HALF PRICE SALE Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Russell Watson - nude cycling and my brush with death

01:16 14 May 2012

Russell Watson in action  Picture by Rex Features

Russell Watson in action Picture by Rex Features

Internationally renowned tenor Russell Watson showed some Lancashire grit to battle two brain tumours. He talks exclusively to Emma Mayoh

Its fair to say Lancashire tenor Russell Watson doesnt take himself too seriously. Just a few minutes into our chat and hes adopted more dialects than Jon Culshaw and divulged details of pictures of himself riding a unicycle naked. Sadly, the latter turned out to be untrue.

He also regales me with stories of an uncomplicated childhood growing up in Sunningdale Drive in his home town of Irlam, working a mundane 12-hour night shift at a nut and bolt factory and of the ten years performing in working mens clubs - including the time his former manager told him hed probably die if he left a particularly dodgy pub without giving them a song.

I walked in and there was a group of young chaps who looked like they could do me some serious damage, he said. I decided I was leaving but my then manager said if they saw me leaving with my speakers, theyd probably lynch me. It was the longest night of my life.

The ten years I did in these clubs were very tough but they also gave me a good grounding. There are lots of funny stories like a compere who spoke over this poor girl who was singing her heart out performing The Power of Love. The crowd werent listening so he came on 45the microphone and said I know shes cr*p but give her a chance. It was a brutal place to learn.

Russells bubbly personality and jokey nature is probably one of the things that helped him overcome two brain tumours. It is talking about this that also reveals the singers serious side. During this time he faced every possible emotion, endured endless amounts of treatment and even wished for death rather than have to put up with any more pain. Its an experience that has changed him forever. The 46-year-old said it was his family, including parents Nola and Tim and his daughters Rebecca and Hannah who he describes as his little protectors, who got him through his illness.

He said: There were times when all I wanted was for the pain to stop and I didnt care how. Its a really weird thing when you feel that terrible that youd be willing to be separated from the people who are your world. It was not a good place to be in. It was thoughts of Rebecca and Hannah losing their dad that kept me going.

With my second tumour I definitely felt like a victim. I thought I had got rid of it and it came back to bite me on the backside. It didnt seem fair. But I have come out the other side. I dont see myself as a victim anymore; Im a survivor and Im focused on the future.

Although Russell has always enjoyed singing, it was almost by mistake that he ended up with a career that earned him the titles of The Voice and The Peoples Tenor. He is known for performing classical pieces but he only started to do this after the secretary of a working mens club in Wigan suggested he should sing Nessun Dorma. He also said it was performing on the pitch at Old Trafford Football Ground that gave him the break that lead to him signing a five album recording contract.

To date he has sold millions of records and performed at venues across the globe as well as for Royalty, the Pope, American Presidents and numerous celebrities. But he still cant convince daughters Rebecca and Hannah to his way of thinking.

He said: They like what I do. Ive been a recording artist since before they were born. But they keep my feet on the ground too.

They are like my protectors because they have seen me go through some pretty tough times. But when it comes to music its all about High School Musical, Justin Bieber and Rhianna. Im looking at getting their rooms sound proofed.

Russell will also perform at Manchesters Bridgewater Hall this month as part of a tour that will celebrate great British anthems as well as be a tribute to the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The programme will feature pieces like Youll Never Walk Alone, Land of Hope and Glory and Rule, Britannia.

He said: It was an idea I had last year. To get the opportunity to do a tour dedicated to Great British anthems in the jubilee year is just fantastic. Everyone is feeling extra patriotic this year and to be a part of that is a great thrill for me.

Its also fantastic to be performing on home soil. There is always something special about being back home. Lancashire is where I am from and it is something I am very proud of. Many of my family still live there and its a great place to be.

See Russell Watson in concert on at Bridgewater Hall on May 31st. For tickets contact 0161 907 9000 or visit www.raymondgubbay.co.uk.
His new album, Anthems Music to inspire a nation, is released on May 28th.

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from People

Yesterday, 00:00
Piers Linney

Piers Linney grew up in Lancashire and his entreprenural spirit was clear from an early age. Mairead Mahon reports

Read more
Monday, August 24, 2015
JERSEY BOYS The Musical London photo Brinkhoff & M Genburg

From Burnley to the Big Smoke, Helen Ternent is making it on stage in the West End

Read more
Monday, August 17, 2015
Bury New Road

It may not be as well known as Manchester’s other suburbs, but Whitefield is certainly emerging from their shawdows with plenty to see and do. Words by Rebekka O’Grady

Read more
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Bobby Ball

Having already performed his self-penned play, “Rock Off, Tommy!” at the start of the year, Bobby Ball is returning to the Lowther Pavilion in Lytham with his newly written production which is two shows for the price of one.

Read more
Monday, August 10, 2015
The Great British Bake Off contestants - Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

After star baker Marie was compared to Rod Stewart this week, we couldn’t help but spot that many of the other contestants shared some spooky similarities with celebrities too…

Read more
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Mosaic Sampler

A new book by Douglas Jackson recounts the extraordinary story of Lancashire’s world-class collection of Tiffany glass on display in Accrington

Read more
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Looking along Market Place toward Castle Street

The ‘capital’ of the Ribble Valley has plenty to offer the keen shopper and history buff

Read more
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Whalley

Meet the locals who make Whalley a wonderful place to live, work and visit. Emma Mayoh reports

Read more
Monday, July 20, 2015
Devil's Bridge

This beautiful border town is a magnet for newcomers, including a metalwork artist with an international following. Sue Riley reports

Read more
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Bryn Hughes with daughter, Nicola

Saddleworth’s PC Nicola Hughes lost her life in an crime that shocked the nation. Now her proud father, Bryn Hughes, has set up a foundation in her name to help others whose lives have been shattered

Read more
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
E.H. Torrance

People didn’t mince words about E.H. Torrance - especially tripe butchers. Our resident historian tells his story

Read more
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Burscough Village

With a thriving community, you won’t be short of local places to shop in Burscough

Read more
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Andy Flintoff

Preston’s Ashes hero Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff will be back in the city this month as he kicks off a new career. Words by Paul Mackenzie

Read more
Friday, June 26, 2015
The Queen in A Wing of the disused gaol

Her Majesty visited the Lancaster landmark at an important time in its history, says Lord Shuttleworth

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP



Lancashire's trusted business finder