Home-grown stars remind us of our musical strength

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You only have to read the many entries in the daily What’s On listings pages in this newspaper to realise that there is a thriving live music scene in our city.

But, when interviewing Portsmouth-educated pop star and all-round musical genius Joe Jackson for my forthcoming book about the city, I ventured to suggest that we had a vibrant live music scene – and he was sceptical.

‘I’m particularly puzzled by [that] assertion,’ he said.

‘Where is it hiding, then? It seems to me and most people I know in Portsmouth, including musicians, that gigs are harder and harder to come by.’

A strange comment from a man who, though Berlin-based these days, still has a home in Portsmouth.

His local pub when he’s in town, the Pembroke, has live music every Wednesday and Sunday.

Many other pubs and café-bars in the city, including the Marmion and 69 Bar in Southsea, have regular singers and musicians on various days and nights of the week.

While on the subject of music, it’s as well to remind ourselves that the city and its environs have produced a particularly star-studded group of internationally-successful performers.

Perhaps the most successful is Portsmouth-born Roger Hodgson, composer, singer, bass guitarist and keyboard player with Supertramp, who have sold more than 60 million albums.

Then there is Mick Jones, musician and songwriter with Foreigner, who co-wrote Bad Love with Eric Clapton and produced not only his own band’s albums but also 5150 by Van Halen, Storm Front by Billy Joel and others.

Also Portsmouth-born is Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears (vocals, guitars, keyboards, timpani).

Then there is Bad Company’s Brian Howe, lead vocalist, guitarist, pianist, drummer and bass harmonica player who once tried to buy Portsmouth Football Club (where are you now, Brian?).

Oh, and finally, how could I forget Paul Jones?

He fronted Manfred Mann and still tours with the Manfreds as well as being an actor and hosting the BBC Radio 2 Monday night rhythm-and blues show.