80s rock and roll hall of fame, John has recently welcomed two unlikely guests to his home in sleepy Sykehouse, where his state-of-the-art Somewhere In Yorkshire studios continues to attract big name recording artistes.

“A few weeks back, Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses and Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue here,” he said. “They are doing a new album and they decided to come and do it here. It is always a pleasure to welcome the big rock acts here - they were both great guys.”

But just what’s the appeal of the 80s, a decade that style seemed to forget?

He said: “I think it is just one of those defining decades, like the sixties. You see something from the sixties and you know its from that decade - and the eighties are just the same. The music and the fashions stand out - I don’t think we see the 90s and Noughties in the same way, which is why there is such a fondness for the eighties, which is why things like Rewind are so popular.

“The 80s were a decade that really were happening.”

Added John: “I have got a very busy summer lined up and I can’t wait to get stuck in. I think its going to be a great year.”

* Rewind North: The 80s Festival will be held at Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire from August 7-9. Tickets are available now at http://www.rewindfestival.com/north