Bobby Crush

b. 1954, England. An academy-trained pianist, this Beatles -style fringed youth was first seen by Britain audiences when winning rounds of television’s talent show Opportunity Knocks in the summer of 1972. Like an updated Russ Conway, he would flash a bashful half-smile when he switched from solemn ‘classical’ arpeggios to breezy tavern honky-tonking midway through his spot. The following November, he reached the UK Top 40 with ‘Borsalino’. This, however, was but a surface manifestation of support from consumer groups disenfranchised by the general drift of pop in the early 70s. As well as the trademark boyish winsomeness, his professional strength lay in dexterous instrumental command, and his debut album sold well even if records were to become an adjunct to his earnings in variety seasons and theatre concerts.

By the 80s, Crush had started a second career as an actor, maturing from ‘character’ roles in Christmas pantomime to an iconoclastically androgynous part as Dr. Frank N. Furter in a touring production of The Rocky Horror Show. Between 1989 and 1991 he presented the ITV game show Sounds Like Music. In the early 90s he appeared in summer shows, pantomimes, and his own Centre Stage programme for BBC Radio 2. In 1993 he celebrated his 20th year in showbusiness by taking part in a national tour of the musical Pump Boys And Dinettes, and releasing a new album. Five years later, shortly after playing a 45-performance tour with Gene Pitney, he held court at London’s Arts Theatre in his Silver Anniversary Concert.

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